Outdoor Jobs that Pay Well

Jan 16, 2020

Outdoor jobs may not be the highest paying occupations, but there are several different options for those looking for careers that both pay well and allow them to be outside. Learn about some of these jobs and their education requirements.

Outdoor Career Options that Pay Well

There are several outdoor career options that pay well, many of which are in the field of science and involve studying various aspects of nature. Below, we explore a few of the outdoor jobs in different fields that had median salaries over $60,000 in 2018.

Job Title Median Salary (2018)* Job Growth (2018-2028)*
Environmental Scientists and Specialists $71,130 8%
Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists $63,420 5%
Landscape Architects $68,230 4%
Surveyors $62,580 6%
Conservation Scientists $61,340 3%
Hydrologists $79,370 7%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information for Outdoor Jobs that Pay Well

Environmental Scientists and Specialists

Although some of their work may be conducted in an office, environmental scientists and specialists spend much of their time outside conducting field work. They are also relatively well paid, with the BLS reporting that in 2018 the annual median salary for this occupation was $71,310. These workers must be outside to collect the necessary soil, water and air samples used to test the environment for overall health. They carefully monitor levels of pollution, and they look for ways to correct problems and improve the environment as needed. Their findings are submitted through technical reports and often have implications for human health. These professionals must hold a bachelor's degree or higher in a natural science.

Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists

According to the BLS, the highest-paid zoologists and wildlife biologists in 2018 made $102,830 or more. These scientists conduct many of their research projects and experiments outside as they study animals in their natural habitats. Some focus on studying animal behavior, physical characteristics or other factors that could be used to help improve the conservation efforts for a particular species. Like most scientists, their findings are reported in scientific papers, articles and presentations. Most zoologists and wildlife biologists conducting research have a Ph.D., but positions are available for those with a master's or bachelor's degree.

Landscape Architects

Landscape architects work outside designing various kinds of outdoor spaces. They meet with clients, estimate costs for a project, develop designs and choose the materials to design parks as well as the outdoor spaces of campuses, homes and more. These workers also oversee projects to make sure they stay within the design, budget and timeline. They are also paid well, as the BLS reports that in 2018 the top 10% of landscape architects made $113,340 or more. Landscape architects need a license to use the job title while promoting their business, and they usually have a degree in the field and have passed the Landscape Architect Registration Examination.


Although surveyors have the lowest median salary for 2018 out of this group of careers, their median salary was still almost $63,000, per the BLS. Surveyors work outside to measure land in order to determine boundaries. This involves traveling to locations, measuring distances and angles and even researching old land titles or records to determine boundaries. Their work has many applications, as it can be used to create maps, set boundaries for construction projects and prepare plots. Surveyors need a bachelor's degree and license to work with the public.

Conservation Scientists

Conservation scientists are also paid relatively well, with the top 25% making more than $79,600 in 2018. These scientists work outside managing natural areas like forests and rangelands to protect and conserve their natural resources. They often collaborate with landowners, governments and farmers to determine the best forestry and conservation activities for a particular piece of land, and then they supervise the activities. They also ensure that any activities that take place comply with current regulations, and often are outlined in a land-use contract. These scientists usually have a bachelor's degree in forestry or a related field.


Hydrologists are another kind of scientist who works outside, but they study various bodies of water. Their work is used to better understand the flow of water across the Earth, quality of water and availability of water. They often take water samples and measurements, analyze impacts of pollution and erosion and use models to predict water supplies. Hydrologists are some of the higher paid natural scientists, with the top 25% making more than $100,090 in 2018, according to the BLS. These professionals must have a bachelor's degree, but many enter the field with a master's degree.

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