Working in the Outdoor Industry – Pros and Cons

November 06, 2015 Shannon Skouras
The View From My Office Last February.  | Shannon Skouras
The view from my office last February. | Shannon Skouras

Jobs vary in the Outdoor Industry – some are office-based, others are in the field and a select few are pretty much split right down the middle. I went from a desk job at Full Speed Ahead (FSA – a bicycle components brand) where I was in the office 8-5, commuting to work and only having weekends to adventure to the career I hold now – where I work 7 days a week but split my time 50/50 between my home office and the outdoors (and I get to make my own schedule – SCORE!). Although there are thousands of jobs and careers within this industry, I can only pull from my own experiences – so this week, I give you my own personal pros and cons of working in the ever changing, insanely competitive world of the outdoor industry.

Scoping Lines With Andy Mahre, In Japan Last Season... One Of Those Epic Trips Where Work, Family And Play Intertwine. | Ross Reid
Scoping lines with Andy Mahre in Japan… one of those epic trips where work, family and play intertwine. | Ross Reid

Pro: You get to travel. For all of the careers that I have held within this industry, the amount of travel has varied from position to position, but in the end, it is always a part of the job description. Sometimes the travel will take you to exotic locales, other times to over-populated trade shows in Vegas, but one thing is for certain – you will meet some amazing people wherever your job takes you. As a professional photographer, athlete and freelance writer, my current career takes me abroad quite frequently and has paid for me to do some amazing things – skiing in Japan, heli-skiing in Switzerland, cat-skiing in Canada, just to name a few. But this exciting aspect to working in this industry can also be a bit draining at times, which takes us to our first con.

Daily Commute | Dave Silver
Daily Commute | Dave Silver

Con: You get to travel.  Don’t get me wrong, I love traveling – but back to back 3-4 week long trips, countless airport visits, thousands of photos to edit and numerous articles to write doubled with a lack of face time with my family can get draining after a while. That being said, if your job allows you to incorporate your family or loved ones into your travel plans at times, these trips can be great opportunities to explore the world and make memories together.

Living The Dream | Caton Garvie
Living the dream | Caton Garvie

Pro: Your work involves your passions. All of the careers within the outdoor industry that I have held have revolved around my passions – whether that be mountain biking, skiing, shooting photos, or the outdoors in general. It is a lot easier to work for a company that sells or represents something that you believe in or are passionate about. This aspect of the job also means that you will most likely be working with like-minded people (in terms of hobbies, passions, etc.) to a level. When I worked at FSA, all of my close co-workers were insanely passionate about bikes… and beer – so no matter what, we always had a common ground to stand on.

New Friends, New Memories | Steve Rosset
New friends, new memories | Steve Rosset

Cons: Your work involves your passions. Once again, the pro can also be the con – for some people. Although enveloping yourself within your favorite hobby or passion sounds like an amazing situation to some, others prefer separating work and play a bit more. When your whole world revolves around the activities that used to be the “fun” in your life and those activities are now serious, stressful or regimented, burnout can occur.

Fun Is What You Make It - Andy And I On A Work Trip In Hakuba, Japan | Ethan Stone
Fun is what you make it – Andy and I on a work trip in Hakuba, Japan | Ethan Stone

Every job has it’s pros and cons – even your “dream job”. In the end, fun is what you make it and a large workload only seems large if you aren’t carrying it properly. My advice? Get a more comfortable backpack and enjoy where you are, right now.