/ Looking for a career change into guiding/outdoor instructing

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rockface - on 10 Nov 2017
I'm a nurse (23) and looking for a career change. I've always felt drawn to the Adventure Tourism course in Fort William and now feel it is time to go down that route with the intention of one day working in the climbing/mountain guiding/instructing industry.

I've limited experience outdoors, no quals, but I'm a competent and passionate climber and I love being on the hills. I'm of the understanding this is not a career path to money. I want to do this purely for the love I have for the outdoors and sacrificing some income doesn't need a second thought for me.

I need advice from people who've been on this or similar courses, mountain guides and people in the industry: how can I give myself the best chance at this? How did you work your way into your career? What are my options?

Any and all advice welcome. Thanks in advance.
SenzuBean - on 10 Nov 2017
In reply to rockface:

I think it depends a bit on your circumstances. Mainly whether you have family, kids, long-term partner, loans. If you do have some of these commitments, a slower approach might be better - keeping your day job, spending all your spare time for a few years working through the qualifications, so that if after all the struggle you really see that it's not quite what it's cracked up to be and you enjoy doing it more as a hobby then you can do that. At 23 you can still change your mind plenty of times.

Only other advice I can give is that you should be honest about your weaknesses, and brave to try and fix them. That is the path to quickest progress. It's very easy to stick with what you know and are comfortable with - but it won't help in the long run.
1
Trangia on 10 Nov 2017
In reply to rockface:

Have you ever thought of becoming a professional expedition medic?
2
rockface - on 10 Nov 2017
In reply to SenzuBean:

Thanks - that's a wise comment. I'm lucky in that I have no real commitments. I'm looking to leave nursing, because it makes it so very difficult to fit in my other passions; weekends and nightshifts get in the way big time, plus I'm not really one to dip my toe into anything lightly - I'm committing to this.
rockface - on 10 Nov 2017
In reply to Trangia:

Contemplated it... I'll keep my registration up regardless of what I do, so I may delve into that area of things in the future, though the training looks quite expensive and there seem to less pathways for nurses as opposed to medics, but I'll definitely keep it in mind. Either way, I'm a long way off acquiring the experience and knowledge necessary.
Stuart (aka brt) - on 10 Nov 2017
In reply to rockface:

> Thanks - that's a wise comment. I'm lucky in that I have no real commitments. I'm looking to leave nursing, because it makes it so very difficult to fit in my other passions; weekends and nightshifts get in the way big time, plus I'm not really one to dip my toe into anything lightly - I'm committing to this.

As a 20+ year long instructor, some observations:

- Beware turning your hobby (passion) into your job. It can often kill it stone dead.

- Money isn't everything, but to make a serious living you'll be working solid for six to eight months of the better time of the year and be left with plenty of time off in the less pleasant time of the year.

- Keep your registration and CPD up as a nurse. It might be possible to mix the two.

Good luck.

Mark Kemball - on 10 Nov 2017
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

> - Beware turning your hobby (passion) into your job. It can often kill it stone dead.

This, I worked as an instructor for 3 years, but did a lot less climbing in that period than I had before. I was often too knackered in my free time to get out and climb.

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Pete Pozman - on 10 Nov 2017
In reply to rockface:
I'd look for opportunities to volunteer in sharing your climbing skills. It's a great way to build up your outdoor CV and you'll be able to find out whether instructing is for you. Plas y Brenin used to ask for volunteers to act as "clients" for aspirants on their leadership courses. That would give you a great insight into what being qualified might involve. If you live near hills you might be able to volunteer for a mountain rescue outfit. Start to keep a logbook of everything you do in the outdoors, going for runs, swimming, mountain biking, everything. Join the BMC and MTA. Don't give up your job yet and then go on the bank/agency. There's no money in the game and you have to compromise on the activities you have to lead. Good luck.
Post edited at 09:53
L redbullxtremer - on 10 Nov 2017
In reply to rockface:

COuses are for soft lads you don't need them. Ive never done a course but just tend to know things about mountaineering cos its instinct. Also I'm quite naturally fit and outdoorsy (but not the weird kind ya get me) so I don't think theres much point doing courses.. Its nature! Jus get out and enjoy it and be free! Courses are ripping ypu off honestly. I don't care how many badges or certificates some1 shows me I know I'm still better. Try and tell me there more qualified to be on a mountain than me.. jokes. Honestly meks me laugh. I jus be like I got a bigger bench and my fade is sicker than yours so who even are you. Also I get more gal.
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Pete Pozman - on 10 Nov 2017
In reply to redbullxtremer:

Is that your CV?
Mark Kemball - on 10 Nov 2017
In reply to Pete Pozman:

Don't take that troll seriously - he ought to crawl back under his bridge...
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L redbullxtremer - on 10 Nov 2017
In reply to Pete Pozman:

Nah bro CVs are for homosexuals. Don't have one. am jus naturally likeable and funny and dress fresh which gets employers on board. CVs are a waste of time be better spend sculpting the bis or gettin fingering strength up.
21
L Larefia on 10 Nov 2017
In reply to Mark Kemball:

Mate no bridges for dat Troll, the dude rocks a massive crib wot is takin his ego in innit!
2
Pete Pozman - on 10 Nov 2017
In reply to redbullxtremer:

> Nah bro CVs are for homosexuals. Don't have one. am jus naturally likeable and funny and dress fresh which gets employers on board. CVs are a waste of time be better spend sculpting the bis or gettin fingering strength up.

Ah I see what you're doing now. A bit like "From the messageboards" in Private Eye. Yes very good.
webbo - on 10 Nov 2017
In reply to rockface:

> Contemplated it... I'll keep my registration up regardless of what I do, so I may delve into that area of things in the future, though the training looks quite expensive and there seem to less pathways for nurses as opposed to medics, but I'll definitely keep it in mind. Either way, I'm a long way off acquiring the experience and knowledge necessary.

How will you manage to keep,your registration if you are no longer practicing. The NMC have a set number of hours that you need to be practicing each year in order to re register then there's the training hours you need to do.
chmckay - on 10 Nov 2017
In reply to rockface:

Hi there, I completed the adventure tourism course in Fort William and thought it was great. I finished about 6 years ago and am still working for an outdoor education provider in Fort William. I was similar to yourself in that I had little outdoor experience but that didn't limit me with the course. The two most useful things I found from the course was first the location, being based in Fort William and a student meant that I had lots of free time to push for ngb's and easy access to some amazing areas. Secondly I found the course was a great networking experience, the college has close links with loads of local instructors and outdoor companies. But that's only my thoughts on it
Deleted bagger - on 10 Nov 2017
In reply to rockface:

You can't have been qualified long. Why are you giving up nursing so soon?
1
peppermill - on 10 Nov 2017
In reply to redbullxtremer:

Ah. So THAT'S the long term effects of Red Bull.
1
rockface - on 11 Nov 2017
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

I do worry about that, but I'm hoping that I can find a way to make it work. Maybe by working as a nurse too and thereby not depending entirely on outdoor work I could find a compromise.
rockface - on 11 Nov 2017
In reply to webbo:

So it works out that I'd need to work the equivalent of about 3 months full time over a 3 year period to maintain my registration, which I figure I could relatively easily do.
rockface - on 11 Nov 2017
In reply to chmckay:

Cheers. Straight from the horses mouth. This is pretty much what I imagined and hope it will be like.
webbo - on 11 Nov 2017
In reply to rockface:

> So it works out that I'd need to work the equivalent of about 3 months full time over a 3 year period to maintain my registration, which I figure I could relatively easily do.

How are you going to revalidate which you have to do every three years. It's not a difficult process when you are working regular hours but just working the minimum I reckon you've no chance.
Given the poor pay in the outdoor sector. Another option might be relocating to somewhere like Fort William and getting a part time job in a local hospital or clinic, you would probably earn as much and have more time to do your own thing.
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JayPee630 - on 11 Nov 2017
In reply to rockface:
Don't do it!

I went from instructor into medic work (paramedic), it was a good move; better money, more flexibility, more secure, better variety, better longer term prospects, longer working life.

Most people move from instructor into another job in their late 20s/early 30s so bear that and the reasons why they might do that in mind.

Also don't think you can make a living being an 'expedition medic', it's really a stitched up thing that rich doctors do on their holidays.

Commercial/remote/offshore medic is different and competitive and you'd need to throw a few thousand pounds at more training (PHTLS/ALS/OSM) and even then with a nursing background some companies won't take you. Also at 23 you really don't have the experience, most medics are in their 30s at least with multiple qualifications and years of experience working in a variety of setting, often alone and in difficult places, and often many are ex-military with plenty of background as well.

If you're really set on it (although you can't have been a nurse very long, are you a commitment phobe?!) why not get a nursing job in Bangor or Fort William, go part time and do more climbing and then see how you feel in a couple of years having got some more experience and maybe your ML and SPA along the way?
Post edited at 11:36
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bouldery bits - on 11 Nov 2017
In reply to rockface:

Sell everything except your gear, clothes and car. Then move to somewhere in the Mountains and get a part time job at a local hospital or get a bar job / similar. Then you can get climbing on your own terms.

I've taken a step in to teaching from a financial services background in part so that I get more time doing what I want in the mountains. It's coincided with an injury (just my luck) so less climbing and more running and scrambling for me at present.

Balance it is.
AlH - on 11 Nov 2017
In reply to rockface:

Stuart's advice was good but also only make the switch if you enjoy working with people AND the outdoors. You can be the best climber/most passionate mountaineer in the world but if you don't also have a passion for sharing that with the widest range of people you will just get frustrated that so much of your time out there is not about you and your goals.
If you do come to West Highland College I'll see you there, I'm a local Instructor and work on the practicals.
Al
Stuart (aka brt) - on 11 Nov 2017
In reply to AlH:

> Stuart's advice was good but also only make the switch if you enjoy working with people AND the outdoors.

That's a very important distinction (that I'm banging my head for not making).

rockface - on 12 Nov 2017
In reply to webbo:

I have thought about that. I reckon if I showed face enough in a particular area the Senior Charge Nurse would hopefully be willing to sign me off. The rest of revalidation isn't particularly challenging. I'm planning on doing bank/agency work and if I was willing to travel I wouldn't have to commit to a post anywhere.
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rockface - on 12 Nov 2017
In reply to JayPee630:

Sure, I don't imagine myself doing it late into my life, but if I kept up my reg I could return to nursing anytime. I always figured being an expedition medic was a bit of a pipedream and expensive, like you said.

That seems like a decent idea, but I suppose being around other people with similar interests is what draws me to the course at Fort William. Simply living there and working part time as a nurse sounds a bit, depressing, and less social, too.
girlymonkey - on 12 Nov 2017
In reply to rockface:

I'm 35 and have been instructing and guiding for about 10 years. I have constant niggling injuries and have barely climbed the last couple of years due to work getting in the way. I love what I do and also being a linguist gives me a more interesting range of work.

I am now starting to build up a translation portfolio and moving towards more of a mix of translation and outdoor work. When you say you don't imagine doing it late into life, think 10 years.

Are you male or female? Many women drop out to have babies, it's a hard career to juggle with being pregnant and having small kids around.

Do you want to buy a house? Pretty hard to do on what most of us earn.

Just some thoughts. I love my job, but it's not as rosey as people imagine.
crimpsoplenty - on 12 Nov 2017
In reply to rockface:

I'm a nurse too, I don't think it would be too hard to revalidate as most agencies help with that. I do think the idea of moving somewhere like fort william and mixing a "normal hours" clinic job with getting out and about in the mountains lots could be a good bet. Equally if you really want to get qualified as a guide why not? If you find it's not for you and you would rather keep it as a hobby then you don't have to do it forever nursing will always be there to go back to.
webbo - on 12 Nov 2017
In reply to rockface:
I suspect that the world of instructing is hardly short of people as there is usually a similar thread to this one. Where someone with very little experience of the outdoor world wants to be an instructor following a few sessions down the wall.
As for the world of nursing I don't think you will get many enquiring how to become a nurse tutor before they are out of intro block.
Maybe you to do your time to pay back the money the NHS has invested in your training.
5
rockface - on 12 Nov 2017
In reply to girlymonkey:

Thanks for that. (I'm a guy). It's nice to hear your honest thoughts.
rockface - on 12 Nov 2017
In reply to webbo:

Fair comment, but I'm not advertising myself for punters yet... I'm considering making a decision to move in that direction - a decision to commit to another degree or leaving my job for something else. That's not a decision to be taken lightly nor one made on the basis of "a few sessions down the wall". (I've been climbing/hiking since I was 16 and have contemplated changing career since I started university 5 years ago)

If I do choose to leave, I will have paid back the money invested in me to the NHS and will continue to do so as a Registered Nurse for years to come.

No need to be high and mighty about it, but thanks for the comment.
webbo - on 13 Nov 2017
In reply to rockface:
Your original post stated that you had limited outdoor experience and your profile has a few dogged sports routes in a quarry. However as you now point out that you understated your level of experience, I guess I was being a bit harsh.
I retired from nursing last year after 30 years, although I did go back part time for 9 months. I managed to fit my outdoor activities around my career which has paid for it all and given me a reasonable quality of life.
Another option is a community job which usually gives you weekends off.

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