24 Well-Paying Jobs for People Who Want to Work Outdoors

Grandmother and child gardening outdoors

Anna Frank/istockphoto

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Grandmother and child gardening outdoors
Anna Frank/istockphoto

An Outside Chance

The pandemic changed a lot about our daily lives, including working from office cubicles all day. A May survey for Bloomberg showed that 49% of millennials and Gen Zers would quit their jobs rather than return to office work post-pandemic. If you’re dreaming of spending more time outdoors as well, here are some of the best-paying outdoor jobs sourced from real people, Salary.com, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and listed according to median salary.

Related: How to Earn Money Working From Your RV

Engineer standing in wheat field with wind turbines and using phone, Austria

Wind Turbine Technician

Maintain, install, and repair wind turbines in the field. 

Salary: $48,964

Pros: The BLS predicts a 61% increase in hiring needs by 2029. No degree is needed, because training is acquired through a trade school. 

Cons: Potentially hazardous working conditions. Not for people who are afraid of heights.

Related: Which States Will See the Biggest Impact From Biden’s Climate Plan?

African American fireman at fire station


Protect lives and property in residential areas or by fighting wildfires in more remote, forested locations.

Salary: $49,010 

Pros: A well-paying job that doesn’t require a college education.

Cons: Long shifts with dangerous working conditions.

Related: Military Skills That Can Help Land a Civilian Job

Senior Black Man Construction Manager Inspection

Building Inspector

Ensure the structural soundness of buildings being sold or occupied. It demands “scrutinizing every nook and cranny,” says Jack Miller, a former building inspector and current home improvement and pest control expert at How I Get Rid Of.

Salary: $58,721 

Pros: Hands-on work and camaraderie with team members. 

Cons: “If you don’t want to get your hands dirty, this job isn’t the right one for you,” Miller says.

Related: 35 Great Jobs for Retirees

Energy engineer woman working on a roof with solar panels.
Portrait of Lumberjack
Josef Mohyla/istockphoto

Conservation Scientists and Foresters

Maintain lands such as forests, open spaces, grasslands, and parks, and prevent wildfires. 

Salary: $68,080

Pros: Protect land and wildlife habitats, property, and lives.

Cons: Work is often in rural areas and can involve potentially dangerous working conditions. 

Related: The Deadliest Hurricanes and Other Natural Disasters in the U.S.



Measure and determine property lines using tools on-site to generate maps, charts, and graphs.

Salary: $68,880

Pros: Work individually or on teams, depending on preferences and job requirements. 

Cons: Advances in technology mean fewer jobs. 

Related: Watch Out for These Added Costs When Buying a House

Archeologists at work II


Gather artifacts and study ancient history to help shape understandings of cultures and civilizations, sometimes working in the field, sometimes in offices and labs.

Salary: $65,769

Pros: Potential for discovering and protecting never-before-seen artifacts. 

Cons: Fieldwork may involve periods of extended travel in harsh weather conditions.

Related: Amazing Tourist Attractions That No Longer Exist

African woman sitting on the ground and playing with 8 month old junior lions (Panthera leo), Colin's Horseback Africa Lodge, Cullinan, South Africa

Zoologist or Wildlife Biologist

Study animals and how they interact with their environments and influence humans. 

Salary: $70,300

Pros: A wonderful job for animal lovers.

Cons: Potential for rough or dangerous working conditions. 

Related: 16 Well-Paying Jobs That Make Social Distancing Easy

Growing Vegetables at Home

Commercial Lawn Care and Landscaping

Design and execute plans for outdoor spaces. 

Salary: $74,980-plus depending on clientele and location. 

Pros: Working outdoors while applying artistry to a project, says Jeremy Yamaguchi, CEO of Lawn Love

Cons: A competitive field in which companies don’t invest in large projects regularly or reliably.

Related: 10 Tips for Landscaping on the Cheap

Brazilian woman in medical mask harvesting organic zucchini

Farmer, Rancher, or Agricultural Manager

Produce the world’s food. 

Salary: $78,440

Pros: Lots of independence, and being able to enjoy the fruits of labor on the dinner table. 

Cons: Long hours of physically demanding labor, and a projected 6% drop in employment through 2029.

Related: When Is It Worth Buying Organic?

Looking for directions


Collect information to draw maps.

Salary: $82,880 

Pros: Use art to convey information, sometimes traveling to interesting locations to map them. 

Cons: A competitive field, difficult to break into. Start with an internship, advises cartographer Thomas Faessler of Art in Context.  

Related: 30 Most Satisfying Jobs That Also Pay Well

Happiness on the top

Travel Photographer

Capture images of people, animals, landscapes, or events around the globe.  

Salary: $83,063

Pros: Getting to travel and experience different cultures and environments. 

Cons: Travel costs and logistics as well as the potential for adverse weather. 

Related: 30 Beautiful Destinations for Taking Photos Around the World

Female Biology Researcher Working in Nature

Environmental Scientist

Protect the environment and everything living in it. 

Salary: $86,980

Pros: Critical work as the world looks toward the effects of climate change and an increasing population. The field is expected to grow quickly. 

Cons: Stress over onrushing disaster.

Related: 24 Earth-Friendly Habits That Can Save You Money

Soil Test. Female Agronomist Taking Notes In The Field

Agricultural Engineer

Study and solve technological and mechanical problems relating to agriculture, the environment and pollution, and how to process and store agricultural products efficiently.

Salary: $87,350

Pros: The satisfaction of helping feed the world’s growing population. 

Cons: More time in a lab than outdoors compared with other outdoor professions.

Related: 13 Industries an Immigration Crackdown Could Hurt

industrial ecologist visually evaluates the response of a water sample from lake at the site of a flooded quarry
Евгений Харитонов/istockphoto


Study how surface water moves and how precipitation affects groundwater, solving problems relating to availability and quality of water.

Salary: $94,780

Pros: Helps ensure a sustainable future. Job demand is expected to grow faster than average through 2029.

Cons: Lots of time spent on computers analyzing data. 

Related: How to Stop Spending $400 a Year on Your Lawn and Garden

Making paper blueprints a thing of the past

Civil Engineer

“A vast umbrella” that includes studying solutions for transportation, the environment, and water resources, among other things, says Kathleen Arbogast, a transportation engineer in North Carolina.

Salary: $95,490

Pros: Seeing ideas implemented quickly. “Our construction timelines are much shorter than other engineering professions, so you’re able to see something you dreamed up built within your lifetime,” Arbogast says.

Cons: Often negative feedback from communities. “It is difficult to find a solution that perfectly balances the input from every stakeholder,” Arbogast says.

Related: The Best and Worst Cities in America for Driving

Young tv reporter in winter forest
Vladimir Vladimirov/istockphoto

Atmospheric Scientist/Meteorologist

Study and predict the weather. 

Salary: $96,880

Pros: Help people prepare for or avoid severe weather in a field where a job might get you on TV.

Cons: Long hours during adverse weather events, and a lot of time spent in a weather station, office, or lab compared with others on this list. 

Related: 16 Hurricane Essentials You Don't Want to Be Without

Marine engineer officer working in engine room

Marine Engineer and Naval Architect

Design, build, and maintain ships. 

Salary: $97,820

Pros: Flexibility. Many jobs are coastal, which can be pleasant.

Cons: Jobs are mainly in defense, with few options to work on cruise ships or yachts, and can demand considerable time away from family. Naval architect Mikaela Cesario says it’s also a male-dominated field prone to sexism in the workplace.

Related: The Biggest U.S. Military Site in Every State

Pollution Assessment

Environmental Engineer

Fix environmental hazards by conducting fieldwork, including groundwater, soil, sediment, and surface water sampling.

Salary: $100,220 

Pros: Safeguard the health of individuals and their community

Cons: Little flexibility in work hours, which can be long.

Related: 26 Companies That Are Doing Good Deeds With Your Dollars

Female Geographer with Peat and Camera in Northern Ireland


Studying the land and how its features and inhabitants interact. 

Salary: $103,550 

Pros: High pay with the potential for lots of travel, often to foreign countries. 

Cons: The number of jobs is on a slight decline. Travel to remote locations may provide few amenities.

Related: How Travel Will Change in 2020 and Beyond

Hammer for a geologist, drill cuttings and a drill core


Study the planet to learn about the past and plan for the future. 

Salary: $103,550 

Pros: A good mix of indoor and outdoor work with travel opportunities in a field expected to grow faster than average through 2029.

Cons: Fieldwork can involve long hours and challenging physical labor in remote locations. 

Related: The Dirtiest (and Cleanest) Big Cities in America

My job is to bring dreams to life

Construction Project Manager

Oversee building projects, consulting with architects and engineers to make sure work is done on time and within budget.

Salary: $108,210

Pros: Seeing a project complete.

Cons: Long hours when busy, often including evenings spent in an office, and idle time and potential money flow issues when weather or the economy makes work impossible. 

Related: America's 31 Tallest Buildings

Woman at night looks at the starry sky in a large professional telescope and smiles


Investigate comets, asteroids, planets around other stars, and space debris. 

Salary: $139,410

Pros: The thrill of contributing to science … and sometimes travel. “I’ve been all over the world to use telescopes at different observatories and attend conferences,” says Susan Lederer, a NASA astronomer. “I’ve used many telescopes larger than me.”

Cons: Few jobs, getting increasingly fewer — and long hours if you get one. “Because it takes a lot of work and dedication, sometimes I’ve needed to work through holidays and birthdays,” Lederer says, “including my own.”

Related: See the Stars in These Dark Sky Destinations Across America

Asian woman petrochemical engineer working at night with laptop Inside oil and gas refinery plant industry factory at night for inspector safety quality control.