For those who have been mountain climbing recreationally and enjoy it they at some point consider becoming a mountain guide. After all, we need people who are professional mountain guides who can take the lead and guide people on their mountain expedition. But just liking the mountains or mountain climbing is not enough to land a job as a mountain guide. The good news, however, is that if you have the passion for the mountains then the rest of the skills can be acquired over time.
Landing the Job
There is no set state or country-wide requirements on what it takes to become a mountain guide. Rather, the company doing the hiring has their own stipulations and requirements that they want out of their mountain guides. While they may vary a little from company to company, most will require roughly the same skills and experience, which include:
• A passion for mountaineering and for mountain climbing.
• Extensive experience in mountain climbing. Some may even require that when you apply for the position you include a list of all the mountain climbing you have done in the last five years.
• Experience in mountain guiding. To get this type of experience you may need to start out as an apprentice, work at camps, or other such programs. They may seem like low-key positions, but they will give you the experience in guiding that is needed.
• Certification skills that cover first aid, CPR, outdoor survival and rescue. Particular companies may also require you to be certified in a specific area, such as ice climbing, rock climbing, or ski skills.
• Being in great physical condition. A mountain guide is considered by most companies to be an athlete, so being in top condition is essential.
A Day in the Life
A mountain guide job is ideal for the person who loves mountain climbing and wants to put their skills and knowledge to use helping others. As a guide you will be working with others who will not be as skilled, so having patience and an outgoing personality is necessary. What you will do on the job depends on what position you are in, such as rock or ski areas. You may take people out backpacking overnight, on scenic mountain hikes, or take out a group of skiers ready for some downhill recreation. While the type of terrain may vary, in each case you will be guiding others on their recreational expedition.
Most mountain guides do not work a Monday through Friday 9-5 job. Instead they usually work seasonally, or will have hours that change, keeping pace with the demands of those who are looking for guided expeditions. Many guides are paid on a per day basis, with those who have more experience being paid more. The salaries range from $125 per day for entry level mountain guides to $250 per day for those who are certified and experienced.
To increase your chances of getting a mountain guide position there are several things you should consider, beyond just honing your climbing skills. It is helpful to take certification classes that will benefit you out in the field, such as medical and rescue ones. Also, the American Mountain Guides Association offers a certification that focuses on the three areas of Alpine, Rock, and Ski Mountaineering. Seen as a standard in the field, their courses can be a good place to start when looking for building your skills.
Landing the Job
Whether you want to work on the mountains of Alaska, the Sierra Nevada, or lead mountaineering expeditions around the world the opportunities do exist. All you need to do to land the position is build your resume of mountain climbing and leading, get some certifications under your belt, and stay passionate about the mountains. With all that on your resume there is no reason you wouldn’t be able to land a position that pays you to spend time in the mountains.