Wildland Guide Pay

Wildland Guide Pay

Learn about how Wildland guides get paid and how much they make.

One of our goals at Wildland Trekking is to create a home for outdoor professionals who want to make a living guiding. It continues to be our focus as regulatory and practical considerations alter the landscape of what it means to be compensated as an outdoor guide in today’s world.

On this page we detail how our in field pay systems work and how much guides make on average. Please see our guide jobs employment page for more about other benefits Wildland Trekking guides enjoy.

How Much Do Multi-Day Guides Make?

All Wildland Trekking guides are paid by the hour (see additional Day Hike only pay below). For guides who have only been paid by the day, it can be an adjustment moving to an hourly pay system. However, due to changes in federal regulations, it is illegal for most companies to pay by the day, and hourly pay is the future of the guiding industry.

The hourly pay for Wildland guides is based on 6 Staffing Levels: Entry Level to Level 5 as noted below. Newly hired guides to Wildland Trekking can bring up to 100+ days of field credit days from previous outdoor adventure employment. The number of field credit days a newly hired guide brings into Wildland can affect which corresponding pay level someone enters.

Guides with less than 100 field credit days from a previous employer will start as Entry Level.

Guides with 100 field credit days from a previous employer will start as Staffing Level 1.

Guides can continue to advance in Staffing Levels as they accrue more field days and time employed with Wildland Trekking.

Multi-Day GUIDE Pay, Before Gratuities*

Hourly Rate Overtime Rate Avg. Daily Pay Range Average Daily Pay
Entry Level $10.50 ~$18.00 $126-$288 $194
Level 1 $11.00 ~$18.50 $132-$296 $202
Level 2 $11.50 ~$19.00 $138-$304 $209
Level 3 $12.00 ~$19.50 $144-$312 $217
Level 4 $12.50 ~$20.00 $150-$320 $225
Level 5 $13.00 ~$20.50 $156-$328 $232
Day Hikes $12.50 ~$18.75 $175-315 $175-190

* The above figures are approximate depictions of what daily compensation will average in 2023. The average daily pay ranges are estimates that take into account prep days, field days and de-issue days, are pre-tax, and are based on the number of regular and overtime hours worked on 3-7 day trips starting on different days of the week.
The average daily pay number is a calculation run off a mock schedule of trips a guide might run in one month and meant to give an idea not a precise number.

Please remember, the above figures are to provide a generally accurate example. Several states we operate in have additional labor laws regulating tip credits, overtime laws, etc. Wildland always follows these, so the above numbers are therefore the minimum base pay a guide might expect to receive.

Expected & total Hours On various length trips

Wildland guides embark on multi-day trips with an expected hours system. There are some variations per program area. Expected hours are what a field staff member is paid and any hours that are worked above the expected hours system are paid by actual hours worked.

Prep day: 12 hours

Field days: 16 hours

Final de-issue day: 14 hours

Guides accumulate many compensable hours while working. Below is a graph showing estimates of the total hours for different lengths of trips.

Prep Day + 3 Day Trip Prep Day + 4 Day Trip Prep Day + 5 Day Trip Prep Day + 6 Day Trip Prep Day + 7 Day Trip
58 hours 74 hours 90 hours 106 hours 122 hours

Compensation Varies Based on Overtime Accrued

Each work week ends on Sunday and starts on Monday, which resets the overtime. Because of this reset, the day a trip starts affects overtime accrual and consequently total wages, as does the total number of days of a trip. It is primarily because of this overtime fluctuation that we provide ranges of daily pay and averages vs. concrete figures.


Gratuities are a significant and important part of a guide’s pay. The industry recommended gratuity amount is 10-20% of the trip cost. Gratuities are always optional and based on level of satisfaction. Wildland promotes tipping to the greatest extent possible while remaining tactful and professional. Field staff are not permitted to solicit tips in any way other than doing their best to provide an exceptional trip for their guests. On many trips field staff realize as much as 30-60% of their income through gratuities.

Important Note: New guides are required to shadow a senior guide on at least one trip. Trainee guides are not eligible for gratuities on shadow trip(s).