What are the Best Jobs for Surfers?

Surfers need flexible schedules and budgets big enough to allow for travel and time off. These are the best jobs for surfers.


Surf photography by Alexa Hohenberg
Still Stoked founder Alexa has found a number of ways to mix work with play including backcountry snowboard guiding and planning a surf trip this fall to the Mentawais.


Surfing has to be done when the tide, wind, crowd, and swell align. That means for the average 9-to-5-er, the likelihood of surfing good waves is slim-to-none. For many surfers who come into the lifestyle as an adult, this can mean a career crisis. Surfing isn’t just some hobby you pick up after work. It is a lifestyle. So what jobs are the best jobs for surfers?

There are really two routes you can go, self-employed or flexible schedule work. Let’s consider them separately.



Self Employment Jobs for Surfers

When you are your own boss it may seem there is no one to tell you no, you can’t go surfing today! But that is not entirely true. If you want clients, you have to be reliable. The best kind of self-employment is work you can do on your own schedule. 

Self Employed tradesmen and women often have a great deal of flexibility over their daily schedules. They can look at the forecast for the next week and arranged their jobs accordingly. Think landscape maintenance, house cleaning, handy(wo)man, mechanic, mobile dog grooming, electrician etc. The difficult part here is getting clients. When you work on your own you have to be responsible for marketing. If you are well connected in your community this might be a good option.


massage at the beach
This was my “office” for several days while I financed my trip down the coast of Mexico by doing massage for surfers at each location where I surfed.



Business owners can be flexible though typically, only after the business has been running successfully for 5+ years. Starting a bikini brand or a graphic design company can be a great idea but plan to spend the first several years married to the business until you have people successfully working under you, allowing you to take time off. 


Body Workers such as massage therapists, acupuncturists and reiki healers also set their schedules week-by-week, allowing the flexibility to plan around swells.


Contract workers are technically self-employed but take on projects or jobs at will. Freelance writers, editors, and copywriters are good examples. Manufacturing in a skilled trade often pays well and allows for contract work such as building surfboards in a factory. Web-design, web development, and marketing/advertising are two great areas to pick up contracts where you can set your own schedule and work at 2am in your underwear if necessary. 


Real estate agent. No schedule, work as much or as little as you want, and major payoff when you sell a home. But you don’t become successful overnight in this venture. Many people invest 5-10 years hardly making ends meet before they see real payoffs.


Digital Nomad
Working on blog writing and watching the waves at Uluwatu was a dream come true.


But there are definite downsides to self-employment. No paid vacation time for your surf trips is a major bummer. In the U.S., it means no health insurance for surfing mishaps. And the biggest downside is of course part of the upside- unreliable work schedule which means unreliable income. 



The Best Flexible Schedule Jobs for Surfer

Working remotely in a setting where you can make your own schedule is by far the best option for those who prefer a steady paycheck, paid vacation, sick days, health insurance, and retirement savings. The second-best employment arraignment is a job that requires you to come to the office, but allows you to do so on your own schedule. One great resource is the website FlexJobs which has thousands of flexible schedule and remote positions.

Let’s take a few of the best paying ideas…


Web Designer is perhaps the best paying job for those wishing to enjoy the digital nomad lifestyle. As long as you have a reliable internet connection you can work from anywhere at any time of the day. Here is a great full time, 100% remote job in web design. 

Search Engine Optimization Specialist is another great choice for those wishing to work remotely. 

Van life
This “office” had its downsides: No AC, flies and poor internet.


Online Teaching is a booming field. You don’t even need a degree although you’ll make more if you have one. You can teach English online and make between $10-$16/hr which is plenty to live on if you want to rent a beachfront apartment in Mexico or maybe even Bali. This job pays $30 USD/hr for test prep tutors.


Social Media Manager is another hot field offering great jobs for surfers. Companies can’t survive without detailed attention to social media in today’s markets. Perhaps all that time you spend posting to your Insta story will finally pay off? Here are 50 open, work-from-home positions for social media.


Well I’d love to keep going but I’m off to check the surf. Oh the joys of being a writer! Let us know in the comments what you do to pay the bills that keep you in the ocean.

Cover Photo: The Millennial Source


I am a writer and wanna-be big wave surfer. Surfing is my muse. I write about it and how it’s teaching me to live better. I hold certification as a nutritionist, personal trainer, yoga instructor, and lifeguard instructor. My story “100 Days in Mexico” of how a solo road trip surfing my way through Mexico changed my life can be found here www.melanielainewilliams.com


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