By Allie Wisniewski, American Forests
Credit: Bureau of Land Management
Can’t picture yourself in an office cubicle all day, staring at a computer screen and typing your life away? Well, you’re not alone. Luckily, believe it or not, the 9 to 5 lifestyle is not your only option. If nature is more your style, check out these outdoor jobs that will have you immersed in the wilderness rather than endless piles of paperwork.
Contrary to popular belief, forester doesn’t necessarily mean lumberjack, and you don’t get a free flannel shirt with your application. Don’t be discouraged, though — what you do get is an amazing opportunity to spend time in nature as you determine the best conservation strategies for forest wildlife habitats, water quality and soil stability. Many foresters work to create plans for planting, monitoring and harvesting trees while deciding how to best comply with environmental regulations along the way. You can learn more about working with the U.S. Forest Service here.
While any job title with the word “scientist” attached to it might immediately evoke thoughts of beakers and lab coats, there’s usually quite a bit of field work involved with this position, usually dedicated to collecting organic samples (water, soil, plants). Environmental scientists generally apply their knowledge of the natural sciences (biology, chemistry, etc.) in order to identify and eliminate potential hazards to the health of the environment and its inhabitants. Making a difference and enjoying the beauty of the outdoors? Doesn’t sound half bad to me.
Here’s another occupation with a heavy emphasis on field work. The focus of the geographer is generally on interpreting the relationship between the physical and cultural aspects of our natural world. This involves conducting research on land forms, climates, soil, plants, animals and the human activities that occur in the same area. If you’re fascinated by the interactions between humans and the environment, consider a job in geography!
Anyone who’s ever been to a state or national park knows that hiking is a huge attraction for nature lovers around the globe. But have you ever thought about how these trails came about in the first place? Without trail builders to design and construct them, we’d have significantly limited access to the mountaintop peaks and scenic overlooks we’ve come to take for granted. While trail building can be extremely physically demanding, it’s incredibly rewarding to spend time outdoors and know that you’re providing thousands of people access to the magic of nature.
When you hear “archaeologist,” it’s likely that your mind instantly jumps to visions of dinosaur bones and long-lost ancient artifacts. While archaeologists do work with fossils and artifacts, there’s more to the job than that. For example, before any federal project can begin (i.e. the building of a new road or pipeline), archaeologists are hired to survey the area to determine its potential archaeological significance. Whether you’re working in the urban or rural arena, you’re in touch with nature and the outdoors – ideal for those who don’t mind getting their hands dirty.
Love urban parks? How about designing them? Landscape architects’ main focus is designing both public and private green spaces, often in and around parks, playgrounds, college campuses, gardens, residential homes and office or governmental buildings. A huge part of the job is ensuring that these spaces are not only beautiful and functional, but also harmonious with the natural environment. Needless to say, you’ll be spending a significant amount of time outside, facilitating the fruition of your vision.