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5 Outdoor Jobs Guaranteed to Get You Dirty on Your Gap Year

Written by The Leap on 22 / 05 / 2014

Gap Year Advice

Hooray for the gap year - goodbye exam hall, goodbye air-conditioned office.

Hello world, hello to the great outdoors. Ready to OD on fresh air, salute the sun and snuggle up to nature? Oh yes.

Here lie five great suggestions to help spark the imagination, to keep you out of trouble whilst making your year out a memorable, CV-enhancing nugget of delight.

1. Ski or Surf Guide

Really? Yes - literally teach people to play for work – often referred to as living the dream, especially by those from the movie Point Break.

One downside, these jobs are seasonal but if you're an avid surfer and skier (or snowboarder) there’s great potential to travel the world, chasin’ the season. Just imagine: winter in the mountains, summer on the surf...

Qualifications are obviously essential and you’ve already got to have the skill. Lots of companies out there are offering great courses though - we recommend ALLTRACKS, but you can find a longer list of suppliers here.

2. Adventurer Tour Guide

Now this gets my vote! Often a mountain leadership course is required before you’ll be taken seriously, but if that’s your bag, its easy to get and a really fun experience in itself. Just try not to do one in the Scottish Highlands, particularly in the middle of winter. There's definitely nothing fun about that - trust me.

'Outdoor program leaders' - to use the American terminology - can lead courses for kids and adults in wilderness, desert backpacking, canoeing, sea kayaking, rock climbing, sailing... even dogsledding.

Here's a few extreme ideas: take groups river running, trek up the face of an Alaskan glacier, hike the Half Dome in Yosemite or head out on a wilderness expedition.

3. Lifeguard

Another seasonal job. Unless, of course, you're an genuine Baywatch contender and score a job in North Shore, Hawaii or somewhere else with an endless summer.

If you do manage to land a lifeguarding job, expect to be on guard for long hours. Not that you'll care with access to some pretty cool toys like jet skis, boats and paddleboards.

Best place to start? Check out the Royal Life Saving Society.

4. Community Overseas Development

Now this one should plug into your altruistic side. There's are loads of opportunities out there to combine travel with working alongside indigenous tribes to improve their quality of life.

Really, think big here - from tree planting in Borneo, to building freshwater water pumps in Cambodia. You could even save some turtles in Costa Rica. They all involve life-changing work, in the outdoors, in amazing places.

Great place to start is the Year Out Group – all volunteer companies listed here are carefully vetted and good to go.

5.Park Ranger

Whether you prefer the mountains, beaches, lakes or off-the-wall wilderness - the world is your oyster.

Working as a national or state park ranger will allow you to live and play in the most scenic places in the world. Of course, Yellowstone is the dream, but similar work closer to home in a area like the Peak District can be rewarding and hugely enjoyable.

Rangers are the eyes and ears of any national park as they roam all day looking out for any potential problems - like stiles or signposts that need repair. They are also key to reducing issues between visitors and local people, especially when a daydreaming walker strays into farmland causing havoc with the livestock.

To find out what it takes to be a ranger, try the ranger service page at the Peak District National Park or volunteer to become one in the South Downs.

Over to You

So, in a nutshell, no excuse really to stay cooped up inside on your gap year. The world is large and oh so exciting. Enjoy it, and let us know any outdoor job ideas you have in the comments below.

Photo credit: © Alltracks Limited

Check out our gap year programs

We have award winning 'planet saving' programs across Africa, Asia, South and Central America.

Reducing plastic in our oceans, protecting turtles and saving the rhino is just the tip of the melting iceberg.

All experiences include a mix of projects and adventures, travelling with a team and, of course, are risk assessed.

Gap year programs

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