Too bad professional athlete isn't a more practical thing to aspire to
November 29, 2011 5:36 AM   Subscribe

Career options for a guy who likes to be active, and not at a desk all day?

My boyfriend and I are currently in separate cities, and after hashing out the viable options, we're left with either he quits his job, or I quit mine.

He's interested in a change of work anyway. He's been a materials technician in the canadian army for the last decade, and has grown disappointed that he hasn't used much of his training outside of Afghanistan. He's planning on trying out for Search and Rescue if I can move to be with him (so far, this is the ideal case). But if things don't work out that way, we're trying to think of other jobs he'd really enjoy.

His criteria:
socially conscious
outside of office or active
in a team environment
good earning potential
progressive training, can work towards leadership role

He's a very fit guy, likes to push his limits. He enjoyed volunteering in the hospital while in Afghanistan. He's a major extrovert so I don't think he'd be happy in a job like a conservation officer, if he's alone all day. Very intelligent, I've seen him study for courses before and he would do well in university.

We've thought of his becoming a firefighter, or an EMT/Paramedic, or a police/RCMP officer. He could also become a nurse.

Do the mefites have any additional suggestions?
posted by lizbunny to Work & Money (18 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I was going to suggest sales, but he'd have a hard time with the "socially conscious" criteria. But from what you've told us about him, he'd be an ace at outside sales.
posted by litnerd at 5:45 AM on November 29, 2011

outside sales?
posted by lizbunny at 5:51 AM on November 29, 2011

My brother worked for a nursery for 20 years and enjoyed being outside in dirt. Not sure if your guy would be the same.
posted by kiwi-epitome at 5:56 AM on November 29, 2011

Outside sales involves traveling to your customer, selling your employer's products, usually on a commission-only or commission + salary basis. The earning potential is usually quite high depending on the company and its product, and depending on your boyfriend's skills as a salesperson. It's a very good fit for someone with his personality, the day-to-day variety is pretty good, he'd be interacting with people all the time, and there's usually potential for progressing to a management role.
posted by litnerd at 6:01 AM on November 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Fitness trainer.
posted by hal_c_on at 6:25 AM on November 29, 2011

Park ranger.
posted by mskyle at 6:27 AM on November 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Teacher? You'd have to pick the school really carefully, because a lot of them, especially public schools, are not terribly progressive or collegial towards teachers. But if you got the right school, it fits most of the criteria.
posted by decathecting at 6:30 AM on November 29, 2011

Event planner/consultant. This would be a great fit for his outgoing, enthusiastic personality and he'd have lots of variety and a decent amount of challenges.
posted by DoubleLune at 6:37 AM on November 29, 2011

Maybe could cover the socially conscious angle by repping for green energy company, or water conservation product line.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 6:40 AM on November 29, 2011

My cousin is a nurse, and for several years she worked with a team that went out to gather donated organs. It was a tough, demanding job in many ways, but involved last-minute travel all over the country and intensive discussions with family members. It's not for everybody, but it's definitely for a good cause and wouldn't be dull.
posted by xingcat at 6:44 AM on November 29, 2011

There's a big push to build the green energy workforce, with a range of opportunities for non-desk work of varying degrees of physical demand--such as weatherization or solar installers, wind power technicians, etc. Any of these trades-types fields offers the opportunity to start off at the bottom as a crew member and work your way up to leadership positions or, with additional classroom training, move into the engineering/design side of things.
posted by drlith at 7:15 AM on November 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Tree surgeon.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 7:26 AM on November 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

First, the list of criteria, is he aiming for 4 out of 6 or all 6 non negotiable? Does he have a rank order list of his preferences? Does he have more specific examples of things that meet some criteria but not others? Does he have a particular "social" cause he's interested in? Because let me tell you the list that came to my mind immediately:

health care reform, food banking, healthy eating initiatives, child safety campaigns, gun control laws, farm worker advocacy, abortion rights, sex ed, training guide or other assistance dogs, and a million other things fit under the umbrella of "socially conscious."

But if none of those strike his fancy, they might not be a good fit.

Good earning potential is very vague/personal/region specific and "team environment" is a buzzword that can take many forms. What kinds of "outside of office" environments does he like? Stores? Travel? Canvassing? Tutoring kids in a classroom setting? Guiding eco tours as a fly fishing captain on a quiet lake somewhere?

Now that I've asked a bunch of questions to help him point himself in a direction, I want to add that Sheryl Sandberg offers this nugget to women, "Don't leave before you leave." And I think it's relevant to your boyfriend, based on this one sentence.

He's planning on trying out for Search and Rescue if I can move to be with him (so far, this is the ideal case).

I offer this advice because, well. Any number of things may happen, however unlikely. But in addition to that, sometimes serendipity happens. You both start your application process now, he does or doesn't get into the SAR program on the first shot. You do or don't get into whatever you're hoping for on the first shot.

Now, you take the new information combinations visually,

You in Partner in

You in Partner not in

You not in Partner in

You not in Partner not in

and it's easy to see that 3/4 of your choices are not "both in on the first try." But this chart does not represent a 2nd try, a 3rd try, or a connection made in the process to someone who knows someone who needs YOU in his city, or who needs HIM in your city. The chart does not accommodate exploring different options within his SAR city for something else you're passionate about. The different "no" combinations require different strategies, obviously. But not narrowing your field of options too soon is a balance that has to be struck with the obvious need to, well, narrow your field of options.

Finally. What special skills do you each have? Does he mention wanting to go to University? If yes, don't nag, but be supportive of that. If he doesn't mention it ever, ask, gently, once. Languages? Balloon animal making? What kind of volunteering do you guys do now? crickets? Go! Volunteer! Meet contacts. A day here, a day there, try out different charities, different activities, view the logistics of on the ground stuff first hand. Keep talking to the "superiors" about how they got where they are, what they loved about it when they started, what they wish they knew then, who else you (or he) should talk to about Floof or Snorg. Keep notes so you don't mix up experiences or people. Thank everybody for their advice, time, skills, etc.
posted by bilabial at 7:59 AM on November 29, 2011

I have a brother who sounds very similar personality wise to your boyfriend but due to the economic situation ended up in an office job he doesn't like very much and that uses none of his skills. He joined a volunteer fire fighting unit and now is a very happy man. He basically considers his 9 - 5 job a way to pay the bills and his career what he does with his team even though he doesn't get paid for it. They are in the Australian country side do everything from handling major bushfires to running into burning buildings and helping with car wrecks and chemical spills.

As I said this is in Australia so not sure if there would be something similar where you are but it might be a way for him to reconcile a more "boring" job with his passions.
posted by wwax at 9:10 AM on November 29, 2011

he should team up with the people at open source ecology.
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 9:43 AM on November 29, 2011

Physical therapist, working towards owning his own clinic.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:42 AM on November 29, 2011

I'd definitely consider fire fighting. Probably the easiest way to get in is to become a seasonal forest fire tech. From there its easy to branch out into search and rescue or wilderness medicine because you meet the right people. Definitely get the EMT cert, it gives you work in the off season and you'll need it for a permanent firefighter gig. If he does the seasonal fire fighter/ EMT & SAR (which will be volunteer at first) thing for a year or two he will have a much better idea if either career is for him. If they're not he will have some money saved to do something else, like nursing or engineering.
posted by fshgrl at 11:08 AM on November 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

If he skis he should join volunteer ski patrol too. There are jobs like avalanche forecasters or shooting avy guns or mountain rescue that his military background would give him a leg up.
posted by fshgrl at 11:13 AM on November 29, 2011

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