Apprentice Naturalist-River Guide

  • Position Status: Now Hiring
  • Type: Season, full-season
  • Note: Now Accepting Applications Apprenticeship is offered early March through late May (12 weeks) followed by continued employment as entry level Naturalist-Guide through contract season (end of October) .
  • For those new to CFI, this Apprentice training program is for outdoor educators who do not yet have river rafting or hiking guiding experience and may be new to the area.  These instructor/guides will initially be hired as “Apprentices” for twelve weeks and will benefit from intense mentoring in rafting skill development (row and paddle) and expeditions on the Colorado, Green and San Juan Rivers (Class I-III). Training includes river rescue, vehicle and trailer handling (van and 4 wheel drive manual transmission), trip logistics, Field Camp operations and programs, river and land based school program curriculum, Introduction to Colorado Plateau ecology, geology, history, native cultures, regional issues, and outdoor education teaching techniques.

    Apprenticeship is offered March through May  followed by continued employment as entry level Naturalist-Guide through contract season (late October. Start and end dates are firm. Guides may request total of ten  unpaid personal leave days in addition to regular days off ( we strongly prefer leave not taken during peaks months of May and September.) Additional training weeks are scheduled late June and late August. We usually hire between two and four people for this opportunity depending on bookings at time of hiring.  Full commitment through October is required due to the extensive training provided in the spring Apprenticeship. We invest in you!

    Naturalist-Guides work primarily with middle and high school field study groups attending our field camp and/or river programs. They also help guide adult/family trips on the river and tours/hikes in Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. Staff will concentrate more on land-based programs in the early part of the season, and move to more river-based programs as the season progresses.  Guides will help design and lead several weeks of a summer program designed for local kids: three night LaSal Mountain Base Camp (entering 5-8th grade), and Teen Guide in Training and River Skills Clinics. These summer programs are the only open enrollment youth programs we offer. All other youth and school programs involve students coming as a class or group with their teacher/leaders.

    Guide responsibilities include working as field instructors in science, history and the arts, helping with all aspects of field operations, and guiding area river stretches. Naturalist-Guides will be involved in some warehouse/gear maintenance and other operations in between field trips. Time spent will be approximately 50% out on multiday trips (land or river, two to four nights out), approximately 30% of time on day tours/trips, and 20% other such as rigs and derigs, warehouse work, food shopping, curriculum and planning or camp upkeep.

    The overnight trips are scheduled heavily in spring due to spring field trip demand: From March (training) through mid June field staff can expect to be out overnight away from town almost 3 out of 4 weeks, with 1 or 2 weeks out the rest of the time.

    Completing the Apprentice-Entry Naturalist Guide first year qualifies you to return to work for CFI at higher pay rates, more river guiding,  and more flexible seasons for years to come.

    For more information about Utah River Guide licensing see:


    • College undergrad degree in related field strongly preferred
    • Available to work position dates (March 9-Oct. 30th, 2015). Start date is firm due to intensive private training provided
    • Previous experience working with youth, outdoor/environmental education and teaching preferred. Familiarity with Colorado Plateau preferred
    • Minimum of 40 hour Advanced First aid and CPR courses (Wilderness First Responder strongly preferred) current through employment term
    • Minimum age 21, good driving record to meet vehicle insurance requirements
    • Physical exam to meet DOT requirements, be able to lift 50 lbs, drive manual transmission.
    • Secure Motor Vehicle report from home state
    • Proof of US Citizenship


    Apprentices will receive an intern stipend of $200/per 2 week pay period during the 12 week apprenticeship. REGULAR EMPLOYMENT for entry level NATURALIST/RIVER GUIDES begins June 1st through mid-October. Pay will then be at competitive rates. There will be additional training paid at $25 day 1 week late June and 1 week late August to include trip leadership/teaching in our National Forest, National Parks and other areas. Guides can expect to earn approximately $1000-$1400/month plus gratuities to start. Pay increases will take place with increased river guide certifications, familiarity with CFI programs and leadership abilities.

    Free shared co-ed housing is available during Apprenticeship with 2hrs/week work trade exchange. Once Apprenticeship is complete then guides will need to find own housing in Moab, UT. We will allow a grace period in May to accomplish finding own housing though rent will be charged at $100 pay period starting May 1.  Meals are included while working CFI programs. Fingerprint clearance for Educators, Food Handler’s Course, and initial river guide license from State of Utah will be at CFI expense.

    Initial training will include 1 day off/ week. There will be usually be 2 days off/week thereafter though May and September will be quite busy (schedules will vary due to assigned river launch dates and bookings by groups.)

    To apply, please submit to  (Please no drop-ins or phone calls as we are busy with clients!)

    • cover letter
    • resume
    • 3 References: name, email, phone. At least should be 2 employment-related
    • copy of driver’s license
    • motor vehicle report (current within 1 year)
    • declare any felony conviction
    • copies of First Aid/CPR cards (current through October of 2015)

    Candidates will be contacted for interviews.

    CFI is an equal opportunity employer.