Spending time in the outdoors isn’t just good for our body, but also for our mind, relieving stress and improving our well-being.
The variety of outdoors jobs that are great on many levels is quite impressive and, as long as you have the will and the right tools for it, shifting from an indoor to outdoor job may be the best thing you ever did for yourself.
Here are some ideas for you and a detailed look over the jobs so you get a glimpse of what you may be doing a year from now.
- Wildlands firefighter
There are multiple categories within the job and you may try the seasonal firefighter that works on the periphery of the blaze or enroll in the hotshot crews that go through the toughest part. If you think you’re cut for it, you can give it a go as a smoke jumper that parachutes into remote areas to fight the fire. There are agencies all over the country that are constantly hiring firefighters.
Should a fire happen, the crew may work 16 hours’ days, especially if the fire happens miles away from the home base. You may be spending your day cutting fire line using your equipment or hands, mopping up hot spots or using fire line explosive to set back-fires. As much as it’s thrilling, this kind of job is also dangerous. It’s not rare for firefighters to be killed when battling the blazes.
As for the skills you need, overall fitness is the most important one as firefighting means longtime and strains work. You should get a degree in fire science to get a better shot when applying for the job. Be ready to spend some work seasonally for getting some experience and improve your skills related to the job, prior full-time hiring.
- Overland shop owner
For those of you who have no idea whatsoever about overlanding, here is some basic info about it. You’re going to use your vehicle to look and camp in off-the-grid spots. There are some important things to note, though. For instance, you may want to become a tactical application vehicle so you’re going to help people realize better which upgrades should be done and which features should be added too.
In this case, you’re going to spend time both indoor and outdoor. When working inside, you may be helping your customers decide which upgrades to choose for their vehicles: improved suspension, all-terrain tiers and rooftop tents. Once your customer has decided, you’re going to order the new parts and get to work. Sometimes, you only need a wrench for improvements. It’s not impossible though to find yourself in the situation where you need to do some specialized welding or some sophisticated designing too, so make sure to own the proper equipment such as good welding boots, helmet, and so on.
Among the skills you need for the job a thorough understanding of car mechanics is the most important one. You are going to have to restore many overland vehicles from the ground up. On the list of skills, we also find a good design sense as some customers may want a custom bumper or a camper shell configuration.
Knowing how to drive in the wilderness is also essential. You should attend off-road driving courses and help your customers on that part too.
- Custom-Ski Builder
Even though there are many ski builders, only some of them really know what is this job all about. Ski makers are a bit of other jobs: part carpenter, part physicist and part tailor too as they need to design products that perform amazing on snow. Your ski should fit your height, weight and skill and, why not, style too.
You’re going to spend a lot of time on the slopes, working on the materials and designs but you’re going to go inside your shop quite a lot too. when you’re making a pair of skis you need to right power and flex, and only afterwards shaping it. You should add the top sheet, fiberglass or carbon layers, the edges and the tips before you’re laminating and squeezing all the parts in the heated pneumatic press. You’re going to trim, sharpen and sand the skis and you’re going to need a full day for just one pair (if you’re meticulous enough).
You may not become very rich when getting into a business like thin, but you’re going to become a long-time friend for the dedicated skiers out there.
It’s a bit impossible to become a custom-ski builder without knowing to ski, in the first place. You need to know how to build and use the equipment, so don’t hold back if you’re going to experience a learning curve in the beginning.
- Fly-fishing guide
Do you know that you could be spending your day helping folk anglers land fish in your home streams? Not everyone is great at casting and finding fish right away and some could also use a steady hand to pilot a drift boat. This job is also a combination of other jobs and you have to be part buddy, part teacher, part biologist and part baby sister.
Waking up early in the morning is going to be part of the job as you need to start early for collecting the rods, flies and gear. You need make a shore lunch and get in touch with your clients. You’re aiming to get the fish on the hook so you depend a lot on the weather and stream conditions, but also on the skills of your customer. A positive attitude and lots of patience helps you be good at this. If you find this difficult, don’t forget that you’re going to spend a lot of time outside with no boss on your mind.
This is quite a competitive job so making a good impression on your clients is essential. Get online and make yourself known through the social media. Never lose a chance of spending time on the water and try your best to master the craft, but also study fish and insect biology.
- Commercial fisherman
If you like fishing, you know that you need to spend long days aboard on a boat while searching and hoping for a pulling a fish. It’s a job for anyone who’s organized and likes to meticulously look for hot spots for fish, while keeping the lines and equipment ready. You have to pay attention so that you constantly set the lines and pull the fish.
A job likes this means you’re going to spend a lot of time all alone on your boat. You’re going to have to get up at dawn and run 3.5 hour runs to the fishing round, even 4 days in a row. Using your fish-finder to identify the schools, you’re going to troll the area and bait and drop the long lines. The moment you see a salmon, you need to pull in the leader by hand, gaffing it and gutting it right afterwards. You put it on the ice and your work is pretty repetitive and strenuous. However, you still need to be focused and pay attention to all sorts of details.
You’re going to know the job as you’re doing it. You may have to wait a couple of seasons until you get your reputation, but it’s only a matter of time until you get to more successful boats. When you’re the owner of the boat, you need to be a meteorologist, a marine mechanic, a fish biologist and a businessman altogether.
- Outdoor entrepreneur
This isn’t just a lifestyle as you also need to refine, produce and actually sell the equipment that people need to spend great time in the outdoors. An outdoor entrepreneur may have to design a new style of climbing cam in a garage or find the best waterproof coating for rain gear and its mainly passion the force behind success on this type of job.
It’s not unusual for the professional water sports to get into designing their very own models of boats, for instance. Find your way and trust your instincts, putting it the hard work and taking your chances. You may have to invest a lot of time, money and you should take failure into consideration, but it’s all worth in the end.
When it comes to the skills you need, passion may be the essential one. A strong passion is going to support you when failing and push you forward for progress. Some basic business skills (accounting and marketing) are also important and it’s not bad to know how to share your responsibilities. It’s great for the energy to be the manufacturer, the sales team and the back-end office too in the beginning, but you’re going to develop a team to better focus on growing your business after a while.
- Bush pilot
A bush pilot shuttles people and gear to the areas with no airstrip or established airport. He may be flying quite a lot to areas with fast-changing weather conditions, but also on unmaintained landing strips. It’s one risky job, but you’re going to see lots of beautiful places too.
It’s not unusual for a bush pilot to be the lifeline for some remote villages and islands as he delivers them the important things like food or fuel. You may also be shuttling hunters, skiers, fishermen or other outdoor lovers that need to get to their base camps.
As for the skills, you don’t need to be just a very good pilot and a meteorologist, but you also have to be a plane mechanic and an electrician. Should you find yourself away with a broken part on your gear, you need to know how to fix it.
You’re not going to become a pilot overnight and you need to be focused and prepared to spend some time in getting good at it. You need to earn your private pilot’s license, but also a commercial pilot’s license and airline transport license. It’s only the last license that lets you shuttle passengers. You’re going to need a couple of years to complete it and to spend more than a buck for getting it.
A shuttle pilot also need to specialize in seaplane training, mountain flying and backcountry flying too and this takes time both time and money.
- Wind turbine technician
This job isn’t for just anyone. It may take you down from the wear and tear caused by the severe weather. A technician of this kind has to climb up inside the towers, tinkering with the batteries and the gearboxes. Additionally, he also has to hang outsides and repair the damaged blades.
A wind tech uses an internal ladder to climb up the top of the turbine, using ropes to get down from the 150-foot fiberglass rotor blades, in order to repair them. As he gets to the blades, he has to suspend a hundred feet up, while patching the fiberglass that may crack from the elements.
You may also have to paint or clean the huge rotors or carefully look for any developing issues.
Wind companies are typically looking for the rock climbers for the wind tech jobs. Some may use ropes to reach the towers, whereas others use the cherry pickers instead, for accessing the turbines. It’s quite common for the companies to ask for a Society of Professional Rope Access Technicians certificate when hiring. You may get a degree for wind techs from various vocational schools.
- Avalanche forecaster
As a forecaster, you may be working for highway departments, ski patrols or regional avalanches centers. These are the ones monitoring the weather reports and go outside on the local mountains to check for the instabilities in the snowpack, the main cause for avalanches. They gather all the information and put it into a forecast that’s meant for the public or for the internal use.
A forecaster is going to go to various survey sites, searching deeply into the snowpack for any degraded layers and developing some snow stability tests as well. How much you can handle it’s all up to you. If you’re working at a ski resort, you may have to ride your snowmobile to several locations. When working in a national forest, you’re going to have to go to remote slopes for taking the stability tests. Once you’re done with the tests outside, you need to get back into your office and work the data you got.
The skills are various and you need to be plenty of things in order to be a good forecaster. When you’re thinking about working in a backcountry avalanche-forecasting operation, you should have both academic and practical training. It may help if you work in avalanche mitigation on a ski patrol before as it takes a lot of intuitive knowledge of avalanches. A good training in a professional setting is of great help.
An important backcountry experience is also to take into consideration and it’s mandatory to have a college degree in one of the physical sciences.
- Search and rescue
Full-time search and rescue jobs are few and quite challenging. On-call volunteers that work with sheriff’s department, rangers or other agencies are the ones that put their skills and passion for helping the authorities. You may have to track down a lost hiker in the desert but also pull a fisherman from an angry river. You may also find in the position of having to lower a climber that dangles from a big wall as he/she injured during the climbing.
This job many not be played all year long so keep that in mind if you’re getting on this road. You’d want to work in a team as it’s quite often for a rescue mission to require the help of more than just one man. Your morning may be calmer, but be ready for the busy afternoons and the dehydrated hikers or inexperienced ones twist their ankles or have other unfortunate adventures. You also should be prepared for a serious matter like a fallen climber that needs a sophisticated and strenuous rope rescue. However, most rescues aren’t as difficult or dangerous as one may think and it’s the chance to help the people that pushes you forward on this job.
You do need to qualify for a SAR team, according to your location. If you’re near Yosemite, strong climbers with rope skills are looked exclusively for this job. A whitewater area needs, on the other hand, training in swift water rescue and a snowy backcountry need powerful backcountry skiers that operate easily snowmobiles. Completed firs aid courses are always a big plus when applying for the job. A great physical condition and always available for the job also add up on the list of skills.
One last thought
Getting a job in the outdoors is a big step for anyone, especially if you’re facing an indoor job at the moment. The advantages are plenty and working outside is going to help you live a longer, healthier and more adventurous life, for sure. You just need to make the first step.