fresh air and exercise
August 2, 2021 11:42 AM   Subscribe

Rain, sleet, or shine, you spend 4+ hours every day in the fresh air getting some exercise. A driver's license is not required for your position. Riding in a motor vehicle is also not required. You get paid an hourly wage because you are a legal employee, not a gig economist. You live in a city. What is your job?

Any skill level ok for the purposes of this question.
posted by aniola to Grab Bag (35 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Bike messenger is the first thing that comes to mind.
posted by jquinby at 11:48 AM on August 2, 2021 [5 favorites]

At a very busy grocery store it might be possible to spend half your day collecting shopping carts.
posted by Glinn at 11:49 AM on August 2, 2021

Boot Camp trainer or similar, working in outdoor fitness programs?
posted by nkknkk at 11:50 AM on August 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

Dog walkers might work for companies and not just be independent contractors.
posted by fedward at 11:51 AM on August 2, 2021 [2 favorites]

Park steward. Added bonus there are situations where you also get free housing.
posted by tipsyBumblebee at 11:53 AM on August 2, 2021 [7 favorites]

Mail carrier?
posted by The Bellman at 11:58 AM on August 2, 2021 [20 favorites]

Groundskeeper, especially of something like a golf course or stadium where you could be payroll staff of just the one place. University campuses probably have numerous landscapers, for that matter.
posted by fedward at 11:59 AM on August 2, 2021 [13 favorites]

Street canvasser? Many of them are employees of for-profit fundraising firms that charities contract with, and are paid hourly with performance bonuses based on the number of people they sign up per day.
posted by AndrewInDC at 12:00 PM on August 2, 2021

Work for the Doe Fund?
posted by AugustWest at 12:01 PM on August 2, 2021

PE teacher in neighborhood public school (although if you coach extracurricular, you're getting on a bus for games)
posted by toodleydoodley at 12:08 PM on August 2, 2021

May or may not fit your motor vehicle and rain/sleet requirements, but - landscaping, window washer, various types of scientists or engineers that involve a lot of field work, marine/port-related work if applicable in your city. If seasonal work is included - lifeguard, camp counselor, staffing any flavor of outdoor venue (beer garden? amusement park?).
posted by mosst at 12:16 PM on August 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

As long as you lived near your work territory, I would think various kinds of Parks services employees, groundskeepers (private, public, university), and plant nursery (which can also mean municipal or private, not necessarily commercial) workers. I don't know if any of those jobs could guarantee never having to get into a truck or golf cart, though. City/county landfill staff may have some kind of shelter to work from but are also in some landfills walking residents to the place where their stuff is supposed to get dumped.

Security guard. Places with higher round-the-clock requirements generally use in-house security staff rather than contracted security.

Lifeguards, though it'd be tough to find a year-round gig in most places.

There's probably some airport ground crew positions that are largely outdoors, on foot, and not riding in carts/trucks.

I think most water/gas/electric companies now use technology that allows drive-by or remote readings but meter readers used to be a thing, walking whole neighborhoods at a time. You'd have to get to the neighborhoods somehow, but in a small town that could be a bike or just walking.

Order pickers for lumber and other construction materials that are often stored in a roofed but not walled facility. That stuff's getting loaded on trucks and forklifts, but not necessarily driven by the picker or floor managers, and for some construction supply the contractors are pulling their own vehicles up to be loaded.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:17 PM on August 2, 2021

Garden center worker. I enjoyed it.
posted by jgirl at 12:18 PM on August 2, 2021 [3 favorites]

posted by erattacorrige at 12:18 PM on August 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

Teacher or teacher's aide for a "nature preschool," sometimes affiliated with a park or nature center. (driver's license possibly required for childcare, though). The ones in my city emphasize the kids are outdoors most of every day, whether it's sunny or raining or snowing, unless it gets dangerously hot or bitterly cold, like below zero F. These have had an uptick in demand and enrollment thanks to COVID.

Also in my city there are a few eco-conscious companies that tout their deliveries are all done by bike (a coffee roaster, a pizza place, a bakery, a few others), so being the biker for a company like that.

Farmer's market employee, possibly? Depends on the city and size of the market.
posted by castlebravo at 12:26 PM on August 2, 2021

Construction worker
posted by Lady Li at 12:26 PM on August 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

* Surveyor or survey technician.
* Roofer.
posted by NotLost at 12:52 PM on August 2, 2021

A lot of Parks & Rec and groundskeeper positions will require a license, as you need to drive a vehicle to different areas. But there might be some jobs that don't, perhaps specialist positions like horticulturist. I'd expand this to include working for arboretums and other gardens, either as a guide or grounds person.

There might be Parks & Rec positions that are more on the recreation side of things that don't require you to drive, though I suspect many are seasonal.

Maybe a bike mechanic -- your job isn't outside, but you would be going outside regularly to test ride the bikes as you repair them.

Waiting tables at a restaurant with lots of outside seating.
posted by bluedaisy at 1:30 PM on August 2, 2021

Parking enforcement officer/ traffic warden. Downside: Not Popular.
posted by stillnocturnal at 1:44 PM on August 2, 2021 [2 favorites]

Mosquito Abatement Courier
posted by zombiedance at 1:51 PM on August 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

Outreach worker for harm reduction programs! Grab a backpack full of supplies and head on out to see what's going on in the community. Hike out to some encampments! Crawl into drainage ditches to retrieve improperly discarded materials! Lug around bottled water and clean socks! One of the best jobs I ever had...
posted by VioletU at 2:02 PM on August 2, 2021 [5 favorites]

Growing up, a buddy's dad was a postie (residential mail carrier) with Canada Post. He lived close enough to the depot/ his route (suburban setting, detached single family homes, mostly) that he didn't need to drive.

Was home most days to make lunch for his kids (and the rest of us) since our school was walking distance to their house. Did have to get up pretty darned early, though.

With Canada Post, the pay and benefits were good. His wife was a high-powered white collar worker downtown, but together, the family was solidly upper-middle class (back then).
posted by porpoise at 3:01 PM on August 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

USPS portal delivery works deliver on foot in most San Francisco neighborhoods.
Landscaper, arborist, or horticulturalist for either public or private gardens/trees.
Educator at a school garden program. PE teacher.
posted by amaire at 4:54 PM on August 2, 2021

Carpenter, especially house framing. Also roofer.
posted by danceswithlight at 6:01 PM on August 2, 2021

Racehorse strapper, race trainer, racing stables manager - early morning riding at great speeds on track, horse swimming, beach riding in some places

My sister worked in each of these roles for a decade and generally loved it, except racehorses are pretty daft and flighty so dodging kicks is part of the job. She also has superb balance as a result of that job - riding knees high on tiny saddles at great speeds, bareback riding in the ocean or along the sand.

She left that job and is now a pushbike-riding postie. She was never going to be an inside worker, and has found [Australia] Post good for secure working conditions. Eg long service leave
posted by honey-barbara at 6:27 PM on August 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

Did anyone mention sanitation worker, garbage truck or recycling truck loader? Year-round in all weather.

Obviously a lot of outdoor jobs are gonna depend on climate. Road crews work year-round in warmer places and not in colder. Brick- and stone-masons ditto.
posted by mareli at 6:56 PM on August 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I'd really appreciate it if we could leave off all the jobs that require a driver's license, even if they don't require driving. Thanks!
posted by aniola at 7:06 PM on August 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

Clean Water Action jobs for canvassing fit the bill. I did phone banking but the canvassers are outside
posted by glaucon at 7:31 PM on August 2, 2021

Invasive species removal for a small city government. Technically, no part of my job requires a car, but you would need a large backpack to get the multiple tools plus food/water to whatever area you're working in.
posted by ockmockbock at 8:18 PM on August 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

Someone up thread mentioned being a dog walker. In my experience, working as a dog walker requires an immense amount of driving as you have to go pick up your various doggos and take them to the places their owners want them to be walked. Too much driving was why I stopped being a dog walker.
posted by Zumbador at 10:20 PM on August 2, 2021

Bike cop.
posted by hepta at 6:16 AM on August 3, 2021

Working at an amusement park or zoo.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 7:34 AM on August 3, 2021 [1 favorite]

A friend of mine ran a business doing deliveries, cargo hauling, and landscaping, all on bikes. She had a small fleet of cool bikes, many of them with e-assist, and did incredible things with them—like, she would move your small apartment full of stuff using her cargo bike. I don't know if she has a driver's license, but I do know it's been probably 25, 30 years since she's driven a car, a decision she made as a matter of conscience.

Sadly, her fleet was destroyed when her building burned down a few years ago, or she'd still be at it.
posted by Orlop at 12:39 PM on August 3, 2021

I’ve been thinking about this all day. Here’s a couple ideas. I know some of these are seasonal, but maybe not depending on the local climate.
Lifeguard at a health club or a sports rehab clinic
House painter
Lead kayak tours or canoe
In a tourist area, there could be rentals of outdoor equipment like bikes, rafts, segways, kayaks, etc. work at that rental booth.
Camp counselor - camps sometimes have year-round employees who work from home in off season
Zoo keeper
Golf caddy
Golf course groundskeeper
Or any kind of groundskeeper? Or would this be called a Facilities worker at a large institution? I worked near a large church once that employed a groundskeeper.
I think working at a botanical garden could be fun. Or if there’s an incredible outdoor venue near by, think of jobs there. Like a sound engineer at red rocks. Lighting tech at a stadium. Concessions. Stage director at outdoor theater company. Event coordinator at an outdoor venue or for an organization that holds many outdoor events.
I worked for a wellness retreat non-profit. Much of the work was outdoors during the retreats.
If the person has access to a yard or outdoor space, they could offer lessons there. Something like kids art classes, yoga, personal training, perhaps a craft or a music class. Botany classes? Drawing? Tutor kids on nature or science topics? I also thought of nature preschool teacher, as mentioned above.
Hops farming could be done on a smaller parcel of land
Work at an outdoor information booth.
Theme parks probably have many outdoor jobs.
We have a mobile car detailing person in my town. He goes to a person’s home or office and details their car while it’s parked outside (he doesn’t drive it). I wonder if pet grooming could work in a similar way.
Tour guide.
Lead tours of local places to forage in nature.
posted by areaperson at 8:19 PM on August 3, 2021

Best answer: I think folks have good intentions in these answers, and they are imagining jobs where the work itself doesn't require driving, but many or most of these jobs require someone to have a license and often to drive, or at the very least to be transported by someone else. For example, unless some folks know of completely different systems than most American cities, any US police officer will have to drive, and then might become a bike cop; I suspect maintaining a license is part of their job. Carpenters often have to have their own vehicles to get to job sites and to carry tools; they'd likely need to be in a car or truck at some point. And is there a farmer who doesn't have a farm vehicle or need to transport animals or meat? They would be incredibly dependent on other people driving. Also, farmers generally don't live in the city, which is part of the question.

The other part of this that's tricky is the one where you are a legal employee. I know of cases where people have built their own businesses around bikes -- I once hired an arborist who worked by bike, but that business has since closed -- but this means you are not being hired by someone else.

So I think the best answers to this questions are for entry-level, outside-focused positions in cities, like parks and recreation programs that are based in one place, not where they transport kids elsewhere. Bike messenger for sure works, if there are local companies big enough to hire you. Maybe groundskeeper positions for large organizations, like a university or large company, but even those often require you to drive around in a vehicle to transport equipment like lawnmowers, shovels, etc.

A lot of jobs we think about being outdoors -- outdoor recreation, botanist, park ranger -- either mean you live in a rural area or travel a lot. Raft guides are on raft buses living in remote areas, for example.

I think a nursery or garden center employee -- essentially, retail, but retail that's outdoors -- is one of the few that might be based in one place, in a city, but not require driving for work.

This is a great question. There aren't a ton of options, are there?
posted by bluedaisy at 12:14 PM on August 4, 2021

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