Matt Trautman is gunning for the podium of the ironman world championships

How to become a professional outdoorsman

Words: Jazz Kuschke
Photography: Kelvin Trautman/Red Bull Content Pool

Ironman Matt Trautman on finding your dream outdoor career

Matt Trautman has morphed from competitive kayaker to professional yacht racing skipper to career triathlete. Few people have more intimate knowledge of the adage ‘do what you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.’
Here’s how you can too:

Find your niche

Why:
Do something that will hold your interest and keep your motivation up. If you prefer to look at the scenery and get a kick from being out in the wild, then you’re probably better suited to, say the exploration route.

Trautman has done a few things, but through it all there has been a big competitive theme. “If you’re a competitive type who prefers to look inside themselves rather than at the scenery then you’re probably going to get bored giving scuba diving lessons,” he says. 

Trautman says that if you want to be successful, you have to put in time
“If you want to be successful, you have to put in the time”
Matt Trautman

Never burn the proverbial bridge

Why:
These industries tend to overlap and globally it’s a very small market. You’re only as good as your rep and your last job. “As with most things in life, it’s more about who you know,” says Trautman. 

Know before you go

Why:
In the outdoors – perhaps more so than in any other work environment – hands-on experience counts for way more than anything you’ve read or any degree or diploma you might have.

“If you want to be successful, you have to put in the time,” says Trautman, who worked his way up from never having been at sea to a highly successful racing yacht skipper. “There are no shortcuts to truly mastering a skill.” 

“There are no shortcuts to truly mastering a skill”
Matt Trautman

Check the glamour expectations at the door

Why:
What you see on Facebook and what happens in reality can be two completely different things. You have to take the good with the bad. “Being a pro yachtsman, as an example, can look completely glamorous, but you’re not always sailing into the sunset,” Trautman explains. “In reality things break, bad weather happens, there are long stretches away from home, and times when you are totally out of your comfort zone.”

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