5 Well-Paying Careers for People Who Love the Outdoors

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outdoors careers

If you were asked to describe a job, many people might say it involves sitting for long hours behind a desk in an office. But what if you’re not a confined-to-a-cubicle kind of person and would rather spend most of your time outside?

Don’t worry; you don’t have to live a hippie life to earn a good salary while enjoying the sunshine. There are a number of well-paying careers where you can spend most of your time outdoors. Here are five great ones to consider.

1. Landscape Architect

You know all of those neighborhood homes and parks with perfectly curated plants? Well, someone needs to come up with the design.

Before landscapers can come in and plant any trees, there needs to be a landscape architect to make the whole vision come together. This can be anything from designing campus grounds and parks, to the landscape around businesses and private homes.

Like any architect, there is some time required for an office to draw up plans. But, there is still a decent amount of time is spent outdoors at the actual job site chatting with clients and watching the project come to life. It’s a great career if you love design, drawing, and art but would prefer to be in nature than a studio.

  • Average salary: $63,480 per year*
  • Education requirements: To be a landscape architect, you need a license. That licensing process varies by state, but typically requires you to have a bachelor’s in landscape architecture, hands-on internship experience, and you must pass the Landscape Architect Registration Examination.
  • Potential career growth: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in this field is expected to increase 6 percent from 2016 to 2026. As new commercial properties continually get developed, and older developments refurbished, there will continue to be a need for landscape architects.

2. Park Ranger

With 417 national park sites in the United States, there needs to be people willing to watch and take care of the 84 million acres. That’s where park rangers come in.

These individuals are required to take on several roles at national parks and historic sites, including acting as law enforcement, responding to any injuries, and providing information to guests. They also help to ensure the parks and sites are well-maintained, report any abnormal behavior from both guests and animals, and indicate if there’s an increase for natural disasters, such as a fire.

Best of all, all of this requires you to spend a ton of time outdoors. So much so, the parks warn prospective rangers that they will have to endure all sorts of weather and temperatures. You better like the cold and the heat!

  • Average salary: $37,382 per year
  • Education requirements: A bachelor’s degree in forestry, wildlife management, or environmental science is typically required. Any additional training in something such as emergency medical services could help with both securing a job and increasing level of pay. Additional onsite training, similar to other patrol careers such as policemen, could also be required.
  • Potential career growth: The exact details of park ranger employment prospects are not clear, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates careers in forestry and conversation to grow 6 percent from 2016 to 2026. An important reason for the continued need of park rangers is to help prevent wildfires.

3. Chemical or geological oceanographer

If your ideal day involves taking a dip in the ocean or putting your toes in the sand, you may want to consider an outdoor career as an oceanographer. Not only are you outside for several days to several months at a time, but often on the open seas.

Oceanographers can have a variety of duties, such as studying the changing chemical makeup of the ocean and seafloor, or the movement of tectonic plates. You could specialize in the currents and tides, or volcanic activity. The options are endless, so long as you love the ocean.

  • Average salary: $58,971 per year
  • Education requirements: You’ll need a bachelor’s degree in a related field such as marine biology, marine geology, biological oceanography, hydrology, geosciences, etc. Also, an internship with field work is usually required and a background in research and computer skills for completing math calculations and inputting data.
  • Potential career growth: Oceanographers encompass so many specialized careers, so it’s a bit difficult to pinpoint an exact career growth prospect. But, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said that employment of geoscientists is expected to grow 14 percent from 2016 to 2026. That’s quicker than the average for occupations as a whole. Why? There is an ever-growing need for energy and environmental protection. Various institutions, both public and private, continue to look for ways to promote “responsible land and resource management.”

4. Wildlife Biologist

While we’ve already got you covered for a list of careers for animals lovers, there’s a job for animal lovers who also love the outdoors. A wildlife biologist gets to combine these two passions by studying animals and their habitats.

Day-to-day duties can include studying the physical traits of animals, their behaviors, how they’re impacting humans, and what they’re doing to the environment. Most of this work can’t be done sitting behind a desk. It requires a lot of time outdoors in the animals’ natural environments, observing and collecting data.

  • Average salary: $60,520 per year
  • Education requirements: You will need a bachelor’s degree for entry-level positions in this field, but having a master’s degree is typical for higher-level scientific work. If you’re interested in actually leading a study for a university, a Ph.D. is necessary.
  • Potential career growth: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of wildlife biologists is expected to grow 8 percent from 2016 to 2026. Wildlife populations are evolving and changing creating a demand for people to study them. Unfortunately, budget constraints on governmental agencies limit funding for such research.

5. Archeologists

Calling all real-life Indiana Joneses! Ok, so Harrison Ford may not play you in a movie, but you can still spend plenty of time outdoors studying ancient cultures.

As an archaeologist, you will research the physical traces left behind by our ancestors to better understand historic languages, behaviors, and the ways of life from the past. This happens all over the world, and can involve fieldwork to examine these objects and locations. You could find a job with a research organization, governmental body, or private research firm.

  • Average salary: $63,190 per year
  • Education requirements: You need a master’s degree or Ph.D. in anthropology or archeology. Experience doing fieldwork in either discipline is also important.
  • Potential career growth: Unfortunately, employment of anthropologists and archeologists is growing slower compared to other occupations. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the field to only grow 3 percent from 2016 to 2026 because there are fewer positions available in these fields. The fewer number of jobs is due to cuts in funding from the government, but organizations can still seek private funding.

So whether you like the ocean, animals, the dirt, or the trees, there’s a career for every type of outdoor lover. The main commonality: No suits or watercooler chats required. If that sounds appealing, search on job sites like Indeed or LinkedIn with these titles and see where some outdoor career opportunities lie.

*Average salaries are based on available data (as of Dec. 2017) from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and PayScale.

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Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.