Occupation Thesaurus Entry: Outdoor Guide

Jobs are as important for our characters as they are for real people. A character’s career might be their dream job or one they’ve chosen due to necessity. In your story, they might be trying to get that job or are already working in the field. Whatever the situation, as with any defining aspect for your character, you’ll need to do the proper research to be able to write that career knowledgeably.

Enter the Occupation Thesaurus. Here, you’ll find important background information on a variety of career options for your character. In addition to the basics, we’ll also be covering related info that relates to character arc and story planning, such as sources of conflict (internal and external) and how the job might impact basic human needs, thereby affecting the character’s goals. It’s our hope that this thesaurus will share some of your research burden while also giving you ideas about your character’s occupation that you might not have considered before.

Is your character a trail guide or mountaineer and you need details on what their job is like? This post offers great writing help and description detail.

Angela & her psycho horse Mate, with Nick, her trail guide

Occupation: OUTDOOR  GUIDE

Overview: An outdoor guide is someone who leads excursions into the natural areas. These excursions may be anywhere from a few hours, to days or weeks. An outdoor guide uses their skills and vast knowledge of the area to give clients an experience that only a seasoned outdoors enthusiast might otherwise have. Guides may take groups into natural areas to view scenery and animal activity using land and water transport, usually going by foot, horseback, boat, or other means. This allows clients to safely explore harder-to-reach natural areas, or in the case of mountaineering, summit a peak.

Guiding is done year round in many areas. In places where snow is common, transport might be by skis, snowshoes, Ski-doos or even dog sled teams. Guides are responsible for the safety and welfare of their clients and oversee camp preparations (setting up, getting firewood, filtering water if needed, and meal preparations) on longer excursions. 

Necessary Training: Not a lot of formal training is required to start as a guide, just a huge passion for the outdoors. A guide must be a people person also so they can effectively entertain, manage a variety of personalities within one’s group, and encourage travelers who grow exhausted or are pushed to their physical limits during the excursion.

Guides will require previous field experience or be given on the job training in whatever type of guiding they specialize in, both for knowledge of the terrain and in different modes of transport. If for example, the guiding is primarily by horseback, guides will require additional education regarding the handling and caring for horses, including any emergency situations that could crop up away from civilization. Guides may or may not have firearms training and carry a rifle as they are responsible for those in their charge. They will also have taken courses in first aid and possibly be a certified Wilderness First Responder (WFR)or a suitable equivalent.

Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: A knack for languages, archery, a way with animals, baking, basic first aid, charm, exceptional memory, fishing, foraging, gaining the trust of others, good listening skills, high pain tolerance, hospitality, making people laugh, multitasking, predicting the weather, reading people, sharpshooting, strategic thinking, super strength, survival skills, wilderness navigation

Helpful Character Traits: Adventurous, alert, calm, cautious, centered, charming, confident, courteous, curious, decisive, diplomatic, disciplined, easygoing, efficient, enthusiastic, extroverted, friendly, funny, hospitable, independent, mature, nature-focused, observant, optimistic, organized, persuasive, professional, protective, resourceful, responsible, sensible, simple, wholesome, wise, witty

Sources of Friction: difficult or whiny clients who underestimate “roughing it,” bad weather making the trip miserable and impacting what can be seen and experienced, equipment malfunctions, injuries (both people and animals if used), dangerous wildlife wandering close to camp, clients who try to get too close to wild animals, personality conflicts between clients, unwanted advances, clients who are poor tippers, clients who are not at the fitness level the excursion requires, a horse throwing a client, encountering a bear with cubs, a client wandering away from the group and getting lost

People They Might Interact With: Outfitters, tourists and locals, ranch hands, fish and wildlife officers, photographers, outdoor enthusiasts

How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:

  • Self-Actualization: while a guide might choose this occupation to be closer to nature and find their fit in the world, the day to day grind of dealing with entitled, rude, or overbearing clients on the trail may sour the character’s love of the wilds, leaving them unsatisfied with the mismatch of expectation and reality.
  • Esteem and Recognition: Because guiding can seem like choosing self-isolation, other people can make assumptions about a character with this career, assuming they are loners and somehow unfit for ‘the real world,’ which may impact the character’s self-esteem.
  • Love and Belonging: Because a character is often away for days at a time and on constant rotation during tourist season, it cane be difficult to create and nurture long-term relationships.
  • Safety and Security: Out in the wilds the character may encounter dangerous animals or navigate difficult situations due to the lack of experience of their clientele. In this case, the guide is responsible for the welfare of their customers, meaning they must take all the risks if something dangerous happens during the trip.

Common Work-Related Settings: arctic tundra, badlands, barn, campsite, canyon, cave, country road, creek, fishing boat, forest, grotto, hiking trail, hot springs, hunting cabin, lake, marina, marsh, meadow, moors, mountains, ocean, pasture, pond, rainforest, ranch, river, swamp, waterfall

View other occupations in this thesaurus HERE.


Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, an online library packed with powerful tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
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3 Responses to Occupation Thesaurus Entry: Outdoor Guide

  1. Pingback: Writing Links…4/16/18 – Where Genres Collide

  2. Thanks! This one will be especially helpful in the third novel of my new series.

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