Get a sea kayak guide job on the Olympic Peninsula!

Do you love working outside, watching wildlife, talking with interesting people from around the country and world, and sea kayaking? For the right person being a naturalist sea kayak guide is an incredible job.  Olympic Kayak Tours (OKT) guides excel at a wide variety of skills including teaching natural history and sea kayaking, leadership, marine navigation, and sea kayak safety and rescue.

OKT is a new eco-tourism sea kayaking concession that operates out of beautiful Fort Flagler State Park on Marrowstone Island - connected by bridges to the Olympic Peninsula.  We have the sheltered waters of Kilisuit Harbor to our west which teem with birds and seals, and the rugged Admiralty Inlet to our east, a major passage for whales.

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Duties

Lead safe educational sea kayak tours during the day and night. 

Assist with maintenance of kayaking equipment and facilities.

Have excellent customer service and communication with customers and park staff.

Assist with renting out of unguided recreational kayaking equipment and stand up paddleboards.

Compensation

Guiding $18 hourly plus tips, shop work $18 hourly.  

Season

UPDATE: We are going to offer guide training June 20th - July 1st Monday- Friday.  First year guides need to go through one of these trainings.  Guides need to commit to working until Labor Day at a minimum, and preference will be given to those who can work throughout September. Work is available until mid-October.  There is flexibility in scheduling based on guide's availability and interest..

Qualifications

Our company distinguishes itself by having expert natural history interpretation for our customers; we provide highly educational tours.  It's easier for us to train a fit person to become a sea kayak guide, than it is to create a good naturalist from scratch.  We can help you become a better naturalist, but if you're starting from scratch, this may not be the position for you.  Having or working towards a natural sciences degree is desirable but not required.

Our guides need to be physically fit and strong, (though doing this job will make you more of both).  Our boats are 110 lbs and while we generally have at least 3 customers join a guide lifting a boat on tours, we sometimes need to lift them with just one other staff member so you need to be able to lift 55 lbs without injury.  Guides also need a certain level of physical flexibility, good vision (that allows them to use binoculars), endurance, and the ability to speak loudly or project their voice.

Having familiarity with sea kayaking is a bonus, but we can teach prospective guides what they need to know.  Those interested should have some basic familiarity with paddling sports (ie kayaking, canoeing, or stand up paddleboarding) or other boating. Wilderness navigation, wilderness first aid are also desirable skills.

As a condition of working in WA State Parks you will need to be able to pass a criminal background check, though not all violations will necessarily disqualify and individual for employment.  A valid driver's license.  Candidates will also need reliable transportation and to purchase a Discover Pass for parking if they choose to drive.

You will need to take our "Sea Kayak Guide Training Course" and pass a verbal, written, and practical exam.  And you'll need a current First Aid & CPR certification, as well as possess suitable outdoor clothing.

Sea Kayak Guide Training Course

Being a sea kayak guide is a physically and intellectually challenging profession, and it involves lots of responsibility and independence.  For the right people, that's part of the appeal.
The training program is an intensive 10-day, 80-hour course that represents a major investment by you as well as by OKT.  You will study sea kayak techniques, marine weather and tidal currents, sea kayak safety and rescue, leadership, expedition behavior, and group dynamics, radio communication and emergency management, trip planning, organizational logistics, as well as natural history.  A reading list is available to applicants joining this program to get started, including specific resources for those that need to augment their natural history knowledge.

Courses like this commonly cost $2000 to $3000.  The cost of this course is $300, however upon completion of the guiding season, an additional $300 will be returned to the guide in the form of a bonus. 

Upon completing the course the applicants will be eligible to become hired and can perform shop work and shadow lead guides on the water.  They will not be able to lead tours until they have completed competency and proficiency tests, been audited on the water, possess a first aid and CPR certification, and have passed the new WDFW Sea Kayak Guide Whale Watch Operators test.  The goal is to get you guiding as quickly as we can while ensuring quality and safety, and we will support prospective guides to achieve this.

Perks of guiding with us

  • Be paid to go kayaking!!!

  • Receive an education in sea kayaking skills from technical paddling skills including: strokes, braces, rescues. Also marine navigation, marine weather, route planning, marine radio protocols, expedition dynamics and leadership, etc. Experienced sea kayakers or particularly adept learners can also learn rolls and kayak surfing.  This education combined with the experience of guiding for a season would enable someone to participate in a sea kayak expedition anywhere on the planet.  The education received is very similar to that covered in courses by organizations like NOLS and Outward Bound that cost several thousand dollars.

  • Enhance your knowledge of the Salish sea marine ecosystem, and get to observe marine mammals and sea birds in their natural habitat, including whales, seals, eagles, and much more.  For those interested in natural science these kinds of observations cwill enhance your knowledge of animal behavior and may lead to new questions and hypotheses.

  • Get access to “pro-deals”, (i.e. discounts for outdoor industry guiding professionals from major brands).

  • Become more physically fit.

  • Meet people from many different walks of life from around the country and the world.

  • Earn tips which do not need to be shared with the company and can be significant.  (If lead guides are on over-size trips and receiving the assistance of an assistant guide it’s a common courtesy to “tip out” the assistant if they perform good work, but that is a personal decision and not a company policy).  

  • Get to help shape people’s perceptions of wildlife and the marine environment.

  • We are aware that our guides are our most important resource and we will train you extremely well to excel in what is hopefully a dream job.

  • Get paid to participate in benefits for non-profits.

  • Be able to borrow a kayak and equipment in your off-time.

How to apply

Please include a resume, as well as a cover letter, professional references, and the date you are available to begin.  Be sure to include detailed information about your experience with sea kayaking or other human-powered craft, or marine travel, as well as general wilderness and backpacking experience, and details about your fitness and how many pounds you can lift safely.  Please also include details about your familiarity or lack thereof with coastal Washington fauna and flora.  Please include one or more photos or videos of yourself in an outdoor pursuit.  Please send this application and any questions to OlympicKayakTours@gmail.com

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Please note, when we say professional references we are interested in chatting with your former managers or employers.  References like professors are great to submit as a supplement, but we really want to know about your commercial, professional experience.  And please don't be shy sharing about less directly related jobs such as customer service or manual labor.  We want to know that you're a naturalist or on your way to becoming one, but we also want to know that you know how to work.)