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Northwest College outdoor recreation: The pathway to an outdoor career adventure | Brand Ave. Studios

Northwest College outdoor recreation: The pathway to an outdoor career adventure | Brand Ave. Studios

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Many people dream of turning their passion for the outdoors into a full-time job — spending their days teaching others how to zip line through forests, rappel from cliff faces or white-water raft down a raging river.

Northwest College offers programs to teach outdoor enthusiasts the skills to transform their passion into a lifelong, fulfilling career.

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Outdoor education programs: Your path to freedom in nature

Northwest College has developed a dynamic outdoor education program that teaches students industry-leading technical and soft skills that position them for outdoor career success. Whether you are pursuing an associate degree in outdoor education or a certificate to focus on a specific outdoor niche, Northwest College has the courses and training you need to prepare you for a career in outdoor adventure.

Keith McCallister, associate professor of health, outdoor and physical education and director of the Dedicated to Experiential Learning Through Adventure program at Northwest College, says, “The courses focus on building hard skills for various activities such as backcountry living, navigation, rock climbing, whitewater rafting and kayaking, backcountry skiing, avalanche awareness, ice climbing and so on.” 

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Students learn leadership skills, risk management and how to safely operate in the backcountry with a group. They also gain experience in building and designing programs.

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From passion to profession: Outdoor career opportunities

Students in the outdoor education program at Northwest College can choose from multiple paths such as the Aerial Adventure Operations Certificate and the associate degree in outdoor education.

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“The Aerial Adventure Operations Certificate is geared towards individuals wanting to pursue a career as an operator or guide in the challenge course, zip line, adventure park and canopy tour industries,” McCallister says. “The outdoor education associate degree is geared towards careers in wilderness education (Outward Bound, adventure camps, or college/university recreation departments), river, climbing and mountain guiding, as well as working with one of the various state or federal government agencies, such as the National Parks Service or Bureau of Land Management.”

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McCallister continues, “A lot of people don’t realize the full scope and career opportunities embodied in the outdoor recreation industry. By completing various outdoor certifications or an outdoor recreation associate degree at Northwest College, you can work in fields such as an outdoor guide and instructor (kayak, ski, climbing, hiking, fly-fishing, white-water rafting), United States Forest Service as a recreation specialist, fire or trail crew member, National Parks Service as interpretive or front and backcountry rangers, or start your own outdoor business.” 

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The perfect fit for outdoor education

Becoming an outdoor recreation specialist requires skills, determination and a passion and aptitude for teaching others.

McCallister says, “Most people in the field fall into a category of enjoying the outdoors, not being in an office all the time, interacting with people and educating people.”

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If your dream job involves hiking to the top of a mountain or cruising down a river, then the outdoor recreation programs at Northwest College are for you.

For more information on how you can make your outdoor recreation career dream a reality, visit nwc.edu.

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