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Outdoor Sport and Recreation Guide

Outdoor sport and recreation guides organize and conduct outdoor activities such as mountain expeditions, rafting trips, hunting trips, fishing trips and trail rides.

  • Avg. Salary $9,439.00
  • Avg. Wage $17.77
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook N/A
  • Employed < 1500
  • In Demand Lower
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) 
Interest Codes
The Outdoor Sport and Recreation Guide is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Outdoor Sport and Recreational Guides

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

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

Updated Mar 29, 2016

Outdoor sport and recreation guides may be specialists in mountain guiding, whitewater rafting, canoe tripping, sea kayaking, hunting, fishing or ecotourism. Some guides work in a combination of these areas.

Mountain guides organize and conduct climbing, hiking and skiing expeditions in the mountains. In general, they are responsible for:

  • planning expeditions and instructional sessions that are appropriate for clients' abilities and environmental conditions
  • ensuring clients bring appropriate equipment and supplies, and are familiar with the use of specialized equipment
  • obtaining appropriate land use permits
  • arranging transportation to and from the starting point
  • leading the group during the expedition
  • using their experience and expertise to manage inherent risks posed by activities
  • providing information about local vegetation, wildlife and natural history
  • overseeing camp setup on overnight expeditions
  • providing first aid services when needed
  • acting as on-site rescue co-ordinator in case of emergency.

Mountain guides also may teach skills to skiers, climbers and mountaineers. They may specialize in skiing, rock climbing, alpine climbing, hiking or instructing on climbing structures.

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

  • planning expeditions
  • assembling required supplies and equipment prior to departure
  • instructing clients on safe rafting procedures
  • preparing base camps and meals during longer expeditions.

Once on the river, whitewater rafting guides must:

  • follow a specified route and provide instructions and commentary while steering the raft through a safe but challenging path
  • read the water (determine by watching the surface of the river what is going on underneath the surface and how it will affect the raft)
  • handle emergency situations, such as a raft caught sideways against a rock, a client in the river or a punctured raft.

On trips lasting more than a few hours, guides also are responsible for preparing meals, setting up camp and entertaining their groups.

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

  • choosing the route that will provide the best camping sites and animal or fish habitats
  • explaining hunting and fishing regulations and ensuring that they are obeyed
  • providing advice on equipment and tackle
  • checking equipment and supplies
  • providing appropriate transportation (for example, motorboats, land vehicles, horses)
  • ensuring that appropriate safety practices are observed
  • providing information about the habitat and wildlife seen on the trip
  • setting up campsites and cooking meals
  • providing first aid when necessary
  • helping clients field dress game, clean, preserve and cook fish or game, and dispose of waste parts.

When guiding novices, they also teach clients how to 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 29, 2016

Outdoor sport and recreation guides work outdoors, often in wilderness conditions. The work generally is seasonal and can be strenuous. Guides may be away from home for long periods, and their hours of work may be unpredictable (for example, virtually non-stop during favourable weather conditions).

Most guides must be able to lift items weighing up to 20 kilograms. Mountain guides must be able to lift items weighing over 20 kilograms, when necessary.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 29, 2016

Outdoor sport and recreation guides need the following characteristics:

  • outgoing and enthusiastic personality
  • strong leadership and conflict resolution skills
  • excellent 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 in which they work.

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

Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 29, 2016

There are no minimum education requirements, but in general, guides need:

  • a good knowledge of their field, including heritage interpretation, recreation programming, ecotourism, risk management, leadership and communication
  • 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 (a Class 4 licence is required in some situations)
  • the knowledge and mechanical skills necessary to maintain their equipment.

Some guides may be required to supply some of their own equipment. Those who are self-employed also need business skills.

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

  • be at least 19 years of age
  • meet minimum climbing or skiing experience requirements (at least 3 years of experience in a variety of conditions)
  • have completed a Canadian Avalanche Association Training Schools Avalanche Operations Level 1 course (ski discipline)
  • have wilderness first aid certification
  • be in good health.

Becoming a certified mountain guide generally takes 4 to 6 years. It involves training in guiding techniques and risk management, work experience and assessment (including final exams). Most of the curriculum is field based and involves practical exercises.

Whitewater rafting guides may have outdoor recreation diplomas, be trained by commercial rafting operators or be trained on the job. In addition to safe rafting and emergency procedures, their training may include information about the history, wildlife and plants of the area in which they will be working. Employers of whitewater rafting guides look for potential employees who have:

  • good social skills
  • excellent canoeing skills
  • outdoor experience.

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

Fishing guides require a valid Alberta fishing licence.

Hunting guides must be employed by an outfitter-guide to guide big game and bird game hunters from outside of Alberta. New big game hunting guides must have a letter of recommendation from the outfitter-guide employing them before being issued a guide's designation. 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.

Outfitters must purchase allocations through the Alberta Professional Outfitters Society to be able to contract with non-resident clients to hunt different types of game in various regions of the province.

Related Education

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

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

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 29, 2016

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 and Wildlife Regulation, 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 own game allocations or contract with clients for hunting.

What You Need

To obtain a guide designation, you must: (1) be a Canadian citizen or entitled to work in Canada, (2) be employed by an outfitter in Alberta, and (3) submit a letter of recommendation to APOS from your employer.

To obtain an outfitter-guide permit, you must: (1) have held a big game guide designation or a bird game guide designation for 1 year, and (2) provide proof of $5 million general liability insurance and a $10,000 deposit indemnity bond. Big game outfitters also must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada.

Outfitters must own or lease game allocations and have business related licenses.

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? and the Alberta regulatory authority (below).

Contact Details

Alberta Professional Outfitters Society
103, 6030 - 88 Street
Edmonton, Alberta
Canada T6E 6G4
Phone number: 780-414-0249
Fax number: 780-465-6801

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 29, 2016

Most hunting, fishing and mountain guides are self-employed or employed by outfitters. Whitewater rafting guides are self-employed or employed by specialty companies in river rafting.

Many outdoor sport and recreation guides work from May to October and find other employment during the winter months. The growing popularity of helicopter skiing has created new employment opportunities for mountain guides in the winter months. June and November are quieter months for mountain guides.

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

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

The employment outlook in this occupation will be 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 (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 29, 2016

Earnings for outdoor sport and recreation guides vary considerably, because their fees can vary and they may be paid only for the days they work. The earnings of self-employed guides also depend on their ability to attract and retain clients. Many guides work at other jobs to ensure a steady income.

Outdoor sport and recreation guides are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 6532: Outdoor sport and recreational guides.

According to the 2015 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Outdoor sport and recreational guides occupational group earned on average from $15.12 to $23.53 an hour. The overall average wage was $17.77 an hour. For more information, see the Outdoor sport and recreational guides wage profile.

Related High School Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Languages (other than English)
  • Physical Education
  • Science
    • Biology
  • Health, Recreation and Human Services
    • Recreation Leadership
    • Tourism
  • Natural Resources
    • Wildlife
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 29, 2016

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:

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Mar 19, 2016. 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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