Apprentice/First Year Naturalist-Guide

  • Position status: Filled
  • Schedule: We accept applications at any time for next season.
  • Note: Apprenticeship/internship is offered early March through May followed by continued employment as "First Year" Naturalist-Guide through contract season (end of October) .

For those new to CFI, this Apprentice Naturalist Guide training program is for outdoor educators wanting to obtain teaching, outfitting, and guiding skills for the desert, mountain, and river environments on the Colorado Plateau. These instructor/guides will initially be hired as “Apprentices” for twelve weeks and will benefit from intense mentoring in content about area natural and cultural history — with a focus on Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, surrounding BLM and Forest Service lands and rivers. Apprentices will develop basic rafting skills on the Colorado, Green, and San Juan Rivers (Class I-III) and will get a Utah Commercial River Guide license. Most of CFI programs are with youth and school groups with several weeks of open enrollment summer nature camps. CFI also conducts several grant-supported “Guide in Training” summer programs for local and Navajo Reservation teens.

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.  Time in the spring — once training weeks are completed — will be spent approximately 70% at Professor Valley Field Camp as instructors with small groups of students or assisting in cooking and operations for a particular week. Apprentices will guide day trips on the Colorado River. Additional time will be 20% in support work (food shopping, cooking, shuttles, teaching material upkeep, and equipment upkeep). Once the Apprenticeship is completed guides will step up to work more extensive trips such as multi-day river trips, tours in the national parks, and mountain Forest Service camps with increasing responsibilities and development as trip leaders and improving curriculum.

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 initial season as Apprentice/First Year Naturalist-Guide 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: http://www.stateparks.utah.gov/boating/commercial-boating


  • College undergrad degree in related field strongly preferred
  • Available to work position dates (early March through October.) 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
  • A physical exam to meet DOT requirements, be able to lift 50 lbs, drive a 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 first year NATURALIST-GUIDES begins June 1st through mid-October. Pay will then be at competitive rates. Some additional training times will be scheduled between late June and late August – covering National Parks, new areas, and river stretches, and trip leadership – and will be compensated at a “training rate” of $25/day. Regular guides can expect to earn approximately $1200-$1600/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 an hour/week work trade exchange requested. Once Apprenticeship is completed, guides are encouraged to find own housing but continued rental option will be available at $100 pay period summer through fall. Meals are included while working CFI programs. Fingerprint clearance for Educators, Food Handler’s Course, and initial river guide license from the State of Utah will be at CFI expense.

Initial training will include 1 day off/week. There will usually be 2 days off/week. May and September are exceptionally busy (schedules will vary due to assigned river launch dates and bookings by groups.) During the summer months, vacation breaks (10-12 days unpaid) are arranged.

To apply, please submit to jobs@cfimoab.org (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
  • a copy of driver’s license
  • motor vehicle report (current within 1 year)
  • declare any felony conviction
  • current copies of First Aid/CPR cards

Candidates will be contacted for interviews.

CFI is an equal opportunity employer.