How to get a job sea kayaking?
April 19, 2006 12:45 PM   Subscribe

Where can I get a job as a Sea Kayak guide with little/no previous experience?

When I was living in Northern Virginia, I did a short seasonal stint as a white water river guide on the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers in Harper's Ferry, WV. And I loved it. At the time, the company that I was working for also did a lot of kayak trips that I was always interested in, but never got the opportunity to get involved with.

So, now I'm living in Orange County California and have been missing those days of having fun working in the great outdoors. Does anyone know if there are any good sea kayaking outfits in the area and, if there are, what the best way to go about getting the training and experience necessary to act as a guide for them might be?
posted by myodometer to Science & Nature (4 answers total)
There's this place, but it's in Oakland.

I found it with this Google search.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:04 PM on April 19, 2006

I would guess that having ACA certification would be a good place to start, and by going through that process you could probably find work. Perhaps check out the resources for instructors for more help.
posted by etoile at 1:08 PM on April 19, 2006

I can't speak for the USA, but in Canada Canoe and Kayak instructors would get their certifications through the CRCA (Canadian Recreational Canoeing Association) or the provincial counterparts where those exist (Ontario RCA aka ORCA, for example).

The skills and background required to get on the company's insurance would be the main determint (in my experience) for hiring of kayak guides. As well as kayak to kayak rescue, towing, and AR to a floating victim you may be expected to be a certified life guard, or where there are multiple guides per trip sometimes one per X people is enough.

I wouldn't be suprised if there were less honest guideing companies out there who would hire people without seeing the credentials in writing, but I wouldn't know of any off the top of my head.

My specific experience is for canoe trip leading, so this may not all be exactly right, but in Ontario most camps and companies I've heard of / worked with will only hire people who are ORCA or CRCA certfieid trip leaders.

ORCA/CRCA certifications are for flat water, moving water, and trip leading. In each category there is 3 levels. (Intro, Expert, and Instructor, Level 3 in all 3 = Master Instructor) Level 2 Tripping has the following preresiquites, which would all be verified and checked, or at least they were when I was doing this stuff a few years ago... (courses cost about $500 each, and last about a week)
1. At least 25 nights of wilderness canoe tripping experience.
2. Wilderness canoe tripping distance totalling 500 km.
3. At least 6 wilderness canoe trips in which the candidate was responsible for some organization.
4. One canoe trip of 5 days or more.
5. Must be 17 years of age or more.
6. Moving Water level 1a, Canoe Tripping level 1, Lake Water level 1a (or comparable experience with permission of the course director).
All that said, this is for distance wilderness trips. However, I wouldn't be suprised if in this day and age of sueing the hell out of people the requirements for day tripping and site seeing weren't just as high or higher. After all, if you're going to be dragging around tourists who've never held a paddle before then I'd guess you're actually more likely to have an emergency requiring rescue training than on a wilderness trip, because wilderness tripping is somewhat more self selecting for participants.

More information about courses and requirments can be found on
(and for the record, although I was a member it's long since lapsed).

Hey, what do you know. They've added a jobs board to the website. That should give you some idea of requirments..

A kayak guide and instructor for 3-5 day trips for this company needs to have
Qualifications: CRCA /ORCA Flatwater Instructor or better, ORCA Tripping 2, Advenaced Wilderness First Aid
And will get paid $120/day, which sounds about right to me.

In terms of getting the training you need, the trick is to schedule as much experience as possible for the shortest possible time, the last summer before I started instructing I was in the wilderness for 35 days out of 38. That said, it sounds like you've got a lot of relevant experience already, and so it may just come down to taking one or two courses to ensure you've got the paperwork lined up.

Good luck!
posted by tiamat at 1:10 PM on April 19, 2006

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posted by tiamat at 9:25 AM on May 1, 2006

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