How to Become a River Rafting Guide

How To Become A River Rafting Guide

You wake up early in the morning on a bright sunny day. You are heading to work but don’t need to dress formally.

You just throw on a pair of shoes and shorts and proceed towards the river in the national park.

As you hear the water gushing down the stream, you lavishly apply the sunscreen and are ready to put your raft in the river.

That could be the closest to an ideal vacation. But wait! This is not a vacation. It’s your job and you have just reached your workplace.

River rafting is one of the most exciting outdoor activities in the world. A sport that gained popularity in 1970s is now a great recreational activity.

You can find river rafting opportunities in numerous rivers around the world. Some offer extreme rapids while others provide a much smoother ride.

As much as you want to enjoy rafting alone, no river rafting spot offers the facility without a guide.

A river rafting guide ensures that you enjoy a safe and smooth ride as you go up and down the river.

The job of a river rafting guide can be an ideal job for anyone who loves being around water.

If river rafting fascinates you and you want to pursue a career in rafting, you do not need a professional qualification or experience.

On a positive note, you can be a seasonal river rafting guide so you don’t need to quit your existing job (if you have a professional career).

All you need is a license, the right age, perfect fitness and good sense of humor. Below you can find out how to become a river rafting guide.

Also, if you are not sure why you want to pursue this as a career, we provide some good enough reasons to motivate you.

As you continue to read you will also find out about some of the possible employment opportunities at some of the popular rafting destinations in the US.

Why Become a Rafting Guide?

Why Become A Rafting Guide?

Being a river rafting guide is a job full of adventure and thrill. But apart from the fun aspect, there are many other reasons for becoming a river rafting guide.

Read on to find out the top reasons why people pursue this career and continue with it years after years.

River Rafting Is Fun

One of the most important reasons why people want to become a river rafting guide is because it is fun. For most people, the mundane desk job is not what they want.

They want the excitement and thrill associated with outdoor activity and there is no better option than river rafting.

Spending time in outdoors is an essential human need and rafting helps you meet that.

Though being a river rafting guide involves physical activity, but if are someone who thrives outdoors around water, then being a rafting guide is something you will definitely enjoy.

It is Challenging

If you spend most of your time sitting in front of the desk, you might want a change. Being a river rafting guide provides you this opportunity.

It gives you a chance to be physically active while being on the job. Once you get used to this physical activity on the job, it is highly likely that you will end up pursuing this as your career path.

Being a river rafting guide is not only physically challenging but it is also mentally challenging.

The job requires you to be in the moment so that you can immediately solve any problem which comes along the ride.

So whether you want to choose the best course for your raft or plan to prevent a possible clash, your brain is never at rest.

People who grow well on this stimulation certainly want a career as a river raft guide.

It is a Way to Expand Your Social Circle

Being a river rafting guide is all about making friendships which last for a lifetime.

A lot of young adults start their career as a rafting guide but as they go through the training process of becoming a guide, they get to know a lot of new people who become great friends.

Also, when these new guides join the workforce, it gives them a chance to meet different people on every single trip.

Some of these people become part of your social network which you can benefit from later in life.

How to Become a River Rafting Guide?

Now that you are fully aware of why choose river rafting guide as a career, let’s move on to how to become a rafting guide. Being a river rafting guide is more than paddling and entertaining.

It is a serious job which requires rigorous training. Though most companies who hire rafting guides do not need experience but they definitely need a license.

What Licenses Do You Need to Become a River Rafting Guide?    

Safety is one of the most critical aspects of river rafting. When dealing with human lives, no rafting company can manage to slip and the precaution is universal.

Though there are specific requirements for rafting guides, there is a universally accepted rafting license issues by the International Rafting Federation (IRF).

It is a non-government organization formed by rafting professionals.

IRF is working towards creating high safety standards for rafting guides and the tourists by issuing internationally applicable licenses to rafting guides.

The have formulated a set of safety rules and tests for new guides. When a guide pass their test, IRF issues a license.

IRF also issues a license to every rafting club who wishes to pay for the test and clear it.

The regulations of IRF imply that every licensed club must upgrade their certificate every three years.

They can do this by paying a fee and attending a training workshop or conference which can enhance the skills of the rafting guides.

Every licensed guide also needs to pay a fee and attend training for renewal of the license.

While the license is a critical requirement for river rafting guides, there are other essential requirements too. A rafting guide should

How Much Do River Rafting Guides Make?

How Much Do River Rafting Guides Make?

The job of a river rafting guide is an excellent way to earn paychecks while enjoying the thrill and excitement of an outdoor water adventure.

So as you reap the benefits of improved fitness and making friends for life, you can do all this while making good money.

Similar to all professions, beginners in the industry need to work hard to make their way up the professional ladder. Only then they can enjoy the monetary benefits associated with their job.

But the best part of a rafting career is that most companies compensate well for new guides who take more responsibility and satisfy the clients.

Though each rafting company has a different compensation policy, a new rafting guide of average can make between $65 and $75 per day.

This is just an average so some rafting guides get slightly lower than this while others can earn much higher.

Since rafting is a seasonal job, over the course of the season, a guide earns a minimum of $4,000.

But as you gain more experience, the compensation tends to increase. Also, most companies offer a base pay and top it up with other benefits such as a bonus on x-number of trips.

Therefore, one of the best ways to earn more is to have guests who can request you as their guide.

How Many Rafting Hotspots are out There in the US?

How Many Rafting Hotspots Are Out There In The US?

Numerous rafting companies operate in almost all states of the country. Below you can find a list of some of the most amazing rafting hotspots in the country.

These locations are shortlisted based on popularity among tourists, experience with the rafting company (called outfitters) and guides and availability of activities other than rafting.

  1. Colorado River, Grand Canyon – Arizona
  2. Tuolumne River – California
  3. Arkansas River – Colorado
  4. Gauley River – West Virginia
  5. Salmon River – Idaho
  6. Rogue River – Oregon
  7. Kennebec River – Maine
  8. Chattooga River – South Carolina
  9. Ocoee River – Tennessee

Moving Forward

Being a river rafting guide can be a dream profession for anyone who enjoys being in the water.

It comes with a unique set of benefits, a decent paycheck and lots of fun.

So if you are looking forward to a career in river rafting, now is the right time to apply.

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