Outdoor pursuits managers work for organisations that offer outdoor sports and activities, such as hiking, rock climbing, abseiling, canoeing, sailing and mountain biking. Other professionals in this area manage activities which are categorised as adventure sports or unusual pursuits, such as white water rafting, ice fishing, ballooning and skydiving.
Outdoor pursuit centres cater for a variety of customers, from school children and corporate team building groups to people with disabilities and disaffected youths from inner city areas. The primary purpose of this profession is to offer a safe, efficient environment where people can enjoy the thrill and excitement of outdoor pursuits.
If you become an outdoor pursuits manager, your job responsibilities will cover nearly all functional areas, including: accounting, budget control, administration, business development, logistics, procurement, marketing, public relations, recruitment, training and general management.
Furthermore, you’ll be responsible for overseeing all matters relating to catering and facilities management.
From time to time, you may be responsible for the hands-on teaching of activity groups, for which you’ll need to have the necessary qualifications.
At all times, you’ll be making sure that activities are carried out in a safe and secure manner, and ensuring that everything complies with health and safety regulations. To achieve this, you’ll be conducting safety checks, testing equipment and making risk assessments on a regular basis.
Moreover, you’ll be in charge of customer relationship management, problem resolution and business development. Last but not least, you’ll be responsible for collaborating with other organisations in related fields, such as national parks and educational institutions, in order to organise special events, conferences and workshops.
Salary & benefits
Most people that pursue this career path don’t start off in a managerial position. In fact, in the first instance, most people become outdoor pursuits instructors. These guys tend to earn between £10,000 and £19,000 per annum.
As you progress to a position with more responsibility, you could earn around £20,000 to £25,000. Eventually, as you gain a wealth of experience and take full responsibility for managing a facility, you could earn up to £40,000 or more.
In addition to your basic salary, you may receive additional payments for overtime work, travel, food and accommodation.
Your working environment will depend entirely on the nature of the activities your outdoor pursuits company offers. However, generally, you’ll frequently find yourself working between an office, a classroom and various outdoor settings.
Similarly, your working hours will depend on the facility where you work and the programmes it offers. However, you will usually work between ten and 12 hours a day. From time to time you may also be on-call for a period of 24 hours.
A university education is not mandatory, but it may improve your earning potential and opportunities for career progression.
Theoretically, you can enter this profession with a foundation degree, undergraduate degree, or HND (higher national diploma) in any subject. However, a relevant qualification in a subject such as physical education, sports science, environmental studies, outdoor education or tourism management may help your chances.
Generally, people who work in this area will have a coaching qualification in at least one, if not more, outdoor sports and activities. These should be certified by the relevant national governing body (NGB), such as Sport England or Sport Scotland.
Furthermore, it’s a good idea to gain additional skills and training in ancillary activities, such as first aid and lifesaving. Finally, high standards of fitness and endurance are essential for people that want to work in this area.
Training & progression
Training and development will be a continuous part of your career, as you’ll need to keep your skills and knowledge fresh at all times. If people’s safety is in your hands, you’ll need to make sure your first aid skills stay sharp.
Furthermore, if you want to branch out and explore different outdoor pursuits, you will need to take part in other training courses and complete the relevant qualifications. It’s also a good idea to become a registered member of the Institute for Outdoor Learning (IOL).
Future opportunities for career progression include promotion into managerial and senior administration roles with local authority departments that deal with education, community services, sports development, travel and tourism.
Similarly, you could take advantage of private sector opportunities in hospitality, recreation and tourism management.
Alternatively, you could set up your own outdoor activity centre, or offer freelance consulting and instruction to individuals or groups.