OARS Jobs for New Guides

An OARS guide.

OARS is looking for professional, safety-oriented, exciting guides to join our team while being intentional about diversifying our workforce.

OARS guides combine a passion for the outdoors with compassion for our guests, a desire to learn with the talent to teach and a flexible attitude with a steadfast commitment to conservation. OARS guides deliver the highest levels of service because we love what we do, we love the undeniably special places we visit and we love having a positive impact on the lives of others.

During our guide school and/or training courses, you will be trained on all aspects of becoming a guide, no previous experience is required to apply. Four of our six locations bring on inexperienced guides. Selecting a location to work one-day trips (American River/Lotus, CA or Dinosaur National Monument/Vernal, UT) is the fastest route to paid work as a guide and these are also the locations that offer guide school. Regardless of region, inexperienced guides need to attend in-house training and/or guide school in the specific area you are seeking work.

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Please note: OARS also runs trips out of Angels Camp, CA, Moab, UT, and Grand Canyon, but these regions are not listed on this chart because those areas do not hire staff without previous experience.

Each of our regional operations has a slightly different hiring process. If your application is received outside of January-April, you may experience a delay before receiving a personalized response.

Follow these steps toward becoming a guide with OARS:

  • Decide whether you want to enter guiding via day-trips or multi-day training, check out our FAQs page.
  • Complete a whitewater river guide online employment application
  • Complete interview process with a regional manager
  • Secure a spot on one of our guide training programs
  • Successfully complete training program demonstrating needed skills and potential/get final job offer
  • Acquire all certifications needed for hiring location
  • Complete post guide school training to meet the minimum qualifications needed to guide guests

Need help paying for guide school?

Each year OARS selects a handful of promising applicants to receive financial assistance designed to waive or reduce the cost required for guide school.

Learn more about our Guide School Tuition Assistance Program and apply today!

These requirements are guidelines, not hard and fast rules, so if you have ~75% of the requirements listed we encourage you to apply. Your “experience” below refers to paid and unpaid experience, including private trips, which helps build the competencies, knowledge, and skills that translate directly to this position. Applying gives you the opportunity to be considered.

Guide Duties and Responsibilities

Have the skills and knowledge

  • Safely navigate rivers, lakes, trails, or roads in watercraft, vehicles and on foot.
  • Be familiar with OARS menus, prepare delicious meals, practice safe food-handling including attention to dietary restrictions, and artfully present food.
  • Care for and maintain OARS equipment and personal equipment; mark and set aside broken equipment when it cannot be fixed.
  • Complete all written documentation using required technology.
  • Good lifting techniques and attention to all areas of worker safety.
  • Assist with food packing, shuttle driving, repair and preparation of boats and other equipment as required.
  • Whitewater rescue of persons and equipment, give care and facilitate evacuation when needed.
  • Securely and safely rig all boats and vehicles for whitewater or road travel.
  • Set-up and break-down camps; load and unload trips at the warehouse; pack, unpack and clean-up.
  • Give effective and demonstrative safety and intro talks.
  • Be familiar with and maintain contents of first aid kits.
  • Know and comply with regulations set by governing management agencies.
  • Know location of emergency plans, all reporting forms, and other warehouse and office resources.
  • Be proficient in use of satellite communication devices and have knowledge of evacuation routes.

Create Trip Experience

  • Seek to provide our guests with the best outdoor experience of their lives.
  • Know and follow OARS policies regarding use of alcohol.
  • Instill confidence and a sense of shared adventure with passengers.
  • Provide a positive role model for children and facilitate kid-friendly activities.
  • Know your role on each trip.
  • Be familiar with trip logistics and passenger rosters.
  • Share job related concerns and ideas with crew, trip leaders and managers.
  • Enthusiastically assist guests providing unexpected help.
  • Engage with clients during meal or down times making them feel welcomed and hosted.
  • Learn passengers’ names.
  • Deal professionally with challenging clients.
  • Be on schedule according to TL and manager directives and client needs.
  • Regardless of client behavior, refrain from cannabis use or personal nudity.
  • Take care of themselves and others in difficult wilderness situations and environments.
  • Ensure that everyone participating (going on a hike, running a rapid, trying an IK or SUP, etc) is aware of the difficulty involved and is physically and emotionally ready for it. Dissuade those not ready and offer an alternative to them.

Demonstrate work ethic

  • Address and resolve conflict in a timely and mature manner.
  • Gives and receives feedback in a positive, constructive and professional way.
  • Complete the tasks of the job from start to finish; finish the task completely including putting things away and cleaning up work areas.
  • Solve problems when they arise using good judgment and creativity.
  • Participate in pre/post-trip meetings.
  • Work long hours with a good attitude and practice necessary self-care to avoid burn-out.
  • Be an ambassador and representative of OARS in the field: promote other OARS trips; wear clean and professional clothing especially OARS wear; do not promote competitors’ trips or wear articles of competitors’ clothing; be courteous to all other groups; keep conversations professional at all times.
  • Evolve with changing protocols, industry standards, additional responsibilities and new tasks.
  • Don’t badmouth other companies, OARS management or policies, reservationists, pay, equipment, other guides on the trip or the decisions of the trip leader.
  • Understand and follow OARS risk management policies and procedures.
  • Report any witnessed misconduct to managers.

Provide Interpretation

  • Present facts about the region’s natural and human history.
  • Lead interpretive talks, walks and hikes.
  • Adhere to Seven Principles of Leave No Trace at all times.
  • Be a steward of the natural areas in which we travel.
  • Stay abreast of and enhance others awareness of political and environmental issues concerning the areas you work in.
  • Continually strive to grow in interpretive skills; support fellow guides in interpretive efforts.

Guide Qualifications

  • Minimum of CPR, Swiftwater training (for whitewater guides), WAT, First-Aid level as follows:
    • Wilderness First Responder or greater is required for multi-day guides
    • Wilderness First Aid or greater is required for one-day guides
  • Communication, Customer service, and People skills
  • Understanding of natural history
  • Leadership qualities
  • Ability to work with a wide array of demographics including varieties in age, race, culture, etc.
  • Willingness to work all aspects of the job
  • Capable of working long hours
  • Physically fit-water based guides must be able to self-rescue back into boat
  • Team player
  • Fluent English
  • Safety conscious
  • Competency in all above duties and responsibilities
  • Camping and outdoor cooking skills
  • Self-Starter
  • Appropriate training and experience for the river or trail, water level and type of craft used on the trip.

Compensation & Benefits

  • Wages range from $120 and up for one-day trips and from $170 to $315/day (varies by region/river & based on guide experience) for multi-day trips, plus gratuities
  • Paid bi-weekly via direct deposit
  • All meals while on the river + some additional meals pre/post trip
  • Paid and/or subsidized swiftwater rescue & risk management training
  • Free or low-cost camping for staff w/ access to bathroom, shower & kitchen facilities
  • Annual staff gear package & access to pro deals
  • Top-notch boats, vehicles & equipment
  • Caring & experienced management team (with women in leadership roles at all operations) + fun & professional crews
  • Guide commission & request/referral program
  • Up to 48 hours of paid sick leave per season for guides who work 30+ paid days
  • Health insurance stipend & 401k w/ company match after 50 paid days
  • Opportunities to experience multiple rivers & for growth within the company
  • Friends & family discounts on OARS trips

Join Our Team

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