Making a living doing what you love is something that each and everyone of us strive for.
In this article we’ll look at a few high paying climbing jobs, how much you can earn doing them, and what the work entails.
A job that you find will have its own salary and benefits and drawbacks, this is something for you to wet your palate with; something to get you excited about working in the climbing industry.
The climbing industry is very loosely defined.
It includes retail workers selling climbing shoes and harnesses, sponsored athletes making 100k a year, and transmission tower climbers making their way up skyscraper sized radio towers, replacing light bulbs or fixing radio equipment.
If you’re good at climbing, and you feel comfortable imparting that wisdom to lesser climbers, then maybe you should be a climbing instructor.
This job will vary depending on where you’re hired on to be an instructor.
You could be teaching little kids in a rock climbing gym, alternatively you could be teaching navy seals proper rappelling technique out in the blazing Arizonian sun.
This job requires that you know your stuff, or at least know more than the people you’re teaching.
With kids or beginner climbers, this requirement is met pretty easily, but the more advanced you are, the more advanced techniques you can teach to your students, whoever they may be.
Climbing instructors can work part time or full time hours, and earn anywhere between $10,000 – $20,000 per year.
There are ways to earn more, by owning a climbing instructor business, and calling all the shots yourself, you could earn upwards of $100,000.
Transmission Tower Climber – $56,000
Do you have nerves of steel and a penchant for fixing things?
Then maybe you’re destined to be a transmission tower climber.
When a light goes out on those transmission towers you see on the side of the highway, someone has to climb up that tower to replace the bulb.
Alternatively, if some aspect of the machinery or technology that is up on the tower breaks or malfunctions, a person has to climb all the way up to fix it.
If you’re someone who can climb to mind boggling heights without breaking a sweat, attached to safety equipment of course, and pay close attention to what you’re doing when you’re up there, then transmission tower climber may be the job for you.
Transmission tower climbers earn on average $56,000 per year. To some people, a million dollars wouldn’t be enough to get them to climb those towers, but to still others, they might think 56k is a steal.
Public Relations (PR) and Marketing for a Rock Climbing Company
Working in marketing can for some sound like chewing on tin foil.
If you’re marketing a product that you believe in, i.e. rock climbing gear that you use on a daily or weekly basis, then it might sound like a dream.
If you can appeal to the masses and convince companies to invest in your company’s products, then maybe you’re a born marketer.
A good marketer will be able to write convincing copy, communicate with the big wigs of other corporations, and convince retailers to stock your products.
This all sounds much easier than it actually is, when working with the opinions of others, you’re balancing on a shaky tightrope that can fall apart at any time, for any reason.
Some people may balk at the marketer’s salary of $50,000 – $75,000 per year, while still others would see it as plenty to get by on.
In order to get salaries that high however, it helps to have plenty of experience in sales and marketing.
Climbing Gear Representative
You’d be employed by a climbing gear manufacturer and your job would be to travel from store to store talking to management about stocking your company’s product.
This means you have to be a great salesperson, knowing everything about everything about your product.
Being able to answer questions on financing and cost benefit analysis, as well as being able to answer climbing questions, like how would a climber use this product.
If you’re a people person with an infectious personality, then you may be perfect as a climbing gear representative.
In this position, you can expect to earn around $50,000 near the beginning. Eventually earning close to $100,000 the more experience you gain over the years.
Maybe selling things isn’t your bag. Maybe you’d prefer a more creative outlet?
Becoming a climbing photographer can be a lucrative way to climb for a living, take beautiful photographs, spend time with the best climbers in the world, and also travel the world.
This can be a difficult job to get into, but once you’ve made it, it can be lovely. You will need to do a little bit of selling however.
If you work for a magazine, you’ll need to convince your editor to let you do your special idea, and sometimes you may even need to sell the climbers on a photoshoot.
If you however work freelance, you have a bit more freedom to work the jobs that you would like to work, but the pay won’t be as good.
Climbing photographers can earn between $10,000 – $100,000 a year.
Earning close to 100k per year is unfortunately a rare occurrence, with the majority of climbing photographers earning around $30,000 a year.
You should have a working knowledge of cameras, and be able to take outstanding photos. With technology bringing good quality cameras into the hands of many, you’ll have a lot of competition.
In order to secure your spot as top climbing photographer, you’ll need to practice your composition and make sure all your shots are beautifully edited.
Maybe still images aren’t your cup of tea.
But if you understand the ins and outs of the film industry and the climbing industry, you may be able to create a nice little niche for yourself between the two.
A climbing filmmaker would be employed by film studios to shoot documentaries about climbing, or indeed nature documentaries where the camera person has to be up on the mountain to get the best shot.
You would need to be comfortable working a camera and sound equipment all while hanging from a rope.
Common challenges include dealing with people who don’t know what they’re doing on set, and battling the elements to get the shot you need.
Things like gusts of wind and sudden poor lighting can make filmmaking on the side of a mountain much harder than it needs to be.
Still, the paycheck may be enough for you to deal with all the difficulties that come along with this job.
An entry level climbing filmmaker job will earn you around $30,000 a year, with prospects of earning upwards of $70,000 a year after getting some experience under your belt.
Dream big, that’s what I say.
And this is the ultimate dream. While it may be out of reach for most, a professional climber certainly lives the life. They get to climb whenever they want in the most beautiful spots all over the world.
They have to keep up appearances with occasional photo shoots and by signing autographs and shaking hands with fans, as well as compete in climbing competitions.
A professional climber also has to provide honest opinions to sponsors providing gear to them, and they have to give glowing reviews about the products that they do like.
The danger of being a competitive climber is that there is a lot of competition at the top, and your sponsors would just as soon sponsor your rival as they would you.
You have little to no job security, and this can be a stressful position to be in. No more stressful than grinding out a freelance career taking climbing photographs, but still stressful.
The best of the best can earn up to $100,000 per year, but they are unfortunately the minority. To climb for a living you have to be good, I mean really good.
Most sponsored climbers, don’t earn nearly as much as the few elite climbers do, more than half of them earning only $5,000 a year. There are some who are able to eek out a living with $20,000 a year.
Climbing Shoe Cobbler
Maybe, you’re someone who wants to stay out of the limelight, but still wants to work in the climbing industry.
A climbing shoe cobbler would be the perfect place for you. If you love to work with your hands, and you love climbing, this job gives you the best of both worlds.
Not only do you get to work with climbers every day who need their shoes re-done, but you could easily look at the mending of these climbing shoes as a form of art.
If done correctly the shoes will last the climber for another year, and they will be incredibly grateful for it.
A climbing shoe cobbler earns somewhere between $20,000 – $30,000 per year, depending on how many hours per week are worked.
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