Nantahala Outdoor Center

Lake Program - Head Guide

Job Locations US-NC-Bryson City
Job ID
Customer Service/Support
Job Classification


For 40+ years NOC has led the outdoor industry, taking more guests whitewater rafting and teaching more paddlers than any other outdoor recreation company. NOC also provides top-quality aerial and trail-based adventures, wilderness medicine as well as providing unmatched retail service, foodservice, lodging, and trip planning services. Behind NOC's rapid growth are our staff’s commitment to our five core values: lead by example, service before self, do the right thing, work hard/play hard and make it happen. These core values unite a community of leaders and pioneers in an exciting, fun and always changing work environment.


NOC career opportunities offer prospects rare opportunities to work in beautiful locations, to grow their skills and to share a passion for active outdoor recreation. Ideal candidates are leaders in the work place that wish to join a unique, values-driven organization. They aspire to excellence in their fields and disciplines and they demonstrate a commitment to the service of others. Above all, they want to provide visitors with unforgettable experiences in the great outdoors. If this sounds like you, we hope you'll apply to join the NOC team.



Job Summary: 

The Nantahala is one of our most unique locations providing outdoor recreation to thousands of guests per year. The Head Guides must live up to the high standards set during the company’s 40+ year history. Our Head Guides are pivotal leaders within the company, directing most operational functions of our lake program while holding all Guides accountable to the NOC Core Values, and thus allowing NOC to provide once in a lifetime experiences to each guest. The Head Guide must have a unique skill set to both instruct hard skills and handle a wide variety of logistics undertaken by the position. The opportunity to continue to spend time on the water while also serving in a key leadership position makes this position highly desirable.


The Head Guide role is logistically heavy and requires a multifaceted skill set. The Head Guide must set the standard for behavior becoming an NOC Guide and develop this behavior in the staff. A Lake Head Guide is further responsible for Training, Mentorship, Communication and Administrative/Logistical duties for our lake programs including custom programs such as Build-A-Raft. This includes but is not limited to, the direct management and training of Lake Staff, embodiment of the NOC culture, ensuring that each Guide delivers the highest quality guest experience while also ensuring that each Guide is prepared for almost any possible scenario that may arise on a trip. Operational logistics and other functions are described in more detail below.



No day as a Head Guide is the same; Head Guides will serve in a variety of the roles below during the course of the season:


Administrative: The Head Guide will be assigned an assortment of administrative responsibilities. The responsibilities include but are not limited to: Guide Scheduling, Training Documentation, monitoring payroll, opening/closing trips in the booking system (Resmark), and ensuring operations stay within budget. This is a very dynamic position that demands that the Head Guide has the ability to think on their feet and act swiftly and appropriately to solve any/all situations that occur throughout the day. This must all be accomplished while maintaining a work environment consistent with NOC standards and expectations.


Training: The Head Guide will follow check out procedures established by NOC and work with new Lake Guides to develop the skills required of a NOC Guide. The Head Guide will serve as teacher and mentor in Guide development, including topics such as interpretive material and how to provide the highest quality guest experience, thus preparing Guides for work in our Lake operations.


Qualified applicants will have prior Trip Leading Experience; Knowledge of NOC’s Lake Operating Procedures; Basic office administrative skills and computer competence, including Microsoft Word. Experience with Resmark a plus. Qualified applicants will possess a minimum certification of Advanced Wilderness First Aid & CPR or be able to obtain these certifications.


Education Qualifications: Must have HS Diploma or GED; college coursework or degree preferred.




The above noted job description is not intended to describe, in detail, the multitude of tasks that may be assigned but rather to provide a general sense of the responsibilities and expectations of this position. As the nature of business demands change, so too may the essential functions of this position.

The Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) is dedicated to the principles of equal employment opportunity in any and all terms, conditions or privileges of employment including hiring, promotions, termination, training and compensation. The NOC does not discriminate against applicants or employees on the basis of age, race, sex, color, religion, national origin, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, genetic condition or any other status protected by federal, state or local law, where applicable. Furthermore, the NOC is committed to a work environment free of discrimination and harassment through respecting and valuing the diversity among employees and all those with whom the NOC does business.


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