10 Jobs in Surfing For Anyone Who is Too Rubbish To Turn Pro
You don't have to be good at riding your board to make a living from Surfing...
“Surfing is the source man, swear to God" uttered the shop monkey in hard-hitting documentary Point Break. He was not wrong. That pure, natural ecstasy when you get a wave, be that your first ever, or your millionth, would be worth more than all the gaudy gold shit in Donald Trump's flat if you could bottle it.
So, imagine getting paid to surf. Somebody filling your bank account at the end of the month in return for being in the waves. Sounds like heaven, right?
“But Mpora, you null. With all the best will in the world, I’m too shit to be a pro surfer! I’m breathless just getting out of bed, let alone riding Pipeline," we hear you cry. Fear not, dear reader. You don’t have to turn pro and wear hats bearing the logos of energy drinks that make children obese to have a career in surfing.
Here are 10 jobs in the surf industry that just about anybody could get*.
1) Become a Surf Photographer/filmer
Surf photographers and filmers are the visual link between the pros and the fans. Without the guys and girls getting the stills and the footage, nobody would ever see that backside 540, or that ridiculous surf double kickflip. Without footage, it didn’t happen, so without photogs and filmers, pro surfers may as well not exist.
You get to hang out with the profesionals, be in the waves every day, and travel the world to shoot in the most beautiful locations from Hawaii to New Zealand to Indonesia…
… or up to your neck in the murky brown water of Newcastle, freezing your tits off in a hand-me-down wetsuit filled with more holes than a Dan Brown plot. You spend a king's ransom on a good camera, a better lens, and a waterproof housing, so you can stand in the impact zone, where 10 foot waves crash on your head and some lank haired dude called Chad or Bode can try to give you lacerations with his fins as he hoons past you at a million miles an hour on his board.
Chances of actually surfing: 8/10
2) Become A Surf Instructor
Surf instructors are the people that hold the keys to the sport. They’re the ones that teach you not just how to surf, but how to do so with good technique, ensuring that you stay in the water and, therefore, get more waves. More waves, more stoke. This is an instructor's gift to you.
As a surf instructor, you’re not just teaching people how to stand on a board and ride a wave in. You’re opening them up to a whole world where they will get that special feeling of catching a wave. On a daily basis, you’ll get to share the joy of somebody getting their first wave. So if you’re lucky, you may have a pint with your name on it on that post-surf pup sesh.
Your daily routine will be pushing half-arsed, out-of-town complainers into waves. If it’s not a Lads & Dads stag doo, complete with 22 stone account managers from Wolverhampton who haven’t so much as swam in the past 15 years, you’ll be teaching some screaming 6-year-old who’s only really there because mom and dad want a day on the beach, out of earshot of the little fucker. In short, even on a good day, you’re little more than an aquatic baby sitter.
Chances of actually surfing: 9/10
3) Become A Surf Coach
Coaches fine-tune and hone the skills of the best surfers in the world, making the good great, and the great brilliant. Coaches are integral to the progression of surfing, ensuring the men and women of the waves are in tip-top condition.
Few people get closer to the pros without having to do messy bedroom things with them. As a coach, you’ll get to travel the world in style, go to all the parties and have that free beer that you’ve insisted your prodigy avoids in case it hampers their ability to slash the fuck out of Cho-po. Oh, and bag a winner and there’s a pile of cash larger than Mexico winging is way to you.
When things go right, you don’t get the credit. But when things go wrong, it’s all on you. And while you may think that you’ll be paddling out with John John or Carissa, but if you are a good enough surfer to teach those guys, you should probably already have been on the tour. No, your days will be spend in a stinky gym, getting your future star to do deadlifts, Russian twists, and Moldovan groin divots.
Chances of actually surfing: 4/10
4) Become A Surfboard Shaper
Surfing’s artisan craftsmen, shapers take lumps of wood (or more likely polyurethane these days) and craft them into the perfect surfboard for any specific rider and condition. It’s said that the really good shapers won’t give you the board you want, they’ll give you the board you need.
As a shaper, you’ll be respected and revered by everybody, from the punter on holiday, to the absolute top-end pros. You’ll be thought of as somewhere between a wizard, and ninja, and a master craftsman.
Learning your trade can take years and years to even get not-shit, let alone good. And at the end of it, you’re basically doing glorified GCSE DT. Your days will be spent in a cold shed, breathing in the noxious dust from the white lumps of material that will one day be a board.
Chances of actually surfing: 6/10
5) Become A Surf Shop Monkey
Ah, the retail wing of the surfing world. People who work in surf shops, or shop monkey’s as they’re known to the rest of the world are the people that makes your new-gear dreams come true.
Whether it’s a regular store or a rental shop, as a shop monkey, you’ll be in the thick of the action, getting your hands on all of the latest gear before anybody else. And if the waves are pumping and the boss has to go off to head office, who’s to say that you cant sneak that new short board out for a couple of waves?
Retail. Those of us who know, know. Irrespective of what you’re selling, retail is all the same: punters ignoring your advice, buying shit they don’t need and then blaming you when they bring it back because only then do they realise they didn’t need it. They moan at you. Your boss moans at you. Oh, and as it’s surfing, you’ll spend the last hour of your working day washing other peoples piss out of rental wetsuits.
Chances of actually surfing: 3/10
6) Become A Surf Agent
Agents represent the business interests of the clients, and as the agent to a pro surfer, you’ll be ensuring that they maintain their laid-back, loose, über-bro/broette image while you squeeze the money out of the acidic energy syrup market.
Nail the agent job, and you can watch the cash roll in for doing little more than sitting on your arse, getting up only occasionally to ensure your client has put their sponsor's stickers on the board at the right jaunty angle.
Everybody. Hates. You.
Chances of actually surfing: 1/10
7) Become A Surf Journalist
The noble scribe. Journalists are the people that cover the action, and bring surfing to life. Through hard work, dedication, and an unparalleled knowledge of surfing, they strive to weave a beautiful tapestry of language. Poetry even. Either that or they go on Wikipedia and rob ideas from FuzzBeed swapping the word “Cake" for “Surfboard".
Becoming a surf journalist can be a charmed life. You get to travel the world, dress like a tramp, hang out, and occasionally even befriend the pros, go to parties, raid free bars, and get buttered up by companies who would like you to think of them and their products favourably. Oh, and you get a needlessly large computer, an office that probably has free coffee, and a passion for alcohol that you definitely can quit anytime you want.
Despite the fact that you write about surfing all day, you’re now lumped in with the “liberal elite" despite the fact you can hardly pay your rent for the shoebox you live in with 18 other people. That’s because, far from living by the ocean, you’ll almost certainly have to work in a big city, far from the waves that got you hooked on this shit in the first place. And every day, without fail, somebody will accuse you of writing clickbait, and/or “lazy joinalizms[sic]".
Chances of actually surfing: 7/10
8) Become A Surf Brand Ambassador
Brand Ambassadors are people that are suitably well known or well respected enough for surfing brands to want to be associated with them. You influence your followers, and the folks in corporate want part of that, so will hook you up with gear for you to post on social media which, in turn, becomes sales for them. Or that’s the theory, at least.
Qualifying to be a Brand Ambassador is surprisingly simple. All you need is a smart phone and Instagram and you’re away. Granted, you’ll need to have a lot of followers, but a cheeky flash of your fleshy bits (or, you know, inventive and well thought out content) and those fans will start racking up. Then just wait for that gear and free trips to roll in.
Unless you’re David Beckham - and let’s face it, chances are you’re not – then the world of the Brand Ambassador is, at best, transient. And at worse, it's a shark-tank full of people willing to throw you under the bus to take your spot. And for what? There’s no actual pay, just the occasional free branded snapback, so you’re still going to have to get a real job, which kind of defeats the purpose anyway.
Chances of actually surfing: 2/10
9) Become Surf Bar Staff
While we eulogised about that feeling of getting a wave earlier, the next best thing is that post-surf pint. Working in a surf bar means you’re always invited to the party. Hell, you are the party.
Everybody loves the person who’s giving them beer. No matter if it costs £8 a pint and tastes like Yankee Candles, if you’re the master of the pints, people will always love you. You’re the heart and soul of the party. Integral to a good time. Work in a surf bar and you’ll be as adored as Donald Trump genuinely believes he’s entitled to be.
Welcome to long hours, constantly stinking of booze, and smiling through gritted teeth as everybody around you is having a good time while you’re on shift. And forget those images of working in some exotic beach bar, where gorgeous members of the opposite sex hang out. Fuck that. You’ll be pulling pints in Wetherspoons in Newquay, cleaning up the mess Chad has left in the ladies toilets after pulling a Paula Radcliffe in his wetsuit.
Chances of actually surfing: 6/10
10) Become A Surf Bum
Strictly speaking, it’s not so much a job as a way of life. Bums are those hobo-like people who exist wholly for surfing. To be a bum will almost certainly involve getting dreadlocks, growing a beard (irrespective of gender), not answering to the name your parents gave you, wearing hemp trousers, and searching for deeper meaning within the musical output of some acoustic guitar playing streak of piss who is otherwise only heard on the soundtrack to shit US TV shows that teenage girls watch on E4.
As a bum, you will represent the spirit of surfing. You’ll be loved by everybody else on this list (apart from the Agent, who will probably cross the street to avoid you in case you get sand on his Gucci flip-flops), and you answer to nobody. Your time is your own, so you can guarantee you’ll always be in the water when it’s pumping.
Your lack of money, personal hygiene, and what the mainstream would probably call ambition mean that sustaining any kind of loving relationship with anybody is unlikely. Unlike any of the other jobs on this list, once you’ve gone down the stinky avenue of bum-dom it’s virtually impossible to get out of. Oh, and listening to Newton Faulkner is also shit.
Chances of actually surfing: 10/10
*Anybody that is who's prepared to put in the required time, effort and hard work. Well, unless you go for option 10.