How To Become a White Water Raft Guide

White water rafting is a thrill seeker’s sport with tons of uh-oh moments. Nothing beats waking up, driving down the river, and knowing you are about to go to work. The best summer of my life was guiding in Stanley, Idaho on the Salmon River. It is seriously one of the best jobs you can get for a summer and knowing just how easy it is to become a white water raft guide will have you hoping on VagaJobs ASAP to apply to some river guiding jobs.

Ask yourself, “Am I cool?”

Rapids can last anywhere from 30 seconds to a few minutes. The rest of the time, you are stuck on a boat with 5 people you never met. You have to entertain them! Jokes, splash wars, conversation, awkward silence are all something you must be comfortable with. They’re paying for a memorable experience and besides the river, you are the main act. If you can’t talk to people, I would consider another career. If you don’t like cheap beer, I would also consider another career.

Know what you are signing up for

The river is no place to mess around. Sure, rafting is extremely fun and will have you smiling for hours, but disregarding the dangers of the river and the responsibility you have as a guide can lead to serious consequences. Everyday, you will not only have to entertain guests down the river, but make sure they are safe the whole time. As a white water raft guide, you are responsible for your guests and may have to make split second decisions that can may end in death. Not trying to scare you, but please understand the responsibility you are about to hold.

Spread the word around town the season before

After a winter in Sun Valley, I knew I wanted to spend a summer an hour north white water rafting. Being that I was “staying” for the summer, it was easier for me to get local intel and make connections. I told a few people about how I was looking for a guiding job and before ya know it, I had a meeting with an outfitter. If you are moving to a new area, search on VagaJobs for job openings around the country!

Have a meeting with an outfitter

Usually, the owner will want to meet you and make sure you’re cool (This is important. Refer to step 1). I met my boss at a local bar, had a beer and just started chatting. He wanted to see if I could carry a conversation, what my interests were, and feeling me out on how I would act around guests. And just like that, I was hired as a white water raft guide. I had no experience, only motivation.


Once hired, your early season will be getting to know the ropes. Going down the river early in the season will most likely mean high water (this is the fun stuff). You will make several trips down the river with an experienced guide, teaching you the ways. Eventually, you’ll take control of the stick and be guiding a raft down the river. In these first few weeks, you will most likely get your First Aid/CPR certification as well as your swift water rescue certification (highly recommended). .

And just like that, know you know how to become a white water raft guide. It is easy! All you have to do is show enthusiasm, a good work ethic, and jobs will land at your feet (We make it easier though). One of the best summers of my life was being a white water raft guide in Idaho and I encourage all of you to try it out for a season! Places like OARS, Hell’s Canyon Raft, and tons of other outfitters are hiring right now!

Create your profile today and start applying! See you on the river.