How Much Do Raft Guide Jobs Pay?

A raft guide job is an excellent way to earn a paycheck without even feeling like working. You stay fit, you meet people from all over the world and you get to play outside all day. Yet, many people continue to be raft guides for many years because the pay can be great!

As with most professions, beginners in the industry must work their way up to earn the big bucks. However, most companies compensate very well for new guides eager to learn and take on more responsibilities.

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For example, at Wilderness Aware Rafting located in Colorado, guides receive a raise for each season they return to work with the company. Their pay rates begin at $65 a day for new raft guides and get as high as $125 a day for veterans. Over the course of a season, 3-4 months, a guide could be earning a minimum of around $4,000.

However, that is just the beginning for earning potentials as a raft guide.

Most rafting companies offer additional incentives for taking on more responsibilities as a guide. Therefore, the 1st year daily salary is just the base pay. At Wilderness Aware, a new river guide as the potential to earn more by:

  • Becoming a Trip Leader: $10 additional per day
  • Trip Leading with a large trip: $15 additional per day
  • Working on an over-night trip: $10 additional per day
  • Working on a Boy Scout Merit Badge trip: $10 additional per day
  • Working on another section of river: $5-$20 additional per day
  • Rigging an additional trip: $10 additional per day
  • Working a fishing trip: $10 additional per day

One of the easiest ways to earn more money as a raft guide is to have guests requesting you are their guide. These might be returning customers or friends and family who have come to raft as per your suggestion. An outfitter typically rewards raft guides around $25 more per trip for bringing in these clients. Being requested also shows your employer how valued your skills are, significantly increasing the potential for a raise.

Other jobs around a rafting center may also complement the schedule of a raft guide to provide additional income. Many outfitters will hire guides to work in a retail store or office when things get busy. General labor work around the property also provides guides with additional income.

The secret of raft guide earning potential, however, does not lie in how much money a raft guide job will pay you but how much it will save you.

As a full-time job, most companies provide their guiding staff with housing. Ranging from tent platforms to cabins, guides have the option to keep their rent money in their pockets. This alone saves new raft guides thousands of dollars over a season.

Another reduced expense for raft guides is food costs. Most river trips provide their customers, and guides, with lunch while on the river. This benefit adds up to be significant savings in food costs over the course of a season. If a rafting outfitter also owns a restaurant, chances are they offer guides an outstanding discount on other meals.

With the cost of food and lodging practically out the window, a raft guide’s bank account balance begins to resemble, or even surpass, that of his cubicle counterpart.

The monetary benefits of raft guiding are staggering. Expenses diminish, profits surge, all the while not even feeling like you have done a day’s worth of work.

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