You know enough about yourself to know that you don’t see yourself spending most of your work life in a cubicle, or even in the same city for very long, counting down the days and weeks until you’ve saved enough vacation days for your next climbing trip or “digital detox weekend” with hundreds of other stressed and burned-out adults. If you are ready to share your passion for adventure and the outdoors with learners from diverse age, social, personal and educational backgrounds, a career in outdoor adventure education may be right for you.

Getting Trained and Ready for an Outdoor Adventure Education Career

Building a career and life around personal values and passions like education, environmentalism, adventure, and community building used to belong to traditionally defined jobs like teaching, social work or seasonal work in recreational industries like ski resorts or national parks. As technology and the interconnectedness of modern life have created unprecedented opportunities for work, education and recreation, it has also given rise to the understanding of how important it is to unplug and spend time in nature.

From young children learning basic life skills to mid-level corporate executives in search of fulfilling team building experiences, experiential learning programs offer the perfect supplement for everything from primary to leadership education, as well as therapy and addiction recovery. If you love nature and adventure, have a strong desire to build communities and help enrich the lives of others, and would like to turn your love of the outdoors into a viable career path, consider supplementing your traditional education with outdoor adventure and experiential education certification.

wilderness programs

As with any career, the first step is to get a solid understanding of what the job will entail, including any necessary credentials, degress and certifications, and additional experience and requirements that will lead to finding a job. Unlike traditional youth and specialty camps designed around a collective activity or prepackaged experiences, experiential education programs offer a student centered, personal and multifaceted approach that requires a specific skill set beyond the ability to lead physical expeditions.

Some of the outdoor and adventure experiential learning programs available at Learn Through Experience include:

  • Leadership development
  • Service learning programs
  • Adventure and wilderness programs
  • Organizational training and consulting
  • Residential treatment
  • Addiction and recovery
  • Challenge courses/rope courses
  • Therapeutic adventure and wilderness therapy
  • Mental health
  • Adaptive programs
  • K-12 schools
  • Environmental education

Typical Duties and Responsibilities for an Outdoor Adventure Educational Career

In addition to a certain degree of physical fitness and wilderness skills, an outdoor adventure education career requires a well-rounded base of abilities and characteristics. These skills will ensure that each participant in your designated program will enjoy a safe, challenging, supportive and rewarding experience.

Some of the basic duties of an outdoor adventure facilitator or instructor might include:

  • Leading individuals or groups in outdoor wilderness, physical challenge, and obstacle course experiences
  • Creating a well designed, personally challenging, supportive and exciting customer experience for participants of every background and level.

Experience leading outdoor expeditions and risk management training are general requirements for outdoor adventure programs. If you are interested in specialized areas like corporate leadership or addiction and recovery, additional educational requirements and experience may be necessary along with your experiential program certification.

In addition to the physical and environmental aspects of the job, experiential education also requires the type of interpersonal and facilitative skills that are crucial to enhancing the customer and participant experience, such as:

  • Ability to coach others in individual decision-making
  • Facilitation skills to work with groups
  • Patience, compassion and empathy
  • Critical thinking skills, adaptability and the ability to multitask

Training and Accreditation

Depending on your areas of interest and the types of programs that you would like to work in and feel qualified for, the Association for Experiential Education has outlined standards and accreditation guidelines for adventure-based education programs and outdoor behavioral healthcare programs.

Receiving credentials, degrees and certifications for outdoor adventure education can help you prepare you for a career in experiential education, and could help to distinguish you from a wide field of applicants.

That being said, many outdoor adventure facilitators have degrees in unrelated fields and have learned many of their core competencies through experience. Learning by doing is one of the tenets of experiential education after all, so it’s up to you which route to take depending on what’s important to you.

Finding the Right Program for You

First, do a little research and narrow down your particular niche and field of interest. Because the field of experiential education encompasses a broad range of programs for a diverse group of participants with different needs and levels of complexity, your training and certification process will depend on the areas that interest you and match your particular skills and experience. Two of the main categories of adventure education include adventure-based education programs and outdoor behavioral healthcare programs.

Learn Through Experience was created by the Association for Experiential Education to offer potential program participants and people looking to enter the field of adventure education with a comprehensive source of information for the best programs in the industry. Learn Through Experience is a top accredited organization and first in its field for experiential education and employment.

For more information on outdoor adventure career opportunities and to find the training and certification program that is right for you, browse our full list of adventure education and other programs to learn more today!