Surfing can often get in the way of a good career. Or, more to the point, a good career can often get in the way of surfing. Here are six occupations that can ensure a good paycheck and plenty of time in the water.
"It's perfect. I have two loves: surfing and music," says pro surfer and musician Donavon Frankenreiter. "The best thing is I only play music at night, leaving all day to surf." Frankenreiter is a unique case of perhaps combining the two best surfing careers in the world, pro surfer and rock star, but hey, why not aim high?
"I used to just muck about on my own, mixing music for myself," says pro surfer turned DJ Paul Fisher. "That turned into DJing parties and then bigger gigs. Now our act Cut Snake has signed with Three Six Zero, who also manage Frank Ocean and Calvin Harris. We are playing these huge festivals and I always make sure our own gigs are near good waves. My advice is keep working at the things you love and it should work out."
Being on the ocean permanently is one of the perks of the job, even if that means whistling at non-swimmers from Idaho or chasing errant dogs. The off-season provides more opportunity for sneaky surfs, and no one better knows their stretch of beach better than a lifeguard. The red trunks, year-round tan, and "Baywatch" references are just a bonus.
We are not sure why firefighters around the globe have one of the most surf-friendly rosters in existence. Maybe it’s working in proximity to hazardous flames (although less than five percent of calls in the U.S. are actual fires), but the typical rotation of six days on, three weeks off (plus annual leave) comes with a handsome uniform, a regular salary, and three quarters of each month to surf your brains out.
"I've worked in the surf industry and in advertising," Sydney firefighter Geremy Blake tells GrindTV, "but I've never had more time to surf as I have in the fire brigade. The income may not be as great, but the lifestyle is amazing. Oh, and the girls love the uniform."
Professional surfing judge
"There's a few drawbacks," says WSL judge Pritamo Ahrendt. "Watching perfect waves can sometimes be hard, and you are on the road 10 months of the year. But on the whole, it’s a great experience. And what other job pays you to travel to the world's best waves and watch the world's best surfers?" Pritamo advises to start at your local club and then do the judging courses available through your surfing governing body. If you have the discipline and talent, you, too, could be sitting in Tahiti, giving Kelly Slater a perfect 10.
OK, so you don't get into freelancing for the job security, unpaid holidays, or the thrill of chasing invoices. But being a freelancer means being your own boss, and whenever a swell comes, you don't have to call a sickie or pretend your mother-in-law has died to take a few days off. Of course a consistent run of swells can lead to cash-flow problems down the track, but you can't put a price on surfing when you want. In addition, there's a wide range of options, from IT to writing, graphic design, personal training, and photography.
"I've been lucky to work in a few roles in the surf industry," Billabong Europe's marketing manager, Sam Carrier, tells GrindTV, "and one of its greatest advantages is that fact that you work closely with likeminded people who, for the most part, love surfing. And even now, when the surf is really good, there is usually a lot of empty desks."
The surf industry also offers a real variety of roles, covering marketing, retail, events, social media, distribution, content creation, and sales. "Simply pick your interest, start at the ground floor or even as an intern, and work hard," advises Carrier. "The industry is always on the lookout for people who can combine their passion with a strong, smart work ethic."
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