Working outdoors can offer rewarding careers for Christians to connect with the created world. The following article looks at some popular nature careers that work well for Christians, from jobs in scientific research to conservation to art.
If you know that you want to work outside, a career focused on nature is an obvious choice. However, if you're having trouble deciding between the various careers available to you, consider the following table, which offers details on degree requirements, salary statistics, and career outlook.
|Career||Salary (2017)*||Education||Degree Area||Career Outlook (2016-2026)*|
|Wildlife Biologist||$62,290||Bachelor's||Biology, Marine Biology, Zoology||+8%|
|Park Interpreter||$24,920 (2016)||Bachelor's||Ecology, Wildlife Management, Watershed Planning||+5% (2014-2024)|
|Landscaper||$28,110||High School Diploma||N/A||+11%|
|Conservationist||$61,480||Bachelor's||Forestry, Conservation Science, Environmental Science||+6%|
|Photographer||$32,490||High School Diploma||N/A||-6%|
|Geoscientist||$89,850||Bachelor's||Earth Science, Geology||+14%|
*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Nature Career Information for Christians
Outdoors is where nature lovers can find their happiest moments. Many of the careers suggested below are in the science fields, giving people of Christian faith an opportunity to integrate their beliefs into scientific disciplines by observing and understanding creation.
Biology is a very large field of science that studies living organisms. If you're interested in working with animals, then this is the field for you. You can work on land or at sea, depending on what area within biology you choose to study. Consider a degree in zoology if you'd like to study animals and their behaviors and patterns. A degree in marine biology will allow you to better understand ocean and freshwater mammals, fish, and vertebrates. A cell biology degree will allow you the opportunity to study all plants and animals at a cellular level. While you'll need a bachelor's degree for many jobs, consider continuing on for your master's degree to open more doors. A PhD can allow you to work as an educator or independent researcher.
Archaeologists study the human past, and most archaeologists select an area or time period that interests them most. Some may choose Tudor England or the Paleolithic, while others may choose Ancient Egypt or Pompeii. A Christian archaeologist may be particularly interested in looking at Biblical sites. Imagine being able to find a lost gospel or the possible living quarters of one of the disciples pre-Christ. You'll spend a lot of time both indoors and out with this career. A master's degree will allow you to find work, but many archaeologists go on to earn their PhD. You'll need to know how to write up prospectuses for dig sites, have precision motor skills, and have a willingness for spending long hours at a site while working to uncover history.
Park interpreters are the people who work hard to pull attendees in to national and local parks. In this job, you may be in charge of animal safety, visitor preparedness, and even event planning. You'll likely spend plenty of time in nature, making sure the trails are clear and safe, setting up summer programs, sectioning off animal dens, and basically making sure that the park, the animals, and the visitors can all live in harmony without any damage to the natural landscape. There is no one specific degree program that will prepare you for this job, but be sure that you take some courses in grant proposals so that you can work with the government for funding. After 8,000 hours of fieldwork, consider becoming a Certified Interpretive Host through the National Association for Interpretation (NAI).
Landscapers, or grounds workers, are in charge of making the environment of businesses, parks, homes, and other public areas beautiful. While there is no specific education required to work as a landscaper, many states require licensing to use pesticides, which may require completion of a course or certificate program. Experience is key in this field, since the more experience you have designing areas and working, the better word-of-mouth will spread for you and your business. As a Christian, you'll have the opportunity to work outside in the sun, maintaining the beauty of the Earth. You'll want to ensure the health of the trees and plants, while also making sure that all areas are functional for their purpose.
Christians with an interest in land stewardship may enjoy a career in conservation as a conservation scientist or forester. A bachelor's degree or higher will get you into a role working with the land and protecting the habitats of living animals. You may be responsible for deciding on the impact of construction, the impact of forest fires, the best way to remove an invasive species, the best way to protect an endangered plant or wildlife, or even how to manage natural resources. You can focus your area of conservation on urban landscapes, watersheds, water, land or rangelands. As of May 2017, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that Montana has the highest concentration of conservation scientist jobs, while Texas has the highest employment.
Photography may not be the first career to come to mind when thinking about being a nature-loving Christian, but capturing images of nature allows you - and everyone who views your work - to appreciate creation. For example, you've likely seen calendars with Bible verses accompanied by an image of nature, such as an animal, a meadow or sun rays shining through clouds. While photography may not have the best outlook on this list, there are still opportunities, especially for self-employed photographers: unlike other photographer positions with a decline in employment, self-employed photographers will see job growth of 12% from 2016-2026, per the BLS. As a freelance photographer, you could choose your own work with a focus on nature.
Christians can spend every moment studying the world in which they live with a career as a geoscientist. Much like biology, this field includes several careers, such as geologist, geophysicist and oceanographer. These jobs typically include a lot of laboratory and office time, but you'll also get the opportunity to spend many hours outside and working with natural specimens. Again, a bachelor's degree is all that is required to work in geoscience, either as a geologist who studies rocks or as a geochemist who explores the composition of sediment, rocks and ground water. However, a master's degree can advance your career.