Discover the exciting world of careers in adventure tourism

If you’re someone who loves to travel, e­njoys outdoor activities, or is tired of the typical nine­-to-five job, you may want to think about a career path in hospitality and the adve­nture tourism industry. This growing sector provides a wonderful balance between work and leisure that could provide significant rewards and opportunities to develop your potential. In this article, we’ll look at what adventure tourism is and how you can start a career in this exciting field.

Overview of adventure tourism careers

The adventure tourism market represents a compelling intersection between travel and exciting opportunity. It is a journey that can lead you out of your comfort zone into work in new places with different cultures and challenging activities.

Definition of adventure tourism

Adventure tourism packages are travels characterized by physical activity, exploration or experiences with nature or cultural immersion. These typically go beyond conventional tourism to provide experiences that can be exhilarating and educational.

Types of adventure tourism careers

The exciting field of adventure tourism offers a broad range of interesting and challenging employment options, including: 

  1. Adventure guide: leading others on outdoor excursions
  2. Tour guide: showing travelers around specific attractions while imparting valuable knowledge
  3. Ghost tour guide: sharing spooky tales in ‘haunted’ locations 
  4. Horseback trail guide: leading guests on scenic routes on horseback through beautiful landscapes
  5. River guide: steering watercraft down rivers and water courses
  6. ATV tour guide: zooming across diverse terrain escorting adventurers on all-terrain vehicles (ATVs).

Careers in adventure tourism

When choosing your ideal path into adventure tourism, it’s important to consider the qualifications and skills you’ll need as well as what the role entails. We’ll look over this in more detail below.

Adventure guide

One role that stands out is adventure guide. This challenging yet rewarding role occupies a fundamental place in the growing adventure tourism industry.

Qualifications and skills

For this role, some qualifications are crucial such as a high school diploma. Many travel companies also look for degrees related to tourism or hospitality management but may prioritize experience over formal education. You will need:

Being multilingual can be useful in this global industry.

Responsibilities and duties

Adventure guides undertake a number of tasks, including:

  • Creating engaging itineraries that take in local attractions and adventurous activities
  • Guest relations, where effective communication is integral to settling adventure travelers’ issues efficiently
  • Safety briefings, a core part of the job to ensure travelers’ wellbeing
  • Acting as cultural mediators to help tourists understand indigenous cultures better

Salary and benefits

Compensation varies depending on location and company size. On average, adventure guides typically earn an hourly rate (according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Jobs for tourist guides may also offer unique benefits such as paid accommodation during trips and opportunities to explore various locations globally.

Tour guide

Another popular job in adventure tourism is being a tour guide. In this role, your main function is to introduce tourists to and inform them about incredible sights.

Qualifications and skills

If you’re looking to become a tour guide, some of the most important skills to build are:

  • Exceptional communication
  • Risk analysis
  • Customer service 
  • Physical fitness
  • First aid certification
  • Product knowledge

Responsibilities and duties

Much of being a tour guide involves turning ordinary journeys into extraordinary experiences. Among your main duties are:

  • Tour preparation: studying routes diligently before the excursion helps ensure smooth operations
  • Information sharing: guiding adventure tourists through sites involves explanations about points of tourist interest based on historical facts or anecdotes
  • Guest interaction: answering visitors’ questions with verve can add memorably to the guest experience
  • Crisis handling: in unexpected situations, from lost belongings to minor injuries, a capable leader knows how to act quickly and calmly
  • Addressing sustainability challenges: as a tour guide, you play a vital role in influencing the experiences of adventure travelers and promoting sustainability

Salary and benefits

Wages for tour guides can vary widely depending on location, expertise levels, adventure tourism company specifics, and the tipping habits of customers. In certain regions, tips form substantial additions to base pay. What can be even more appealing than financial rewards are the other advantages in this line of work: practical life-long learning opportunities about diverse cultures and world views plus immersive encounters in stunning locations. 

If you want to aim for the highest levels with the best salaries, a hospitality degree can boost your employability and help you learn the skills and knowledge you will need to reach the top.

Transform excitement into rewards

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Ghost tour guide

One of the more unconventional careers in adventure tourism is being a ghost tour guide. This job blends storytelling, history, and an appetite for ghoulish details to intrigue adventure travelers.

Qualifications and skills

For would-be ghost tour guides wishing to turn their interest into a thriving career, certain skills are necessary, including:

  • A strong knowledge of local history
  • Excellent communication skills with an aptitude for great storytelling
  • An outgoing and engaging personality
  • Physical stamina
  • The ability to work irregular hours, as ghost tours typically occur during the evening or at night

Responsibilities and duties

Ghost tour guide duties largely revolve around creating an unforgettable and suitably chilling experience, which can be broken down into:

  • Researching historical events, urban myths, and paranormal cases related to the location
  • Scriptwriting based on collected information
  • Conducting the tour and taking audiences through different locations while spinning tales designed to educate and frighten them just a little
  • Ensuring tourists’ safety throughout the journey

Above all else, you’re performing to stimulate customer engagement throughout the tour and give guests a thrilling experience.

Salary and benefits

Similar to numerous adventure tourism positions, the compensation package can fluctuate based on variables like geographical area, company scale, and individual expertise. Reports from recruitment platforms suggest that ghost tour guides typically receive annual earnings before gratuities.

As with other types of adventure tourism, aiming for management roles can help you get a much higher salary. And for these higher-level roles, you should consider studying for a hospitality degree from a renowned hospitality school.

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Horseback trail guide

If you are an equestrian enthusiast, becoming a horseback trail guide is an intriguing proposition that deserves your attention.

Qualifications and skills

A passion for horses is a prerequisite, but you will also need:

  • Riding and horsemanship skills
  • A degree of risk analysis
  • First aid training
  • Communication skills
  • Physical fitness

Responsibilities and duties

You’ll undertake a number of responsibilities as a horseback trail guide, including:

  • Conducting safe and enjoyable horse rides
  • Guiding guests with different levels of horsemanship and riding
  • Upholding animal welfare by ensuring the well-being of the horses or ponies
  • Maintaining gear such as saddles and bridles and ensuring equipment is safe to use

These activities echo those found in a number of adventure travel jobs, as they include safety and compliance with regulations, customer satisfaction, and the well-being of all taking part.

Salary and benefits

For this role, job boards commonly advertise starting salaries around a certain benchmark per annum, which tend to increase steadily with experience. However, these figures may vary considerably due to factors such as cost-of-living expenses or local minimum wage policies, depending on the region.

River guide

River guide
Mint Images / Mint Images RF Via Getty Images

Another interesting career in adventure tourism is river guide. You can start this role with limited experience and become more experienced as you grow into the role. This job is all about helping people enjoy natural waterways.

Qualifications and skills

To become a successful river guide, you don’t necessarily need any formal qualifications. However, there are core skills that can be useful, such as:

Responsibilities and duties

As a beginner river guide, you’ll have a range of duties, including:

  • Ensuring all equipment such as life jackets and paddles are available and in good condition
  • Guiding groups along safe waterways while providing informative commentary on the native flora and fauna
  • Performing safety briefings before each expedition
  • Providing minor first aid when necessary

While this role may not require experience, there are times when quick thinking under pressure is handy.

Salary and benefits

Salary varies widely depending upon the region or specific company policy, but expeditions usually pay around $16 per hour plus tips.

ATV tour guide

Getting paid to explore the great outdoors by driving thrill-seekers in an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) could be a dream career in adventure tourism for the right person. However, being an ATV tour guide isn’t just about having fun. It requires unique qualifications and demands specific responsibilities, but offers competitive benefits in return. 

Qualifications and skills

To become an effective ATV tour guide, you need to possess the following:

  • Outdoor experience
  • Driving competence
  • First aid certification
  • Communication skills
  • Physical fitness

Responsibilities and duties

The role of an ATV tour guide goes beyond navigation to take in safety, entertainment, education, and reassurance. Duties will include:

  • Ensuring guests’ safety during tours
  • Performing safety checks on ATVs
  • Providing clear instructions and demonstrations
  • Assisting guests when needed
  • Entertaining clients with interesting facts about the area

Adventure travel jobs such as this require professionals who can balance fun with the responsibility of making sure every aspect of the experience is safe.

Salary and benefits

Wages for outdoor adventure jobs vary significantly based on location, level of expertise, and seasonality, but workers typically earn a range of hourly rates, with generous tips often received due to the high level of customer service involved.

If you are looking for something higher-paying, you could consider hospitality management. These positions usually come with better salaries and more benefits, but to land them you will almost certainly need to study for a degree in hospitality.

Explore your wild side

If adventure tourism appeals to you, why not harness your passion and learn from the best practitioners in their field on our comprehensive hospitality management program?


Whether you dream of an adventurous career or aspire to a job in an adventure setting, you will need to develop the skills to carry out the responsibilities that balance out the fun elements of these jobs. Anyone interested in working in adventure tourism may need competencies specifically tailored to the role, such as a knowledge of horses, along with a certain level of physical strength and fitness. Or you may be aiming higher and wish to run a business that offers adventure tours. Whatever your dream, you can get started by studying with a renowned hospitality school such as Les Roches.

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Thomas Barwick/ DigitalVision Via Getty Images