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Outdoor Jobs: 40+ Careers in the Great Outdoors

Outdoor jobs are ideal for people who find the 9 to 5 daily grind dreadful.

No one should be stuck in a cubicle doing a job they don’t like.

If you feel like you’d be happier exploring jungles, guiding tourists on off-the-beaten paths, hiking to the peak of the mountains, taking pictures of Mother nature, diving deep to rescue sea creatures, skiing to your heart’s content, or making your life into an adventure (while earning money), then this guide could change your life.

Types of Outdoor Jobs

You’d find two types of outdoor jobs – one that requires a degree, and the other that is skills-based.

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When I list the jobs below, I’ll note down if they’re available year-round or seasonal, requirements needed for the job, and income potential.

WILDERNESS OUTDOOR JOBS

The wilderness is any area uncultivated and uninhabited by human beings.

1. Wildland Firefighters

  • Year-round and seasonal job
  • Income: $50,000/year
  • Requires certification

These brave men and women are front and center when forest fire occurs. It’s a pretty dangerous job, but very noble indeed.

2. Wilderness or Backpacking Guide

  • Year-round and seasonal
  • Income: $66,000/year
  • Experience and skill based

This job isn’t for the faint of heart.

Because you’re leading people in uncharted lands, you have to be aware of the terrain, habitat, and everything else about the area you’re backpacking to. Perfect for people with extensive experience hiking, hunting, fishing, and other survival skills.

3. Park ranger

  • Year-round
  • Income: $40,000/year
  • Experience and skill-based job

Park rangers have the same exact job description as wilderness guides above, except the area they’re exploring is contained and safer.

4. Forester

  • Year-round
  • Income: $45,000/year
  • Needs a Bachelor’s degree in Forestry

Foresters manage the growth of trees (and the type of tree species to be planted) in relation to the survival of plant and animal species within a particular forest.

5. Surveyor

  • Year-round
  • Income: $65,000/year
  • Needs a Bachelor’s degree in Mapping/Surveying

As a surveyor, your update boundary lines on sites before construction to prevent possible legal disputes.

6. Environmentalist or Conservation Scientist

  • Year-round
  • Income: $85,000/year
  • Needs a Bachelor’s degree in chemistry, biology, geosciences or any science-related field

Employed by local, state, and federal governments, real estate agencies and other private companies, conservation and environmentalists assess a land and help in creating a preservation plan.

SCIENCE-RELATED OUTDOOR JOBS

Many scientists work in the field, since they study and explore water, land, air, and living things around the country (or sometimes around the world).

Most of the careers in the science industry are high paying outdoor jobs, especially those that require doctorate degrees.

7. Archaeologist

  • Year-round
  • Income: $73,000/year
  • Needs a Bachelor’s degree in archaeology or anthropology

Many kids dream of becoming an archaeologist for excavating and interpreting objects and sites of historical interest and document past human activity.

8. Animal trainer (equestrian, dog, elephant, etc.)

  • Year-round and seasonal
  • Income: $30,000 to $75,000/year
  • Needs a bachelor’s degree (for medical careers like veterinarians)

If you love horses, dogs, elephants, cats, and other animals, you can train them as a profession.

9. Botanist

  • Year-round
  • Income: $68,000/year
  • Needs a degree in botany

Studies plant life and organisms to help with medicine, environmental policy, environment preservation and agriculture.

10. Geologist

  • Year-round
  • Income: $110,000/year
  • Needs a degree in geology

As a geologist, you’d be able to study the earth’s composition, structure, and other physical attributes, such as minerals and rocks.

11. Entomologist

  • Year-round
  • Income: $61,000/year
  • Needs a Doctoral degree in Entomology

Anyone who ever loved creepy crawlies as a child could grow up to become an entomologist and study insects’ behavior, life cycle, ecology, population and classification.

12. Marine ecologist/biologist

  • Year-round
  • Income: $62,000/year
  • Needs a degree in marine biology

This job can be either be in labs or on the field (often underwater or near bodies of water), since the profession deals with marine organisms, marine life and their ecosystems.

13. Environmentalist

  • Year-round and seasonal
  • Income: voluntary to $60,000/year
  • Needs a degree in any environment-related course like biology

You can be an environmentalist and volunteer work for lobbyists and various causes, or take a career as a scientist studying the preservation of natural resources and habitats.

14. Zoologist, wildlife biologist

  • Year-round and seasonal
  • Income: voluntary to $75,000/year
  • Needs a degree in any environment-related course like zoology, wildlife biology

Study animals and other wildlife in their environment and how they interact with other animals within or outside their ecosystems.

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15. Volcanologist

  • Year-round
  • Income: $90,000 to $190,000/year
  • Needs a degree in geology, earth science, geophysics and other similar fields.

Studying volcanoes, how they erupt, and collecting samples and data about volcanic activity.

16. Geographer

  • Year-round
  • Income: $40,000 to $77,000/year
  • Needs a degree in geography, statistics or any environmental science course

As a geographer, you study the earth, land, nature and its inhabitants.

17. Ichthyologist

  • Year-round
  • Income: $57,000 to $95,000/year
  • Needs a degree in marine biology, marine ecology, zoology

It’s all about the study of fish, so you should love the sea, ponds, and other bodies of water to study and collect samples. Work can be a mix of lab and the great outdoors.

18. Seismologist

  • Year-round
  • Income: $90,000/year
  • Needs a degree in geophysics or a related area

Seismology is the study of seismic waves: energy waves that are created by earthquakes, volcanic eruption and other events that disrupt the tectonic plates and layers of the earth.

19. Hydrologist

  • Year-round
  • Income: $80,000/year
  • Needs a degree in hydrology, environmental science, geo-science

Hydrologists are experts in water and study flooding, drought, water pollution and other water-related problems.

AGRICULTURE OUTDOOR JOBS

You’d be surprised that these careers are some of the best outdoor jobs that pay well.

20. Winery Jobs

Whether you learn to become a winemaker or a sommelier (wine expert representing the fine-dine restaurants), winery jobs are ideal for those who can’t stand office-based jobs.

Different job titles are available here – with both season and year-round positions.

Pay vary between specialty: harvesters earn $13 to $20 an hour, winemakers can make up to $100k/year, while sommeliers take home up to $75,000 annually.

21. Arborist

  • Year-round and seasonal
  • Income: $48,000/year
  • Needs a certification to handle heavy equipment

As an arborist, you are an expert in cutting trees and trimming other plants to protect power lines, sidewalks, and roads.

22. Agronomist

  • Year-round and seasonal
  • Income: $41,000 to $100,000/year
  • Needs a degree in Agriculture or Food Sciences

Agronomists study different methods plants can be used for food, medicine, and other ways to the human’s advantage. They help in improving crop yield, and plant longevity.

23. Commercial Fisherman

  • Seasonal
  • Income: $30,000 to $80,000/year
  • Certification in commercial fishing and fishing technology.

As a commercial fisherman, you’ll be fishing in order to sell your catch. Some fishermen take months at a time at sea.

24. Farmer

  • Seasonal and year-round
  • Income: $20,000 to $110,000/year
  • Certification in commercial fishing and fishing technology.

Farmers grow crops and take care of animals on farms. You can be employed in a farm all year-round or seasonally. You can also be the owner of the farm and be hands on (or not). These factors, as well as the type of farm you have, will dictate how much you earn.

25. Hunter

  • Seasonal and year-round
  • Income: $17,000 to $50,000/year
  • License to operate hunting trips and skills to lead a team

Professional hunters and trappers are trained to hunt animals, but they earn money mostly by guiding clients on organized hunting expeditions.

26. Livestock Rancher

  • Year-round
  • Income: $30,000 to $100,000/year
  • No formal educational requirement, but managing your own ranch would need local permits

As livestock ranchers, you’d raise and sell sheep, pigs and cows for profit.

27. Beekeeper

  • Seasonal and year-round
  • Income: $20,000 to $80,000/year
  • Beekeeping training (both hands-on and formal courses) is required

Beekeepers take care of bee hives to yield honey and sell other honey byproducts like beeswax.

ARTSY OUTDOOR JOBS

This industry embraces freedom like no other, so the list below is surely just a tip of the iceberg. I guarantee you if you look a lot closer, you’d find outdoor jobs hiding in plain sight in the art world.

28. Outdoor Photographer

  • Seasonal and year-round
  • Income: $25,000 to $110,000/year
  • This is skills-based, so your potential to land a job (or earn big as a freelancer) depends largely on your photography skills

Outdoor photographers may specialize in anything from landscapes, travel, animals and wildlife, news beats, and so on. Most are freelancers, but outdoor photographers can also seek traditional employment with companies like National Geographic (and other magazines around the world).

29. Travel writer or (or travel blogger)

  • Seasonal and year-round
  • Income: from $60,000/year and up
  • This is a skills-based profession. You can take up degrees in Creative Writing, Journalism, English Literature and other similar courses, but your writing skill will probably take you places more than your degree.

As a travel writer, you get to travel to places, restaurants, attractions and other areas and write about it for a magazine, organization, or other companies. Travel bloggers are freelancers that do exactly the same thing as travel writers, but with a different approach to income.

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30. Camp jobs

  • Seasonal and year-round
  • Income: $20,000 to $120,000/year
  • Some camp jobs require no formal training, while others (such as a camp doctor or teacher) would need a degree, certification and even license to teach kids

The job will depend largely on what position you applied for at the camp. Examples include camp counselor, camp doctor, cook, lifeguard, groundskeeper, and so on.

31. Map maker (cartographer)

  • Seasonal and year-round
  • Income: $75,000/year
  • Bachelor’s degree in geography or cartography

As a cartographer, you compile geographic data and use this information to create drawings of maps in graphic or digital form.

32.Urban planner (landscape architecture)

  • Year-round
  • Income: $77,000/year
  • Requires a degree in architecture, and state licensing

As an urban planner, you use your knowledge in architecture, landscape design, and city planning to build public parks, streets, building, public transportation systems, and every other aspect of a city.

SPORTS & ADVENTURE JOBS

Many professions in the adventure and sports industry are on the field. You’ll never ever have to work in a cubicle or be drowned in paperwork.

33. Hiking guide

  • Seasonal and year-round
  • Income: $30,000 to $60,000/year
  • No formal education is needed to lead hikes, but extensive experience and local permits are a must

A dream job to hikers, leading people to the most gorgeous trails and mountains. Check out what’s in store for you in the Great Outdoors from companies like YMCA.

34. Running and other sports coach

  • Year-round
  • Income: $45,000 to $60,000/year
  • There is no specific qualifications to become a sports coach, except for knowing the ins and outs of a particular sport (such as boxing). When the job requires teaching, a license may be required.

A sports coach guides athletes to reach their full potential.

35. Local tour guide

  • Year-round
  • Income: $23,000 to $38,000/year
  • You don’t need formal training as a tour guide, but exceptional communication and people skills will give you an advantage in this field.

You can go freelance, employ with a travel agency, or own your business. Whichever route you take, you’ll be taking groups of people on local adventures from sightseeing popular landmarks, jumping from one beer tap to the next, leading off-the-beaten path trails, going on haunted house tour, and so on.

36. Ski or snowboarding instructor

  • Year-round and seasonal
  • Income: $10 to $20 an hour, depending on where you’re teaching (hot spots like the Steamboat Resort in Colorado would bring higher rates)
  • Certifications are required, and the higher certification levels you obtain, the bigger your rates become

If you ever dreamt of living in the mountains and ski, snowboard and play on the snow, you can be an instructor at any ski or snowboarding resort.

37. Surfing, swimming, diving instructor

  • Year-round and seasonal
  • Income: $15,000 to $50,000/year
  • Permits and certifications are needed to be able to teach these activities

The best outdoor jobs is the one where you’re having the most fun. If you’ve always been at-home in the water and has a special relationship with water, you’ll excel as an instructor for diving, swimming or surfing.

38. Lifeguard

  • Year-round
  • Income: $19,000 to $30,000/year
  • Exceptional swimming skills, First Aid, CPR and other life-saving certifications

I intentionally didn’t include this career on #37, since not everyone is up for this challenging, yet fulfilling line of work. As a lifeguard, your role is to save a life.

39. Field jobs in the sports industry

They may not be high paying outdoor jobs, but if you’re into sports and you want to be breathing and living the sport of your choice, explore each sport completely. Examples of these jobs include golf caddy, tennis ball boy, towel givers, and other similar job titles.

There are, of course, higher paid gigs in this industry. Aside from being the athlete, you can be a referee, sports marketer, agent, injury doctor and still be on the field.

40. Yacht and cruise crew

Jobs “on deck” are the same on the yacht and cruise ship. They all work to make sure the trip is “smooth sailing,” whether you’re a waiter, singer, bartender, engineer, and so on.

The main difference is the number of people served during a trip, since a yacht is privately-owned, while a cruise ship is owned by a corporation.

Your Future with an Outdoor Job

You see, there is no shortage of outdoor careers for you to explore.

You just have to find your own path that would best fit your interest, educational background, training and preference.

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