Hiking Jobs: 13 Ways to Get Paid to Hike!

Are you looking for a job to keep you on the trail? Whether you’re looking to lead groups, write articles, or fight wildfires, our guide to the best hiking jobs will no doubt keep you outside!

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Hiking Jobs = Not a Contradiction of Terms!

Looking to find a job that lets you hike?

You’re in the right place! In this guide, we will be covering the following:

    • Hiking jobs in which you can make a part- or full-time living
    • Tips and tricks to create a healthy work/play balance
    • Jobs in a related field to hiking
    • Where to seek open positions from tours and companies

We know what the post-hike blues feel like. You’re standing atop the final summit of your big hiking trip, the sun is setting, the hills roll on for miles, the sea…then, out of nowhere, the thought pops into your mind: I’ve got work tomorrow.

Well, what if work meant hiking?

Yep, these jobs exist! There are many different ways to integrate your skill set into your regular hiking practice. Whether you’re a passionate group leader, a writer, photographer, or love to serve your community, there is no doubt a way to hike every day . . . and get paid for it!

Our list of the top hiking jobs explains all!

Top 13 Jobs for Hikers

1. Guide

As the pandemic revealed, more people are seeking pleasure in the outdoors. For keen outdoor enthusiasts, maybe nothing has changed. But, if you’ve never gone hiking before, where to start? If you’re a hiker, you have tools to share, as well as a passion for the outdoors. 

So, the job? An outdoor guide! 

Hiking guide leading a tour group through the mountains
Share your knowledge by becoming a hiking guide.

Pros

  • Making a significant difference in someone’s life
  • Constantly refine your skills, gain confidence, learn, and share knowledge and outdoor experiences
  • Always being forced outside – even if you don’t want to (!)

Cons

  • A lot of training, which can be expensive
  • Long hours, often moving at a slower pace than you’re used to
  • Work is weather-dependent

2. Trip Leader on Hiking & Backpacking Trips

Chances are, if you’re reading this article and looking for a job that keeps you on the trail, you have someone to thank for bringing you on your first hike. Whether they brought you for an epic summit haul, a meander in one of your neighborhood parks, or to a beautiful camping spot, showing someone the way is so rewarding. 

Getting into the backpacking industry to lead groups on trails is tough, but after taking a course and getting qualified, it’s entirely possible. 

Trip leader with a hiking group
Leading others and sharing your skills is a great way to earn your keep outdoors.

Pros

  • So, so rewarding – you get to watch people push their limits, get scared, then conquer their fears, every day
  • Working with people of all ages, from young school children to retired folk
  • Going on remote trails and expeditions
  • A good platform to branch out into rock climbing and mountaineering

Cons

  • Very hard to land a first job with a good company
  • Qualifications are expensive and time-consuming
  • High pressure – responsible for the safety of many people at once, often alone

3. NOLS Instructor

If you’re a qualified outdoor guide and have a passion for developing the next generation of leaders, then working as an instructor for the National Outdoor Leadership School is a great way to pay it forward. 

Pros

  • Share the skills you’ve learned both in school and in the field with young adults
  • Develop the next generation of leaders as a teacher
  • You still get to hike every week!
  • Fun!

Cons

  • Syllabus and teaching practices can be very different than those you’ve learned
  • You’re responsible for ensuring the next generation is well equipped
  • High-demand job, very stressful

4. Park Ranger in State or National Parks

Hiking isn’t just about cranking out miles and getting fit. We’re drawn to these trails because of their beauty and the ways in which nature makes us feel. Our landscapes need protecting. Park Rangers do this, yes, but they also enforce rules and regulations, make sure park users are safe, lead groups into the backcountry, go out on search and rescue missions, and much more. 

Park ranger clearing bison off the road at Yosemite National Park
No two days are the same for a Park Ranger.

Pros

  • Being in an incredible park – all day long
  • An integral member of the community – both human and natural
  • Gaining incredible insight into the land
  • Leading guests on educational hikes

Cons

  • Not always being treated kindly by park users
  • Requires a lot of schooling
  • Difficult market to enter
  • Unpredictable hours, working weekends

5. Wildland Firefighter

Heroes: protecting our forests and, quite often, whole villages. With climate change worsening and more wildfires setting ablaze, Wildland Firefighters have a significant role in our communities.

Firefighter putting out forest wildfire
Heroic and essential work, but extremely dangerous.

Pros

  • Protecting communities and preserving landscapes
  • Camaraderie (like no other!) between your team
  • Doing cool, adrenaline-pumping things to extinguish flames – jumping out of helicopters, cutting down trees, driving bulldozers
  • Visit some of the most incredible, beautiful places

Cons

  • Long, exhausting hours carrying heavy gear
  • Lack of sleep and time away from your family and friends
  • Very dangerous, sometimes with few benefits

6. Tree Planter

If you’re the type who enjoys all things suffering, then tree planting is a no-brainer job for you.

You may not be hiking, but you’ll be outside all day – rain or shine. You’ll encounter wildlife and, yes, you may be dirty, but you’re not alone. The friendships made along the way are some of the best you’ll ever have. The locations? Well, those are unrivaled.

Woman planting a tree with a foldable shovel
Planting trees day in and out, you’ll definitely be doing your part for society.

Pros

  • Get paid per tree (not by the hour), which by the end of the season, can be a lot!
  • Most camps have chefs that provide healthy and incredibly tasty food
  • Improving air quality, biodiversity, and natural woodland

Cons

  • Very hard, grueling work
  • Injuries are very possible, especially to the tendons and arms
  • Many, many bugs
  • The learning curve is steep

7. Social Media

Influencers on the trail: one day they’re posing in your favorite national park, the next they’re across the world, hiking one of your dream trails. 

Whilst the ‘hike for likes’ mentality is cringy to some, the lifestyle is great . . . full-time living for the trail and repping your favorite brands in cool places. This is one of the best modern backpacking jobs. 

Woman camping and looking at her phone
Influencing on social media means you can camp, hike, and adventure your way through life and get paid for it!

Pros

  • Test gear from your favorite brands
  • Build an online platform and community
  • Collaborate with other influencers to explore new locations

Cons

  • Spending a lot more time on your phone than you may think
  • Hard to be ‘authentic’ when you’re promoting brands
  • Posing, posing, posing

8. Hiking Blogger

Unlike article writing, which can cover a range of topics (gear reviews, destination guides, camping tips and tricks, etc), blogging is all about what you want it to be. 

Do you have a cool hiking experience you want to share? A personal story? Favorite trails? This is your space to be as creative as you want. 

Pros

  • Maximum creativity
  • Opportunities for exploring
  • Connect with like-minded people all around the world
  • Build a platform, portfolio, and following
  • Manage your own time, output, and content

Cons

  • Regular output and maintenance
  • Navigating ‘internet’ persona and real-life
  • Minimal benefits

9. Article Writer

Is this too close to what we do? Well, there’s a reason why we do it! Being an article writer is an amazing job for hikers. The benefits for this one far outweigh the cons, and whilst you may think that sitting in front of a screen isn’t appealing, just know that you can make your own daily schedule (meet those deadlines though!).

Writer typing on her laptop at a desk
Although flexible to allow you to hike whenever, you’re still technically working indoors.

Pros

  • Flexible working hours
  • Backcountry hike in the morning, write at night
  • You can work from any location in the world

Cons

  • You’re not on the trail whilst writing
  • Payment rates between companies vary greatly
  • Minimal benefits

10. Outdoor Photographer

At the top of any hiker’s dream job list – we’re always taking photographs of those beautiful adventure moments on hiking trails. Want to improve your craft? Join a course, or seek out the many free online resources.

hiker with DSLR camera
Spending your days capturing all those beautiful scenes is most hikers’ dream job.

Pros

  • Witnessing beautiful sunrises and sunsets on your outdoor adventures
  • Visit many different national parks, hiking trails, and remote locations
  • Build a social network of friends and keen hikers all around the world

Cons

  • Takes hard work to build a unique style and following
  • Long days and hours (often freezing!) to capture the perfect shot
  • Camera gear is very expensive
  • Serious photography skills needed!

11. Cabin Caretaker

Where there are mountains and great trails, usually, there are cabins and refuges that need caretaking. In Scotland it’s bothies, in France ‘refuges’, in Italy ‘rifugios’, in . . . look, you get the point! 

Some of these cabins are in the backcountry, while others are much more accessible. However, regardless of where they are, they’re guaranteed to be in some incredible locations. The best bit? Most of the time, you get them to yourself.

bothy
Free lodgings in the wilderness, what’s not to love?

Pros

  • Free lodging in wild places
  • Often, you’re there alone for an extended period of time
  • While you’ll access most by hike, you may very well get dropped off by helicopter!

Cons

  • Can feel very isolating
  • Often, you have to know a few different languages
  • If anything happens, help is very far away

12. Wilderness Therapist 

Whether it’s biking, backpacking, or hiking, there are healing and rejuvenating properties to the outdoors.

As a wilderness therapist, you will connect with people from all types of backgrounds. Whether it’s individuals or groups, pre-teens, adolescents, or adults, your work will help people overcome trauma, drug abuse, behavioral issues, and more.

Wilderness therapist with a group in nature
Perhaps the most rewarding and challenging job on our list.

Pros

  • Provide a community to people who don’t have one
  • Help patients develop tools for better self-expression, communication, connection, and healing
  • By helping one person, often, you start a chain reaction of healing and empathy

Cons

  • More training than simple First Aid is required
  • Stories can often be traumatic and weigh heavy

13. Get Sponsored

We’ve all seen athletes rep our favorite gear on the trail and wondered: how can I get that gig? 

Most people think you have to be hiking the biggest peaks while crushing all the records. However, this is false! Many people are getting sponsored now because of their roles in the public sphere, their communities, and as outdoor advocates.

Pros

  • There are thousands of companies providing sponsorships, not just the big ones
  • You get paid to go hiking and backpacking in your favorite gear
  • You can help a company develop products, their services, and community efforts

Cons

  • Incredibly competitive market
  • If you’re not an elite athlete, it’s even tougher
  • Often, you can’t represent two competing brands

List of sponsorship programs here: https://deepertrails.com/get-paid-hike-trails-sponsorship/

Let’s Go Get That Hiking Job!

Hiking is one of the best activities to enjoy the great outdoors. However, we all know what it’s like to return from a rejuvenating and epic adventure only to be bogged down by work we don’t want to do, at a desk that’s not outside. Luckily, Our list shows that whether you’re an artist, elite athlete, writer, psychologist, or community member, you can get paid to go hiking!

If you liked this post, feel free to share these jobs with your friends and fellow hikers! Drop us a line in the box below if you have any questions or comments.

Last update on 2023-01-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Alex Large Avatar

Alexandre Marceau is a French-Canadian writer, editor and keen mountaineer based in Edinburgh, UK.

During his undergrad in Quebec’s Eastern Townships, at the confluence of the Saint-François and Massawippi Rivers, he discovered that literary timelines, much like veins, carry the timeless stories that shape the regional identities of place. As a result, in 2019, he co-founded yolk, a Canadian literary journal for which he serves as Fiction Editor.

Alexandre’s work has appeared in various journals, newspapers and websites in Canada and Scotland, and he is the Creatives Editor for the Scottish Mountaineering Press. His time is divided between climbing, trail-running, snowboarding and writing.

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