The outdoor recreation economy, which accounts for 2% of U.S. GDP and 4.3 million jobs (3% of all employment in the United States) connects people to high-quality outdoor experiences in environments from local parks to expansive backcountry lands and waters around the country. This sector helps develop economies and create jobs, increases rural prosperity, improves public health outcomes and quality of life, and promotes environmental stewardship and conservation.
The backbone of this thriving sector is a growing workforce that meets the dynamic needs of today’s fast-paced industry. While professionals from across the country are craving roles in this exciting industry that supports a conservation ethos and and enables 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 (31,000 in the marine industry alone) available for people seeking life-long and meaningful careers.
Despite these wide-ranging positive impacts to society and opportunities to work in the industry, there are lingering misconceptions in the public, and with policymakers, about the types and diversity of jobs in the outdoor recreation economy. To illustrate the wide array of career opportunities for workers with and without higher academic degrees, the skill sets required to excel in them, and the successful career paths that other professionals have followed, ORR presents this report.