The Best Jobs Outside the Office

Can't imagine spending the majority of your life in an office? Luckily your don't have to. Here are a few jobs that are in high demand, that pay well, and most importantly don't take place in a cubicle.

by Andrew RanzingerLast updated: 12/17/2020

1. Commercial Pilot

Let’s face it, flying is really cool, and commercial pilots don’t just fly for the airlines we’re all familiar with. They fly tour helicopters, private planes, and cargo planes. 

You might be flying to move people, move stuff, fight fires, take photographs, or spray pesticides. Whatever the specifics, you’ll be getting paid good money to fly big machines through the air.

Becoming a pilot requires dedication, and can be costly. You’ll need to get a four-year degree, preferably with an emphasis in aviation.

After graduation, you’ll need to enroll in an accredited flight school, where you’ll train for 14-18 months. Following that, you’ll need to earn a total of three different licenses along with thousands of hours of flight experience before you can apply to work as a pilot for an airline. 

As an alternative, you may also consider joining the military. Not only will that pay for your education, but the private sector loves pilots that have a military background because of the quality of training and experience you’ll get. The flipside, of course, is that you have to sign a multi-year contract with the military.

As a pilot, you’ll be spending a considerable amount of time away from home, but it’s a career that can be glamorous, exciting, and rewarding. Your earning potential increases substantially as you gain experience as well.

Learn more:

2. Carpenter

Carpenters are skilled craftsmen who wood for a living. If you love the idea of being creative, playing with cool power tools, and designing beautiful things out of wood, this could be a great career.

There are all different kinds of carpenters, which are generally divided into rough carpentry or finish carpentry. Rough carpenters work outdoors on construction projects, doing things like framing houses or building scaffolding.

Finish carpenters make cabinets, furniture, instruments, decorations, and any other fine pieces of work out of wood. Within finish carpentry, there are all kinds of specializations—for example, scenic carpenters work in the film industry building movie sets.

To become a carpenter, you’ll need a high school diploma (no college required) and be in good physical shape. You’ll then need to find and complete a three- to four-year apprenticeship that combines technical training with on-the-job training.

If you like working with wood, carpentry can be a rewarding career, where you have the immense pleasure of being truly creative every day you come into work. Not only that, but it’s a job that is in high demand and is unlikely to get automated.

Learn more:

3. Solar Installer

A solar installer, also called a PV (photo-voltaic) installer, is someone who installs, maintains, and repairs solar panels. They assess locations for installation, make sure the panels fit and function properly, and that the equipment meets building codes.

Most of the work is outdoors and requires workers to be high off the ground, so if you’re scared of heights, this might not be the career for you.

Most states do not require solar installers to be licensed, and you only need a high school diploma, so the most important part of becoming a solar installer getting experience through on-the-job training. You can get experience working with solar panel installation companies, with other electricians, or by working for solar panel manufacturers.

This job will see significant growth over the next decade as demand for renewable energy grows.

Learn more:

4. Personal Trainer

Want to work out for a living? Consider being a personal trainer. Personal trainers work in one-on-one situations with clients who want to improve their physical fitness. 

They design exercise programs to help clients achieve their goals, then work out beside them, providing instruction on correct form, encouragement, and accountability.

To become a personal trainer, you’ll first need to be in great shape and have experience with different training methods. Next, you’ll need to get certified through an accredited certification agency.

A bachelor’s degree in a relevant field like biology or kinesthesiology is not required, but can be very helpful.

Personal training can be a challenging job. Whether you work in a commercial gym or your own studio, you also have to proactively sell your services.

Nobody hands you clients, and income can be unstable since it depends entirely on how many clients you have and how often they train with you.

Not only that, but most clients will want to train either early in the morning or after work in the evening, so those will be the times when you’re working the most. 

When done correctly, however, personal training can be very rewarding. Successful trainers have flexible schedules, make good money, and spend their time building relationships with people and helping them achieve their goals.

Learn more:

5. Wind Turbine Service Tech

Have you ever driven past a field of wind turbines and wondered what happens when they stop spinning? Wind turbine service technicians install, repair, and maintain wind turbines. 

If you’re mechanically inclined and not scared of heights, being a wind turbine service tech is another job that doesn’t require you to be in an office. You’ll travel to different wind turbine sites, fixing broken turbines, inspecting others, and helping install new ones.

Wind turbine technicians don’t require a college degree. The most common path to becoming a wind tech is through a two-year program at a technical school or community college.

Like solar installers, wind turbine service technician is a career that is expected to experience a lot of growth due to rising demand for turbines and a shortage of qualified applicants.

Learn more:

6. Park Ranger

Park rangers are a combination of a law enforcement officer, environmental expert, and historian. Their job is to keep the plants, animals, and people who visit parks all safe, and to help people appreciate the cultural and natural beauty there.

Depending on the role, they may focus more on enforcing park rules and regulations, or they may spend the better part of their day assisting visitors, giving group tours, and presenting visitor programs

To become a park ranger, you’ll first need to get a degree in a relevant major such as environmental science or wildlife and forestry management. While you’re in school, you’ll want to get seasonal park ranger jobs and volunteer as much as possible. 

Once you graduate, the connections you’ve made and resume you’ve built should help you land your first park ranger job. As a ranger, you can work for a city (municipal park), state (state park), or the federal government through the National Park Service.

Park rangers don’t make a lot of money, but if you value a simple life lived outdoors in potentially some of the most beautiful places in the country, being a park ranger could be a great career choice.

Learn more:

7. Tattoo Artist

Do you want to be an artist that uses the human body as your canvas? If you’re good at drawing, have a free spirit, and like tattoos, you could consider becoming a tattoo artist

The most important part of becoming a tattoo artist is continually improving your drawing skills. The more styles and mediums you’re comfortable with, the better of a tattoo artist you’ll be. 

If you can draw well, you’ll need to finish high school or get a GED (no college required), although some tattoo artists take art classes or get an art degree or certificate to improve their technique. Business classes can be helpful as well for when you start working as a licensed artist.

As you draw, you’ll want to start building a portfolio that showcases your best work. You’ll use that portfolio to try and get an apprenticeship with an established tattoo artist, which will last for 6-12 months. 

These internships are generally unpaid, so you’ll likely need to work another job during this period. During the internship, you’ll do a lot of drawing, and may be allowed to practice tattooing yourself.

After you’ve completed the required number of apprenticeship hours, you’ll submit an application to become a licensed tattoo artist in the state you live in. Once you have a license, you’ll need to purchase your own tattoo equipment, then begin looking for jobs.

Work hard, network with other tattoo artists, and after 3-5 years of experience, you can consider opening your own shop.

Tattoo artists typically charge by the tattoo, but what they make works out to a very high hourly wage of around $100/hour. When you start out you won’t be able to charge that much, and you won’t have a lot of clients.

As you gain experience and clients, however, your earnings will grow. Talented tattoo artists are often booked months or even years in advance, and can set their own prices.

Learn more:

8. Veterinarian

If you love working with animals and are interested in healthcare, being a veterinarian can be a rewarding and interesting career that most definitely doesn’t leave you stuck in a cubicle.

Veterinarians are animal doctors, with everything that entails–conducting checkups, care for wounds and injuries, diagnosing chronic conditions, administering vaccinations, and prescribing medication.

Like human doctors, veterinarians can specialize in different areas, such as surgery. There are vets who take care of companion animals, but also vets who work in labs, as food and safety inspectors, or as disease researchers.

Being a veterinarian doesn't just mean petting dogs all day though. There are some tough parts of the job as well. You’ll have to deal with unruly animals and negligent owners, you’ll have to see animals in a lot of pain, and when it’s required, you’ll also have to put animals down.

You’ll deal with poo, pee, and puke. Like other healthcare professions, being a vet takes a strong stomach. 

To become a veterinarian, you’ll need a four-year degree with good grades (3.5 GPA or better) to get accepted to veterinary school. Vet school is another four years where you’ll earn your Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. 

After vet school, you’ll take the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam to become a licensed vet. You might decide to pursue further specialization (such as surgery), or you may decide to start working as a general practitioner. 

Veterinarian is a career with a great outlook, expected to grow much faster than other jobs over the next 10 years.

Learn more:

9. Building Contractor

Building contractors plan, oversee, and are ultimately responsible for the success of a construction project. 

Constructing a new building is a complex process that involves a lot of different specialists—you need cement pourers, framers, carpenters, masons, electricians, plumbers, roofers, and the list goes on.

Since it would be nearly impossible for someone without construction expertise to manage all this, they hire one person—the general contractor (GC)—to do it for them. 

Owners pay the general contractor, and the general contractor then uses that money to buy the necessary materials and hire everyone else. GCs have an in-depth knowledge of the people and process they’ll need to bring the architect’s plans to life. 

General contractors may build residential homes, or they may oversee large commercial construction projects such as office buildings and businesses. 

You can become a general contractor after you accumulate a lot of work experience as a carpenter, plumber, mason, or electrician working for other GCs yourself.

Having an in-depth knowledge of one of the trades will give you credibility. It will also allow you to learn how buildings get built from start to finish.

A relevant bachelor’s degree such as construction management is not required, but may help you get better jobs. Depending on what state or area you live in, you might have to get a license. Finally, you can decide to get certified, which is voluntary but may help lend you credibility.

Successful general contractors are hard-working, organized, and able to handle high levels of complexity. They also need very good people skills—they have to manage dozens or even hundreds of other workers, none of whom work for them directly.

How much you’ll make as a GC depends on experience level, where you live, and whether you work for yourself or a larger construction management company.

Learn more:

10. Elevator Mechanic

Chances are you’ve stood in an elevator before and wondered what would happen if a cable snapped on the way to the 15th floor. 

Elevator mechanics are the people who make sure you don’t have to worry about that. They do exactly what their name suggests—maintain and repair elevators. 

Becoming an elevator mechanic requires 4-year paid apprenticeship, so you’re making money while you’re learning instead of potentially racking up debt. 

Like many other trades, it involves an important but often overlooked (and therefore understaffed) function in society. As a result, elevator mechanics make good money, especially considering they don’t need a college degree.

Learn more: