Great Careers in the Great Outdoors

If you’re an active outdoorsy type, nothing feels worse than sitting in a cold, fluorescent-lit cubicle all summer, counting the days until your next vacation.

Fortunately, you don’t need to spend your life shackled to a desk. There are many careers that allow you to spend time outside. And many of them pay very well. So if you’d prefer to be surrounded by mountains, forests or oceans rather than file cabinets, copy machines and burnt coffee, you might consider pursuing one of these careers.

To put it plainly, geology is the study of the Earth’s materials (i.e. rocks, liquids and metals) and processes (i.e. earthquakes, floods, volcanic eruptions). These days, geologists are in high demand in a variety of settings including petroleum and other natural resource companies, environmental consulting companies, government agencies, non-profit organizations and universities.

Park Ranger
Park Rangers have the benefit of working in some of the most beautiful places on Earth—from national seashores, to mountain wildernesses and red rock canyons. As stewards of our state and national parks, rangers’ job duties can include protecting endangered areas, teaching park visitors about wildlife and plants, gathering scientific information and conducting search and rescue operations.

Landscape Architect
For those who are both creative and nature loving, landscape architecture lets you combine both interests into one career. Landscape architects make the world a more beautiful, livable place through the design of outdoor public and private areas, including parks, gardens, town squares and neighborhoods.

If you were the type of kid who’d spend hours outside gazing at flowers, collecting leaves, or identifying trees, this could be the occupation for you. A botanist studies all plant life—from microorganisms to giant trees. Job opportunities for botanists can include careers in teaching, research, biotechnology and environmental protection.

Marine Biologist
The term “marine biologist” is actually used to describe many disciplines and jobs dealing with the study of marine life. So a marine biologist might be a biological technician, ichthyologist, fishery biologist, marine mammalogist or microbiologist. If the sea air and saltwater is something you crave, then you might consider this field.

Outdoor Adventure Guide
Active outdoor jobs can be found in across every corner of the globe. Examples include ski, mountaineering or surf instructor; outdoor education program leader; or adventure travel tour guide. The upside is that you’ll be doing exciting work in amazing locations with a variety of interesting people. The downside is that you’ll often be living out of a suitcase and expected to lead regardless of unfavorable conditions, such as bad weather, unforeseen injuries or any other random challenges that are thrown your way.

So you really like being outside? Maybe a career in the “outer” outdoors is calling. Requirements include the ability to withstand zero gravity and excessive g-forces, as well as a willingness to tolerate a very high level of risk and hi-tech diapers. And even though landing a spot in the astronaut program is probably harder than winning the lottery, the payoff is priceless. And the stargazing is out of this world.

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Nicole Cavazos writes about the job market for ZipRecruiter.

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