05 Nov Wilderness therapy Guide Salary Information
WILDERNESS THERAPY GUIDE SALARY
The structure of a Wilderness Therapy Guide job is not quite the same as many other career paths. An executive director of a wilderness therapy program stated in an interview that “Wilderness therapy takes on a very ‘nontraditional format’ of employment, all of which is “just very different.”
Wilderness therapy programs create a lot of opportunities for staff members. In terms of finding that work/life balance that many may struggle with, wilderness therapy jobs provide a substantial amount of flexibility in terms of schedule. Guides are often working for roughly six months out of the year, sometimes being on a week and off a week. Although the job itself may not experience the constraints of being a typical 9-5, wilderness therapy requires dedicated attention and mental strength given that one works with kids fourteen to sixteen hours a day, primarily sleeping in the field during shifts.
In terms of salary, the typical ballpark for wilderness therapy guides is between $35,000 and $40,000. After working a certain number of shifts at some wilderness therapy programs, guides are reimbursed for their training, along with usual annual bonuses. Wilderness therapy programs also provide grounds for continued education support, 401k, paid time off once becoming a leader, a certain allotted amount in co-pays for mental health counseling per year, as well as discounts on outdoor gear and equipment.
Bearing this in mind, wilderness therapy can provide opportunities to save money while working. Also important is the fact that guides are not paying for food or gas during their time of employment, and if one invests into an IRA – which can be based on pre-taxed income – one’s investment and money can go much further. When looking at the positive results that are yielded from wilderness therapy, one should also remember the positive impact of those around them as well.
Given that a college degree isn’t required to become a wilderness therapy guide, many believe it is a great launching pad for other exciting opportunities. Wilderness therapy provides a platform from which guides can build both professionally and personally. This field allows those involved to connect and build community. Those who are joining this field essentially find themselves inheriting a community rather quickly just based on the nature of the work, which also adds an element of social development as one can root themselves in this sense of community. Flexible schedules provide a healthy work/life balance. Being a wilderness therapy guide is a unique format of employment for those who are seeking something nontraditional.
“People go on to do tons of different things. The skillset that you learn is a great professional development kind of investment.” – Jeremy, Executive Director of an NC wilderness therapy program