As the summer sunshine streams into your cubicle, the thought hits you: I cannot be stuck behind a desk for the rest of my life! You start dreaming. An outdoor job would be awesome. Fresh air, physical activity, open skies…yup, that sounds about right.
Unfortunately, most outdoor work falls into three main categories: Teeny-Tiny Paycheck (park naturalist, wildlife rehabilitator), Seriously Dangerous (crab fisher, commercial diver) or One-in-a-Million Dream Job (heli-ski guide, vineyard manager).
Lucky for you, there’s another small segment of open-air careers in a much better category: High Demand. These great outdoor gigs are forecast to have thousands of openings by 2020 and they’ll get you out and about.
Say goodbye to Cubicle Nation!
Big-picture thinkers can enjoy the fresh air while designing gardens, green spaces and whole city blocks as a landscape architect or urban planner. With growing populations and increasing need for sustainable designs like green roofs and eco-friendly neighborhoods, these two careers are expected to expand 16 percent by 2020.
Just because you (like 99.99 percent of the rest of the world) aren’t an Olympic-level athlete, that doesn’t mean a career on the field is out of reach.
For example, athletic trainers work to prevent injuries during sports practice and help pro athletes heal when they’re in pain—and demand for this career is growing at a rapid 30 percent. Or, if you’re happiest on the pitch, consider creating the perfect playing field as a sports turf manager (job growth is at 20 percent). Gigs like these will keep you close to the game and out of the office.
If you’re handy with a hammer and don’t mind being exposed to the elements, a career in construction will get you outside. Construction managers and heavy equipment operators (who specialize in maneuvering cranes, bulldozers, etc.) bring home the biggest paychecks—and job growth is good at 17 percent and 23 percent, respectively.
4. Law and Order
While there is a lot of paperwork, law and order careers can keep you away from a standard office.
Traditional policing isn’t an in-demand industry (job growth is at 7 percent, well below the national average). However, heightening security demands means jobs for private investigators are opening up across the country at a rate of 21 percent. Depending on the case, you can spend many hours in the field, trailing surveillance targets or doing interviews. It might not be the heart of nature, but it beats hanging out by the water cooler.
Science jobs—especially those related to natural sciences—can give you one-on-one contact with Mother Nature.
Wildlife photographers and marine biologists are the classic, romanticized outdoor jobs, but there aren’t many employers clamoring for you to come swim with the dolphins. However, the need for energy exploration, environmental protection and responsible resource management is spurring demand for geoscientists (21 percent job growth) and environmental engineers (22 percent job growth). Neither of these jobs keeps you outdoors 24/7, but you will spend plenty of time in the field.
What’s your outdoor dream job?
All job outlook data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.