A list and summary of the most popular outdoor jobs.
The cubicle just doesn’t cut it for some of us. When looking for a new job, you might be one who prioritizes breaking a sweat, working with your hands, getting in a little adventure, or just getting outside in the fresh air instead.
Many outdoor and adventure positions are traditionally known for small salaries. While sometimes true, this is not always the case. You might be surprised to see that several jobs on this list break break the 6-figure mark.
Without further adieu, here are some of the most common and some of the most popular outdoor industry jobs. If you are interested in positions for hire right now, check out this job board.
Nerd out on backpacking gear all day long. Most large cities have an REI nearby or a local, if not several, hiking stores. The staff that work there are typically big outdoorsmen themselves and always up for weekend adventures - aka your coworkers would be a lot of fun to hang with.These jobs can sometimes require a pretty serious outdoor resume though, possibly even require you to be a thru-hiker.
Skiing, snowboarding, fishing, hiking - you name it. There are swarms of tour guide companies needing all sorts of guide to take their clients or hotel guests out for, say, a whitewater excursion or a several day wilderness hike. Getting paid to adventure all day sounds like a no brainer. These jobs can be seasonal though so be prepared to alternate between two half year gigs.
You will need to meet a number of requirements in order to become a park ranger. You often need a bachelor's degree including courses like botany, geology, ecology, zoology, forestry plus park management for starters. But, if you are into nature and environmental preservation, this may be the perfect job for you. If you wish to join the elite division, there is a specialized program developed for law enforcement rangers which prepares seasonal park rangers to be able to carry firearms, make arrests, investigate federal regulation violations and execute warrants.
Study the environment... in the environment. Remember might be hanging out in a laboratory. But, you can expect to be in the field as well - floating on the ocean, in the African Savannah, wherever that might be. Considering the level of impact you can have on the challenges our earth is facing, this can be a very rewarding career as well. Most positions require a bachelor's or more advanced degree.
A seasonal job with plenty of opportunities to make money, travel, lead an active lifestyle and serve your community. Note the obvious hazards and potential danger of dealing with fire on a daily basis. The government frequently contracts third-party agencies to manage their wildfires and controlled burns. Their employees usually range between the ages of 18 and 35 with a high school diploma or equivalent. You should already have some level of outdoor skills and be able to read a topographic map.
Play the hero and rescue swimmers from drowning. Lifeguard duties are related to all aspects of water safety. You will definitely need to know how to use CPR and must be alert at all times. Lifeguards work at athletic clubs, swimming pools, the beach, summer camps, anyplace with people swimming. Prime duties include monitoring pool maintenance, giving swimming lessons, rescuing swimmers and preventing accidents. You will have to be able to work under stressful circumstances, react quickly, and be physically fit. The minimum requirement is the Red Cross Advanced Lifesaving Certificate.
Yes, crops like corn, cotton, peanuts and tobacco are extremely common and are huge agricultural industries. However, there are tons of farmers beyond the traditional pick-and-plow farmer. A farm can range from an artisanal wine vineyard to beekeeping. Any resource that is natural and consumable requires some level of farming, including livestock. Get creative and think of what resources might be farmed locally or you might be interested in making a career out of.
A career for the curious mind or someone who loves mathematics, geologists study the Earth - what shapes it, makes it and the affect various processes have on land mass. The information gathered is used for mining construction and fuel extraction, reclaiming wasteland and even the testing of nuclear weapons. You may not always be outside supervising drilling procedures, as a certain amount of tedious office work is involved. Budding geologists require a bachelor's or a master's degree related to this field that should include the likes of chemistry, calculus, physics, mineralogy, among other subjects.
If you liked to design and build incredible structures from Legos as a kid, then consider the building industry. You could be a construction worker working with your hands under the sun or an architect assessing the layout of the land for a some big new facility. Each position varies in skills required. However, the building and designing process both involve being outside frequently.
Serve your country, travel to remote corners of the globe and get paid to do it. The military branches vary drastically and the range of their responsibilities and roles are seemingly endless - Air Force, Navy, Army, Coast Guard, etc. Be prepared to follow orders, undergo rigorous training, and be exposed to potentially dangerous environments. Career military personnel typically spend a significant more time outside than the average profession and receive great lifelong benefits.
For those that are young at heart and love being around kids, a camp counselor's primary role is to supervise campers during all sorts of activities. Most counselors are energetic, friendly and ready for fun. You must be totally switched on, willing (and able!) to act as a role model, a leader and a mentor to those under your watch. Activities can be anything from games like swimming and playing sports to singing songs. This is predominantly seasonal work and mainly an occupation taken up by college or university students.
Zoologists "study the animal kingdom" and can be involved in anything from research to animal management or education. You may work beside zookeepers, marine or wildlife biologists, veterinarians... or well, animals. A common responsibility of a zoologist is helping restore endangered wildlife populations through breeding programs. You might have to be a bit analytical to deal with large amounts of data.
Play in the dirt - mowing, trimming, pruning, planting, pulling, you name it. Landscaping and gardening is not just for individual homes either. There is a huge industry around designing the layout and maintaining sports complexes, universities, health centers, industrial complexes and public facilities.
By Chris Cage
Chris launched Greenbelly Meals in 2014 after thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail for 6 months. Since then, Greenbelly has been written up by everyone from Backpacker Magazine and Bicycling Magazine to Fast Company and Science Alert. He recently wrote How to Hike the Appalachian Trail and currently works from his laptop all over the globe.
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