These Schools Can Help You Break Into The Outdoor Industry

These Schools Can Help You Break Into The Outdoor Industry

Thinking of entering the outdoor recreation industry? If you are a student (or working on a career change), now is the time to join. More and more universities in the United States are offering Future Creative Enterprise programs to better prepare tomorrow’s managers, marketers, and entrepreneurs for success. Last school on the list: University of Denver.

DU’s new Outdoor Recreation Industry Leadership program offers two graduate certificates, one in Leadership in the Outdoor Recreation Industry (ORIB) and one in Leadership in the Outdoor Recreation Industry (ORIL). The ORIB certificate focuses on core business skills such as accounting, finance, and marketing and is designed for recent graduates with no or limited business experience. The more advanced ORIL is for middle managers with some business experience (in marine logging or elsewhere). The ORIL course covers more advanced topics such as financial models, supply chain issues, human resources, and growth management.

Both programs begin in the spring and virtual visitation is available for those who do not live in Mile High City.

“We create accessible and specialized programs that will prepare students for the outdoor jobs available today and for the careers of the future,” said DU rector Jeremy Hefner.

The new program is funded in part by a $3 million grant from the VF Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Denver-based VF Corporation, the parent company of The North Face and Smartwool.

“Denver is an important hub for the outdoors industry, making DU an ideal location for such a program,” said Steve Rendell, CEO of VF Corporation and President of the VF Foundation. “Through the foundation’s targeted scholarship support for underrepresented individuals, combined with DU’s extensive business and industry courses, we hope to usher in a new generation of multifaceted leaders in the outdoors industry.”

With the maritime economy generating $374 billion in annual consumer spending in the United States, it’s no surprise that academic offerings like these are popping up at colleges and universities across the country. Below is a list of other top programs that meet the needs of businesses in attracting people from abroad.


Do you want to start your outdoor advertising business? The University of Arkansas Greenhouse Outdoor Recreation Program (GORP) helps aspiring entrepreneurs understand the nuances of starting a business through workshops, mentorship, classes, and training at the university’s new Greenhouse Business Incubator, which has always been Bentonville’s hottest spot. The content is designed to address the unique challenges of running an outdoor business and bringing equipment concepts to life, and most online services and consulting services are free. Do you already have a foreign company? The 12-week GORP Modular Group program helps owners expand their concepts through workshops, networking, and year-round funding.

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Prescott College has two master’s programs for those who want to earn a living, but do it abroad. The Adventure Education program offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in outdoor education with program management and leadership, wildlife therapy, and more.


Do you dream of becoming a mountain guide or ski resort manager? Fort Lewis College’s adventure education offerings help college students become proficient wildlife managers, guides, educators, and community lands workers. After completing 33 credit hours in math, history, and science, students earn a 57-credit degree in courses such as Wilderness Expedition, Adventure Education Fundamentals, Wilderness First Response, and Adventure Education Teaching Methods . Options include Essential Climbing, Swiftwater Rescue and Advanced Backcountry Travel. For students oriented towards the ski industry, the Ski Resort Operations Certificate introduces the intricacies of running ski resorts and businesses.

Earn an MBA with an external concentration from the University of Western Colorado at Gunnison. The MBA Outdoor Industry is a two-year program that includes MBA foundations and specialized courses in one area of ​​a product or service in the outdoor industry. The product focus includes specialized courses on sustainable gear development and material sourcing; supply chain and logistics; and sustainable financing. Services include specialized courses in resort management, hospitality, natural resource management and sales. (Also, you can explore the Black Canyon of the Gunnison when you’re not studying.)

At Fort Collins , Colorado State University offers a pair of graduate programs designed specifically for the outdoor industry: one in adventure tourism and one in ski resort management. Six-course, 12-credit programs require a bachelor’s degree but are open to certified professionals and recent graduates. Certifications under $1,000 are an affordable way to immerse yourself in the industry and give up marketing knowledge and skills in less than a year.

Not to be overlooked, the University of Colorado Boulder ‘s Master’s in Outdoor Recreation Economics program includes a Master’s in Outdoor Recreation Economics with additional bachelor’s degrees in topics such as natural resource policy and economic development. The program is completely online so you can take it anywhere, although Boulder offers great access

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For those looking to lead outdoor adventure programs such as those offered by the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) and Outward Bound, the Adventure Education program at Greenfield Community College can provide the ideal education. The program aims to develop critical, philosophical and technical skills in adventure education. Outdoor travel, rock climbing, canoeing, and cross-country skiing are the focus, and the certification program’s skills are up to national adventure industry standards.


Start your professional career in the winter sports industry with the Gogebic Community College Management Ski Area Management program where courses and work experience at Mt. Zion schools prepare students for technical and managerial positions. Local training takes place in ski resorts across the country. Courses include ski resort planning, ski training basics, and ski resort operation/cost analysis.

If you’re interested in a career in public land management at the municipal, state, or federal level, you should try out the Leadership and Outdoor Recreation Management program at Northern Michigan University Marquette. The high school program trains students in professional skills in various disciplines of outdoor recreation. The program ensures that students meet the entry level requirements of the National Parks and Recreation Association (NRPA).


Do you want to become a professional snow goat? Through the Snow Science Program at Montana State University ‘s prestigious Department of Geosciences, college students aspiring to work in cross-country skiing, search and rescue, outreach, and other fields are trained in snow safety. The intensive course covers a wide range of disciplines, including physics, engineering, hydrology, statistics, calculus, chemistry, and geomorphology. For graduate students, the Snow and Avalanche Lab combines teaching and research to help students better understand and predict avalanche events.

North Carolina

He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Wildlife Leadership and Experiential Education from Brevard College with a focus on career counseling, climbing education, and marketable skills in other adventure careers. Courses prepare students for the business and adventure aspects of life in the outdoor industry, from maintaining customer satisfaction to balancing company budgets.

The Master’s Program in Experiential and Outdoor Education at the University of West Carolina in Kolokhi, NC is for students who want to work as teachers in exploratory teaching schools, charter schools, community colleges, camps, and more. The two-year program includes online work at during the week and weekend classes, making it easy for working students to earn a degree.

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Oregon State University ‘s Center for Outdoor Recreation Economics at Corvallis offers a variety of certification and graduate programs that focus on every aspect of the industry, from ski lift management training to sustainable product development. For those interested in getting outdoors, the Outdoor Recreation Economics Foundation is a one-time, $400 course open to anyone considering the economic, environmental, and social impacts of outdoor recreation. Visit the school’s free outdoor advertising industry section to find out what to expect.

For those already working on the side, Oregon ‘s Lundquist College of Business Master’s Program in Sports Product Management teaches students how to bring gear to market, from concept to innovation. Full-time and online programs are available for full-time and part-time students.


For many, the dream of an outdoor career is to bring product ideas to life and get paid for it. The Outdoor Product Design and Development program at the University of Utah at Logan is an advanced degree that prepares students to enter the world of equipment design and manufacturing. Students can choose to specialize in design, development, or product line management after two years of core courses.


Do you want to work with an external audience? Western Washington University Bellingham offers a Leisure Management and Leadership – Bachelor of Arts program applicable to a career in sustainable tourism and public recreation. Mentorship, summer camp counseling, wildlife therapy, and park management are some of the paths students follow after graduation.

West Virginia

The undergraduate program in Adventure and Recreation Management at West Virginia Institute of Technology in Beckley prepares students for careers in outdoor organizations. Mentoring and instructor certifications cover at least one discipline such as rock climbing or canoeing, and there are courses in business fundamentals. Internships and a final project ensure that students have enough real-world experience before graduation.

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