Do you hate the idea of being cooped up in an office all day? Do you instead long to spend most of your time in nature? This might feel incompatible with settling down and getting a “real” job, but having a career doesn’t always mean you have to spend all your time in meetings and sitting in front of computers fiddling with spreadsheets. There are plenty of exciting jobs that maximize your time in the outdoors. In most cases, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree at minimum.
Think About Funding
Education can be expensive, so you need to start thinking about how you will pay for it. If it’s a graduate degree you are after, you should focus on programs that offer fellowships, assistantships or other opportunities for funding. If you’re entering an undergraduate program, you may have to take out student loans unless you have substantial savings. Even if you qualify for federal student loans based on need, these might not be enough. You can also apply for private student loans. Over the last decade, a number of private lenders online have made the process easier.
Strengthen Your Science Skills
Most of the career path jobs that you do outdoors are in the field of science. If you’re a high school student, you’ll want to get a good grounding in biology, chemistry and your other science courses. If you’re an adult who is considering a career change, you might want to look into taking some college courses to brush up. If your degree is another field, such as the humanities, you may have to take a number of courses to get the foundation you need.
If you’re entering college as a freshman, you don’t have to decide immediately what you want to study, but it will be helpful if you go in with some idea. If you’re an adult making a career change, you need more certainty. Among the opportunities are biologist or wildlife specialist, botanist, park ranger or conservation scientist. If you’re more interested in growing things than studying things that grow, you might be interested in farming. While this can seem like an old-fashioned job, there are opportunities in smaller-scale sustainable and organic farming, providing high-end produce to farmer’s markets and restaurants. There are also jobs that may not be specifically focused on the natural world but which include a substantial amount fieldwork in the outdoors. For example, as an archeologist, you’ll spend a lot of your time digging outside.
Get in Shape
If you already love the outdoors, it’s likely you are already in decent shape, but if you aren’t, make this the incentive you need. You don’t need to be able to run marathons to work outdoors, but you’ll be much more comfortable in your outdoor job if you maintain a minimal level of fitness. Depending on the field you work in and your specialty, you might need to be prepared to do some hiking. Other jobs, such as farming and archeology, may require bending and squatting along with some upper body strength.