Summer is frequently the season when many workers gaze longingly through office windows, wishing they had a job that would allow them to spend more time in the fresh air and sunshine. Of course, many workers do just that every day in any number of professions that require them to be outdoors.
With that in mind, AOL Jobs -- along with CareerBliss and Bureau of Labor Statistics data -- has compiled a list of nine jobs with high rankings of satisfaction among those working in fields that require at least some work outdoors.
Though some of these positions earn only modest wages, "our data shows it's not necessarily salary that impacts overall happiness, but company culture," says CareerBliss CEO Heidi Golledge. "Co-workers, senior management, the work that one does, and company environment tend to often have a greater influence on workplace happiness than just a paycheck."
And for those employed in these jobs, those other factors appear to be worth the sacrifice in earnings. Listed below, the top nine outdoor jobs are ranked lowest-to-highest by "Overall Bliss Score," a measurement devised by CareerBliss that includes 10 factors, such as company culture, environment and senior management, by workers in the these fields. Each of the nine positions is rated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest possible score. (Since two of them tied for second, we are starting with eighth place.)
8. Lifeguard: Though often viewed as a short-term gig for high-school and college students on summer break, lifeguards are nonetheless required to have certain skills to perform their jobs adequately. Those frequently include an ability to swim a specific distance within a specified time; knowledge of life-saving techniques, such as CPR; and good vision. The need for recreation workers, an occupational category that includes lifeguards, is expected to grow by 19 percent through 2020 -- about average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Median annual pay: $22,260 ($10.70 hourly)*
Overall Bliss Score: 3.72
Looking for a job as a lifeguard? Click here to get started.
7. Surveyor: Surveyors frequently can be seen along roadsides or in new housing developments, using distance-measurement tools to establish property boundaries. Their work isn't limited to land however, and includes surveying airspace and water limits. The job is typically full-time and generally requires a bachelor's degree. Certification is also required should a surveyor's job involve filing legal documents. Projected job growth, at 25 percent through the end of the decade, is faster than average.
Median annual pay: $54,880 ($26.39 hourly).
Overall Bliss Score: 3.76
Looking for a job as a surveyor? Click here to get started.
6. Zoo Keeper: Most zoo keepers, who are included in a broader category of animal caretakers, learn their professions on the job, meaning that there's little formal training. The job typically involves feeding, watering, grooming, bathing and exercising animals, but tasks can vary considerably. The work can be both physically and emotionally demanding, and the BLS notes that injury rates among animal caretakers are higher than the average of all professions.
Median annual pay: $19,780 ($9.51 hourly).
Overall Bliss Score: 3.81
Looking for a job as a zoo keeper? Click here to get started.
5. Landscape Architect: Though landscape architects spend most of their time in comfy offices, the job can involve frequent visits to job sites, including commercial, residential and industrial projects. The job, which includes planning and designing land use, requires a bachelor's degree and every state requires certification. Further, the BLS notes that landscape architects frequently work long hours. Openings in this field are expected to grow about as as fast as average.
Median annual pay: $62,090 ($29.85 hourly)
Overall Bliss Score: 3.84
Looking for a job as a landscape architect? Click here to get started.
4. Mail Carriers/Delivery Services: This job title often conjures up images of the local postal carrier delivering the daily mail, but other employers, such as FedEx and United Parcel Service, also have workers in this field. Those employed by the U.S. Postal Service tend to be the best paid of the bunch, though their numbers are forecast to decline rapidly through 2020. Jobs outside the Postal Service are forecast to experience average growth during the same period. Regardless of the employer, the job involves much the same work: sorting and delivering letters and parcels. It can be physically demanding, requiring lots of lifting, carrying and walking.
Median annual pay: $27,050, or $13 hourly (non-Postal Service workers); $53,090, or $25.52 hourly (U.S. Postal Service).
Overall Bliss Score: 3.94
Looking for a job in delivery services? Click here to get started.
3. Garbage Collector: A perhaps surprising addition to this list, those employed in garbage collection nonetheless appear to be a happy bunch, according to CareerBliss' calculations. The job requires little work experience and minimal on-the-job training. Most workers in this field are employed full-time and routinely work an eight-hour day. Still, it can require lots of heavy lifting and, although outdoors, it can be quite odorous. Projections for hand laborers and material movers, a larger category that includes garbage collectors, show average job growth in the coming years.
Median annual pay: $22,560 ($10.85 hourly).
Overall Bliss Score: 4.00
Looking for a job as a garbage collector? Click here to get started.
2. (tie) Construction Worker: The title "construction worker" covers all kinds of jobs, including those that involve a skilled trade. For purposes of this list, we've narrowed the description to laborers and helpers, positions that require minimal if any experience and involve basic tasks. It can be tedious, physically demanding and sometimes dangerous work, but the pay is above average compared to most entry-level jobs. Further, there's the potential to move into higher paying professions with minimal additional training, such as drywall installation, painting and plastering. Despite the current economic slump, the need for construction laborers and helpers is expected to grow by 25 percent through 2020, a faster-than-average pace.
Median annual pay: $28,410 ($13.66 hourly)
Overall Bliss Score: 4.11
Looking for a job as a construction worker? Click here to get started.
2. (tie) Physical Education Teacher: Recent cutbacks in state and local budgets have left many teachers either unemployed or working less than full-time. But forecasts nonetheless show average growth in the field due to increased enrollment, though growth will vary by region. In addition to working outdoors, phys-ed teachers also benefit -- as others do -- by a decent salary and getting summers' off to pursue other interests or careers. A bachelor's degree is required, and public-school teachers must also be state-certified.
Median annual pay: $51,380 (kindergarten, elementary school); $53,230 (high school)
Overall Bliss Score: 4.11
Looking for a job as a physical education teacher? Click here to get started.
1. Camp Counselor: There must be something about sitting around campfires and roasting marshmallows that makes this job the most "blissful" among the jobs listed here. (In fact, CareerBliss notes, camp counselor outranked even the happiest "indoor" job: doctor.) Of course, camp counselors do much more, leading outdoor activities of all kinds and assisting children in learning new skills. Education and training requirements for this position, included in the larger group of recreation workers, often vary, but many in this field hold a bachelor's degree. Job growth in the coming years is forecast to be about as fast as average for all professions.
Median annual pay: $22,260 ($10.70 hourly)
Overall Bliss Score: 4.26
Looking for a job as a camp counselor? Click here to get started.
*Median salaries and hourly wages are based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data from 2010, the most recent available. Half of all workers in a given occupation earned more than the amount shown, while half earned less.
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David Schepp has spent more than a dozen years covering business news for the electronic and print media, including Dow Jones Newswires, BBC News, Gannett Co., and most recently at AOL's DailyFinance. Nearly 10 years ago, he started writing a weekly People@Work column, looking in depth at issues facing workers in today's workplace. The syndicated column appeared in newspapers and websites nationwide before it made its debut on DailyFinance in 2010. Schepp now continues that tradition at Aol Jobs, covering the jobs beat and providing readers insight and analysis into the nation's challenging employment scene.
Schepp holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Metropolitan State College of Denver.
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