Published April 16, 2013
Outdoor Jobs Come in Many Shapes, Sizes
Working in the outdoors doesn't mean you have to be a mountain climber guide or be employed by the Boy Scouts. There are lots of outdoor jobs that will earn you a good salary and some are seeing better-than-average growth, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS.
But just as the types of outdoor jobs you can get vary, so do the salaries, educational requirements and the places where you'll work. For instance, according to Bill Beckner, the research manager at Ashburn, Va.-based National Recreation and Park Association, a landscape architect would need four years of college and can earn on average $50,000 to $80,000 per year.
Meanwhile, a surveyor job requires four years of schooling plus four years of experience to get licensed and brings home an annual salary of as much as $80,000, according to Curtis Sumner, the executive director of the Frederick, Md.-based National Society of Professional Surveyors. With that in mind, here's a look at eight outdoor jobs that are growing or are poised to grow -- and what it takes to land a job.
Landscape Architect Jobs Wherever it's Green
Median annual pay: $62,090
Job growth: 16%
Projected by the BLS to grow at a rate of 16% from 2010 to 2020, landscape architects are in the business of designing green spaces for both the private and public sectors.
If you're looking to land a job in the public sector designing spaces in parks, or around highways or governmental buildings, expect a lot of competition. According to Beckner, those jobs have taken a hit with cuts in government budgets. Most of these outdoor jobs have been coming from the private sector in the design of green spaces for office buildings, parking lots or residential homes.
Landscape architects can make on average $50,000 to $80,000 per year, depending on their experience, and can either work for a landscape architecture firm or a mom and pop shop, or work for themselves, Beckner says. The BLS put their median pay at $62,090 per year, or $29.85 per hour, in 2010.
Surveyor Jobs to Grow Faster Than Average
Even though the tough economy has hurt the surveying industry, this profession is expected to grow at a rate of 25% from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations, according to the BLS. A surveyor's job is to establish the official boundaries for land, airspace and water.
According to Sumner, surveyors are part "detective, puzzle solver and mind reader."
Surveyors can do work for homeowners to oil companies and any firms that are engaged in construction. They can work anywhere in the country, but there's a catch. They have to be licensed in each state where they work.
Since the industry uses sophisticated technology to gather data, schooling and/or experience is a must to become licensed. Sumner says many surveyors run their own business and can earn $75,000 or more annually, although the BLS put the median wage at $54,880 per year, or $26.39 per hour, in 2010. Surveyors also are employed by large surveying companies, construction firms and civil engineering firms.
Archeologist Jobs: More Than Digging for Bones
Median annual pay: $54,230
Job growth: 21%
Tell someone you're an archeologist, and it may conjure up visions of people digging in deserts to uncover ancient bones. However, archeologists also are employed whenever federal money is used for a project such as to build a new road. Before any construction can begin, the archeological significance of a particular parcel of land must be assessed.
While jobs aren't in abundance as they are in the legal or medical fields, archeologists are projected to have better-than-average job growth of 21% from 2010 to 2020, according to the BLS. In 2010, the median pay for an archeologist was $54,230 per year, or $26.07 per hour, according to the government agency.
Archeologists typically have a four-year degree, a master's degree and in some cases a doctorate in anthropology with a concentration in archeology and can work on diverse jobs from surveying a pipeline being constructed to a new shopping mall being built, says Joel Irish, a professor in the anthropology department at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks.
Pest Management Technicians Always in Demand
Every area of the country has pests to contend with, whether those pests are bedbugs or roaches, which is why the pest control field is one of those outdoor jobs that's projected to grow at a rate of 26% from 2010 to 2020, which is faster than the average occupation, the BLS says.
Pest management involves controlling or removing unwanted pests. Pest management technicians aren't millionaires, but they can earn a decent salary, considering you don't need a college degree.
According to Jim Fredericks, director of technical services at the Fairfax, Va.-based National Pest Management Association, pest management technicians typically earn $13 to $20 per hour, depending on experience, and are employed mainly by small, independent companies. There are a few large companies, including Orkin Pest Control of Atlanta and Terminix of Memphis, Tenn.
According to a 2010 BLS estimate, pest control workers can earn a median wage of $30,340 per year, or $14.59 per hour.
Termite Service Technicians Needed Regionally
In the world of pest control, some technicians can choose to specialize in termite control. A termite service technician will visit multiple homes and commercial buildings per day, trying to resolve an infestation of termites. According to Fredericks, they typically use heavy equipment because there is drilling and digging trenches involved in resolving termite problems. All a termite service technician needs is a high school diploma.
"It's often a more entry-level position," says Fredericks, noting the average salary is $12 to $17 per hour. The BLS put the median pay in 2010 at $30,340 per year, or $14.59 per hour.
The majority of termite service technicians work for small companies, although there are a few large ones including Western Pest Services of Parsippany, N.J., and J.C. Ehrlich Co. of Reading, Pa.
Outdoor jobs in this field are expected to grow by 26% from 2010 to 2020, according to the BLS. But, they are more prevalent in areas such as the southeastern U.S. where there is a high concentration of termites, Fredericks says.
Environmental Scientists to Protect the Planet
Environmental scientist jobs may grow only at an average rate of 19% from 2010 to 2020, according to the BLS, but for people who care about protecting the planet, it can be a rewarding career. Environmental scientists are tasked with identifying problems and finding solutions that protect the health of the environment and its inhabitants.
Environmental scientists spend their days gathering data and monitoring environmental conditions and typically work in all types of weather. According to the BLS, fieldwork can be physically demanding and may require travel to different locations.
To become an environmental scientist, you'll need a four-year degree. The median salary for an environmental scientist is $61,700 per year, or $29.66 per hour, according to a 2010 BLS estimate.
Masons See Growth in Physically Demanding Jobs
Not what you would think of as a traditional outdoor job, but brick masons, block masons and stone masons spend most of their time outdoors constructing fences, walkways, walls and other physical structures. The work is hard, but there is a lot of demand for these jobs. The BLS projects a growth rate of 40% from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the average occupation.
Brick layers often lift heavy material and spend their days standing, kneeling and bending for long periods of time. Despite the risks, they can earn a good salary. The median salary in 2010 was $45,410 per year, or $21.83 per hour, according to the BLS.
Masons don't need a college degree, but most undergo a three- to four-year apprentice program. These jobs can be found around the country, with masons working for large and small contractors, through unions or on their own, the BLS says.
Recreation Workers Employed in Diverse Places
The government has been a major employer for recreation jobs, but private groups such as athletic associations and recreational camps are putting together sports programs. This is driving the need for recreational workers, says Beckner.
Recreation workers create and lead leisure activity groups in arts and crafts, sports, games, music and other outdoor pastimes. They can work for nonprofits, senior centers, school and park districts, and operators of playgrounds and camps. Recreation workers also can find employment on cruise ships, organizing the daily activities on the ship.
Since most of the activities require being outdoors, the work is seasonal or on a part-time basis in many parts of the country, Beckner says. According to the BLS, recreation worker jobs are expected to grow at a rate of 19% from 2010 to 2020, which is about as fast as the average for all professions. The median salary in 2010 was $22,260 per year, or $10.70 per hour, , according to the BLS.