163 views • posted 10/09/2023 • updated 10/11/2023


Outdoor Rec Drives Jobs

Careers in the Recreation Economy

The Outdoor Recreation Roundtable partnered with Oregon State University’s Center for the Outdoor Recreation Economy to look deeper into the career paths, workforce needs, and future opportunities across America’s outdoor recreation economy.

by Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, Oregon State University

The outdoor recreation economy, which accounts for 2% of U.S. GDP and 4.3 million jobs (3% of all employees 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 seeking roles in this exciting industry that supports a conservation ethos and enables a high quality of life, we also know that there is a growing skills gap in the outdoor workforce and that there are tens of thousands of open jobs (31,000 in the marine industry alone) available for people seeking life-long and meaningful careers.

Despite wide-ranging and positive impacts on society, as well as ample 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.

Attached document published September 2022

About the Authors


The Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR) is America’s leading coalition of outdoor recreation trade associations and organizations working to promote the growth of the outdoor recreation economy and outdoor recreation activities.


Oregon State is an international public research university that draws people from all 50 states and more than 100 countries. We embrace our responsibility to Oregon and the world, building a future that’s smarter, healthier, more prosperous and more just. We see what could be and have worked relentlessly for 150 years to make it so.

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