John Muir (1838-1914) had a passion for science, particularly geology. He was a naturalist, adventurer, historian, outdoor guide, botanist, and most importantly, founder of The Sierra Club. Mr. Muir epitomized the concept of working outdoors-the Yosemite area being his favorite. Not everyone is willing or desiring to emulate his words: “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” However, one of the following careers may rouse the spirit of Mr. Muir in you with the lure of opportunities that occasionally whisk you outdoors. Plus, selecting a job wherein you are on your feet much of the time has been postulated to be beneficial to your health. Dr. James Levine, director of the Mayo Clinic-Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative coined the phrase: “sitting is the new smoking.” Researchers have found evidence that prolonged sitting increases the risk of developing several serious illnesses like various types of cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. But like most things in the medical arena, this is subject to debate. Regardless, for those with restless souls we present a list of 30 careers requiring a degree-either an Associate’s, Bachelor’s or Master’s.

This ranking is ordered by decreasing median salary as stated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)-unless otherwise referenced. Of course, years of employment, degree level, geographical locale and other factors directly influence the salaries for any job. The ‘job outlook’ refers to the projected growth or change of employment expected over ten years in each occupation, per the BLS.

1. Petroleum Engineering

hands on jobs with college degree

IMAGE SOURCE: Pixabay, public domain

Petroleum Engineering involves the technology of economically developing and producing subterranean reservoirs of oil, gas, steam, and hot water and designing underground waste disposal facilities. This technology relies on basic concepts of physics, chemistry, mathematics, geology, fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, and economics. To realize the qualifications needed, a 2017 posting on for a petroleum engineer requires the applicants to be versed in underground storage regulations (federal, state and local); oil well databases and field data collection devices; underground hydrocarbon storage facility design; and recommend testing, evaluation and implementation of improvements. This particular posting asks for a Bachelor of science in petroleum engineering or other engineering degree with adequate petroleum engineering experience.

A B.S. in Petroleum encompasses fundamental concepts that describe the properties of fluids and rocks in surface and subsurface environments. These are integrated with courses covering fluid flow in reservoirs along with drilling and production equipment to develop a broad understanding of how fundamental concepts are used to solve technical problems. At the master’s level, there are online courses, again one is offered at USC at the Viterbi School of Engineering. Graduate courses include enhanced oil recovery, geostatistics, corrosion control, oilfield data mining, the behavior of petroleum reservoir fluids and others. Full-time students can complete this graduate degree within 2 years. More importantly, you’ll be ensconced in one of the highest paying engineering careers.

Salary: $128,230 (Bachelor’s)
Job Outlook: +10%

2. Volcanology

Want to travel to far away to exotic places while working? Then being a volcanologist may seem attractive to you if you have the aptitude for math, physics, chemistry, and biology. There are about 1,500 potentially active volcanoes worldwide, aside from the continuous belt of volcanoes on the ocean floor. In the U.S., volcanoes in the Cascade Range and Alaska (Aleutian volcanic chain) are part of the Ring, while Hawaiian volcanoes form over a ‘hot spot’ near the center of the Ring. To really understand volcanoes it is necessary to study a number of sciences, but the most important is geology – the study of the Earth’s rocks.

Your education journey starts in high school by taking math and science classes. While there are very few colleges that offer courses in volcanology, instead you’ll study geophysics, geochemistry, petrology, structural geology, sedimentary geology, and remote sensing. Before you have your undergraduate degree in-hand, you should be preparing for graduate school. With a B.S. your career choices are pretty much limited to being an assistant or technician. At the master’s level, Michigan Tech has one of the largest volcanology graduate programs in the U.S. and they are always looking for students with backgrounds in math and physics. There are few online master’s programs in geology aimed at volcanology. The University of Arizona College of Engineering has an online Master of Engineering in Mining, Geological, and Geophysical Engineering. This program is focused more on the mining and mineral processing industry.

Salary: $89,780 (Geoscientist-Bachelor’s)
Job Outlook: +10%

3. Geosciences

Geoscience is the science of exploration, discovery, and Earth stewardship. The geosciences address all issues relating to Earth Systems, including the solid Earth, oceans, and atmosphere. They use their knowledge to increase our understanding of Earth processes and to improve the quality of human life. The National Science Foundation considers geology, geophysics, hydrology, oceanography, marine science, atmospheric science, planetary science, meteorology, environmental science, and soil science as the major geoscience disciplines. They work as explorers for new mineral and hydrocarbon resources, consultants on engineering and environmental problems, researchers, teachers, writers, editors, and museum curators as well as in many other challenging positions.

There are limited online degrees at the undergraduate level in the study of geosciences. Fort Hays State University, known for its accredited online programs, offers a Bachelor of Science in Geosciences with a focus in either geography or geology. Only the Bachelor’s degree in geography specialty is entirely online. Southern New Hampshire University has an online BS degree in Geoscience in either concentration: Geospatial Technology or Natural Resources & Conservation. For students who prefer a resident program, there is the University of Pennsylvania whose curriculum will give you theoretical and technical expertise in geochemistry, geophysics, hydrogeology, and engineering geology.

Salary: $89,780
Job Outlook: +10%

4. Geology

Geology is the study of the Earth, the materials of which it is made, the structure of those materials, and the processes acting upon them. It includes the study of organisms that have inhabited our planet. Geologists study Earth materials that are used regularly for various purposes: oil that is produced from wells; metals that are produced from mines; and water that has been drawn from streams or from underground. They also conduct studies that locate rocks that contain important metals, plan the mines that produce them and the methods used to remove the metals from the rocks. In these capacities, these professionals work outdoors part of the time for natural resource companies, environmental consulting companies, government agencies, non-profit organizations, and universities.

Although a bachelor’s degree is required for entry-level employment, many geologists earn master’s and/or doctorate degrees. The advanced degrees provide a higher level of training, often in a geology specialty area such as paleontology, mineralogy, hydrology, or volcanology. This degree can be obtained online. One example is the University of Florida that offers a Bachelor of Arts in Geology that teaches students about the Earth’s physical environment including climate, non-renewable geological resources, renewable geological resources, geological hazards, and remediation as well as basic skills required by geologists.

Salary: $89,780 (Geoscientists)
Job Outlook: +10%

5. Construction Management

According to the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA), construction management (CM) is a service that uses specialized, project management techniques to manage the planning, design, and construction of a project, from its beginning to its end. The purpose of CM is to control a project’s time, cost and quality. Professional construction managers are typically reserved for capital projects which are generally lengthy, large-scale, high budget undertakings, like commercial real estate, transportation infrastructure, hospitals, industrial facilities, etc. They act as an advisor to or agent of the owner, charged with assuring projects progress smoothly and achieve the owner’s business objectives.

To enter this profession, you can take a Construction Management Associate degree such as the one offered online at Ashworth College. You can enroll in one semester at a time and complete each of 4 semesters in as few as 6 months based on your study pace. Those ready for the next step may be interested in the online Bachelor of Science in Construction Management at National University. This program provides students with a well-rounded education in written and verbal communication, technical construction fundamentals, mathematics, business, law, humanities, fine arts, and social, behavioral, and natural sciences. Graduates will be eligible to seek careers as a construction executive, project manager, project engineer/coordinator, field engineer, planning/scheduling engineer, cost engineer, cost estimator, quality and safety controller, construction superintendent, and facilities engineer.

Salary: $89,300
Job Outlook: +5%

6. Environmental Engineering

Environmental engineering, in general, is a field of study that utilizes existing principles of engineering to develop and implement solutions to environmental issues. This often occurs as a result of a recommendation provided by an environmental scientist. Ultimately, those with a degree in environmental engineering will be able to find work on a number of different projects as an environmental engineer, including those focused on:

  1. Public works and recycling;
  2. Waste disposal and wastewater treatment;
  3. Air pollution control; and
  4. Environmental impact and climate control.

Additionally, the environmental engineering may be involved in global climate change; groundwater contamination; hazardous waste; risk assessment; resource recovery; qualitative and quantitative analysis of sources of pollutants; and treatment and reduction processes.

The didactic phase entails a broad background in mathematics and all the sciences, along with their application to the several areas of environmental engineering. Courses usually apply principles from all of the natural sciences (physics, chemistry, geology, and biology) to understand the natural environment and to build systems that protect that environment. At the graduate level there are choices of online degrees in Environmental Engineering, such as the one at the University of New Haven. This fully online M.S. degree is designed specifically for the working professional. Graduates in either a bachelor’s or master’s will be prepared to seek an array of employment opportunities with private consulting firms, industry, and government agencies at the local, state, and national levels.

Salary:$84,890 (Bachelor’s)
Job Outlook: +12%

7. Construction Engineering

Construction Engineering is a professional discipline that deals with the designing, planning, construction, and management of infrastructures such as roads, tunnels, bridges, airports, railroads, facilities, buildings, dams, utilities and other projects. Construction Engineering is considered a professional sub-practice area of Civil Engineering. They provide technical support for construction effort including participation in construction planning/design; interpretation of design; application of construction methods; resolution and documentation of design conflicts. Other abilities may include computer expertise and AutoCAD software. Most jobs will require the engineer to also have his/her Professional Engineer (P.E.). Licensure for a consulting engineer or a private practitioner is not something that is merely desirable; it is a legal requirement for those who are in charge of work, whether principals or employees.

Students seeking a career in this field should obtain a Bachelor of Science in Construction Engineering Technology. The online degree by National University will prepare the graduate for jobs as a construction superintendent, field engineer, project manager, project coordinator, facilities engineer, cost estimator, CAD drafter, and quality and safety controller. One should expect the typical curriculum to be loaded in the sciences and related disciplines: calculus, physics, structural analysis, soil mechanics, thermo-dynamics, fluid dynamics, and construction law. Some of the courses in a construction engineering program may overlap those taken in a structural engineering concentration. The University of Buffalo’s Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering offers both tracks.

Salary: $83,540 (Civil Eng.)
Job Outlook: +8%

8. Structural Engineering

Another sub-specialty of civil engineering is structural engineering whose duties complement those of the construction engineer. While construction engineers may design roadways, tunnels, dams, and bridges, a structural engineer ensures that specific architectural components such as beams, foundations, columns and floors are structurally sound. In addition to public safety concerns, structural engineers must also take into account aesthetics and cost efficiency. They must be analytical, detail-oriented and creative, in addition to having strong interpersonal and communication skills. Every state requires Professional Engineer (PE) licensure, which involves passing a series of exams administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). In most states, the exam is taken after four years of experience working with a licensed engineer, but experience requirements may vary by state.

Online undergraduate programs are rare and may not be conducive to the study of structural engineering that entails laboratory testing of materials by multi-million dollar testing equipment. One example is the University of Houston whose universal panel tester can be used to perform biaxial and triaxial tests and is the only one of its kind in the United States. The lab work is an integral part of a typical curriculum that stresses the Properties and structures of engineering materials, including metals and alloys, ceramics, cements, concretes, polymers, and composites. At the master’s level, there are opportunities to learn online, namely the University of Southern California (USC) that offers a Master of Science in Civil Engineering-Structural Engineering emphasis.

Salary: $83,540
Job Outlook: +8%

9. Industrial Hygiene

Industrial Hygiene (I.H.) is a science and art devoted to the anticipation, recognition, evaluation, prevention, and control of those environmental factors or stresses arising in or from the workplace. Attention is devoted to those agents that may cause sickness, impaired health and well being, or significant discomfort among workers or citizens of the community. A professional industrial hygienist is a person possessing either a baccalaureate degree in engineering, chemistry, physics, or a closely related biological or physical science from an accredited college or university. Plus a minimum of three years experience as an industrial hygienist. While this definition does not include certification, the American Industrial Hygiene Association recognizes the need for such certification by every professional industrial hygienist.

The typical approach to this profession is to earn a bachelor’s degree in a science or engineering, then proceed to a master’s degree. Some students entering a graduate program have their Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH), and/or two plus years of safety and health-related work experience. The former is not a requirement to apply to Montana Tech’s Online Master of Science in I.H., but the experience is necessary. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university that included as a minimum 19 credits of college-level mathematics and science, (including first semester calculus and statistics), biology (including anatomy/physiology), chemistry (including organic chemistry), and physics. Graduates receive the academic preparation needed to pass the CIH certification examination administered by the American Board of Industrial Hygiene.

Salary: $80,978 (
Job Outlook: +4%

10. Fire Protection Engineering

Fire protection engineers study the causes of fires and how architecture and design influence the prevention and suppression of fires. One of the more direct paths in how to become a fire protection engineer begins with the study of fire science and engineering (mechanical, physical and structural). Essential job functions may include: technical studies and testing of fire systems, evaluation of fire protection equipment and procedures, review city plans, and interprets existing ordinances and fire codes. In these functions, you may visit construction sites, fire scenes, fire equipment development organizations, or construction trades conferences.  Fire protection engineers often interact with public law enforcement and legal entities that necessitates knowledge of accurate reporting on findings and creating court documents.

Your education can begin with an associate’s degree. Beyond the associate’s degree, Eastern Kentucky University, for example, offers an online Bachelor’s degree in Fire Protection and Safety Engineering. This degree is ideal for those who excel in math and science and want to learn how a fire behaves; the best methods for preventing fires; and how to minimize a fire’s impact. At the graduate level, the University of Maryland’s A. James Clark School of Engineering offers a Master in Fire Protection Online. Designed with the working engineer in mind, the 30-credit  program features a curriculum rich in the latest scientific and technological principles and practices needed to advance your career. Regardless of the college you chose, you may want to search for programs Accredited by the Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

Salary: $74,385 (PayScale)
Job Outlook: +6% (BLS)

11. Crop/Soil Science

A soil scientist is a person who is qualified to evaluate and interpret soils and soil-related data for the purpose of understanding soil resources. They contribute to not only agricultural production, as it affects environmental quality and how production is managed for the protection of human health and the environment. These professionals work for federal and state governments, universities, and the private sector. The job of a soil scientist includes collection of soil data, consultation, investigation, evaluation, interpretation, planning or inspection relating to soil science. Computer skills and geographic information systems help the scientist to analyze the multiple facets of geomorphology (study of landforms), topography, vegetation, and climate to discover the patterns left on the landscape.

Most soil scientists have earned at least a bachelor degree from a major agricultural university. At many universities, two choices are available for specialized training in soils. The Soil Science option prepares students to enter the agricultural sector as farm advisors, crop consultants, soil, and water conservationists, or as representatives of agricultural companies. Or the Environmental Soil Science option that prepares soil scientists for careers in environmental positions dealing with water quality concerns, remediation of contaminants or for on-site evaluation of soil properties in construction, waste disposal, or recreational facilities. There are some online programs such as the one available at Oregon State University: Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Sciences. This degree allows you to customize your curriculum emphasizing fields like crop and soil science or agricultural business management.

Salary: $69,920
Job Outlook: +5%

12. Environmental Science

Environmental science is a broad area of professions encompassing, but not limited to, biomedical, geological, biological, and ecological environmental science. The root of this branch of science involves conducting research, maintaining the Earth and atmosphere and keeping the businesses, animals, and people on it safe. It is the study of the effects of natural and unnatural processes, and of interactions of the physical components of the planet on the environment. Environmental scientists work on subjects like the understanding of earth processes, evaluating alternative energy systems, pollution control and mitigation, natural resource management, and the effects of global climate change. It can also be described as a holistic and multidisciplinary field that integrates the biological, physical, and earth sciences.

Those interested in the online format, Ashford University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies. This program covers such subjects as ecology, biology, ethics, public policy, and energy production. The well-known online school, Southern New Hampshire also has an online Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science. This program gives you a strong foundation in natural and physical sciences. Other possibilities are covered in our top 10 online Bachelor’s degree programs in Environmental Science. At the graduate level, Montana State offers a Master of Science online in Environmental Sciences. Topics covered include-watershed hydrology, integrated management of invasive plant species, soil nutrient management, land reclamation, restoration ecology, fluvial systems ecology and restoration, riparian ecology, microbial ecology of natural systems, and more. Certainly, a master’s degree will bode well to pursue a wider range of job opportunities whether it’s with local, state or federal agencies, wildlife organizations, consulting firms, education, or private industries.

Environmental Science and Environmental Engineering are like cousins-related but not directly. With this premise in mind, please check out our 5 best careers in Environmental Science.

Salary: $68,910
Job Outlook: +11%

13. Home Health Care

Professional home health care services are not an outdoor job per se but it does provide you the freedom to roam. The job includes a broad range of care and support services for those who are recovering from a hospital stay, who are disabled, chronically- or terminally-ill, and need medical, nursing, social, or therapeutic treatment. Home care services are typically provided by home care organizations. There are a variety of home care organizations, including Medicare certified home health care agencies, Visiting Nurse Agencies (VNAs); hospices; area agencies on aging, homemaker agencies; staff and private duty nursing agencies. The demand is fueled by the current 12 million patients that need home health care with 70% of them are over the age of 65. This number is projected to be 15 million by 2020 as the general population ages. Aside from the seniors, the rise in sport injuries, home, and vehicle accidents have increased the need for in-home care about 10 times. Those seeking job security should look no further.

There are three routes to becoming a registered nurse: a 3-year diploma program typically administered in hospitals; a 3-year associate degree usually offered at community colleges; and the 4-year baccalaureate degree offered at senior colleges and universities.  Graduates of all three programs sit for the same NCLEX-RN© licensing examination. In October 2010, the Institute of Medicine released its landmark report on The Future of Nursing which called for increasing the number of baccalaureate-prepared nurses in the workforce to 80% by 2020. The trend in nursing, whether a hospital setting or home health care, is to have greater numbers with advanced degrees. In fact, in 2009, it was proposed by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching that all RNs earn a master’s degree (MSN) within 10 years of licensure. The MSN can be earned while you continue working.

Salary:$68,450 (BSN)
Job Outlook: +16%

14. Traffic Engineering

Transportation/traffic engineers have various duties based on specific job levels. Engineers must be able to evaluate plans and proposals drafted by other engineers and make changes if necessary. Other common duties include analysis of schematics and engineering data, offering recommendations for traffic and driving policies, designing transit means and analyzing the effects of transit on urban areas. To perform the customary duties of a traffic engineer, the individual may work in a consulting firm or for a major city under the direction of the City Engineering Department. In the consultant role you could be performing technical engineering work, supporting project management efforts on projects, and working with a team of talented Engineers to complete projects on time and on budget. As a city transportation engineer, this work entails the evaluation, selection, and application of standard transportation engineering techniques, procedures, and design of complex transportation projects. Other duties may include coordinating the formulation of financial and legal documents and/or contracts for assigned projects between the City and other agencies.

Regardless of the place of employment, most transport engineers begin with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and a P.E. from the state where you’ll be working. Online bachelor’s degrees in civil engineering are a rarity but there are online master’s programs. One example is New Jersey Institute of Technology that offers a Master of Science in Transportation of which there are three areas of specialization to select: Transportation Engineering, Construction Management, and Structural Design. The transportation concentration involves topics as transportation planning, traffic control, studies and capacity, and urban systems engineering.

Salary: $63,823 (PayScale)
Job Outlook: +8%

15. Landscape Architecture

We have previously featured this occupation as one of the top 10 ‘green’ careers for nature-lovers.  This is valid because landscape architects plan and design traditional places such as parks, residential developments, campuses, gardens, cemeteries, commercial centers, resorts, transportation corridors, corporate centers and waterfront developments. They also design and plan the restoration of natural places disturbed by humans such as wetlands, stream corridors, mined areas and forested land. The profession has been described as combining art with science as it requires the creative design of an architect and the sciences of geology, horticulture, hydrology, as well as environmental factors. Their duties involve working with engineers, surveyors and building architects in order to distinguish the best arrangement of buildings and roads. To find the best way to conserve or restore natural resources, they may collaborate with foresters, environmental scientists and other professionals.

A formal education is essential to gain these skills and knowledge. Professional education in landscape architecture can be obtained at the undergraduate or graduate level. There are two undergraduate professional degrees: a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (BLA) and a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture (BSLA). Because these degrees are considered professional degrees (as opposed to a Bachelor of Arts in Landscape Architecture), you can continue on the path toward licensure. To become licensed, you’ll need to pass the Landscape Architect Registration Examination (L.A.R.E.) administered by the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards. This is not a degree that is compatible to do completely online, except for courses in landscape design or add-on courses for those with a degree.

Salary: $63,480
Job Outlook: +5%

16. Archaeology

Archaeology is the study of past human cultures through the analysis of the material evidence such as artifacts, bones, human remains, and even trash to gain a better understanding of a particular peoples or events. It is one of the four sub-fields of anthropology.  Many people think archaeologists study only ancient cultures and historians study just more recent events.  Some archaeologists research the behavior of modern people by studying their garbage, for example, one archaeologist studies early 20th-century coal mining camps in California. In the U.S., archaeologists typically earn degrees in Anthropology. But in some countries, archaeology is considered to be its own discipline. A few colleges in the U.S. offer degrees in archaeology.

Past the bachelor’s degree, there are a few colleges offering online master’s degrees in the field of archaeology. One is American International University (AIU) that has an online Master of Archaeology that culminates in a 7,500 word Master Thesis. The objective of this degree is to provide students with the tools necessary to learn, discover, and apply knowledge about archaeology to further work in the profession or pursue a PhD. With your degree in hand, preferably a master’s, you’ll be eligible to seek employment in an array of settings. are primarily with colleges and universities, state and federal agencies, private consulting firms, museums, and historic sites.  Sadly, there are not a lot of jobs available for archaeologists in colleges and universities. The ones that are available are highly competitive and there are generally more qualified applicants than there are available jobs.  Museums positions are also rare and often difficult to obtain. The majority of jobs in archaeology today are in cultural resource management.

Salary: $63,190 (Master’s)
Job Outlook: +4%

17. Police Officer

The duties of a police officer, also known as a law enforcement officer, focus on protecting people and property. They patrol the areas they are assigned, which sometimes include entire jurisdictions, respond to calls, enforce laws, make arrests, issue citations, and occasionally testify in court cases. The hiring process and training academy can take around 12 to 18 months, all together, though this may vary by agency. After graduating from the academy, you will be a probationary officer, which typically means you will be constantly supervised. Some applicants are accepted, after a grueling background check, right out of high school or community college. Many officers receive an education bonus just for having an education beyond the required high school diploma or GED. According to the FBI’s website, only about 1 percent of all police departments required a college degree.

However, a bachelor’s degree usually translates to higher pay. For example, Dallas PD automatically gives officers with a bachelor’s degree an additional $300 per month and also offers a bonus pay of $110 to $150 per month for knowing specific foreign languages. Depending on your level of proficiency, a Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) certification can net you an additional $200 to $500 per month. In total, recruits with additional schooling can earn $5000 to $8000 more per year. Those interested in a degree may wish to enroll in one of the top 25 online Criminal Justice Bachelor’s programs. There are many online bachelor’s degrees available.

Salary: $61,600
Job Outlook: +4%

18. Forest Ranger

There may be few jobs that keep you outdoors more than a forest ranger employed for state and national forests and parks. They may help maintain campground facilities and trails, and help with fire prevention and firefighting. Some enforce laws and regulations on public lands, roads, and campgrounds. Rangers may also interact with the public during their patrols and visits to campgrounds. Today’s park rangers are highly trained professionals who generally have, at minimum, a Bachelor of Science degree in botany, geology, forestry, or wildlife management. Many are commissioned law-enforcement officers who attend the same law-enforcement academy in Glynco, Georgia, as most federal agents. They arrest drug dealers and rapists while dealing with armed suspects, often while working alone in parks.

Due to the variety of roles that a forest ranger can take on, there are as many education paths. Jobs involving botany, fisheries management, wildlife management and forest management all require bachelor’s degrees in one of the natural sciences. Other rangers may benefit from a degree in criminal justice for those in a law enforcement role. American Public University offers an online Bachelor of Science with a Fish and Wildlife Management Concentration that was created for individuals pursuing specific careers ranging from fishery and wildlife biologist, to park ranger and environmental scientist. Another degree option is forestry degree program typically includes forest biology, forest measurement and inventory and renewable resource management.

Salary: $60,610 (bachelor’s degree)
Job Outlook: +7%

19. Zoology

Zoologists are life scientists who study animals, observing them in the laboratory and in their natural habitat. They study the origin and development of species as well as their habits, behaviors, and interactions. Many zoologist careers involve hands-on work, traveling and monitoring animals in their natural habitats to understand the environment and how everything affects lifestyle. Research not only provides for methods to understanding different animal lifestyles and behavior, but can also affect the way humans co-exist and alter the environment. Most of the work in this field is within state and federal governments, such as the Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service. More limited are jobs with research companies who hire zoologists to complete studies and tests to see the extent that new products and operations affect nature and animal life.

There are no online zoology degrees that we know of but there are numerous on-campus programs. For example, Colorado State University’s College of Natural Sciences offers an undergraduate degree in zoology whose core program  provides general training in animal biology or an option in one of the following areas: animal behavior, aquatic biology, ecology, genetics and evolution, invertebrate organisms, cellular/molecular biology and physiology, systematics and morphology, or vertebrate organisms. The University of Florida also offers a Bachelor of Science with a Zoology major that prepares students for graduate studies or employment in disciplines such as zoology, ecology, conservation, and biology research; preparation for medical, dental or veterinary programs; or preparation for secondary-school teaching. Graduate level degrees, such as a Masters or PhD, are generally preferred and often required for advanced research or teaching positions.

Salary: $60,520
Job Outlook: +4%

20. Marine Biology

Marine biologists study a wide variety of aquatic organisms, from microscopic plankton to massive whales.  Nearly all marine biologists spend at least part of their time doing research in the field, working in environments ranging from marshes or wetlands to the ocean. They may utilize a variety of equipment including boats, scuba gear, nets, traps, sonar, submarines, robotics, computers, and standard lab equipment.  Marine biology is a broad occupation that involves specialties, such as a biological technician, ichthyologist, fishery biologist, marine mammalogist, microbiologist, systems analyst, or a mathematician. In addition, other marine scientists concern themselves exclusively with the physical and chemical aspects of the sea, such as physicists, hydrologists, and physical oceanographers.

What degree do you need to be a marine biologist? An undergraduate degree is a must in this field such as the one offered at Florida Institute of Technology. As a student in the marine biology department, you have the opportunity to undertake exciting independent or collaborative (with a peer or professor) research in a topic of your choosing. Hands-on experience in the field is close by as Florida Tech is strategically located near the estuarine habitats of the Indian River Lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean marine ecosystems.  Another choice could be the University of Alaska Southeast whose Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology entails courses in marine ecology, behavioral ecology, marine mammalogy, marine pollution, crustacean physiology, marine phycology.

Unfortunately, the supply of marine scientists far exceeds the demand, and the number of government jobs (the federal and state governments are important employers) is limited. Other employers are local governments, aquaria/museums, colleges and universities, and private research laboratories or consulting firms.

Salary: $60,520
Job Outlook: +4%

21. Botany

Botanists study various aspects of plants. For example, they may study their physiological processes such as photosynthesis at the molecular level. Or they may focus on the agricultural applications of plants used for food, fiber, fuel, turf, and cover crops, studying their responses to stresses from pests, disease, and climate variations. They may also work on plant breeding to development hardier strains. Some botanists conduct experiments to enhance the yield, disease resistance, drought resistance, or nutritional value of crops. They may also develop environmentally safe ways to control weeds, diseases, and pests. In these various functions, botanists work for seed companies, where they conduct research to enhance seed properties. Others work on genetic engineering or product development for biotechnology firms and pharmaceutical companies.

There are many colleges from which to chose for a bachelor’s degree in botany. One example is Weber State University College of Science that offers 4 options within the Bachelor of Science degree: Laboratory Emphasis, Pre-Natural Medicine, Field Botany, and General Botany Emphasis. Be prepared to take courses in mycology (the study of fungi), algology (the study of algae), plant physiology, ethnobotany, microbiology, and many others. For those students who are eager to flow into a master’s program, The University of Maine’s School of Biology and Ecology offers a combined B.S. and M.S. degree in 5-6 years in this disciplines of botany, entomology, and zoology. Further course work may include biotechnology, environmental toxicology, plant systematics, and plant molecular biology.

Salary:$60,520 (Bachelor’s)
Job Outlook: +4%

22. Wildlife Ecology/Biology

Wildlife ecology and management includes the analysis, management, conservation, and restoration of forests, range land ecosystems, and their associated wildlife populations. Wildlife biologists collect and analyze data to help explain the effect of the environment on animal populations. Study subjects can be anything from determining the effects of climate change on a plant population to the effect of human population and development that is encroaching on a forest preserve. The education path for both professions is similar. For example, Utah State University offers a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Ecology and Management that emphasizes the ecology, behavior, conservation, and management of wildlife populations and communities in terrestrial ecosystems. This program focuses on current issues and concerns in natural resources, such as climate change, endangered species, restoration of sagebrush steppe systems and other landscapes, and human-wildlife conflict. Graduates will be qualified to pursue careers in fields such as: wildlife biology, conservation officer (state, federal agencies and private firms), ecological assistant, and Park Ranger.

Students interested in a more biology slant to their degree can find this online at Oregon State University. They offer a Bachelor of Science in Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences whose biology courses can be completed at a local college or done online (OSU Biology series). However, due to the lab work and field trips for study, this is a degree that may be best taken on-campus. Western State Colorado University has an undergraduate degree in Wildlife Biology that will take you on experiential field trips, research, and interact with professional biologists. Graduates have been successful in obtaining jobs at the local and state level with agencies such as the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the USDA Forest Service.

Salary: $60,520
Job Outlook: +4%

23. Avionics

Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) technicians keep aircraft in safe flying condition by servicing, repairing and overhauling aircraft components while following detailed federal regulations set by the FAA. Technicians in this field work on aircraft components and systems including the airframe, piston engines, turbine engines, electrical systems, hydraulic systems, propellers, rigging, control surfaces, instrumentation, warning systems, and environmental systems. Another specialty is Avionics or Aircraft Electronics where you’ll learn to repair navigational and communications radios, digital audio systems, flight management computers, aircraft autopilot systems and more. With the advances of technology this also includes the field of unmanned aerial systems or working with unmanned aerial vehicles commonly referred to as drones.

Some programs require up to 24 months to complete, but at Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology, you can graduate in just 18 months with an associate degree in A&P that can provide you with entry-level opportunities in this industry. A variety of degree levels is available at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University located in Daytona Beach, Florida and Prescott, Arizona. This learning institution grants the aspiring student the liberty to select a certificate through Ph.D. program in Aeronautics. Their Associate in Science and Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics are both available online. The undergraduate degree is designed specifically for students who work, have worked, or desire to work in aviation-related careers. The Associate of Science in Aeronautics is a multidisciplinary online or on-campus degree program that combines previous work experience with courses of study in human factors, security, aviation safety, occupational safety and health, air traffic control, aircraft maintenance, and aeronautical science.

Job Outlook: +1%

24. Plant Science

Isn’t botany and plant science the same-just a matter of semantics?  Botany is defined as “the scientific study of plants, including their physiology, structure, genetics, ecology, distribution, classification, and economic importance.” Cornell University defines plant science as “the study of plant growth, reproduction, evolution, and adaptation, as well as the use of plants for food, fiber, and ornamental purposes”. This may involve breeding plants to tolerate the heat- and drought-stress caused by climate change or developing sustainable cropping practices. The career options are too numerous to cover in this piece. But the more common industries that employ plant scientists are in soil science & technology; business production and food; heritage, conservation & ecology; horticulture, biotechnology, or production consultant.

At the undergrad level, Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences offers a plant science major. This program is for students seeking careers in agronomic and horticultural crop production systems, sustainable agriculture and ecosystem science, crop protection, applied plant physiology, plant science research, and plant biotechnology.  This curriculum is designed to provide a working knowledge of basic plant biology, soils, pests, and pathogens with emphasis on growth, development, and physiology in an ecological and agricultural context. For higher paying jobs you’ll need a master’s degree of which UMass Online offers a Masters in Plant and Soil Sciences. This program readies you for certification as a Professional Soil Scientist and prepares graduates for careers in soil conservation, environmental consultancy, landscape design, agricultural management and related occupations.

Salary: $60,050 with Master’s (
Job Outlook: +7%

25. Oceanography

To oversimplify the profession-it is the study of the ocean. However, it is more complex than that. It covers a wide range of topics, including marine life and ecosystems, ocean circulation, plate tectonics and the geology of the seafloor, and the chemical and physical properties of the ocean. From these topics spawn these specialties for oceanographers: biology, chemistry, geology, and physics. All of these disciplines are intertwined, thus all oceanographers must have a keen understanding of each of these sciences in order to unravel the mysteries of the oceanic world.

The best place to start your education in this field is to select a university near the ocean, for example, Florida Tech in Melbourne, Florida. Their oceanography degree program is the study and application of biology, chemistry, geology, meteorology, physics, and math. Knowledge of each of these is essential toward a better understanding of marine ecosystem dynamics, geophysical fluid dynamics, sea floor geology and more. Students may choose to concentrate in one of five unique sub-fields: biological oceanography, chemical oceanography, coastal zone management, marine environmental science and physical oceanography. Another program is available on the west coast at the University of Washington’s School of Oceanography. They offer a Bachelor of Science in Oceanography and an Oceanography Bachelor of Arts.  The B. A. diverges from the B. S. during the senior year, with additional flexibility that allows students to tailor their course of study to their individual interest in other areas of the sciences or humanities.

Salary: $60,038 (PayScale)
Job Outlook: +9%

26. Land Surveying

Surveying or land surveying is the technique, profession, and science of accurately determining the terrestrial or three-dimensional position of points and the distances and angles between them, commonly practiced by surveyors, and members of various engineering professions.  He/she is responsible for accurately measuring (surveying) land in order to plot out exact locations and distance between points. A surveyor must accurately indicate land elevations, property lines, land contour for development, to divide land, or many other purposes. Land surveyors must be licensed in the state in which they will be conducting business. Each state implements its own regulations regarding the licensure of surveyors. Some states require a degree from an accredited university, while other states only require surveyor license applicants to take an assessment determining their knowledge on the subject.

Entry level positions may be obtained with an Associate in Applied Science two year degree. Many community colleges offer programs at this level in Land Surveying and Mapping Technology. Beyond the associate’s degree, there are on-campus, hybrid, and online bachelor’s degrees in land surveying. At this level, there will be more emphasis on physics, mapping, cartography, and photogammetry , among others.  Due to the field work training, a fully online undergraduate program is limited. The hybrid programs provide a combination of online learning and in-field study. One example of an on-campus program is the four-year  Bachelor of Science degree in Surveying and Geomatics Sciences offered by Troy University. The curriculum has been endorsed by the Alabama Society of Professional Land Surveyors.

Salary: $59,390 with Bachelor’s degree
Job Outlook: -2 %

27. Agriculture Business

The agriculture business is a broad field that involves management, economics, agricultural law, finance, accounting, and marketing. All of which are covered in courses offered at Colorado State University online in their Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Business. CSU’s online agricultural business degree is one of the only programs available that trains you in all of these areas, giving you a skill set that neither an economics degree nor agricultural science degree alone could offer. Offered through the College of Agricultural Sciences — an academic entity that has thrived since the University’s founding in 1870. This 120 credit minimum program delves into the aforementioned topics, as well as Water Law, International Trade, Statistics, Horticulture, Food Science, Soil and Crop Science and more.

Not all jobs in agriculture business will whisk you away from the office, but some will, such as Farm Real Estate Appraisal, Farm Management, Agricultural Transportation, and Ranching. One specialty that may not keep you planted at a desk is the economic aspect of agriculture. Agricultural economists are experts in the way that food markets work. They are involved primarily in the financial aspects of agriculture, filling positions in government, non-profit organizations and businesses as brokers, market analysts, economists and business representatives. An individual can start in one of these jobs with an Associate of Applied Science in Agribusiness which is a 2-year degree program. An Associate of Applied Science will provide an overview of agricultural topics, and courses generally are transferable to bachelor’s degree programs.

(Learn more about how much you can make with a degree in digital marketing.)

Salary: $58,610
Job Outlook: +9%

28. Athletic Training

Athletic training is a career that is sought by high schools to colleges, professional sports organizations, physicians’ offices, private business and even performing arts companies. They are highly qualified, multi-skilled health care professionals who collaborate with physicians to provide preventative services, emergency care, clinical diagnosis, therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions. Currently, 48 states and the District of Columbia require ATs to hold the Board of Certification credential of “Athletic Trainer Certified” (ATC). To become a certified athletic trainer, a student must graduate with bachelors or master’s degree from an accredited professional athletic training education program and pass a comprehensive test administered by the Board of Certification (BOC).

The education for this career begins by choosing a college offering a bachelor’s degree in athletic training such as the one offered at West Virginia University’s College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences. The undergraduate athletic training curriculum provides a solid background in anatomy and physiology as well as orthopedic assessment, rehabilitation, and biomechanics. Being a hands-on learning experience, online programs are not available. But there are online programs at the master’s level, for example, Fresno Pacific University’s program is designed for certified athletic trainers. At the graduate level, you’ll apply knowledge and theories to athletic training rehabilitation techniques, administration and leadership abilities, plus didactic and clinical teaching skills.

Salary: $45,630
Job Outlook: +21%

29. Viticulture

Viticulturists are experts in the scientific study of grapes and their production for wine and other foods and beverages. Those grapes feeding the wine industry is thriving business. In 2016, wine sales were $60 billion with $40 billion coming from the U.S. alone. Viticulturists often work for vineyards and wine producers; they may also use their education and experience to become lab technicians or research scientists. They help implement practices that produce optimal quality and productivity for grape growing operations, including everything from planting to harvest, pest and disease control and identifying grape characteristics for winemaking. A science related to viticulture is enology: the study of wines from the chemical and biology aspect. Usually, their main job is to run a laboratory and do analysis on the wine/juice.

Most people are familiar with the marriage of Napa Valley and wine, so what better place to learn than Napa Valley College. Based on a core of viticulture and wine-making classes, the program offers a variety of options for careers in the industry. Students learn to apply viticulture and winemaking theory for decision-making in actual production situations. This state-of-the-art program and facilities include classroom, laboratory buildings, vineyards, and a teaching winery. You can complete the 2-3 year Associate of Science degree in Viticulture and Winery Technology by specializing in Viticulture, Winemaking, or Wine Marketing and Sales. From here you can proceed to a four-year school, for example the University of Oregon. They offer a top ranked program in vine physiology, enology, and various areas of viticulture and enology disciplines. The school’s Wine Research Institute has an Enology and Viticulture Option deals with the disciplines of biology, chemistry, and physics.

Salary: $35k-$100k+
Job Outlook: Unknown

30. Public Safety

A career in public safety can engage the public services of fire, police and medical. We will look at the medical aspect, particularly those who respond to emergency medical situations–emergency medical personnel. There are distinct certifications provided by the National Registry of Emergency Technicians (NREMT). The Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) have the knowledge and skills necessary to provide immediate lifesaving interventions while awaiting additional EMS resources to arrive. The next tier of EMS personnel are the EMTs who provide out of hospital emergency medical care and transportation for critical and emergent patients. Then come the Advanced Emergency Medical Technicians who provide basic and limited advanced emergency medical care and transportation for critical and emergent patients. The fourth level are the Paramedics who possess the complex knowledge and skills necessary to provide patient care and transportation. Before Certification for Paramedics by the NRMET, they must have completed a Commission on Accreditation of Allied Education Programs (CAAHEP) accredited Paramedic (NRP) program (or a program that has a CAAHEP “Letter of Review”) within the past two years .

A degree in not mandatory to be an EMT. The basic training at a community college takes about 6 months. In contrast, a paramedic typically enrolls in a 2 year program that may require college-level biology, math and English. Arkansas Tech University is one example that provides paramedic training for individuals who wish to gain National Registry of EMT’s Certification as a Paramedic. Through collaboration between Arkansas Tech-Ozark Campus and Arkansas Tech-Russellville Campus, a stackable degree path has been approved. This allows students who have earned an Associate of Applied Science in Paramedic/Emergency Medical Services a clear path to complete a Bachelor of Science in Emergency Management. Another program is offered at Central Washington University-they provide a four-year Bachelor Degree in Paramedicine for those interested in more advanced clinical practice abilities in EMS.

Salary: $32,670 (non-degree)
Job Outlook: +24%

For Further Reading:

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