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Outdoor Sport and Recreation Guide

Outdoor sport and recreation guides organize and conduct outdoor activities. These can include mountain expeditions, rafting trips, hunting trips, fishing trips, trail rides, and other activities.

  • Avg. Salary $16,368.00
  • Avg. Wage $17.45
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook N/A
  • Employed < 1500
  • In Demand Medium
Also Known As

Ecotourism Guide, Fishing Guide, Guide, Hunting and Fishing Guide, Mountain Guide, Recreation Guide, Whitewater Rafting Guide

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Outdoor Sport and Recreational Guides (6442) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Outdoor Sport and Recreational Guides (G722) 
  • 2011 NOC: Outdoor sport and recreational guides (6532) 
  • 2016 NOC: Outdoor sport and recreational guides (6532) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

61%
61%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Provincially Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift over 20 kg
Interest Codes
The Outdoor Sport and Recreation Guide is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Outdoor Sport and Recreational Guides
SOCIAL

Interest in speaking to provide instruction for activities such as canoeing, rafting and mountain climbing; and to advise on emergency and safety measures and specific regulations concerning hunting, fishing and boating

METHODICAL

Interest in co-ordinating information to plan itineraries for trips and expeditions; to arrange transportation; and to follow environmental guidelines and prevent violations

OBJECTIVE

Interest in handling to assemble equipment and supplies such as camping gear, rafts, life jackets, fishing tackle and food; and in transporting individuals and groups to sites; may prepare meals for groups and set up camps

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Duties
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Outdoor sport and recreation guides may specialize in a variety of pursuits. They might be mountain guides or lead whitewater rafting, canoe tripping, stand-up paddle boarding, sea kayaking, hunting, fishing, or ecotourism trips. Some guides work in several areas.

Mountain guides organize and conduct climbing, hiking, and skiing expeditions. In general, they:

  • Plan treks and teach sessions according to clients’ abilities and environmental conditions
  • Ensure clients bring proper equipment and supplies, and know how to use specialized equipment
  • Prepare comprehensive risk-management plans and ensure clients know how the plans will be implemented
  • Obtain appropriate land use permits
  • Arrange transportation to and from the starting point
  • Lead the group during the expedition
  • Use their experience and expertise to manage onsite risks posed by activities
  • Provide information about natural history, local vegetation, and wildlife
  • Oversee camp setup on overnight trips
  • Provide first aid services if needed
  • Act as onsite rescue co-ordinator if needed

Mountain guides also may teach skiing, climbing, and mountaineering skills. They may specialize in skiing, rock climbing, alpine climbing, or hiking. Or they may teach climbing on purpose-built structures.

Whitewater rafting guides lead groups of people on rafting trips through scenic stretches of river and whitewater rapids. In general, they:

  • Plan expeditions
  • Assemble supplies and equipment before the trip departs
  • Teach clients safe rafting procedures
  • Set up base camps and prepare meals on longer trips

Once on the river, whitewater rafting guides must follow a specified route. They must provide instructions and commentary while steering the raft through a safe but challenging path. They also must know how to read the water. That means they must:

  • Know how to watch the water’s surface for signs of what’s going on below
  • Know how subsurface conditions will affect the raft and how to respond

They also must know how to handle emergency situations. For example, what if the raft gets caught sideways against a rock? What if a client falls in the river? What if something punctures raft?

On trips lasting more than a few hours, guides set up camp, prepare meals, and entertain their groups.

Hunting and fishing guides plan, organize, and lead hunting and fishing trips. In general, they:

  • Choose the route that will provide the best camping sites and animal or fish habitats
  • Explain hunting and fishing regulations and ensure clients obey them
  • Provide advice on equipment and tackle
  • Check equipment and supplies
  • Provide transportation (for example, motorboats, land vehicles, horses)
  • Ensure clients follow best safety practices
  • Provide information about the habitat and wildlife seen on the trip
  • Set up campsites and cook meals
  • Provide first aid when necessary
  • Teach and help clients field dress game; clean, preserve, and cook fish or game; and dispose of waste parts

Ecotourism guides provide leadership and information about natural habitats, wildlife, and sustainable development. They may lead groups participating in light adventure outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling, mountaineering, canoeing, kayaking, sailing, or horseback riding. For information about a closely related occupation, see the Interpretive Naturalist occupational profile.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Outdoor sport and recreation guides work outdoors, often in remote wilderness areas. The work generally is seasonal and can be strenuous. Guides may be away from home for long periods. Their work hours may be unpredictable. For example, they may work almost nonstop during good weather.

Most guides, particularly mountain guides, must be able to lift heavy items.

  • Strength Required Lift over 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Outdoor sport and recreation guides need:

  • An outgoing and enthusiastic personality
  • Leadership and conflict-resolution skills
  • Communication, decision-making, and problem-solving skills
  • Patience, especially when dealing with inexperienced or troublesome clients
  • The ability to handle emergency situations effectively
  • Commitment to environmental stewardship and ensuring client safety
  • An appreciation for the natural and cultural history of the regions they work in

They should enjoy dealing with people, planning and arranging expeditions, and handling equipment and supplies.

Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2020

There are no minimum education requirements. In general, guides need:

  • A working knowledge of their field, including heritage interpretation, recreation programming, ecotourism, and risk management
  • Leadership and communication skills
  • Certification in wilderness first aid and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation)
  • The appropriate level of swimming or skiing certification (if applicable)
  • A valid Class 5 driver’s licence (some situations may call for a Class 4 licence)
  • The knowledge and mechanical skills necessary to maintain their equipment

Some guides may need to supply some of their own equipment. Guides who choose self-employment also need business skills.

Whitewater rafting guides may earn an outdoor recreation diploma, complete a training program offered by a commercial rafting operator, or learn on the job. All training must include safe rafting and emergency procedures. Training might include information about the history, wildlife, and plants of the area in which they will be working. Whitewater rafting employers look for potential guides who have:

  • Strong social skills
  • Excellent canoeing skills
  • Outdoor recreation experience

Most employers prefer to hire people who are already trained in rafting. However, most will consider hiring people who have related experience and a good attitude.

Fishing guides require a valid Alberta fishing licence.

Hunting guides must work for an outfitter-guide to guide big game and bird game hunters from outside of Alberta. Those who work with horses must be knowledgeable about horses and able to read the water when crossing rivers.

To become a self-employed outfitter-guide, hunting guides must:

  • Hold a guide’s designation (licence)
  • Be bonded and insured
  • Obtain an outfitter-guide permit

For more details about hunting guide and outfitter-guide requirements, see Certification Requirements.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Timberline Canadian Alpine Academy

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Hunting Guide and Outfitter-Guide

Hunting guides and outfitter-guides plan, organize and lead hunting trips, and ensure members of the group follow hunting regulations.

Legislation

Under Alberta's Wildlife Act [pdf] and Wildlife Regulation [pdf], you must hold a guide (big game or bird game) designation or an outfitter-guide (big game or bird game) permit from the Alberta Professional Outfitters Society (APOS) to organize and lead hunting trips for pay or gain. Only outfitter-guide permit holders may hold game allocations or have contracts with non-resident clients for hunting in Alberta.

What You Need

All guides need to:

  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Be legally entitled to work in Canada
  • Pay all applicable fees

 For big game guides, they also need to be:

  • Recommended by an outfitter-guide the first year
  • An Alberta resident; OR a non-resident who is a Canadian citizen or is admitted to permanent residence in Canada

 For outfitter-guides, they also need to:

  • Fill out an outfitting permit application form
  • Provide evidence of a minimum deposit indemnity bond of $10,000 for contracted clients
  • Provide evidence of a minimum general liability insurance of $5 million
  • Hold a big game guide’s designation
  • Be an Alberta resident; OR be a non-resident who is a Canadian citizen or has been admitted to permanent residence in Canada; OR be a business corporation or society where at least one current officer is an individual described above

For detailed official information about current requirements, contact APOS.

Working in Alberta

Guides and outfitters who are licensed by and in good standing with a regulatory organization elsewhere in Canada may be eligible for licensing in Alberta if guides and outfitters in the two jurisdictions have similar responsibilities and competencies. For more information, see What if I am already certified in another province or territory in Canada? and the APOS website.

Contact Details

Alberta Professional Outfitters Society (APOS)
100, 3802 49 Ave NW
Stony Plain, Alberta  T7Z 2J7
Canada

Call: 780-414-0249
Fax: 780-465-6801
Email: info@apos.ab.ca
Website: www.apos.ab.ca

Additional Information

To work in certain national and Alberta provincial parks, mountain guides must be certified by the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG). Certification as a mountain guide requires successful completion of the requirements for both Alpine Guide and Ski Guide certificates. Certification as a hiking guide only requires completion of the Hiking Guide certificate. To attend the required courses, applicants should:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Meet minimum climbing, skiing, or hiking experience requirements (at least 3 years of experience in a variety of conditions)
  • Have completed a Canadian Avalanche Association Avalanche Operations Level 1 course (for alpine or ski disciplines)
  • Have completed the Canadian Avalanche Association Search and Rescue Advanced Skills course (ski discipline only)
  • Have current, valid, 80-hour advanced wilderness first aid certification
  • Be in good health
Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Most hunting, fishing, and mountain guides are self-employed or work for guiding companies or outfitters. Whitewater rafting guides are self-employed or work for companies that specialize in river rafting.

Many outdoor sport and recreation guides work from May to October, then find other employment in winter. With the popularity of helicopter and snowcat skiing, ski touring, waterfall ice climbing, and snowshoeing, mountain guides can work regularly all year round.

In large organizations, experienced outdoor sport and recreation guides may move into supervisory positions.

Because outdoor guiding is mostly a short-term occupation, guides often obtain further education to continue a career in the outdoors. For example, those with a degree may move to positions such as park wardens or planners.

In Alberta, most people employed as outdoor sport and recreation guides work in the following industries:

The employment outlook [pdf] in this occupation is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Trends and events affecting overall employment, especially in the industries listed above
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Earnings for outdoor sport and recreation guides vary. Their fees can range considerably, and they may only receive pay for the days they work. In addition, the earnings of self-employed guides depend on how well they attract and retain clients. Many guides work at other jobs to ensure a steady income.

Outdoor sport and recreational guides

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $15.00 $17.00 $15.34 $15.00
Overall $15.00 $20.63 $17.45 $16.00
Top $20.00 $28.00 $24.32 $24.00

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

C: Lower Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Lower Reliability, represents a CV of between 15.01% and 33.00% and/or if fewer than 20 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 33% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Industry Information
ALL INDUSTRIES
Information, Culture, Recreation

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

61%
61%)

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

38%
38%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

20%
20%

Vacancy Rate

23%
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Environment, Forestry and Related Studies
  • Physical Education and Recreation
  • Personal and Food Services
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Alberta Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) website: www.ahla.ca

Alberta Professional Outfitters Society (APOS) website: www.apos.ab.ca

Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG) website: www.acmg.ca

Interpretation Canada website: www.interpscan.ca

Interpretive Guides Association website: www.interpretiveguides.org

Paddle Canada website: www.paddlecanada.com

Raven Rescue website: www.ravenrescue.com

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2020. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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