Careers for people who want to work outdoors

If you hate the idea of being stuck behind a desk from nine to five, or being cooped up in doors all week, then you might want to consider a career path that lets you spend your time outdoors. There are a variety of careers paths for you to consider, but they all have one thing in common: you get to “play outside”.

Game ranger or field guide

Living in South Africa provides many job opportunities for game rangers and field guides. People often confuse these two roles, but they are quite different. A field guide is the person that takes you around a nature reserve, pointing out animals and explaining facts. If you enjoy working with people this would be a good option. A game ranger, however, is more involved around the management of wildlife areas such as national parks and game reserves.

Another way of explaining the difference between the two is saying that a game ranger does the more behind-the-scenes work on a nature reserve, while a field guide has a more public-orientated role.


A farmer is an obvious choice for someone who wants to be outdoors. There are many different types of farmers and many ways to get in the profession. A good place to start is by studying agricultural sciences. You could work as a farm manager on someone else’s farm and work your way up to owning and running your own farm. If buying a farm seems like a faraway possibility, remember that there are specialised forms of financing like agricultural finance.


People tend to think of scientists as nerdy professionals in white lab coats. If you have a scientific leaning but long to roam outdoors then the geological sciences might be for you. It is true that some of your time will indeed be indoors and you will have to work on the computer analysing data. However, someone needs to gather that data from geographical sites to begin with. While it depends on exactly what type of geologist you are, a field geologist will typically spend a significant portion of the year out in the field.

If you like hiking, mountaineering and camping, geology might be for you.


A forester is someone who quite simply studies forests, or rather the management of forests. This could include timber harvesting, ecological restoration or the management of protected areas, depending on what your focus is.

Like a geologist, a forester is a scientist who spends part of their time out in the field. If you like the idea of walking around a forest all day, this could be the life for you.

These outdoor options are by no means exhaustive. You could also be a landscape architect, archaeologist, environmental scientist or tour guide, for instance. Hopefully this list is enough to inspire you to think about all the different career possibilities if working indoors all day, every day, just doesn’t appeal to you.

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