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Outlook Outside: Fast-growth Jobs in the Great Outdoors

A hay baler with a freshly rolled bale. Photo by Jed Owen on Unsplash

June is National Great Outdoors Month, a time to celebrate the world around us. Nature offers beauty, respite recreation and, for many people, a workplace. In the occupations shown below, workers may spend most or all of their days outside. And the - Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment in each will grow faster than the 8% average for all jobs from 2020 to 2030. None of the selected occupations requires a college degree to enter. Check out these 10 occupations for which the outdoors is the office:

Agricultural equipment operators

What they do: These workers operate tractors, balers, threshers and other machinery to plow and sow seeds and to maintain and harvest crops. They also may adjust and make minor repairs to the equipment.

Projected employment growth, 2020–30: 13% (faster than average)

Number of jobs, 2020: 65,000

Projected openings, 2020–30: 11,700/year, on average

Median annual wage, 2021: $36,360

Typical entry-level education: No formal educational credential required

Typical experience required: None

Typical on-the-job training: One to 12 months

Amusement and recreation attendants

What they do: These workers have a variety of duties at places like golf clubs, stadiums and theme parks. For example, they may sell tickets, provide sporting equipment to participants or operate amusement rides.

Projected employment growth, 2020–30: 32% (much faster than average)

Number of jobs, 2020: 264,400

Projected openings, 2020–30: 72,900/year, on average

Median annual wage, 2021: $24,500

Typical entry-level education: No formal educational credential required

Typical experience required: None

Typical on-the-job training: One to 12 months

Captains, mates, and pilots of water vessels

What they do: Captains have overall command of a ship, including steering, directing the crew and keeping activity logs. Mates operate the ship when the captain is off duty. Pilots board the ship to guide it into the harbor or on rivers or other confined waterways. 

Projected employment growth, 2020–30: 13% (faster than average)

Number of jobs, 2020: 29,900

Projected openings, 2020–30: 3,600/year, on average

Median annual wage, 2021: $81,640

Typical entry-level education: Postsecondary nondegree award

Typical experience required: Less than five years

Typical on-the-job training: None

Forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists

What they do: These workers assess outdoor fire hazards. They patrol areas, look for conditions that pose wildfire risks and recommend ways to reduce the threat of fire.

Projected employment growth, 2020–30: 24% (much faster than average)

Number of jobs, 2020: 3,000

Projected openings, 2020–30: 400/year, on average

Median annual wage, 2021: $42,600

Typical entry-level education: High school diploma or equivalent

Typical experience required: Less than five years

Typical on-the-job training: One to 12 months

Lifeguards, ski patrol, and other recreational protective service workers

What they do: These workers monitor beaches, ski slopes and other recreational areas to help keep visitors safe. They usually must be qualified to administer first aid to injured participants.

Projected employment growth, 2020–30: 24% (much faster than average)

Number of jobs, 2020: 117,500

Projected openings, 2020–30: 35,700/year, on average

Median annual wage, 2021: $25,630

Typical entry-level education: No formal educational credential required

Typical experience required: None

Typical on-the-job training: One month or less

Recreation workers

What they do: Recreation workers design and lead activities to help people stay active, improve fitness and have fun. They work with groups in summer camps, nature parks and other settings.

Projected employment growth, 2020–30: 16% (much faster than average)

Number of jobs, 2020: 354,100

Projected openings, 2020–30: 64,600/year, on average

Median annual wage, 2021: $29,680

Typical entry-level education: High school diploma or equivalent

Typical experience required: None

Typical on-the-job training: One month or less

Rotary drill operators, oil and gas

What they do: These workers set up or operate a variety of drilling rigs. Their work facilitates removal of underground oil and gas or of core samples for testing during oil and gas exploration.

Projected employment growth, 2020–30: 26% (much faster than average)

Number of jobs, 2020: 15,200

Projected openings, 2020–30: 2,400/year, on average

Median annual wage, 2021: $56,380

Typical entry-level education: No formal educational credential required

Typical experience required: None

Typical on-the-job training: One to 12 months

Solar photovoltaic installers

What they do: Solar photovoltaic installers assemble, set up and maintain rooftop or other systems that convert sunlight into energy. They install panels outdoors, but may have to work in attics and crawl spaces to connect the panels to an electrical grid.

Projected employment growth, 2020–30: 52% (much faster than average)

Number of jobs, 2020: 11,800

Projected openings, 2020–30: 2,300/year, on average

Median annual wage, 2021: $47,670

Typical entry-level education: High school diploma or equivalent

Typical experience required: None

Typical on-the-job training: One to 12 months

Tour and travel guides

What they do: These workers plan, organize and conduct long-distance or sightseeing tours, travel or expeditions. They may escort individuals or groups through public grounds or other places of interest.

Projected employment growth, 2020–30: 29% (much faster than average)

Number of jobs, 2020: 44,000

Projected openings, 2020–30: 9,200/year, on average

Median annual wage, 2021: $29,780

Typical entry-level education: High school diploma or equivalent

Typical experience required: None

Typical on-the-job training: One to 12 months

Wind turbine service technicians

What they do: Wind turbine service technicians install, maintain and repair machines that convert wind energy into electricity. Their work outdoors is often at great heights.

Projected employment growth, 2020–30: 68% (much faster than average)

Number of jobs, 2020: 6,900

Projected openings, 2020–30: 1,400/year, on average

Median annual wage, 2021: $56,260

Typical entry-level education: Postsecondary nondegree award

Typical experience required: None

Typical on-the-job training: More than 12 months

 

These are just a few of the many occupations that involve working outside. From arborists to zoologists, opportunities abound for outdoor enthusiasts at a variety of education levels. Explore options in the Occupational Outlook Handbook, and visit the Occupational Requirements Survey program for data on environmental conditions, such as working outdoors.

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