For those who yearn for the fresh air and the freedom of the outdoors, a multitude of high-paying opportunities await. This guide explores the top-paying outdoor jobs, offering insights and encouragement for those seeking to merge their passion for the outdoors with their career aspirations.

High-Paying Careers Under the Open Sky (Ordered By Salary)

Outdoor jobs encompass a vast array of professions, each with unique allure and rewards. From the adrenaline-fueled adventures of a mountain guide to the meticulous care of a landscape architect, the diversity in outdoor careers ensures something for everyone. Here are some top-paying outdoor jobs inviting you to step outside.

1. Sports Photographer

Salary: The average Sports Photographer’s salary is $40,815 annually.

Sports photographers capture the dynamism and emotion of athletic events, specializing in freezing action-packed moments and the spirit of competition through their lenses. They work across various environments, from outdoor stadiums to indoor arenas, covering various sports activities. These professionals understand the sports they photograph, enabling them to anticipate key moments and position themselves strategically. Mastery of camera settings, knowledge of lighting conditions, and quick reflexes are essential to excel in this field. Beyond capturing live action, sports photographers also produce portraits of athletes, team photos, and promotional content for media outlets, sports organizations, and marketing campaigns. At a major outdoor soccer match, a sports photographer might capture a decisive goal, a goalkeeper’s intense focus, or the winning team’s celebration, conveying the game’s high stakes and raw emotion.

2. Athletic Trainer

Salary Insight: The average Athletic Trainer’s salary is $57,810 annually.

Athletic trainers are indispensable in the world of sports, offering crucial support to athletes across all levels by preventing, diagnosing, and treating muscle and bone injuries. With a robust foundation in medical principles and a keen understanding of sports dynamics, they work closely with sports teams, often outdoors, to ensure athletes remain in peak physical condition. Their expertise extends to emergency care, rehabilitation, and developing comprehensive injury prevention programs tailored to each athlete’s needs. Beyond their medical duties, athletic trainers are educators and advisors, advocating for safe sports practices and fostering a culture of health and well-being among athletes. They coordinate with coaches and healthcare professionals to implement effective treatment plans, ensuring a swift and safe return to play for injured athletes. Their role is pivotal in enhancing athletic performance and safeguarding the long-term health and career longevity of sports professionals.

3. Baseball Scout

Salary Insight: The average Baseball Scout’s salary is $41,110 annually.

Baseball scouts are integral to the talent acquisition process for professional baseball teams, tasked with identifying and evaluating amateur and professional players who have the potential to excel at the major league level. They travel extensively to watch games, observe player performances, and assess skills ranging from batting and pitching to fielding and base running. Scouts rely on quantitative data, such as player statistics, and qualitative analysis, including physical abilities and mental toughness, to recommend drafts or trades. They often engage with coaches, trainers, and sometimes the players themselves to comprehensively understand a prospect’s potential and character. A baseball scout attending a high school championship game might spot a shortstop with exceptional defensive skills and a strong arm, noting not only the player’s performance in the game but also their leadership and composure under pressure.

4. Soccer Coach 

Salary Insight: The average Soccer Coach’s salary is $56,170 annually.

Soccer coaches play a critical role in the development and success of soccer players and teams, blending strategic insight with motivational skills to foster athletic excellence. Tasked with designing training programs that enhance technical skills, tactical understanding, and physical fitness, they create a competitive environment that nurtures talent and teamwork. Coaches analyze players’ performances, identifying areas for improvement and tailoring coaching methods to meet individual and team needs. Their responsibilities extend beyond the field; they also mentor players, fostering a sense of discipline, teamwork, and sportsmanship. Soccer coaches are instrumental in scouting for new talent, planning match strategies, and making pivotal decisions during games. Their deep knowledge of the game, combined with the ability to communicate effectively and adapt to the dynamics of the sport, ensures that teams are prepared to compete at their highest level. Through their leadership, soccer coaches inspire players to achieve their full potential, both on and off the pitch.

5. Sports Event Coordinator 

Salary Insight: The average Sports Event Coordinator’s salary is $83,268 annually.

Sports Event Coordinators are the linchpins in the organization and execution of sports events, ranging from local community races to international competitions. They meticulously plan every aspect of events, ensuring that athletes, spectators, and sponsors experience an unforgettable and seamless event, coordinating logistics such as venue selection, transportation, lodging, and scheduling, securing permits, and ensuring compliance with safety standards. Their role requires a deep understanding of the sports industry, excellent organizational skills, and the ability to manage multiple tasks simultaneously under tight deadlines. Sports Event Coordinators also play a vital role in marketing and promoting events, working closely with media outlets and leveraging social media platforms to generate excitement and increase participation. They negotiate with vendors, manage budgets, and collaborate with stakeholders to deliver events that meet and exceed expectations.

6. Tennis Instructor

Salary Insight: The average Tennis Instructor’s salary is $54,120 annually.

Tennis Instructors are pivotal in shaping the skills and techniques of tennis players at all levels, from beginners grasping the basics to advanced players refining their competitive edge. With a profound understanding of the game’s mechanics, they tailor their teaching methods to fit the unique needs of each student, focusing on aspects such as stroke production, footwork, strategy, and mental toughness. Through one-on-one sessions and group clinics conducted on outdoor courts, they foster a learning environment that is both challenging and supportive, encouraging players to push their limits while ensuring a solid foundation of skills and knowledge. Tennis Instructors also emphasize the importance of physical fitness and injury prevention, incorporating conditioning and flexibility training into their programs. They use a variety of teaching aids and technology, including video analysis, to provide feedback and accelerate player development. By nurturing a passion for the game and instilling a strong work ethic, Tennis Instructors play a crucial role in tennis players’ growth and success, helping them achieve their personal and competitive goals.

7. Kinesiologist

Salary Insight: The average Kinesiologist’s salary is $52,247 annually.

Kinesiologists specialize in the study of human movement, applying principles of biomechanics, physiology, and anatomy to enhance physical performance and address issues related to body mechanics and movement. Their work spans various settings, including rehabilitation centers, sports teams, fitness facilities, and research institutions. By assessing and analyzing movement, they develop personalized exercise and rehabilitation programs to prevent injury, improve health outcomes, and optimize performance. A significant part of their role involves working with individuals recovering from injuries, where they employ therapeutic exercises and interventions to facilitate recovery and prevent future issues. A kinesiologist working with a rehabilitation clinic might assess a patient recovering from knee surgery, using motion analysis technology to evaluate the patient’s gait and prescribe a targeted exercise program to strengthen the muscles around the knee.

8. Golf Instructor

Salary Insight: The average Golf Instructor’s salary is $54,457 annually.

Golf Instructors play a crucial role in developing the abilities of golfers at every level, from novices just learning to grip a club to seasoned players aiming to lower their handicaps. They possess a deep understanding of golf mechanics, course management, and the psychological aspects of the game, enabling them to provide comprehensive instruction tailored to individual needs. Conducting lessons in the great outdoors across driving ranges, putting greens, and golf courses, they employ a variety of teaching tools and technologies, such as swing analysis software and video feedback, to enhance learning outcomes. Golf Instructors not only focus on the technicalities of swing mechanics but also impart knowledge on rules, etiquette, and strategy, offering a holistic approach to golf education. Their expertise in identifying and correcting flaws in posture, alignment, and swing technique helps students improve accuracy, distance, and consistency. 

9. Sports Turf Manager

Salary Insight: The average Sports Turf Manager’s salary is $60,445 annually.

Sports Turf Managers specialize in the care and maintenance of athletic fields, ensuring that playing surfaces meet the highest standards for safety, performance, and aesthetics. Their expertise covers a broad range of turfgrass management practices, from soil health and pest control to irrigation and mowing strategies, tailored to the specific needs of different sports. They must possess a solid understanding of agronomy to maintain turf that can withstand the wear and tear of athletic play while providing a safe, competitive, and visually appealing environment. These professionals often work closely with sports organizations, coaches, and athletic directors to schedule maintenance activities around games and events, minimizing disruption to play. For a major soccer tournament, a Sports Turf Manager might implement a comprehensive turf care program that includes aerating the field to improve root growth, applying eco-friendly fertilizers to enhance grass vigor, and setting up a precise mowing schedule to ensure the ideal grass height for play.

10. Golf Course Designer

Salary Insight: The average Golf Course Designer’s salary is $62,711 annually.

Golf course designers blend architecture, environmental science, and a deep understanding of golf to create courses that challenge players while preserving natural landscapes. They employ terrain analysis and advanced technologies like GPS and CAD to design courses that utilize the natural topography, minimizing environmental impact. Designers work closely with agronomists to select appropriate grass types, emphasizing sustainability through native vegetation and eco-friendly maintenance practices. An exemplary case is the Streamsong Resort in Florida, where designers transformed a former phosphate mine into a top-rated golf destination. This project used the site’s unique dunes-like terrain, integrating it with innovative design techniques to craft a course that is both challenging for players and a model of environmental stewardship.

11. Tennis Coach

Salary Insight: The average Tennis Coach’s salary is $63,896 annually.

Tennis coaches play a pivotal role in developing the skills and strategies of tennis players at all levels, from beginners to elite competitors. They possess a deep understanding of the game, including techniques, rules, and the physical and mental aspects of tennis. Coaches analyze their players’ performances, identifying strengths to build upon and weaknesses to address through personalized training programs. Their responsibilities extend beyond technical instruction; they also focus on conditioning, nutrition, and psychological preparation, aiming to cultivate not only skilled athletes but also resilient competitors. A tennis coach working with a promising young player might use video analysis to break down and refine the player’s serve technique, incorporating drills that improve accuracy and power. 

12. Golf Course Superintendent

Salary Insight: The average annual Golf Course Superintendent’s salary is $67,615.

Golf course superintendents ensure that the turf remains visually appealing and resilient to the wear and tear of daily play. Through advanced knowledge in soil science and plant pathology, they diagnose and treat various turf diseases and pest infestations, keeping the greens and fairways healthy. Additionally, these superintendents are proficient in irrigation technology, optimizing water usage to maintain course conditions while adhering to sustainability practices. Their role demands a blend of creativity in landscape design and sharp acumen in business management, including budgeting for maintenance operations and staff oversight. Superintendents often collaborate closely with course architects during renovations, applying their insights to enhance playability and ensure that each hole offers a unique challenge to golfers. 

13. Race Director 

Salary Insight: The average Race Director’s salary is $56,722 annually.

Race Directors are the orchestrators behind the scenes of outdoor sporting events such as marathons, cycling races, triathlons, and obstacle course races. They carry the responsibility of transforming the concept of a race into a successful, smoothly run event that provides a memorable experience for participants and spectators alike. This role encompasses a wide array of duties, including course design, securing permits, coordinating with local authorities for safety and compliance, and managing logistics like timing, registration, and participant support services. Race Directors also oversee marketing and sponsorship efforts to promote the event and secure financial backing. They must possess strong organizational skills, attention to detail, and the ability to manage large teams of staff and volunteers. Effective communication is crucial, as is the capacity to solve problems under pressure, ensuring that every aspect of the event, from start to finish line, is executed flawlessly. 

14. Football Coach

Salary Insight: The average Head Football Coach’s salary is $43,870 annually, with significant variation depending on the level (high school, college, professional) and location.

Football Coaches play a pivotal role in shaping the skills, strategies, and teamwork of football teams. They are responsible for planning and conducting practice sessions, where they teach players the fundamentals of the game, from tackling and passing to complex plays and formations. Coaches analyze the strengths and weaknesses of their own team as well as those of their opponents to devise game plans that maximize their team’s chances of winning. Beyond the physical and tactical training, they also mentor players, instilling discipline, work ethic, and sportsmanship, crucial for personal and team success.

Effective communication is a key skill for Football Coaches, as they must convey complex strategies in a way that players can understand and execute under the high-pressure conditions of a game. 

15. Lacrosse Referee

Salary Insight: The average Lacrosse Referee’s salary ranges widely from $25,000 to $50,000 annually, heavily dependent on the level of play, geographic location, and the number of games officiated.

Lacrosse Referees are essential to the smooth and fair conduct of lacrosse games, upholding the integrity of the sport through the enforcement of rules and regulations. Working in outdoor field settings, they are responsible for starting and stopping play, monitoring the game for rule infractions, assessing penalties, and ensuring the safety of players. A deep understanding of the lacrosse rulebook is crucial, as is the ability to make quick, decisive judgments under pressure. Referees must maintain a high level of physical fitness to keep up with the fast pace of the game, positioning themselves optimally to observe play closely. They also play a key role in conflict resolution, diplomatically managing disputes between players and coaches. Communication skills are paramount, as referees must clearly explain their decisions when necessary. 

Where To Find a High-Paying Outdoor Jobs

Choosing a career in the great outdoors is a bold decision that combines passion with purpose. The top-paying outdoor jobs highlighted in this guide are just the beginning. With the right preparation and determination, the opportunities are limitless.

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