Break Free from your 9-5 Job: Get Paid for Adventure

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Monday through Friday, you slave away at your job. You pray for the weekend to arrive and for the adventures to begin. Surfing, hiking, biking, rafting, rock climbing—you want to do it all! But you only have two days. And, in all honesty, sometimes part of your “freedom” days is filled with obligations or prepping for the upcoming work week. How is it possible to fit in more adventure?

The answer? Get a job in the adventure and recreation industry. Why wait for the weekend when you can get paid to have fun all week! Here are some of the best jobs to feed your adventurous soul:


Are you a phenomenal surfer? Do you kayak down Class IV rapids with ease? Does leading a 5.10 climbing route bring a smile to your face? Whatever your talent is, there are people who want to learn it, and to be as good as you are—and the best part is that they will pay you to teach them!

Each state and activity has its own regulations and testing for becoming an instructor. Most recreational instructors need a minimum of basic first aid training, and perhaps more intensive classes. Whether you are looking to be a ski or kayaking instructor, research companies that are hiring. Some may even include first aid in their training.

For those who want more of a challenge, try starting your own company. To test the instructing waters, look into local clubs and organizations looking for instructors. They may not pay, but they will be great resume builders.


Do you dream of hiking through the Sierra Nevada or crossing the Mojave Desert? Biking through cities across the world? Do you love taking charge of projects or activities? Did you go on a whitewater rafting trip a think to yourself, “I want to be that guide someday”? If so, being a guide may be just for you.

Regardless of your passion, research companies and their hiring policies. For example, some whitewater rafting companies will teach novices how to be a guide. Backpacking companies may require more experience, but train you as well. If you know a city like the back of your hand, put together your own cycling tours.

Many community colleges and companies (such as Outward Bound and the National Outdoor Leadership School) offer outdoor leadership programs. These programs will not only train you in multiple disciplines, but also give you a handful of resume-building certifications. You may receive first-hand experience backpacking, ocean kayaking, rock climbing and mountaineering. The leadership qualities and expertise these programs leave you with is phenomenal.


You know that stack of outdoor magazines sitting on your coffee table and those blogs you follow religiously? They need writers. If you love adventure and writing, this may be the perfect gig for you. If you don’t already have a portfolio, start one. Ask to guest post on friends’ blogs. Offer to write for anyone and everyone. People do want to hear about your amazing surfing adventures in Australia. Research different magazines and contact them about their hiring criteria. Perhaps they even have a job listing in their “Careers” section.

Another avenue into the adventure-writing profession would be to start your own blog. You can be paid through advertising on your page, and it’s another fantastic resume builder. Those off-the-charts weekend experiences you’re currently having could be the platform for a wildly popular blog—and a sustaining career. Invite friends and family to read your blog. Post it to social media. Promote, promote, promote. You have no idea where the blogging road might take you.


If you have a dual passion for photography and adventure, the possibilities are endless. You’re already posting your photos to Instagram, why stop there? You can submit your photos to the numerous media sources, such as a national park’s Facebook page, different magazines, gear websites, and you can even submit your photos to contests.

Can you take phenomenal GoPro videos? Are you the person always taking videos of your friends “in action?” The talent to not only engage in an outdoor activity, but also visually document it is highly sought after. Many gear manufacturers want to see their gear in use. Look at the gear you and your friends typically use and research their policies on submitting photos.

Gear Tester and Ambassador

This may be the holy grail of adventure jobs. Free gear, paid travel, and the responsibility to have fun. Outdoor gear companies typically employ one or two people for a six-month to one-year term. If you are vibrant, full of personality, an all-around outdoor adventurer and eager to start a whole new life, this is your job.

Follow your favorite gear companies, as these jobs may only come up once a year. The application process is typically rigorous, but if you make it through, your life will be forever changed.

There is so much adventure out there waiting for you—and some of it will pay you! You CAN escape the monotony of your 9-5 job and lead a more satisfying and adventure-filled life. Take your passions and make them into your career. It might be a scary move, but as the saying goes, “You weren’t born to just pay bills and die.”

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Stephan Aarstol is an American internet entrepreneur and author of the book The Five Hour Workday, which is based on Tower Paddle Boards' invention of the 5-hour workday in 2015 that would eventually spread the idea to over 10 million people worldwide. Since founding Tower in 2010, it has gone on to become one of America's fastest growing companies and Mark Cuban's best investment in the history of Shark Tank. Tower has diversified into a direct to consumer electric bike company called Tower Electric Bikes, a beachfront event venue called Tower Beach Club, and, where consumers can shop all the world's finest direct to consumer brands from one easy place.