Outdoor Career Idea
January 5, 2009 9:08 PM   Subscribe

I want a career that will allow me to be outdoors. What certification, degree, or job should I pursue?

Last May I graduated with a degree in International Studies from a large Texas university. Since then I have been trying to figure out what kind of career I should pursue. I have applied to countless jobs with very little success. Part of the reason for this is that I don't know exactly what I want to do.

I have come to realize that what I do not want to do is sit at a desk and stare at a computer screen all day. I am happiest outdoors and active. The best part about my current retail job is that I'm constantly on my feet, moving about; I'm in great shape and have a ton of energy. I simply cannot fathom sitting on my butt 8 hours a day, then running on a treadmill for 30 minutes at this point in my life.

What kind of career or job can you suggest that will allow me to be outdoors and active? I am tentatively looking into going back to school to study Forestry or Natural Resource Management. Are there viable careers connected to these disciplines (and are they what I'm looking for)? Is Outdoor Education something that can be a long-term career?

Any pointers would be much appreciated.
posted by jschu to Work & Money (14 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Some additional information:

I'm somewhat fluent in French and Spanish.
I have a SCUBA certification, I know how to ride horses, sail, and kayak. (Hence the Outdoor Edu. idea)
I don't want to do PeaceCorps.
posted by jschu at 9:12 PM on January 5, 2009

NOAA Corps.
posted by crinklebat at 9:17 PM on January 5, 2009

Best answer: You can absolutely do Outdoor Education as a long term career. My parents have been running a summer camp/retreat center for over 35 years. There are many different kinds of camps where your skills would be an asset, e.g. there are a couple different ones on Catalina Island.

You could also work on/run an organic farm. I know lots of people who do this and they say that it's really a growth industry as people get more and more interested in locally and sustainably grown food.

Obvious answer: be a park ranger--there's a HUGE variety of places where you can work. I don't reeally have a sense of how competitive it is.
posted by exceptinsects at 9:19 PM on January 5, 2009

Oh, and also the farming thing often can have an outdoor ed component as well, or vice versa.
posted by exceptinsects at 9:20 PM on January 5, 2009

Response by poster: exceptinsects: I went to CIMI on Catalina every summer for 5 years. It stuck with me. :) What a dream it would be to work there.

You could also work on/run an organic farm. This interests me very much. Gardening is a big hobby of mine. Does anyone have any specific advice on how to make this a reality?
posted by jschu at 9:30 PM on January 5, 2009

Here in Juneau there are lots of options for a career in the outdoors. There is all kinds of tourism that involves being outdoors. In the winter, there are jobs on the ski slopes and in predicting/ controlling avalanches. There is trail building and maintenance. There are a lot of park rangers who work around the glacier and go on ferry trips to give nature talks. You could work for the dept of fish and game and tag fish all summer long in remote areas all over Alaska. There are also the more traditional jobs in fishing, logging, and mining, although I don't think this is something you would be interested in. The University of Alaska Southeast even offers an associates degree in outdoor education, I think. They certainly offer plenty of classes on the subject.
posted by Foam Pants at 9:45 PM on January 5, 2009

Best answer: Some of the farmers I know went to the Center for Agroecology at UC Santa Cruz, and now they run the Blue House Farm.

Also my parents' camp has a full-time garden/forestry manager; I can give you his contact info if you would like to talk to someone in the field (as it were).
posted by exceptinsects at 9:48 PM on January 5, 2009

As a former National Park Service volunteer and spouse of a former NPS employee, I second the park ranger thing. The only problem is that the jobs can be competitive - you might try volunteering first. Also, you might try working as a technician in a lab or teaching group that does some sort of field work (geology, ecology, forestry, hydrology, archaeology, agricultural science, etc.) while you're going for a degree. That way you can get an idea if you really like the kind of work you're getting into, plus get experience. The pay might not be great, but it's experience.

BTW: I think the biologists on Channel Islands National Park do subtidal surveys - your SCUBA cert and CIMI experience can help you there. Again, see if you can volunteer first. I mention his because you seem to be a southern Californian from the CIMI thing.
posted by paselkin at 10:44 PM on January 5, 2009

One of my college friends is a fire scientist with the the forest service. He's spent most of his adult life in Missoula, Mt, which I think he loves. He just got a big promotion and now he's off to South Dakota. We'll see how he likes that. Another friend runs a CSA farm in Portland. There are certainly careers that will give you lots of time away from the desk if you learn something about agriculture or forestry.
posted by Good Brain at 10:58 PM on January 5, 2009

You should consider a career in the winemaking part of the wine industry. You'll need to get some qualifications first (decent courses are offered in every winemaking area in the world). Your language skills will be a definite bonus working a harvest in France. Plenty of outdoors work, in some of the world's loveliest places and great job mobility. You probably won't earn a fortune, but that's not really the point is it?
posted by patricio at 2:33 AM on January 6, 2009

The most outdoorsy people I know are a couple of biology professors who are always out in the woods and swamps studying birds and mosquitoes. But, then, that's a whole different degree...
posted by jon1270 at 3:02 AM on January 6, 2009

You could check out Geology. I think there could be some parts of the job that are indoor but I recently did a stint as a field assistant for a mining company and it seemed like geos basically spent all their time survey rocks wherever they may be. One of the guys I was working with didn't actually own a house or have a family, he just went from job to job and travelled his whole life. That's the downside I spose, you spend a lot of time in whatever country the mine/exploration license is and less time back home.

You could also try the military, unless of course there's a fair chance you would be deployed somewhere, but it would probably offer the action you're looking for.
posted by Submiqent at 4:46 AM on January 6, 2009

Best answer: For organic farming: the CSA I used to belong to has an internship program, and it looks pretty intense. Other farms probably have similar programs.
posted by liet at 6:52 AM on January 6, 2009

posted by snowdrunk at 9:44 AM on January 6, 2009

« Older Former Dom of sub friend or foe?   |   Should I write a thesis for my MA? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.