Are you the adventurous type? Do you spend your vacations and days off looking for something to do that gets your adrenaline pumping? If so, you've probably already figured out that sitting behind a desk from 9 to 5 isn't your ideal job. You want to be out there, experiencing life and going on adventures — and getting paid for it, too.
Sounds too good to be true? Actually, if you look "outside the box," there are many jobs out there that offer a chance at adventure. Of course, not all of those jobs are without risk, but we figure that if you're in the market for excitement and adventure, you're not too worried about that. We chose 10 jobs that could take you on some wild, fun adventures. Read on to find out what they are.
A huge threat to our national forests, wildfires cost U.S. federal agencies more than $2 billion per year on average [source: NIFC]. It makes sense, then, that wildland firefighting requires a huge amount of manpower, especially during wildfire season, when forests are dry and ripe for burning. These seasonal jobs take you right into the belly of the beast — fighting fires as well as aiding in preventing them. In addition to specialized firefighter training, you must also be extremely physically fit for this job.
You can take many different jobs in this field. A forestry aide works in fire prevention, thinning brush, digging ditches (to stop fires from moving forward) and conducting controlled burns. "Hotshot crews" set up fire control lines, suppress ground fires, implement fire prevention techniques and may assist in search and rescue operations. Smokejumpers have one of the more dangerous firefighter jobs. They typically travel to specific fires, rather than work in one place. They provide the initial response and jump from aircraft right into forest fires to fight them from within. If you're looking for adventure, you've found it here.
Candidates for wildland firefighter jobs must be in excellent physical condition, under 37 years of age and carry certifications from an organization called the National Wildfire Coordinating Group [source: USDA].
The job outlook for wildland firefighters is very positive, with more than 44,000 vacancies expected by 2029 [source: Recruiter.com]. Entry-level smokejumpers earn about $16 an hour while more experienced "forestry technicians" can earn up to $40 an hour managing helicopter firefighting crews [sources: USDA; USA Jobs].
9: Marine Biologist
Marine biology is the study of plant, animal and microscopic life in the ocean. With pollution and climate change affecting our environment, our marine life also experiences changes. A marine biologist studies these changes and works to address problems. As 80 percent of all life on the planet is found underwater, consider this an important job [source: IMarEST].
As a marine biologist you can find yourself out at sea, working in the field collecting samples and logging hours back in the lab to compile the results of your research. Marine biology offers so many career tracks, opportunities abound for almost anything. Building artificial reefs, designing marine reserves, mapping the geographical area of a species, studying the effects of pollution or chemicals on marine life — the specialties are vast, just like the ocean. And, depending on your interests, you can even take a job in a research capacity, as an environmentalist or as a consultant. Expect to get your feet wet!
To get a job as a marine biologist, you'll need at least a bachelor's degree in biology, zoology or a related field, and if you want to conduct research, you'll need a master's degree or a Ph.D. [source: Indeed].
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth in marine biology is slower than average at 5 percent with 1,000 new jobs expected to be added from 2020 to 2030. The median salary for a marine biologist is $64,650, but earnings definitely increase with experience.
8: Adventure Guide
If you're looking for an adventure job, this one has "adventure" right in the job description. An adventure guide has the opportunity to enjoy the rush of adrenaline every day, and the bonus of introducing it to new people. No matter where you live, there's probably somewhere (usually a national park area) that has an adventure component. You need to be an expert in your chosen activity and typically need a license or special certifications to ensure you and your customers' safety [source: Zip Recruiter].
Adventure tour guides lead tourists and adrenaline-seekers on activities like kayaking, white-water rafting, horseback riding, zip lining, scuba diving or snorkeling, fishing and even shark diving. As you can see, depending on the area in which you live and your interests, the possibilities are almost endless. As an adventure guide, you need to be friendly, informative, helpful, calm and — most importantly — trained in first aid and emergency situations.
Very high job growth is expected (16 percent over the next decade) for "recreation workers," a category that includes outdoor adventure guides [source: BLS].
Whitewater rafting guides can expect to earn between $15 and $30 an hour on the river, while a full-time scuba instructor can make $50,000 a year on average [sources: Glassdoor, Salary.com].
7: Adventure Therapist
An adventure therapist is more like a psychotherapist with a big helping of adventure guide on the side. You'll find yourself not only as a physical guide, but also an emotional one. Adventure therapy typically focuses on troubled youth, people suffering from depression or post-traumatic stress disorders, people with developmental disabilities and those dealing with addiction [source: Backdoor Jobs]. This type of therapy takes people out of their comfort zone and teaches confidence and problem-solving skills.
Adventure therapy usually involves lower-risk activities like ropes courses, rock climbing, camping or white-water rafting. One of the reasons counselors believe adventure therapy works is because it takes participants "out of their heads" and into the moment — you can't do a ropes course if your mind is elsewhere. Then, as the therapist, you sit down with the group and process the experience. Participants can take the confidence and mindfulness learned during their adventure and apply it to their real life.
To qualify for a job as an adventure therapist, you'll need to demonstrate a good mix of outdoor experience and interpersonal skills like active listening and counseling. Job growth in this niche sector is expected to increase by 7 percent over the next decade [source: Zippia].
Adventure therapists can expect to earn about $56,000 a year on average, with lower and higher earnings based on experience and training [source: Zip Recruiter].
6: Park Ranger
The job of a park ranger can bring a new adventure every day. There are two main types of park rangers: interpretive rangers who guide visitors through the park, and law enforcement rangers who protect the park and enforce safety rules. Park rangers usually have a bachelor's degree in forestry and conservation, or criminal justice and work in national or private parks. Along with everyday duties, rangers also have seasonal and emergency duties. Park rangers help keep forests preserved as much as possible, while still allowing us to visit and enjoy them.
And a park ranger must always be prepared for an emergency. This includes forest fires, wounded or aggressive animals and human medical emergencies.
In her time as a park ranger, Michelle Schonzeit rescued a climber from El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, was stalked by a mountain lion in Olympic National Park and arrested elk poachers at Crater Lake National Park [source: Stewart]. You never know what you might find out there in the forest.
Since park rangers are usually federal jobs, they follow the General Schedule (GS) payscale. A GS-5 park ranger will have a four-year bachelor's degree and earn between $30,000 and $39,000 a year. A GS-15 park ranger will have a Ph.D. and years of specialized experience with a salary range between $109,000 and $142,000 a year [source: Park Ranger EDU].
The job outlook for conservation scientists (a category which includes park rangers) is strong, with an expected growth of 7 percent or 2,900 new jobs over the next decade [source: BLS].
5: Skydiving Instructor
Imagine waking up every day knowing that you'll jump out of a plane 10 to 20 times. And you'll do it strapped to the back of a first-time skydiver! Skydiving instructors are hooked on the rush of freefalling but are also highly trained professionals with a unique skillset.
To become a tandem skydiving instructor, you need to log at least 500 solo jumps and three years in the sport as well as to obtain professional licenses and certifications from the U.S. Parachute Association [source: Skydive Long Island]. While you don't need additional training in psychology, skydiving instructors must be able to work with first-time jumpers overcoming a very natural fear of heights. That takes no small amount of sensitivity and persuasiveness.
The median pay for skydiving instructors is $24 an hour, which won't make you rich, but the thrill of freefalling never gets old, and sharing that thrill with others is part of the adventure [source: Salary.com].
No surprise, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't specifically track job growth for skydiving instructors, but the general category of "self-enrichment teacher" is expected to grow by 24 percent (very fast) over the next decade [source: BLS].
4: Travel Blogger/Influencer
Do you have a yen to travel and a way with words? Put them together and you have the makings for a great travel blogger. As a travel blogger, you can wind your way around the world or the country, visiting scenic or exotic destinations and writing vivid descriptions and reviews for readers and social media followers. And if you can land some sponsors or pick up enough YouTube followers, your trips will pay for themselves!
Don't expect to start right off with paid projects, however. If you don't have the money to travel on your own, become a tourist in your own town. Hone your writing skills by experiencing your local environment through the eyes of an outsider. The job of a travel blogger is to bring your passion for travel and new experiences to the minds of those who have never been there.
The expected pay for a travel blogger will vary greatly depending on the size of your audience and your ability to attract sponsorships. Zip Recruiter shows salaries ranging from $16,000 a year to $110,000 a year [source: Zip Recruiter]. If your website, Instagram account or YouTube site has enough subscribers, you can make extra money from advertisers, sponsored posts, even leading group tours or teaching others how to write travel articles.
Usually, you'll need to build up your own portfolio first and publish your stories and photographs online or try to freelance with a local paper. The good news is that jobs in writing and journalism are expected to grow steadily over the next decade at 9 percent and 6 percent respectively [sources: BLS, BLS].
3: English Teacher Abroad
Teaching English abroad is an excellent way for native English speakers to see the world and even save up some money. For many students and adults around the globe, learning English is the pathway to a better-paying job or career. In return for your teaching skills, you typically travel and live for free, immersing yourself in a foreign culture and experiencing some unforgettable travel adventures.
It takes some preparation to get the best-paying English-teaching jobs abroad. You will need a certification in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL), which you can complete online or in person. The best money for English teachers is in the Middle East (United Arab Emirates, Oman, Saudi Arabia) and Asia (China, South Korea, Japan). Some programs will even pay for your airfare and other travel expenses [source: CIEE].
In the highest-paying markets, English language teachers can earn between $2,000 and $5,000 a month [source: CIEE]. The Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't track job growth abroad, so it's hard to quantify, but one estimate is that English teaching jobs abroad will grow between 11 and 14 percent over the next decade [source: Best Value Schools].
2: Deep Sea Diver
Even though today remote-operated machines perform many deep underwater tasks, these robots can't completely replace human deep sea divers. Exploring the unknown depths of the sea is not for the faint of heart. Divers need to be in top physical shape, able to remain completely calm in the face of danger and (obviously) have excellent swimming skills. You'll also need certification in various kinds of diving, like closed bell, surface and SCUBA [source: National Careers Service].
Deep sea divers perform many different types of jobs, depending on where they're working. Divers work deep underwater for many industries, including offshore gas and oil pipelines, scientific research, filmmaking or stunt work, forensic work for law enforcement, archaeology, civil engineering or leading recreational dives. In the case of offshore saturation diving, a deep sea diver might live for up to 28 days in an underwater pressure chamber to get his or her body adjusted to the water pressure of the ultra- deep sea.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, "commercial divers" of all types can expect strong job growth of 13.7 percent over the next decade, with a median salary of $60,360. Underwater welders are in high demand on both onshore and offshore oil rigs, earning between $40,000 and $100,000 a year based on experience and the difficulty of the work [source: Waterwelders.com].
1: Wildlife Photographer
Wildlife photographers capture the most stunning pictures of the wild — allowing us a view into a world we may otherwise never see. They put themselves and their cameras into the middle of the action, whether it's a forest, a jungle, a desert or a plain. Wildlife photographers travel around the world and work to give the rest of us a taste of the habitats and lives of wild animals. It's a job that can run from tranquil to dangerous in a minute.
Most wildlife photographers work as freelancers. You'll build up a portfolio of photos in hopes of selling them or publications will hire you and send you to specific locations. Wildlife photographers need a certain set of qualities in addition to sharp photography skills. Outdoor survival techniques, patience, quick reflexes (that perfect shot is only going to happen for a split-second) and the ability to move silently and inconspicuously, along with the ability to understand animal behavior, all make a good wildlife photographer great.
The average salary of a wildlife photographer is $41,000 a year, but that can go up or down depending on how many assignments you can book [source: Indeed]. National Geographic, for example, pays between $400 and $500 a day for a shoot [source: Joe Sartore].
The job outlook for photographers over the next 10 years is very strong at 17 percent growth, which is "much faster than average" [source: BLS].
Originally Published: May 28, 2015
Adventure Career FAQs
What are some adventurous jobs?
Some of the most adventurous jobs out there include wildlife photographer, deep sea diver, ESL teacher, travel writer, Alaskan crab fishing, park ranger, adventure therapist, adventure guide, marine biologist and wildfire fighter.
What are the best paying travel jobs?
If you love to travel, there are tons of jobs that include travel as a focus of the job, including travel publicist, hotel manager, freelance writer or photographer, airline pilot and cruise ship director.
What can I do with an outdoor education degree?
A degree in outdoor education will open up the world to you, literally. You can choose from jobs like park ranger where you work in a national park, or teach outdoor survival courses. You could also lead backpacking, kayaking and hiking trips if you work for a tour company.
What are the highest paying outdoor jobs?
Some of the highest paying jobs that will give you adventure while you work outdoors include archaelogist, park ranger, wildlife biologist, geoscientist, astronomer, zoologist and mountain climbing guide.
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