By Donna Reish
According to accomplished British journalist and writer Katherine Whitehorn, "The best career advice given to the young is — find out what you like doing best and get someone to pay you for doing it." If you love the outdoors, or simply can't stand being cooped up in an office during daylight hours, then you may have considered pursuing a degree that leads to an outdoor career. But if the perceived impracticality of such a goal has halted you from chasing your dream, think again. There are numerous outdoor careers that are both financially and personally rewarding. The few listed below offer some of the attributes desired by people who prefer not to follow the paths most taken. Note: the mean annual incomes provided with each occupation are courtesy of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Construction Manager — $93,290: Motivated men and women who enjoy overseeing the construction and maintenance of buildings and structures choose careers in construction management. It's their duty to plan, organize and implement projects that must adhere to strict budgets and schedules. Although it's a challenge, they're given the power to ensure things are operating the best ways they see fit. Aspiring construction managers earn a bachelor's degree in construction management, construction science or civil engineering; partaking in an internship that provides hands-on experience is important for students hoping to enter the occupation. Highly trained individuals will benefit the most during the faster than average employment growth for the occupation that's expected in the coming years. Those who stick around and work their way up as construction managers earn handsome salaries — the top 10 percent averages $151,630 annually.
- Geoscientist — $92,710: Geoscientists use their immense knowledge of the earth with the goal of, in many cases, locating and procuring oil, gas and minerals, utilizing natural resources in manners that cause minimal or no harm to the environment. Others in the profession focus on the human impact on the environment and vice versa so that we can cultivate a more mutually beneficial relationship. Regardless of their goals, geoscientists are highly educated, driven individuals who perform important duties crucial to sustaining society. For that reason, they must have a bachelor's and advanced degree in geosciences. Upon graduation, aspiring geoscientists find jobs rather quickly, and that'll likely continue in the near future, as faster than average growth in the field is expected. Seasoned geoscientists earn excellent salaries — the top 25 percent of earners average a yearly salary of $117,040 — because of the specialized nature of the occupation.
- Mining and Geological Engineer — $82,080: Mining and geological engineers find and extract minerals, coal, ores and materials used for building. They determine which mines contain the most deposits, compose plans that enable workers to safely extract those deposits, and oversee the operation to ensure it's going smoothly. Aspiring mining and geological engineers typically major in an engineering discipline or geology, either of which, along with the faster than average growth that's expected in the coming years, should sufficiently prepare them to land a job. Once they accumulate years of experience, it'll pay off — the top 25 percent of earners in the occupation make just fewer than $100,000 per year.
- Environmental Engineer — $80,750: It's certainly noble to dedicate your career to caring for the environment. Environment engineers do just that, focusing on the water and air pollution, waste disposal and recycling. Their work consists of finding the areas most affected by pollution, testing the severity of the problem and creating solutions aimed at restoring those areas to normalcy. Additionally, they draft regulations and consult companies that want to comply with environmental regulations. In order to enter the profession, a major in environmental engineering is preferred and a graduate degree is useful for advancing in the field. In the next several years, finding jobs in the profession shouldn't be too difficult because much faster than average growth is expected. The best trained environmental engineers — the top 10 percent of earners — receive an average yearly salary of $115,750. Not a bad prize for a job that ranked fifth out of 100 on CNNMoney.com's list of the Best Jobs in America 2010.
- First-Line Supervisor/Manager of Police and Detective — $78,580: Police work requires selflessness, sacrifice and a commitment to the greater good. First-line supervisors exhibit those characteristics as they enjoy exciting careers in which they oversee the activities of police force members in an effort to control crime in departments' respective communities. First-line supervisors assign responsibilities to their subordinates and assist them in carrying out their duties as needed. They oversee criminal investigations, ensuring each one is carried out efficiently and according to department standards. These days, those who wish to become members of law enforcement often choose to complete a degree in criminal justice. If they want to achieve supervisory positions, they accumulate experience as police officers, working their way up. The reward for occupations such as first-line supervisor, which are experiencing average growth, is high pay. The top 10 percent of earners receive average yearly salaries of $116,340.
- Hydrologist — $76,760: Hydrologists study water and the processes at which it cycles above the earth, on the earth and below the earth. They examine water's physical properties to determine its quality and whether or not it has been exposed to undesirable chemicals. Hydrologists use instruments to record data indicating if certain areas are receiving appropriate amounts water. Because there is no hydrology-specific degree, aspiring hydrologists pursue a major in environmental science, geoscience or engineering disciplines. As is the case with most science-related fields, employment of hydrologists is expected to grow faster than average in the coming years, and employees will continue to earn generous salaries. The top 10 percent of earners make an average salary of $110,110 annually.
- Ship Engineer — $69,420 : Ship engineers are responsible for keeping ships on the move by operating, maintaining and repairing the engines and accompanying components, such as boilers, machinery, and refrigeration, sanitary and electrical equipment. Typically, each ship has a chief engineer followed by a first, second and third assistant engineer, each of whom watches over the engines and machinery. In addition to gaining on-boat experience, aspiring ship engineers often choose to pursue an education from a merchant marine academy. In the near future, graduates seeking water transportation jobs shouldn't experience too much trouble, as faster than average growth is expected in the industry. The limited amount of qualified personnel means better pay — the top 10 percent of earners average $109,310 per year.
- Electrical and Electronics Repairer (Powerhouse, Substation, and Relay) — $61,700: Our days spent indoors are nothing without electrical and electronics repairers, who specialize in repairing and maintaining generating stations, substations, and in-service relays. Also known as field technicians, these trained workers commute to different locations to perform their duties each day. Patience, problem solving ability and quick thinking are required for success in the occupation, which can be procured after attaining an associate degree from a community college or technical school. Subsequently, certification can be pursued from one of the many programs offered by various schools throughout the country. Although electrical and electronics repairers in the past typically received their training on the job, it's now more necessary to be equipped with the appropriate skills before entering the occupation, as average growth and keen competition are expected in the coming years.
- Surveyor — $57,420: Before land boundaries are established, construction is undertaken or maps are made, surveyors are called upon to exact precise measurements of the area. Using special equipment, they find data pertaining to the different characteristics of land, including its elevation, dimension, shape and contour. Aspiring surveyors can major in surveying, but if they don't attend a college that offers such a program, they can instead complete a degree in geography or engineering. Licensure can be attained by completing the requirements provided by the state in which the aspiring surveyor lives. Entering the occupation shouldn't be too difficult, as faster than average employment growth is expected in the near future.
- Fish and Game Warden — $54,950: With perhaps the ideal outdoor job for true outdoorsmen, fish and game wardens are responsible for ensuring violators of fish and game laws are stopped and apprehended, and investigating property and crop damage by wildlife. In short, they help preserve the natural resources we enjoy for sport and life. Those looking to begin a career as a fish and game warden pursue an associate's or bachelor's degree in conservation, wildlife management, natural resources or biology. Experience in law enforcement may be requirement as well, so many aspiring fish and game wardens first accumulate experience as police officers. Employment growth for the occupation, which the Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies under "Police and Detectives," is expected to grow as fast as average in the near future. For the most part, fish and game wardens earn less than the aforementioned professions, but the career provides just as much satisfaction.
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