Working as a Self-Employed Outdoor Instructor

There's not many jobs that allow you to climb mountains one day and paddle down a river the next.


Working as a Self-Employed Outdoor Instructor

Self employed Outdoor Instructors are normally described as ‘freelancers’.

Working in the outdoors provides fantastic opportunities for self-employed people.

Take a look at industry websites like IOL or Bluedome and you’ll see plenty of great freelance work opportunities.

This blog looks at how you can become a self-employed Outdoor Instructor and make the dream of working in the great outdoors at least a few days a week a reality. There’s not many jobs that allow you to climb mountains one day and paddle down a river the next.

Many people use freelance outdoor work to top up other income. At Land & Wave we employ freelance Outdoor Instructors that also work as teachers, plumbers, fire fighters, financial planners, etc…

Outdoor Training and Qualifications 

Most Freelance Outdoor Instructors hold nationally recognised qualifications in several activities.

For example, British Canoeing offer a wide range of courses allowing you to lead and coach kayaking, canoeing and paddle-boarding

Mountain Training provide qualifications that allow you to take people climbing and mountaineering.

The pathways to getting these qualifications can vary…

  • Apprenticeship – a good option if you’re young enough.
  • Individual Courses – over an extended period (normally several years) you could choose to develop qualifications in a range of activities.
  • Outdoor Instructor Training Programme – over a 15-week period you’ll receive the training and qualifications required to start your outdoor career and start earning money.

Working as a Freelance Outdoor Instructor after Qualifying

After registering as self-employed with the HMRC you’ll need to contact a range of outdoor activity providers and start developing positive relationships.

If you’re new to the industry start by working as an Assistant Instructor and build your experience from there.

Be punctual, friendly and do an excellent job with clients; that way, you’ll be top of the list when it comes to ‘giving out work’

The demand for self-employed instructors’ peaks through May – September; make those busy months part of your plan.

Depending on your qualifications, experience and location you should expect to earn anything from £100-180 per ‘normal’ working day.

If you’re going to start running your own activities you’ll need to ensure that you have public liability insurance and, potentially, hold a license with the Adventure Activities Licensing Service.

The Future

After a year or two you’ll know lots about how to develop your freelance work and/or business.

You may want to consider further training to extend the range of activities you can offer.

You may want to take the opportunity for travel and expeditions throughout the world.

Land & Wave provides full time Outdoor Instructor Training in Dorset every Winter.

Land & Wave employs freelance Outdoor Instructors, get in touch – | 01929 423 031

Words by David Mutton 

14 April 2020 by David Mutton

Working in the great outdoors provides fantastic opportunities for the self-employed.

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