Outdoor Qualifications That Can Secure You a Job in Travel and Tourism
If you’re interested in an outdoors job in travel and tourism, it’s important that you bring a strong background to the table, so you’re able to show any potential employer exactly why you’re the right person for the role.
Yet, everyone needs to start from somewhere and outdoor qualifications are a great entry into the industry. Tourism is naturally about ‘doing’ and ‘seeing’, so displaying those traits by gaining outdoor qualifications shows you’ll back up what you want to do.
But where to start? Well, what do you want to do? What’s your passion? There’s so many possible things to do, that you may as well do something you love. Outdoor qualifications are the first step to jobs that travel the world. If you’re a lifeguard in the UK, there’s nothing stopping you from being a lifeguard in America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, China or wherever else you fancy. Rock climbing instructor? Why not take your skills to Thailand?
You can very easily build your career in travel and tourism, if you take your first steps towards it with the below UK outdoor qualifications. All of these provide a great entry and you can further your area by taking further qualifications through the relevant governing bodies. If you’re looking at furthering your travel industry career, or want a specific job in travel and tourism, then you can add onto these UK outdoor qualifications with international qualifications from global governing bodies. The world is quite literally there for you to explore.
Lifeguard Governing Bodies
The lifeguards at any body of water are by far the most important person in the area. Their job is, quite literally, to guard lives. This is not just reactive and dealing with emergencies, but anticipating any problems that could occur and ensuring they are dealt with. Being custodians of the water, lifeguards pass on vital knowledge and education about the water to ensure everyone involved can have a fun (and safe) time.
From pools to beaches, lifeguards are required absolutely anywhere there’s water. This means lifeguards are needed absolutely everywhere in the world there’s public swimming available, so you’re open to any country in the world. If you’re attentive, fit and lifeguard educated, this role can take you around the entire world.
Specific Lifeguard Outdoor Qualifications
- National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ)
- National Vocational Beach Lifeguard Qualification (NVBLQ)
- Open Water Lifeguard (OWL)
- International Lifeguard Qualification
Where can I do a lifeguard qualification in the UK?
You can find lifeguarding qualification courses through the RLSS (Royal Life Saving Society) here.
Powerboat Governing Bodies
Putting the throttle down and shooting out over a glass-smooth lake or sea is an unrivaled feeling. Yet, you are controlling heavy machinery, one of which can switch direction on the water incredibly quickly and for most boats, don’t have the same safety features expected in cars. If you’re a responsible and attentive driver, this could be one of the most exhilarating roles you’ve ever had.
You’ll have to learn the rules of the water in the same way that you learn the rules of the road. You’ll be the expert who’s expected to lead in a fun and safe manner, understanding both the boat and the environment around you.
Specific Powerboat Outdoor Qualifications
- Level 1 RYA Start Powerboating
- Level 2 RYA Powerboating Handling
- Intermediate Powerboarding
- Advanced Powerboarding
Where can I do a powerboat qualification in the UK?
You can use the interactive map on the RYA website here to find which centre close to you offer these courses.
Paddlesports Governing Bodies/Recognised Educators
For those that love being out and on the water, getting involved with paddlesports allows you to follow that passion. Stand up paddleboarding (or SUP) has grown in popularity recently and you can find it in most bodies of water, whether enclosed in docks, or at sea near the beach.
It certainly gets you physically working, as you’re constantly engaging your core and using your arms to propel and balance yourself. Yet on top of this, you could be leading or teaching a group, who are most likely new to stand up paddleboarding. You’ll need to be aware and great in the water, so it works great with a lifeguarding qualification.
Specific Paddlesports Outdoor Qualifications
- BSUPA Level 1 SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard) Enclosed Flat Water Instructor
- BSUPA Conversion Instructor Course - BSUPA Level 1 Instructor
- Level 2 SUP Instructor (Exposed Waters)
- Level 2 SUP Technical Coach (Exposed Waters)
- Level 3 SUP Instructor (Tour Guide/Downwind & Distance Paddling/Racing/Beginner Surf/Yoga Teacher)
Where can I do a Paddlesports qualification in the UK?
There are a few locations that offer a stand up paddleboard instructor qualification, and through British Canoeing you can find a place close to you on their map, or through the map on ASI.
Sailing Governing Bodies
If you love the wind through your hair, then sailing could be for you. Being out on the open water is an incredible experience and your reading of the conditions around you is key to being good on the yachts.
There are so many different types of sailing out there, so if you don’t have previous experience out on the water, it’s better to start with one of the entry level qualifications and work your way up. Probably not unexpected, but you’ll need to be prepared to work physically hard and also comfortable both on and in the water.
Specific Sailing Outdoor Qualifications
- Dinghy Level 1
- Dinghy Level 2
- Dinghy Level 3
- Keelboat Level 1 - Start Sailing
- Keelboat Level 2 - Basic Skills
- Keelboat Level 3 - Better Sailing
- Multihull Level 1 - Start Sailing
- Multihull Level 2 - Basic Skills
- Multihull Level 3 - Better Sailing
- Personal Watercraft Proficiency Course
- Start Yachting Course
- Cruising Level 1 - Start Sailing
- Crusing Level 2 - Basic Skills
Where can I do a Sailing qualification in the UK?
If you click onto the relevant link above, you will find a search function further down the page which shows you where you can complete one of these qualifications.
Surfing Governing Bodies
If you’re the quintessential surfer girl or guy, then working as a surf instructor has to be the absolute dream.
Although England doesn’t quite possess some of the surf that the likes of Hawaii, California, South Africa and Australia has, it’s still massively popular and that’s reflected in the rise in man made areas to surf.
If you’re into surfing, you may have picked up the passion when on holiday, or even completed a surf camp somewhere. You can then back up with professional outdoor qualifications, which gives you the first steps into your surf travel industry career.
Being technical proficient on the board and in the water is obviously required, but further training on surf specifics and conditions would massively help. We all know the sea can be an unpredictable power, so a solid understanding will display your desire to get into this job. If you do, you’ll no doubt be able to travel the world to some of the most exotic surf locations.
Specific Surfing Outdoor Qualifications
Where can I do a surfing qualification in the UK?
You can find Surfing England’s interactive map at the bottom of this page, where you can find centres local to you.
Windsurfing or Kitesurfing Qualification
Windsurfing or Kitesurfing Governing Bodies
Windsurfing or Kitesurfing Overview
The likes of windsurfing used to be one of those incredible-looking activities, where those at the top of the game would go jetting into the air and landing gracefully on a crest of the wave. It looked like it was only for the elite, athletic few, whereas now, you can study the activity in many places in the UK and there is so many more entries to the industry.
Similar to most on this list, technical proficiency needs to be matched with a strong understanding of water and its conditions, whilst also being physically good in the water.
Specific Windsurfing or Kitesurfing Outdoor Qualifications
- Youth Windsurfing Level 1
- Start Windsurfing
- Intermediate Windsurfing (Planing/Non Planing)
- Advanced Windsurfing
Where can I do a Windsurfing or Kitesurfing qualification in the UK?
Depending on which course is most suitable for you, you can click the link and then press “Find centres running this course”.
Scuba Diving Qualification
Scuba Diving Governing Bodies
- UK Based - BSAC - British Sub-Aqua Club
- Worldwide - PADI - Professional Association of Diving Instructors
Scuba Diving Overview
The role where you will discover a whole new world, without leaving the planet.
Those who have been scuba-diving will know that you enter an almost alien-world and each dive is a further exploration into the unknown. Considering we have more complete maps of the moon than the ocean floor, scuba-divers are modern day explorers.
It goes without saying that with such exploration, comes potential dangers. It’s completely safe, so long as stringent health and safety checks are completely adhered to. So if this is for you, ensure that you match your passion for being underwater, with a passion for making sure everyone is safe. If you’re also a strong, confident swimmer, you could have the most unique office in the world.
Specific Scuba Diving Outdoor Qualifications
Where can I do a Scuba Diving qualification in the UK?
You can find a club or centre by checking the interactive map here.
Rock Climbing Qualification
Rock Climbing Governing Bodies
Rock Climbing Overview
Whether indoors or outdoors, rock climbing has become massively popular in the last few years. Climbing walls have sprung up all over the country and have not only become a form of fun, but a great form of fitness. With so many different levels of challenge, from a local 6 foot wall to El Capitan in America, rock climbing appeals to absolutely anyone.
Specific Rock Climbing Outdoor Qualifications
- Indoor Climbing Assistant
- Foundation Coach
- Development Coach
- Climbing Wall Instructor (optional Abseil module)
- Rock Climbing Instructor
Where can I do a Rock Climbing qualification in the UK?
Snowsports Governing Bodies
One of the original adrenaline activities, there’s nothing quite like skiing or snowboarding. Although we complain at times about the UK weather, further up north in the likes of Scotland, you can still find ski areas during winter where you can find fresh pow. If getting up there is difficult, then there are a number of indoor, artificial ski slopes across all of the UK, meaning access into this sector is super easy. It’s not a simple jump into being an instructor though, so make sure you’re confident on the snow before taking it on. Careers then lead all around the world, with America, Canada, New Zealand and Europe all providing the world’s best ski resorts, all of whom are looking for staff.
Specific Snowsports Outdoor Qualifications
- UKSS Ski Level 1
- UKSS Ski Level 2
- UKSS Ski Level 3
- UKSS Ski Level 4
- UKSS Snowboard Level 1
- UKSS Snowboard Level 2
- BASI Snowboard Level 1
- BASI Snowboard Level 2
- BASI Snowboard Level 3 ISIA
- BASI Ski Level 1
- BASI Ski Level 2
- BASI Ski Level 3
- BASI Ski Level 4
Where can I do a Snowsports qualification in the UK?
Mountain Biking Qualification
Mountain biking Governing Bodies
Mountain biking Overview
Most of grew up learning to ride a bike and some have then taken that off road onto exciting trails across mountainous regions. It’s certainly for those who are fit, as some of the terrain you can encounter is challenging, to put it lightly. For the ultimate thrill, some of the downhill races certainly get the hairs standing up, with participants flying down crazy runs at high speed. If you’re a bit of a daredevil and want to lead a group, this is a great way to get involved.
Specific Mountain biking Outdoor Qualifications
- Level 1 Mountain Bike Leadership Award
- Level 2 Mountain Bike Leadership Award
- Level 3 Mountain Bike Leadership Award
- Mountain Bike Night Leader Award
Where can I do a Mountain biking qualification in the UK?
Walking Courses Qualification
Walking Courses Governing Bodies
Walking Courses Overview
There’s nothing like being in the great outdoors and we’re extremely lucky here in the UK that we have an abundance of incredible hikes and trails throughout. Whether you’ve done the three peaks, or simply loved orienteering at school, this is a way of following your passion for getting out there and walking. Understandably, you have to be physically fit and you’ll then be displaying your thorough walking education to the groups that you lead.
Specific Walking Courses Outdoors Qualifications
- Lowland Leader
- Hill & Moorland Leader
- Mountain Leader
- Winter Mountain Leader
- International Mountain Leader
Where can I do a Walking Courses qualification in the UK?
You can find your ideal course and location through the Mountain Training website here.
Mountaineering Governing Bodies
For those who enjoy traversing the great outdoors and have a desire to climb some of the highest peaks, mountaineering qualifications provide the ultimate entry into living your dream. Safety and fitness are top of the requirements for this role and the technical requirements vary on the types of mountains you’re wishing to get into. The likes of life goals such as climbing Everest is completely different to what you’d do here in the UK or Europe, but the qualifications still provide an amazing base knowledge to take with you around the world.
Specific Mountaineering Outdoors Qualifications
Where can I do a Mountaineering qualification in the UK?
You can find your ideal course and location through the Mountain Training website here.
Swimming Instructor Governing Bodies
Swimming Instructor Overview
For the water babies amongst us who want to share their knowledge with others, this is the role for you. Swimming is a super important skill to learn at any age and being proficient in the water (and in delivering the relevant content) is required. It’s not all fun and games, as some people may really have a fear of the water they need to overcome, so being someone who has a lot of empathy will stand you in good stead for this role.
Swimming Instructor Qualifications
- SEQ Level 1 Swimming Assistant
- SEQ Level 2 Teaching Swimming
- SEQ Level 2 Coaching Open Water Swimming
- SEQ Level 3 Aquatic Activity for Health
Where can I do a Swimming Instructor qualification in the UK?
Swim England have a full list of Approved Training Centres, which you can find here.
If you’re interested in more jobs in travel and tourism, then check out our list of the world’s most adventurous jobs for more inspiration. Jobs that travel the world are hard to come by, but if you take your first steps towards your travel industry career today with these outdoor qualifications, there’s a strong chance you can land exactly that.
Absolutely all of these qualifications are recognised by Camp Leaders, Camp Canada and Adventure China and would put you in pole position to secure your dream job in travel and tourism. If you're looking for your first job travelling the world and to begin your travel industry career, summer camp is the way to go.
About the author
Mike is the Editor-at-Large at Smaller Earth, and the founder of The Lost Lot, a self-development platform helping young adults find direction when feeling lost in life.
He focuses on the bridge between travel and growth, highlighting how both can be a catalyst for positive change in your life.