Outdoor Advocacy

Best Majors for Outdoor Industry Jobs

ojEveryone is told to chase their passions and follow their dreams, but the unfortunate reality is that very few companies are hiring for space cowboys, especially if you have no experience. Many dream jobs are
little more than actual dreams but thankfully, some get pretty close. From product design to outdoor journalist, the best jobs in the outdoors start with the best education. If you’re wondering what direction to head in, consider the best majors for outdoor industry jobs.

Environmental Journalism, PR, or Communications
Granted, communications can be an extremely vague major and without a focus, it won’t do you much good in the outdoor industry. But, within it’s scope are options for jobs like journalism, advertising, marketing, and public relations, all extremely relevant and necessary to work in outdoors. You can help design advertisements, sell products to retailers, or get paid to write about your favorite sports and products (like I do). University of Colorado Boulder’s Center for Environmental Journalism program has undergrad and grad degrees for budding journo’s who want to do the world some good.

Environmental Science
If you want to do more to help protect the outdoors you love, consider science majors that correlate with your favorite environment. The fields of biology, ecology, and especially forestry are ripe for expansion and some majors like the Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management at the North Carolina State University offer a very specific route to becoming a park ranger, forest preserve officer, or wedging a foot in the door to a career in tourism management. With a science degree, you can hike in old growth forests to observe and gather data on endangered bear populations, go scuba diving to assess the health of a coral reef or advise corporations on the best ways to manage projects that affect our natural spaces.

If you’re obsessed with the gadgets and gizmos that make your time in the outdoors better, an engineering degree might be your ticket to a career in product development. Consider engineering focuses like Mechanical or Materials Engineering which will teach you how to design and build everything from crampons to water filters. For those who are obsessed with heights while not as obsessed with student loans (which is every dirtbag climber friend I have), consider going to a 2 year community college to become a wind turbine repair technician at schools like Dabney Lancaster Community College.

While not necessarily a major, heading into a medical field might land you some of the most exciting outdoors positions available. Search and rescue personnel that have medical training are in high demand. If you’ve got outdoor experience and are have the stomach to deal with traumatic injuries, a focus in medicine may keep you outside saving lives.

Hotels are big business and schools like the University of Nevada Las Vegas William F Harrah’s School of Hotel Administration or even Cornell’s School of Hotel of Administration take pleasure, very seriously. These schools aren’t training for making beds and sweeping floors; we’re talking managing diamond rated ski resorts and sky scraping hotels on remote islands that house more people than some small cities.

Culinary Arts
The countless lodges, cabins and resorts that scatter across our most remote landscapes all have one thing in common, they need food. Get training at a culinary institute and you may find yourself serving massive steaks out of a hunting lodge in Alaska or whipping up lobster in an eco-lodge in Costa Rica. For the sea-farer, there are just as many opportunities to cook on board big private yachts and research vessels which criss-cross the seas to land you in never ending adventures.

By Patrick Hutchison