ORR Report Showcases Outdoor Rec Careers

A picture of a crowded state park entrance

The Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR) released a new report on available career opportunities in the $689 billion outdoor recreation sector that accounts for 2% of the U.S. GDP.

The report is designed to help industry leaders, policymakers and prospective workers understand how these jobs provide quality of life, support conservation goals, strengthen local economies, and connect Americans to the outdoors.

“The backbone of this thriving sector is a growing workforce that meets the dynamic needs of today’s fast-paced industry,” said Jessica Turner, ORR president. “Right now, there are so many high-quality jobs that exist across the outdoor recreation industry for professionals with a variety of skillsets that provide outstanding lifelong careers, and we want to highlight those opportunities in this report.”

The report was released in partnership with the Oregon State University Center for the Outdoor Recreation Economy (CORE).

“While professionals from across the country are carving out roles in this exciting industry that supports a conservation ethos and enables a high quality of life, we also know that there is a growing skills gap in the outdoor workforce and that there are thousands of open jobs available for people seeking life-long and meaningful careers,” said Lee Davis, executive director of the Oregon State University Center CORE.

The report illustrates the breadth, depth and diversity of the outdoor recreation industry workforce, ORR said. The workforce totals over 4.3 million, or 3% of all employees in the U.S., helping develop economies, increasing rural prosperity, improving public health outcomes and quality of life and promoting environmental stewardship and conservation, ORR said.

The report organizes outdoor jobs into three categories: “Technical Specialists,” “Participant-Facing,” and “Integrators.” ORR said the distinctions help the public understand the types of career paths for people with and without higher academic degrees.

As a newly organized sector including well over 110,000 small, medium and Fortune 500 businesses across America, many professional and technical careers in the outdoors are unseen or unknown by the public, ORR said. Most outdoor recreation activity participants only interact with consumer-facing employees. While consumer-facing jobs make up some outdoor recreation economy jobs, millions of professional and technical, full-time positions across the sector are lesser-known and provide competitive wages and meaningful careers, ORR said.

Multiple factors converged to drive the significant outdoor recreation industry growth in recent years, ORR said. Growth included a corresponding increase in the number of jobs throughout the country, including in rural areas which are transitional from extractive and other industries and focusing more on recreation.

Along with the report, ORR debuted a new career path module to help meet real people in the outdoor recreation industry. This module is a digital resource that features professionals across the outdoor recreation industry telling their stories and giving advice. The profiles include salary ranges for each career path as well as work history and educational requirements for each position. Go to the career path module.

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