10 Programs to Jumpstart Your Career in Maine’s Outdoor Industry

In by Julia Oliver

If its abundance of wilderness, outdoor recreation opportunities, and ever-growing list of outdoor brands didn’t make it obvious, Maine has a thriving outdoor industry that lures in adventurers from around the world while contributing handsomely to the state’s economy. In fact, Maine’s outdoor recreation industry makes up a larger percentage of the state’s economy than almost any other state, according to the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis from 2021(Read more about that here). Pulling in nearly $2.8 billion a year and generating thousands of career opportunities, this fast-growing sector has jobs, and lots of them. 

Given the industry’s rapid growth, there is a rising need for skilled workers and a fresh crop of talent to carry the outdoor industry forward and foster its development. Whether you are interested in a career in marketing, guiding, conservation, boat building, or engineering, there’s a way to get there. 

To help raise awareness of the existing opportunities, Maine Outdoor Brands compiled a list of 10 noteworthy programs in Maine that have a direct pipeline to our outdoor industry. Read the full list below along with compelling stories from the passionate professionals who have already taken these pathways! 


Yacht Design, Wooden Boat Building, and Composite Boat Building

The Landing School

The Landing School of Boat Building and Design in Arundel, ME, is the oldest and first of its kind. It is also the only school in the world with accredited programs in Yacht Design, Wooden Boat Building, Composite Boat Building, and Marine Systems under one roof. The school is dedicated to training future leaders in the marine industry and provides education and training for individuals of all ages. Its goal is to help people pursue their passion for boats and turn it into a profession. Graduates of the school have gone on to successful careers in the marine industry, engineering, shipping, wind energy, medical device design, and more.

Students can choose to complete a Diploma or Associate’s Degree at The Landing School, and they can also enroll in the second-year program if they wish to explore their field of study more independently.


The UNE Marine Affairs – Maine Law 3+3 Pathways Program 

The University of New England + University of Maine Law School

The UNE Marine Affairs program encompasses a wide variety of disciplines that seek to understand the way the ocean functions and how it is related to earth systems science, as well as to human interactions with the environment. Students will learn the theoretical underpinnings and applications of disciplines from biology to chemistry, geology, and physics. These disciplines are critical to life as we know it on the planet and beyond. Students will be able to apply these disciplines to solving real problems, not only in ocean sciences but also in various other fields.

Marine Affairs Pathway Program students fulfill their Bachelor’s requirements through the completion of their first year at the University of Maine Law School. Students who choose the accelerated 3+3 program save their final year of college tuition and prepare to enter the legal field a year earlier.


Outdoor Recreation Business Administration

University of Maine Farmington 

Combine your passion for the great outdoors with job-ready skills that will allow you to manage a business, or start your own! The University of Maine at Farmington Outdoor Recreation Business Administration Program (ORBA) is an innovative academic program with a broad four-season focus. It emphasizes business with substantial coursework in outdoor recreation,  including areas such as snow sports, the river industry, adventure sports, hiking and camping, golf, and inland fishing.

The ORBA program also features a required internship, which provides valuable hands-on experience and a network of professional contacts in the outdoor recreation industry, one of Maine’s largest employment sectors.


Outdoor Leadership: Adventure Recreation & Tourism

Washington County Community College 

The Adventure Recreation and Tourism concentration of the Outdoor Leadership program at Washington County Community College was created in response to the increasing demand for qualified, trained outdoor specialists in the Adventure Tourism industry. The program provides practical, hands-on training in rock climbing, sea kayaking, mountaineering, backpacking, whitewater and flatwater canoeing, scuba diving, sailing, and a wide variety of other activities. Additionally, students obtain essential leadership and wilderness medicine skills through participation in various extended wilderness expeditions.

Students have the opportunity to receive the following certifications:

  • Wilderness First Responder (WFR) 
  • American Canoe Association Level 3 (River Canoe) 
  • Leave No Trace Trainer 
  • National Association of Interpretation Certified Interpretive Guide 
  • US Sailing/American Red Cross Small Boat Sailing Certification 
  • Maine Snowmobile and ATV Safety Certificate 
  • Maine Boating Safety Certificate 
  • Paddle Canada Canoe certifications
  • Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician (WEMT) – elective
  • Maine Recreational Guide License 
  • Maine Sea Kayak Guide License 
  • US Coast Guard Captain’s License
  • PADI SCUBA Open Water Dive Certification 
  • Professional Climbing Instructor Association (PCIA) Climbing Wall Instructor


Alpine Operations Certificate

University of Maine Farmington 

UMF offers an Alpine Operations Certificate program that turns your love for skiing and snowboarding into a career. Partnering with Maine ski areas, it blends on-mountain experience with business classes and internships. Open to all UMF students, regardless of major, and also available to non-enrollees. Gain essential skills and PSIA Level 1 certification preparation. Based on ski school model, using Titcomb Mountain for hands-on learning. Instruct children, adults, and peers in skiing and snowboarding for a ski industry career.

Graduates with the Alpine Operation Certification have gone on to work in various industries not limited to Park Naturalists, First-Line Supervisors of Landscaping, Lawn Service, and Groundskeeping Workers Recreation, Ski Patrol, and Other Recreational Protective Services. 


Outdoor Business and Innovation

The University of New England 

The Outdoor Business and Innovation program will prepare graduates for a career in outdoor industries. Grounded in business and entrepreneurship, students will develop a systems approach to outdoor recreation services and products. The program’s course of study emphasizes corporate responsibility and environmental stewardship. Students in the program will work closely with industry partners through internships and project-based learning.

This program will prepare graduates to become leaders in an expanding industry with a growing need for a skilled workforce and develop graduates with an understanding of resilient and sustainable economic development. It will also provide foundational knowledge of environmental issues and policies specifically targeted to the outdoor recreation industry’s needs, enabling program graduates to quickly step into supporting and leadership roles within the industry.


The MaineMBA in Outdoor Industry Management

The University of Maine 

The University of  Maine offers the MaineMBA concentration in Outdoor Industry Management. The program is designed for professionals seeking leadership roles in commercial ventures that utilize the outdoors and natural environment, including roles in travel and hospitality, outdoor recreation, the ski and snow industry, recreational waters, and many others. This interdisciplinary program builds on the MaineMBA core with a focus on the areas most critical to the growth and sustainability of the outdoor industry. This program is offered jointly by the Graduate School of Business, the University of Southern Maine, and the University of Maine School of Law.


Environmental Marketing Masters Program

Unity College 

Apply an environmental perspective to your branding and marketing approach. Learn how to measure and manage the environmental impact of products and services through the analysis of consumer data and decision-making. Shape the future behavior of consumers by creating branding and marketing communication plans that advocate sustainable products and services.

Dubbed “America’s Environmental College,” Unity College has been preparing the next generation of environmental professionals and leaders for over 50 years. Unity’s distinctive approach to learning provides students with an exceptional, high-quality education, enabling them to drive real change with cutting-edge knowledge and expertise. Unity offers both bachelor’s and master’s degrees with flexibility not common in the secondary education sector. With eight start dates per year for bachelor’s degrees and six start dates per year for master’s, students can weave online coursework into their everyday lives.


Outdoor Leadership 

The University of Maine 

The University of Maine’s outdoor leadership program takes advantage of the state’s diverse and spectacular landscape to help students develop strong leadership and outdoor activity skills. Maine’s outdoor resources serve as both classroom and teacher, preparing students for a variety of outdoor-oriented careers. Whether you complete the four-year outdoor leadership concentration within the kinesiology & physical education major or the 19-credit minor, you’ll gain the confidence and knowledge needed to safely lead outdoor activities for different groups in different environments.

Students can travel to other UMaine System campuses to experience different environments or activities specific to their interests not offered at the flagship campus in Orono. For example, the University of Maine at Machias is located right on the beautiful Maine coast and offers sea-based skills courses. The second student-driven component of our program is the capstone internship. This experience, designed by the student and supported by staff, allows every individual to gain valuable experience in a setting that will help them further their career or educational goals.


Marine Systems Engineering  

Maine Maritime Academy 

Prepare for a future in marine engineering with our top-ranked undergraduate program, recognized by U.S. News & World Report. Gain sea experience aboard Maine Maritime Academy’s 500-foot training ship, State of Maine, in your first year. Our graduates secure high-paying jobs worldwide and get into leading graduate engineering schools. Gain invaluable experience through training voyages and co-ops in the State of Maine. Choose the 5-year license track for a 60-day cadet shipping experience, or opt for the 4-year program with summer cooperatives at engineering worksites nationwide.

Maine Maritime Academy’s marine systems engineering students are accepted into the nation’s top graduate engineering schools. They excel as design engineers, R&D engineers, and in other marine engineering positions. Graduates also serve in the United States Merchant Marine and the military, with a median annual wage of $92,560 for marine engineers and naval architects (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2018).


To stay up to date on current happenings in the Outdoor industry sign up for the Maine Outdoor Brands career newsletter at the link below. 

Maine Outdoor Industry Career Newsletter