Giving Guided Nature Tours
By Eric Hammer
If you love nature, then giving guided nature tours may be
the perfect job opportunity for you. Guided nature tours can
be given virtually anywhere, even in densely populated urban
areas like New York City (think Central Park), but are most likely
to be offered at national parks and monuments as well as at state
The idea behind such tours is that you, as the guide will
take people around and explain to them, in the same way that
any tour guide might explain things, what there is to see in
various locations around the park you are touring. You can point
out unusual species, tell stories about some of the wildlife
they may encounter and generally allow people to appreciate nature.
There is also a more expanded version of this business known
as ecotourism. Unlike traditional tourism, ecotourism follows
the mantra, "take nothing but photographs, leave nothing
but footprints." The idea here to is to lead people into
remote parts of the world where they can experience nature at
it's rawest. Ecotourists pay a premium for the privilege of seeing
such things and you get to enjoy doing what you do for a living.
How Much Can You Make?
Guided nature tours in state and national parks which last
for a few hours typically charge around $75-$100 per person.
Often, this includes a picnic lunch which you will need to provide
to the members of your group.
There are also longer tourism jobs where you take people on
multiple day trips and of course, ecotourism jobs where you go
to more remote parts of the world to see nature. Ecotourism guides
make anywhere from $12,000 per year (if you have nothing but
a high school diploma) to as much as $70,000 per year if you
have a degree and a few years of experience.
Ways to Make More | Related Opportunities
Keep in mind that you are in a service business when doing
this job. You need to be able to give people a feeling, after
five hours of hiking around a nature preserve that they got their
money's worth. This means doing more than pointing out scenic
spots for photographs. You need to know the terrain and be able
to explain things in a way that everyone will understand. Keep
in mind also that many children are likely to come on shorter
tours and that you will be expected to entertain them as well.
That means being ready with stories and being able to show them
the things that make them go "yuck!"
If you love nature and want to work in the world of giving
guided nature tours but don't necessarily feel comfortable with
the idea of striking out on your own, you may be able to work
for an established company, or you could apply for a job with
the National Park Service. The NPS is responsible for maintaining
the nations national parks and nature reserves and park
rangers often are called upon to give tours.
In addition to these options, consider working as a nature
guide for a summer camp during the summer.
Whatever you do, remember to keep your groups small. More
than 10 people is both dangerous since you can't keep track of
them all in an area full of natural dangers and likely to result
in less than satisfied customers when they have to compete with
dozens of others to hear what you are saying and see what it
is you are pointing out. If you do decide to take larger groups,
consider bringing an assistant who can answer additional questions
and help keep an eye on your group.
Qualifications / Requirements
There are no formal requirements in order to give guided nature
tours; anyone could hang out a shingle if they so desire. However,
to be successful in this business, you'll want to know the area
you are giving tours of backwards and forwards. Knowing basic
emergency medical procedures and being able to point out dangerous
areas along the nature trail are equally important to getting
the job done effectively.
Start by scouting out areas you might be interested in offering
tours of. Learn everything you can about the area and then start
by offering small scale tours for a few dollars. Keep your tours
lively and interesting so that people will recommend you to their
friends. Advertise in local hotels and motels and put up flyers
outside of other popular tourist attractions.
Consider contacting local schools as well to see if they would
like to hire you to offer tours to their students.
eHow: How to Guide a Nature Tour This
is a good, practical guide to giving guided nature tours.
Conservancy In addition to offering a number of jobs
in guided nature tours, this organization also offers a great
deal of information about nature tours and is an invaluable resource.
The International EcoTourism Society
An expanded view of guided nature tours, ecotourism takes groups
of people to the far reaches of the earth for nature adventures.
Park Ranger Portal Written by a former park ranger,
this blog has some great resources to help you join the national