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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.

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

  • 6442: Outdoor Sport and Recreational Guides

2006 NOC-S

  • G722: Outdoor Sport and Recreational Guides

2011 NOC

  • 6532: Outdoor sport and recreational guides

2016 NOC

  • 6532: Outdoor sport and recreational guides

2021 NOC

  • 64322: Outdoor sport and recreational guides

2023 OaSIS

  • 64322.00: Outdoor sport and recreational guides
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
  • Strength Required Lift over 20 kg

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.

Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Outdoor Sport and Recreational Guides

2006 NOC: 6442

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group

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


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


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

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

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 for this NOC group 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 About Interests


Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Traits & Skills
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.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Outdoor sport and recreational guides

2016 NOC: 6532

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 112 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Apr 03, 2022 and Jun 17, 2024.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Work Site Environment: Outdoors
Construction Specialization: Organized
Construction Specialization: Reliability
Construction Specialization: Team player
Construction Specialization: Effective interpersonal skills
Handling heavy loads
Construction Specialization: Excellent oral communication
Work Site Environment: Hot
Computer Systems: Valid driver's licence
Construction Specialization: Initiative
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2020
  • Minimum Education Varies

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.

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2020
  • Certification Provincially Regulated

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.


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.

For information on what you need and other details, visit the certification profile Hunting Guide and Outfitter-Guide.

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.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 6532: Outdoor sport and recreational guides occupational group, 83.4% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 6532: Outdoor sport and recreational guides occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 3.1% from 2021 to 2025. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 2 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2021-2025 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

Related Alberta Job Postings
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.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Outdoor sport and recreational guides

2016 NOC: 6532
Average Wage
Per Hour
Average Salary
Per Year
Average Hours
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 6532 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

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.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $15.00 $21.00 $16.89 $15.50
Overall $15.00 $24.00 $19.37 $20.00
Top $15.00 $27.00 $21.56 $23.00

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.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

Information, Culture, Recreation

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
Vacancy Rate
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:

Alberta Professional Outfitters Society (APOS) website:

Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG) website:

Interpretation Canada website:

Interpretive Guides Association website:

Paddle Canada website:

Raven Rescue website:

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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