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timothynelson 2016-8-5

9 Rewarding Jobs that Trade the Office for the Outdoors

Having a decent job doesn’t mean you have to feel trapped in a cubicle from 9 to 5. There are plenty of ways to pursue a career that lets you regularly spend time working outside. Whether you’re starting your career, want to make a change, or are just thinking about a summer job, here’s a look at outdoor-oriented career paths to explore.

Environmental scientist

If you have a passion for the environment and protecting the natural world, then a career in environmental sciences offers a great opportunity to spend time in the great outdoors while making areal difference.

The bulk of the work involves collecting data and observing the conditions of various natural habitats in order to make recommendations for persevering and protecting them from things like pollution or erosion. Most qualified candidates have at least an undergraduate degree and often a master’s degree in the environmental sciences.


If you want a job that offers the satisfaction that comes from building something and a chance to enjoy some fresh air, then a career in construction might be a good fit. Whether building homes or commercial buildings, it’s a chance to get outside and work in a team.

Landscape Architect

Whereas an environmental scientist works to preserve natural beauty that already exists, a landscape architect designs new green spaces to transform nature into its own art form.

While a traditional architect uses their know-how to design buildings, this type of outdoor architecture is all about figuring out how to construct the perfect park or garden based on environmental factors like soil conditions, the look and feel of any buildings on the site and other design principles.

Landscape and Grounds Work

Not qualified to be a landscape architect? No problem! From pruning trees to planting flowers and sodding grass, landscaping is all about the practical work that goes into making outdoor spaces more beautiful. Throw in the added benefits of some sun-based vitamin D and a decent workout, and you’ve got the makings of a great outdoor job. Sports fans should also look into grounds keeping, a related job that’s all about making sure athletic fields are in playing shape for game day.

Youth Outdoor Recreation Leader or Environmental Educator

For those looking for a summer job or seasonal work as a way to make money while spending time outside, an outdoor-oriented recreation program could be exactly what you’re looking for. Some common opportunities in this space include working at a summer camp (both sleep away and day camps), coaching youth sports, and leading outdoor education programs or tours at a park or nature preserve.  If you want to work in the outdoors and make a positive difference in the lives of kids, this kind of work is exactly what you’re looking for.


Another career that requires an educational background in the earth sciences, geologists study how the composition of the earth has evolved over thousands and even millions of years, with a specific focus on rocks and minerals. Being a geologist involves a great deal of outdoor field work, providing consultation for the government or private companies who work with natural resources.


While most people think archaeology is all about hunting for ancient artifacts, in reality it’s a more practical job than you’d think. Whenever federal money is used as part of a construction project,archaeologists investigate the site, digging below the surface to see if the site has any historical significance before proceeding. If you’re interested in pursuing a degree in anthropology, archaeology is an excellent career path that combines the thrill of discovery, a love of history and ample time spent working outside on dig sites.


While getting a tan by the pool or on the beach is one of the perks of being a lifeguard, it’s far from the only one. This summer job also provides valuable experience in CPR and first aid. Plus, it’s a valuable starting point for those looking to explore a career in emergency medical services or a related field.

Outdoor Conservationist

You don’t need to study the sciences to get outside and help save the planet.  You can do real, rewarding work to make the great outdoors more enjoyable for everyone without having to pursue an advanced degree or commit to a long-term career. Many states have conservation programs that offer young volunteers (usually late teens to late 20’s) the chance to spend a specific period of time to looking after and improving public lands.

Common tasks can include clearing trails, providing disaster relief after severe weather, and restoring wildlife habitats.  If you’re looking for a way to work outside as a short-term alternative to a traditional desk job, this might be the best option for you.

These are just a handful of thought starters if you’re considering a career that allows you to spend your days outdoors.  If you aren’t ready to take the plunge and leave your more traditional career for outside work, traveling is a great way to see and experience the beauty of the natural world. Check out a few ways to start planning your adventure.

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