Have you considered turning your passion for adventure into a career in the outdoors?
Getting more women into outdoor careers is key to creating female role models and inspiring the next generation to get outside.
As more women take the next step to earn qualifications and work as leaders in the outdoor industry, more women can be inspired to think, “If she can do it, maybe I can too.”
Fighting against the stigma that the outdoors are and will remain a male-dominated environment are Land & Wave Director Sophie Tanner and Mountaineering Instructor Rachael Crewesmith. These inspiring women shared their stories of coming to a career in the outdoors on the Tough Girl Podcast.
What should you know as you consider a career in the outdoors? Here’s a compilation of Sophie and Rachael’s top tips to get you started.
7 Tips for Women Entering the Outdoor Industry
1. Know that Outdoor Careers are Proper Jobs
One of the first barriers for women starting a career in the outdoor industry is simply accepting that these careers are proper jobs. While some around you may consider outdoor careers seasonal or underpaid, you’ve got to open yourself up to the fact that it can be much more.
“I’m always defending this as a real job,” Sophie shares. “We do get paid good money for this. It's a growing industry that actually holds a lot of responsibility and a lot of benefits.”
While there may be no ‘Outdoor Professional’ option on the various forms you’ll fill out throughout your life, it is a real job filled with potential for adventurous women.
2. Embrace Who You are As a Leader
One pitfall for women entering the outdoor industry is the tendency to compare themselves to the professionals around them. Rachael experienced this as she looked at the accomplished people around her as she began her career.
“I forgot that actually, the reason I'm good at these things is because I am who I am,” she notes. “The biggest challenge was accepting that I am Rachael. This is my product. This is who I am. I’m not competing with you. Since I embraced that, it's been much more fun, much less stressful, and much more productive as well.”
3. Don’t Wait to Get Outside
It’s all too easy to sit around and wait to get hired in your outdoor career. Sitting home and looking on the internet will only drive you crazy. Rachael’s advice is that if you’re not working, get outside. When people see your face, you’ll be at the forefront of their minds.
When you’re out and about doing what you love, more opportunities will come your way than if you are simply waiting at home.
If you’re considering a career in the outdoor industry, getting outside should be what you love anyway. Get out there, do what you love and the work will come.
4. Find a Community
In the outdoor industry, finding people with common interests can make a big difference in your experience. There are other women, very similar to you, who also appreciate being outdoors and have that drive to make it a career.
Even though the outdoor industry seems like a male-dominated environment, it is changing. The more you get out there and find your own community, the more supported you’ll feel.
When you do get out there and find yourself the only woman in the group, you may find that the judgement and exclusion you feared isn’t an issue at all.
5. Remember to Value Yourself
“You can't take a pile of Gore-Tex jackets to the bank to pay for your mortgage,” Rachael says. “You need to value yourself.”
Even if working in the outdoors brings you immense joy, you still need to charge for it. This work is still work. Undercharging because your outdoors career is just a hobby ends up as a disservice for everyone in the field.
Remember to value yourself and the work you do. As you continue to charge more, you’ll grow more comfortable with pricing your services and the expertise you bring to the job.
6. Believe that You Are Capable
Rachael is impressively one of only 46 Winter Mountaineering Instructors ever. That’s just 10% of all Winter Mountain Leaders. Her thoughts are that women may think the job is harder than it actually is.
“It is quite hard,” Rachael relates, “but maybe people just don't realize that they can do it. Women are really capable.” Believe it or not, Rachael knows business owners who look to employ women with these winter skills because of their inherent skills.
For Sophie, being a woman doesn’t detract from what you’re capable of doing. If something doesn’t suit you physically, it may just mean there’s a different and better way of doing you could try.
“The industry is so accepting of people of all shapes and sizes,” Sophie says. “There's equipment for everyone these days. It's amazing how accessible it is.”
7. Think Big, Start Small
Rachael loves the saying, “Think big, start small, but do start.” Some outdoor professional qualifications may take a while, but why not take the first small step?
Book the first training and you’ll learn what you need to work on. It may be different than you think.
Instead of letting your idea of your capabilities stop you from gaining certification, take the first step and find out what you can really do. You bring unique skills and perspectives to your work. Embrace that and give it a go!
Looking for a community of women passionate about the outdoors, including women who’ve made it their career? Join us in the Tough Girl Podcast Facebook Group to find your outdoor-loving tribe.