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Careers Advice

   Welcome to IOL Careers Advice

There is no doubt that pursuing a career in the outdoors can be a wonderfully rewarding choice. It offers challenges and excitement and an opportunity to make a massive positive impact on the quality of your own life and that of the people you work with and for.


Whether you work as an instructor, coach, teacher, trainer, youth worker or any of an increasing list of jobs that entail working outdoors, you will be able to find a career path suitable for you.

Outdoor careers can encompass such jobs as instructor, teacher, countryside ranger, youth leader, sports coach, development trainer or facility manager. You could be working in central Birmingham or the Outer Hebrides; with senior managers or disadvantaged youth; on your own or as part of a large team. The training available is equally diverse partly because of the range of career paths available and partly because of the range of skills you need to be competent at the job. This is a brief guide to the options open to you, whether you are a school leaver or an experienced practitioner.


Within the field there are opportunities for 'apprenticeship' roles suited to inexperienced enthusiasts and long term career options for those wishing to make it their profession. Some people spend a few years giving service to a job they enjoy before moving into another field. Others come to the field bringing with them a wealth of experience from another career. The choices are yours.

Generic Competences

Despite the wide range of options for work in Outdoor Learning, there are competences that are common to everyone. These can be divided into three types:

  • Technical skills such as safety management, administrations skills and environmental skills.
  • Process skills such as instructing and group leadership.
  • Meta skills such as sound judgment, creative thinking, ethical behaviour and clear vision.

The technical skills are the easiest to train in and the quickest to acquire whilst the meta skills grow over a lifetime. With this in mind many employers recruit for the meta and process skills knowing that the appropriate technical skills can be easily developed once you start work. They are therefore especially important to describe in your curriculum vitae.  


Career Options

If you are seriously interested in a career in the outdoors there are several branches of the profession from which to choose and many routes you can take to get there. The three main areas are:

Outdoor Recreation:

  • Leading people on outdoor activity sessions and trips or instructing people in the skills of their chosen outdoor pursuit. Roles include leading, coaching, technician and recreation manager.

Outdoor Education:

  • Using outdoor experiences, including both environmental and adventure activities, to provide learning opportunities for people in through and about the outdoors. Roles include teacher, tutor and youth worker.

Outdoor Training:

  • Using outdoor experiences, probably combined with other training methods, to help people realise their potential as individuals, in teams or for organisations. Roles include development trainer and therapist.

Another option is to specialise in the provision of facilities such as kit stores, climbing walls, day and residential centres and country parks. This field of Facility Management often retains a strong people focus as public relations is very important. Roles include centre manager, technician, and countryside ranger.

A related field is Countryside Recreation. Contact the Countryside Commission for details of career and training opportunities in this field.



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* IOL CEO Andy Robinson interviewed as part of outdoor careers guidance for TNT Magazine.