8 Ways To Make Money In The Surf Industry

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It’s every surf grom’s dream to grow up to be a professional surfer. If you have the skills and drive, go for it. For the rest of us, there may be more viable career options than being a professional surfer.

There are multiple ways to make money in the surf industry besides being a professional surfer. They include: working at a surf shop, being a surfing instructor, and representing surfing gear for surf brands.

Here are 8 ways to make money in the surf industry. If you live, or want to live, in San Diego check out these surf-related jobs on indeed.com. Indeed has a ton of job listings for all locations, not just San Diego.

Own A Surf Shop

What could be better than sitting around and smelling neoprene and surf wax all day? Fewer things.

You will need a prime location in a surf town preferably by the beach, somewhere there is a lot of foot traffic, near a good surf break, or all of these things.

You will need capital to lease the store, build out the store, and stock it with surf gear.

Surfer shop owners can be a tough crowd. We know a guy who opened a small shop in a surf town in New Jersey. He was the only surf shop in town. However, there was a well-established surf shop in the town to the south and another well-established surf shop 2 towns to the north who both told their product representative to not sell to the new surf shop owner.

You can imagine how this story ends. The new shop closed before it even had a chance of getting through its first summer because the owner couldn’t get enough brands onboard to stock his shop.

Work At Surf Shop

If you aren’t turned off by the above cautionary tale and/or if you aren’t in a position to open your own surf shop, work at one. This way you can learn the business, see if you even like it, and consider opening your own surf shop in the future.

Retail pay isn’t great, but if you are in high school or if you want to learn the business working at a surf shop may be the right thing for you.

For those considering opening up their own store be it a surf shop or something different, we have a friend in California who worked at Starbucks after graduating with his MBA. Long story short, he worked at Starbucks for a year, learned everything he could about the coffee business and now runs 6 brick and mortar coffee stores with his brothers.

Surf Camp Operator

What’s better than going to a surf camp for 7 days and 7 nights to surf perfect point breaks? Owning the surf camp and never leaving paradise of course.

If you have the capital, an adventurous spirit, speak the language, and ideally know the locals who can help you navigate the local bureaucracy you may have yourself great business plan in the works.

Go get yourself a little spot on the beach, build some rooms, and start a surf camp. South America and islands in the South Pacific Ocean are popular surfing destinations for mainland Americans.

You can also open a surf camp much closer to you on the east or west coasts of the continental US or in Hawaii.

Be A Surf Instructor

Surfers know that there is a lot of downtime when the waves are small, which happens to be the best time to give a surf lesson to newbie surfers.

Put out your shingle, get listed on Google My Business and get to work. It helps to have a background in water safety and CPR. Also, check with your local municipality to be sure you are operating with the right license and insurance.

Rep A Product Or Two

Do you love sunglasses, wetsuits, and surfboards? Do you get excited about the new gear that comes out every year? If so, being a product sales representative for some of the bigger surf brands or for multiple smaller brands could be your in into the surfing industry.

As a product rep, it’s your job to work with the brand to bring products to the retail stores, keep relationships with the stores healthy and keep surf shop owners happy.

Build A Better Product

Remember stiff wetsuits? Or board shorts that didn’t stretch? If not, consider yourself lucky.

There once was a time when wetsuits were rigid, and shorts ripped instead of stretching. No longer is that the case. That’s call innovation my friend and it will continue to happen.

Surfboards are now made with carbon. Solite makes wetsuit boots that mold to your feet. Sun Bum gives us reef-safe sunscreen to keep all the fishes swimming around.

These times are-a-changing. Change with them or you run the risk of becoming the old single fin longboard that yellows out and delaminates in the backyard.

Shape Surfboards

If you are good with your hands and understand the mechanicals of waves and surfboards it may be time to pick up a foam blank and planer.

Do yourself a favor: After you hack away at a surfboard blank or two, get an apprenticeship with a proven surfboard shaper. You will reduce your learning curve and will be shaping for the pros (or the locals) in no time.

Be A Surf Model

If you were lucky enough to be born with good genes and are disciplined enough to stay in shape you could your good looks to sell clothes and other surf gear.

If you can’t get into the surf industry immediately, get modeling work in another industry until you get your break in the surf industry.


There is more than one way to make money and to work in the surf industry which gives you access to beautiful beaches and tasty waves.