Adventure Tourism: Career Outline

Adventure Tourism

Working in Adventure Tourism can be a very exciting and inspiring career choice. People working outdoors in this industry are generally adventurous people who have a love for sharing their interest and experience with others. Education is a very important part of this industry both from a conservation and safety perspective. Even though parts of it may be physically demanding and sometimes risky that just adds to the excitement and the intriguing unknown. In order to work in the Adventure Tourism industry you do not necessarily require a degree or qualification, although it does help. Some people begin by discovering an interest in a particular outdoor sport such as mountaineering, bush walking, or paragliding. Their interest develops into an aspiration to share this with others and they go into business offering tours or adventure experiences. This may require them to complete courses in business management or tourism and health and safety in order to run a legitimate enterprise. If one wishes to progress further or develop one's skills and knowledge once having obtained a job in this field studying for a Certificate, Diploma, or Degree would be extremely useful. For example, most people working in adventure tourism have some kind of qualification in tourism, outdoor education, or management.


Job opportunities in Adventure Tourism:

  • Tour Leader/Tour Guide
  • Small Business Owner (tours, accommodation, transport)
  • Outdoor Education Officer
  • Tour Bus Driver
  • Hotel Manager
  • Safari Guide


Where could you work?

  • Small to medium Adventure Tourism Businesses
  • Zoos and Wildlife Parks
  • National Parks
  • Holiday Resorts/Mountain Lodges
  • Outdoor Education Providers


Remuneration and Advancement Opportunities

Remuneration in the Adventure Tourism industry can vary but most full-time positions earn an average salary. Managers or business owners can earn a more comfortable salary (if the business is successful). It also depends on the employer – casual or temporary work may be the only work available, or work dependent on clientele frequency (i.e. the activities offered may not be in high demand for a small retreat in the mountains therefore the outdoor activity coordinator may have only sporadic group bookings). Some of the work may be seasonal (i.e. white water rafting guides), may require travel to different parts of the world due to this seasonality (i.e. alpine skiing), depending on the initial location. Nevertheless, some jobs are permanent and offer adventure activities all year round, it often depends on the destination. People who pursue these types of jobs are not in it to gain high salaried positions (although a selected few do). Of course it would be a bonus but the main benefit is working outdoors running activities they love or leading groups through spectacular natural places. Rates of pay can be below or at the minimum wage for people starting out (irrespective of whether they have a qualification or not), but those who have formal training and can demonstrate useful skills, are likely to advance faster than others.


How to distinguish yourself from the competition

There is often strong competition within this industry. In recent years, with the growth of Adventure Tourism, there are more opportunities but also more people wanting these jobs. Timing is often paramount in these situations – understanding the seasonal ebbs and flows of various parts of the industry and being in the right place. For example, if you are living in the Tropics and looking for work in alpine areas it is best if you locate yourself within reach of these areas. It is much easier to sell yourself in person than over the phone and on email. Hands-on experience also goes a long way. If you have a strong interest in a particular activity relating to Adventure Tourism you will bring skills with you that no course can offer as effectively. For example, you may be a keen hiker with excellent wildlife identification skills, or you may be quite experienced in abseiling or kayaking and mountaineering. This can give you a competitive edge over others, especially if the job is specific to your skills and interests. Also, if you are looking at starting your own Adventure Tourism business choosing the right focus is paramount. If there are already 15 businesses offering nature tours in your area then competition will be fierce. You need to develop something unique and attractive in your tours or find a different activity that is not being offered. Find the gaps in the industry.


Most of the jobs mentioned above do not require any qualifications. However, more technical roles such as veterinary nursing and research assistants do require qualifications. Select a course that will give you practical skills and experience as well as theoretical knowledge. If you have a goal in mind then try to find a course that caters to your needs and aspirations and consider volunteering while you study. Employers look for employees with initiative and skills specific to the job, not just qualifications.

Stress Rating and risks

There are risks associated with every career, but some are particularly pertinent to Adventure Tourism, including the following:

  • Most jobs require some degree of risk taking such as being close to dangerous wildlife, hanging off cliffs or paddling in treacherous waters. This is also a risk to children and members of the public participating in these activities.
  • Another risk may involve working in remote areas with clients. This introduces a number of risks but is generally only undertaken by experienced individuals.
  • The possibility of physical injury is often high. Appropriate safety procedures can help in avoiding this.


Dealing with the Risk of Erratic Work Opportunity:

People working in Adventure Tourism often maintain employment by diversifying their work. They may for example, teach, run outdoor education programs with schools, work as personal trainers (if involved in physical activity) or as an independent company, work as a casual tour guide, or work in a completely different area until work becomes available. Some people even chose to travel around the world to work in their field. For example, a skiing instructor from Australia may work in Canada or Europe during Australia’s summer.


Professional Bodies

Membership in relevant professional bodies or organisations is a great way to network, and does look impressive on your resume. It can also develop your experience and reputation in the industry. Some activities associated with being a member may include conferences and workshops, seminars, various field trips or expeditions organised by adventure groups. Some examples are listed below:

  • Herpetological Societies, Mammal Societies, Bird Watching groups (for wildlife based adventure)
  • Sporting clubs for sports such as kayaking, mountaineering, four wheel driving, and orienteering.
  • You may even get involved in organising your own adventure or expedition by gaining sponsors and eventually writing about your experience. This can develop experience and help you get known in adventure circles, perhaps finding job opportunities or ideas for your own business.


Most of these simply require an annual fee. Included is usually a newsletter or publication, opportunities to attend and be involved in seminars and conferences, and practical activities. You can gain a great deal of experience by being involved in some of these groups expanding your employment opportunities.



To work as a contractor in this field, you should consider personal indemnity insurance. A Professional Indemnity policy aims to shield the professional’s assets in the event of a claim, therefore ensuring that he/she is able to carry on their business. Most of the roles mentioned above are not filled by contractors and are more commonly recruited as casual or permanent positions. If developing a business in this industry there is a great deal more to consider including: public liability insurance, insurance of equipment. Etc.


To minimise risk of liability, you must investigate and learn about the legal and professional requirements for practicing in this field.

Assessment Systems

To work in Adventure Tourism some activities require certain licences in terms of competency. For example if you are a skydiving or a hang gliding instructor you will need a licence according to your country's regulations. In Australia you must have an A-licence, be a member of the Australian Parachuting Federation and have a certain number of skydives already in order to be competent enough to go tandem with a customer. In order to lead groups through the Amazon Jungle you will need a certain level of experience and knowledge of the terrain and environment, and be first aid trained. You will need to do some research if looking at undertaking some of these activities or if you are already employed in the Adventure Tourism industry. Also, if working in this industry there are generally no strict requirements to have a degree, although some people do and feel that it benefits them. A qualification of some sort and some experience goes a long way in this industry.

Recommended Courses

In most employment situations the knowledge is far more important than the qualification.

In practice however, most people who work in the industry do hold some form of qualification in tour guiding, leadership, natural sciences, eco/nature tourism, and education, hotel or business management. 

ACS has some fantastic courses for people looking at becoming involved in Adventure Tourism, either as an employee or an owner of an adventure based company.


ACS Ecotourism courses

Ecotour Management

This course develops your ability to establish and operate an ecotourism enterprise. There are nine lessons covering management, destinations, the tour desk, accommodation, catering, legal considerations, safety and planning.


Adventure Tourism

This exciting course covers the scope and nature of adventure tourism in today’s market and looks at the sources and types of opportunities available. Other topics include: outdoor adventure, artificial environments, geography, supply, sustainability and environmental practices and risk management.

Ecotour Tour Guide Course

This course develops your ability to organise and conduct ecotourism services. This could range from guided tours, overnight walks and treks, or self guided interpretive walks. Ecotourism is an industry that has developed hugely in recent years. This course will introduce you to some of the aspects of ecotourism guiding including environmental awareness, planning tours, displays and interpretive aids, plant and animal interpretation.

Bushcraft and Wilderness Activities

This course develops skills in bushcraft, while building an understanding of wilderness skills and an ability to manage the needs of a group of people while in a wilderness area. This course is useful to people who may have a recreational interest in wilderness exploration, orienteering, tour guiding, scout leading, or ecotour business owners.

Tourism I

This is a comprehensive course to develop skills in tourism planning and management. The course covers topics like destinations, insurance, transport, accommodation, package tours and travel agency systems.

Tourism II

This develops from tourism 1 covering topics such as the scope of travel businesses, types of tourism, accommodation types, low budget travellers, attractions, visitor management, contingency planning, packaging a tour.

Create your own Certificate or Diploma

ACS also has a number of single courses in business, leisure, and tourism management that can be used to create personalised Certificates or Diplomas in this area:

Hotel Management, Recreation Leadership, Leisure Facility Management, Business Operations, Management, Entrepreneurship, Marketing Foundations, Workplace health and Safety, and Starting a Small business. You may also wish to include some nature based subjects such as Ornithology, Environmental Studies, or Introduction to Ecology.

A selection from any of the courses mentioned into a Certificate or Diploma will give you a diverse and adaptable qualification enabling you to start a business in tourism, or simply work in a diverse range of areas. The courses chosen can be tailored to suit your needs as there are many options within your practical assignments to focus on a particular area.