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Outdoor Jobs: 40+ Careers in the Great Outdoors

Not everyone can thrive in a four-walled, fluorescent-lighted environment for 9, 10, 12 hours a day. For those people, outdoor jobs seem like a better fit than traditional office jobs.

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Working outdoors gives you literally more space to explore. The sun on your face (outside the danger hours, that is), the fresh air in your lungs, and being able to move around all have positive effects on your health.

Some people have a bias against outdoor jobs; for some reason, they think they’re nothing but menial and low-paying jobs.

Actually, many of these jobs require degrees and specialized skills, and thus pay higher than expected.

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, all while earning money, then this list can 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.

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: $52,500/year
  • Requires high school diploma or equivalent; physical training, fire science training, medical training, certification

These brave men and women are front and center when forest and wildland fires occur. It’s a dangerous yet noble job.

They’re also involved in wildlife fire prevention and may be tapped by the US Forest Service or the US Fish & Wildlife Service for projects related to natural resources.

2. Wilderness or Backpacking Guide

  • Year-round and seasonal
  • Income: $30,000/year
  • Experience and skill-based

This job isn’t for the faint of heart.

Adventure seekers want to go to the wilderness for thrills, but not all of them know how to survive in the wild. They hire wilderness guides to help them through their adventure.

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 in. Perfect for people with extensive experience in hiking, hunting, fishing, and basically living off the land. They should also master outdoor survival skills.

3. Park Ranger

  • Year-round
  • Income: $40,000/year
  • Requires a bachelor’s degree, forestry, conservation, environmental science preferred; physical training, medical training; communication skills

Park rangers patrol state and national parks to ensure that visitors are following the rules and not disrupting the natural environment for both flora and fauna.

They also conduct tours and educational presentations with a special focus on making visitors understand the importance of conservation. Park rangers are also trained to reporting and caring for wounded and hurt humans and animals.

4. Forester

  • Year-round
  • Income: $70,000/year
  • Requires 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.

Timber foresters look after privately owned farms and forests owned by timber companies to make sure the harvesting of timber does not harm the ecosystem. Conservation foresters assess the impact of human activity on animals and plants and recommend declaring a forest as protected when needed.

5. Conservation Scientist

  • Year-round
  • Income: $64,000/year
  • Requires a bachelor’s degree in forestry, environmental planning, natural resource conservation, or other related fields

A conservation scientist manages the overall land quality of natural resources such as forests and parks.

They work with local, state, and federal governments, as well as private landowners to devise ways to maximize the use of the land while protecting the environment.

Science-Related Outdoor Jobs

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

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

6. Archaeologist

  • Year-round
  • Income: $66,000/year
  • Requires a graduate degree in archaeology or anthropology; internship or volunteer fieldwork

Many kids dream of becoming an archaeologist; all that digging around and finding ancient treasures sound pretty cool to a kid.

Archaeologists plan and execute excavations, retrieve and analyze artifacts, and publish and present their results in academic journals and academic conferences.

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7. Animal Trainer

  • Year-round and seasonal
  • Income: $30,000 to $75,000/year
  • Requires bachelor’s degree, preferably in an animal-related field such as animal behavior, zoology, veterinary technology, and the like; requires genuine love for animals; medical training

Animal trainers that work with huge animals usually work outdoors and paid more than animal trainers that work with smaller animals.

If you’re wondering about the wide salary range, it’s because your payment depends on the animal you’re hired to train, your experience, and the conditions you’ll be training in.

For instance, training horses in a ranch pays less than training elephants in a zoo or a circus.

8. Botanist

  • Year-round
  • Income: $69,000/year
  • Requires a bachelor’s degree, preferably in botany, but can be in plant science, biology, or another closely related field; requires advanced research skills

Botanists study plant life—processes, reproduction, and evolution—and how it relates to their surroundings and other organisms. The ultimate goal of their research is to help with medicine, environmental policy, conservation, and agriculture.

9. Geoscientist

  • Year-round
  • Income: $93,000/year
  • Requires a bachelor’s degree in geology or other geoscience-related fields; requires a license to be a Professional Geoscientist

Geoscientists study the earth’s composition, structure, and other physical attributes, such as minerals and rocks. They do his mostly by collecting and analyzing samples, preparing scientific reports, and presenting their findings to clients, the academe, and other interested parties.

10. Entomologist

  • Year-round
  • Income: $61,000/year
  • Requires 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 taxonomy. Industries that hire entomologists include agriculture, veterinary, medicine, law enforcement, and many other industries.

11. Marine Biologist

  • Year-round
  • Income: $62,000/year
  • Requires a bachelor’s degree in marine biology; extensive undersea training and diving experience

Probably every kid who saw Finding Nemo was enthralled by the underwater environment portrayed in the movie.

Marine biologists get up close and personal with marine organisms right in their habitat. Their research work involves species inventories, monitoring their movement, collecting and testing of water samples, and preserving specimens and samples of new species.

12. Environmental Scientist

  • Year-round and seasonal
  • Income: voluntary to $73,000/year
  • Requires a bachelor’s degree in environmental science; requires training for handling hazardous materials in the environment.

Environmental scientists collect and analyze samples of environmental materials and determine contamination due to human activities and industry. The information gathered is then used toward preventing, controlling, and fixing environmental problems so that natural resources and habitats are preserved.

13. Zoologist

  • Year-round and seasonal
  • Income: $66,000/year
  • Requires a bachelor’s degree in zoology or other related fields, such as wildlife biology or ecology

Zoologists observe animals in their natural surroundings, including their characteristics, diseases, reproduction, movement, and interactions with other animals and their environment. The goal is usually to conserve wildlife.

14. Volcanologist

  • Year-round
  • Income: $90,000/year
  • Requires a graduate degree in geology, earth science, geophysics, or other similar fields; specialized training in volcanology

Volcanologists collect samples and data on volcanic activity to learn how they erupt and how to predict future eruptions for the safety of the local populations.

15. Geographer

  • Year-round
  • Income: $85,000/year
  • Requires a bachelor’s degree in geography; certification in Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

As a geographer, you study the earth, land, nature, and its inhabitants by collecting data through maps, photographs, satellite imagery, and interviews with the locals.

16. Seismologist

  • Year-round
  • Income: $90,000/year
  • Requires a graduate degree in geophysics, geochemistry, or other similar fields; specialized training in seismology and instrumentation

Seismology is the study of earthquakes, seismic waves, and other related phenomena, such as volcanic eruptions, and other events that shift the tectonic plates and release energy. The aim is to be able to predict when the next big earthquake happens so that locals can get ready.

17. Ichthyologist

  • Year-round
  • Income: $57,000/year
  • Requires a bachelor’s degree in marine biology, marine ecology, zoology; extensive experience and training in diving

Ichthyology is all about the study of fish and involves studying fish found in various bodies of water, such as the sea, lakes, rivers, ponds, and others. The goal is to analyze human impact on fish populations and highlight the importance of fish in various ecosystems.

18. Hydrologist

  • Year-round
  • Income: $84,000/year
  • Requires a bachelor’s degree in hydrology or other related fields such as geoscience or earth science

Hydrologists study water in the Earth’s crust; how it moves, how precipitation affects groundwater, and how changes in the environment and human activities impact water quality and quantity. Their research is used in studying floods, droughts, water pollution, and other water-related problems.

Engineering-Related Outdoor Jobs

Not all engineering jobs are office jobs; some of them can be done outdoors. These jobs often require bachelor’s degrees and engineering licenses or certificates.

19. Land Surveyor

  • Year-round
  • Income: $66,000/year
  • Requires a bachelor’s degree in surveying and mapping, surveying and geomatics, or surveying engineering technology

Land surveyors make precise measurements and gather data about the shape and contour of the land to determine property boundaries. This information is useful in construction, mapmaking, and urban planning projects.

20. Cartographer

  • Seasonal and year-round
  • Income: $68,000/year
  • Requires a bachelor’s degree in geography or cartography

Maps remain an integral part of everyday life. As a cartographer, you compile geographic data from ground surveys, aerial photographs, and satellite images, and use this information to create drawings of maps in graphic or digital form.

21. Urban Planner

  • Year-round
  • Income: $76,000/year
  • Requires a graduate degree in urban and regional planning

Urban planners identify community needs, study economic and environmental studies, and develop land use plans to build streets, buildings, public parks, transportations systems, and everything else a city needs to thrive.

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22. Landscape Architect

  • Year-round
  • Income: $70,000/year
  • Requires a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture; requires a state license to be a Landscape Architect

Landscape architects design, plan, and supervise construction on projects that develop or restore open spaces for private houses, commercial buildings, campuses, and other structures.

Agriculture Outdoor Jobs

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

23. Vineyard Manager

  • Seasonal
  • Income: $90,000/year
  • Requires a high school diploma or equivalent; requires experience in working the vineyards

Vineyard managers oversee grape farming, managing staff, and quality assurance. They also ensure that the agricultural procedures followed are sustainable and don’t harm the environment.

24. Arborist

  • Year-round and seasonal
  • Income: $48,000/year
  • Requires a high school degree or equivalent; requires experience in arboriculture; requires certification to be an Arborist or Climbing Arborist; requires certification to handle heavy equipment

As an arborist, you are tasked to cut trees and trim plants, shrubs, and bushes to protect power lines, sidewalks, and roads.

25. Agronomist

  • Year-round and seasonal
  • Income: $52,000/year
  • Requires a bachelor’s degree in agronomy or other related fields, such as agriculture or food science

Agronomists, also known as crop scientists, study different methods plants can be used for food, medicine, and other ways for the good of society. They help in improving crop yield and plant longevity.

26. Commercial Fisherman

  • Seasonal
  • Income: $30,000 to $80,000/year
  • Requires a high school diploma or equivalent; requires certification in commercial fishing and fishing technology

As a commercial fisherman, you’ll be gathering fish or other aquatic animals mostly for human consumption. Some fishermen spend months at a time at sea.

27. Farmer

  • Seasonal and year-round
  • Income: $20,000 to $110,000/year
  • Requires a high school diploma or equivalent; requires experience in working in a farm or a field

Farmers grow crops and take care of animals on farms. You can be employed on a farm all year-round or seasonally. You can also be the owner of the farm and be hands-on or manage farmhands to do the actual labor.

These factors, as well as the type of farm you own or manage, will dictate how much you earn.

28. Hunter/Hunting Guide

  • Seasonal and year-round
  • Income: $17,000 to $50,000/year
  • Requires a high school diploma or equivalent; requires a license to operate hunting trips; have leadership skills

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

29. Livestock Rancher

  • Year-round
  • Income: $30,000 to $100,000/year
  • Requires no formal education; requires licenses and permits to manage your own ranch

As livestock ranchers, you’d raise large animals, such as horses, sheep, pigs, and cows, for profit.

30. Beekeeper

  • Seasonal and year-round
  • Income: $20,000 to $80,000/year
  • Requires training and hands-on experience in beekeeping

Beekeepers take care of beehives to yield honey and sell other bee byproducts like beeswax, propolis, or bee venom

Art-Related Outdoor Jobs

This industry embraces freedom like no other, so the list below is surely just the 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.

31. Outdoor Photographer

  • Seasonal and year-round
  • Income: $25,000 to $110,000/year
  • Requires considerable photography skills and experience shooting outdoors

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 similar magazines worldwide.

32. Travel Writer/Blogger

  • Seasonal and year-round
  • Income: from $60,000/year and up
  • Requires excellent writing skills; a bachelor’s degree in journalism, English, creative writing, and other writing-related fields will help with your salary but are not really required

As a travel writer, you get to travel to other cities within and outside your home country and write about places of interest, restaurants, attractions, and other spots worth visiting. Travel writers are usually hired by magazines, travel agencies, and other media companies.

Travel bloggers are freelancers that do exactly the same thing as travel writers but are their own bosses.

33. Camp Counselor

  • Seasonal
  • Income: $23,000/year
  • Requires a high school diploma or equivalents; CPR, AED, and first aid training; must love working with children; communication skills; some camps train camp counselors to make sure they’re up for the job

Camp counselors typically guide children through camp activities, such as hiking, swimming, and nature surveys. Counselors get paid more if they can teach special skills to the children, such as art, archery, kayaking, music, drama, or gymnastics.

Sports and Recreation 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.

34. Hiking Guide

  • Seasonal and year-round
  • Income: $30,000/year
  • Requires no formal education; experience with the terrain, map-reading skills, and physical skills required; CPR and First Aid training will likely raise your salary; local permits needed especially when hiking through state or national parks

This is a dream job for those who love to hike. Hiking guides lead people through gorgeous trails and mountains.

35. Sports Coach

  • Year-round
  • Income: $45,000 to $60,000/year
  • Requires no formal education or qualifications; those with a bachelor’s degree in sports science or personal training are preferred by clients; requires extensive knowledge of the rules, strategy, and techniques of a particular sport; coaching for a school might require you to have a teaching license

A sports coach guides athletes to reach their full potential in their chosen sport. Obviously, this only becomes an outdoor job if you choose to coach outdoor sports, such as baseball, football, soccer, or other sports.

36. Local Tour Guide

  • Year-round
  • Income: $23,000 to $38,000/year
  • Requires no formal education or training; requires extensive knowledge of the local area and the places of interest; requires exceptional communication and people skills

You can go freelance, find employment with a travel agency, or start your own tours and travel agency. Whichever route you take, you’ll be taking groups of people on local adventures, from visiting popular landmarks, going brewery hopping, leading off-the-beaten-path trails, going on haunted house tours, and many more.

37. Skiing or Snowboarding Instructor

  • Seasonal
  • Income: $30,000 to $40,000/year
  • Requires a high school diploma or equivalent; requires certifications; excellent communication and people skills

If you ever dreamt of moving up north to the mountains and ski or snowboard as much as you can, you can be an instructor at a ski or snowboarding resort and make a living while living your best life.

Higher-level certifications earn you higher salaries.

38. Swimming, Diving, or Surfing Instructor

  • Year-round and seasonal
  • Income: $15,000 to $50,000/year
  • Requires a high school diploma or equivalent; requires various permits and certifications; excellent communication and people skills

The best outdoor jobs are the ones where you’re having the most fun. If you can’t get enough of the sea, being a diving, swimming, or surfing instructor may be a great fit for you.

39. Lifeguard

  • Year-round
  • Income: $19,000 to $30,000/year
  • Requires no formal education; exceptional swimming skills; First Aid, CPR, and other life-saving certifications

If you like hanging out at the beach while being able to save lives, being a lifeguard will suit you nicely.

40. Sports Attendant Jobs

These may not be high-paying jobs, but if you’re into a certain sport and you want to be near it often, working as a sports attendant isn’t too bad. Examples of these jobs include golf caddies, tennis ball boys/girls, towel givers, water boys/girls, and other similar jobs.

41. Cruise Ship and Yacht Jobs

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 working in food and hospitality, entertainment,  maintenance, and all other necessary jobs.

The main difference is the number of people served during a trip.

Start Applying to Outdoor Jobs Today!

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

And as you’ve probably learned by now, there’s no shortage of outdoor careers for you to explore!

Go through this list and find that job that best fits your interests, skills, educational background, and training.

Which outdoor job are you interested in applying to? Share it with us in the comments!

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