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How to Find Physically Active Jobs That Pay Well

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You’re not interested in sitting at a desk for eight hours pushing paper from one side to the other. The thought of being stuck behind a desk where the highlight of your day is sneaking out for your favorite latte makes you cringe.

Luckily, there are dozens of active jobs that pay well. These jobs range from non-desk jobs for lawyers to outdoor jobs and physically active jobs. The one thing they all have in common is they aren’t jobs that require you to sit at a desk for 40 hours each week.

Where are the High-Paying, Non Desk Jobs?

Non-desk jobs that pay well are everywhere. According to a CareerBuilder article, a job analysis found about 170 non-desk jobs that don’t require a four-year degree. These jobs are in every industry from green energy occupations to maintenance jobs. The following are just a few non-desk jobs that pay well in a variety of different fields.

A job analysis found about 170 non-desk jobs that don't require a four-year degree.

Non-desk Jobs for Those in Healthcare

The healthcare industry is rapidly changing because the baby boomer population is growing older. What does this mean for the employment industry? It means healthcare careers are also rapidly changing. Gone are the days where the majority of the healthcare jobs require advanced degrees. The great news is people with a passion for non-desk, high-paying healthcare jobs have options – many options.

1. Vocational or Practical Nurse

Sometimes patients are lost in the shuffle of doctors determining the type of care received and registered nurses making sure they’re well. A career in LVN/LPN allows you to put the focus back where it belongs, on patients. You do more than care for disabled, injured, or recovering patients. You provide the basic care they need.

For example, you monitor patients’ health by checking blood pressure. You administer important care patients need like wound care and inserting catheters. You provide vital comfort for patients, such as helping them dress or bathe. Probably most important to patients, you listen to their concerns and discuss their care with them and their families.

As a LVN/LPN, you also work with other healthcare professionals. You report the patients’ health status and concerns to registered nurses and doctors. You create and maintain patient records, too. This job requires a Vocational/Practical Nurse Diploma.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the median wage of vocational or practical nurses is $46,240 per year, $22.23 per hour. The industry is expected to have 78,100 new positions by 2028, up 11 percent from the 2018 figure of approximately 728,900 active positions.

2. Dental Hygienist

A dental hygienist examines and cleans teeth for patients. As a hygienist, you’re responsible for looking at a patients’ teeth for signs of oral disease and providing other preventative dental care. You’re also responsible for educating patients on how to keep their teeth strong, clean, and healthy. You work in a dentist office, which doesn’t require sitting at a desk. You need an associate’s degree to become a dental hygienist.

The BLS reports that the median wage of dental hygienists is $74,820 per year, $35.97 per hour. The industry is expected to have 23,700 new positions by 2028, up 11 percent from the 2018 figure of approximately 219,800 active positions.

3. Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

Do sonograms intrigue you? Do you like the thought of helping surgeons and physicians diagnose medical conditions? As a diagnostic medical sonographer, you specialize in creating images of a person’s organs and tissues.

You’re probably familiar with sonograms because they’re also referred to as ultrasounds. They’re generally the first images a surgeon or physician requests when trying to determine a medical condition. In fact, working as a sonographer allows you to work closely with medical staff before, during, or after any procedures. Also, you work with patients. For example, you help them stay calm during procedures and answer their questions about the ultrasounds.

Becoming a diagnostic medical sonographer allows you to focus on a specific medical area such as:

  • Female reproductive system: An obstetric and gynecologic sonographer takes images of the female reproductive system. Often a sonographer produces images needed to determine if the baby is growing and healthy.
  • Abdomen: An abdominal sonographer specializes in taking images of a patient’s abdominal area and organs including liver, kidney, pancreas, spleen, or gallbladder.
  • Musculoskeletal area: A musculoskeletal sonographer takes images of a patient’s joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and muscles. They also help with taking ultrasounds to inject medicine directly into a specific area.
  • Breast: A breast sonographer’s duty is to produce images of a patient’s breast tissue. These images may confirm a tumor or cyst is present.
  • Brain and spine: Neurosonographers specialize in taking images of the spinal cord and brain. These images help detect birth defects or premature births.

You can become a diagnostic medical sonographer by obtaining an AAS or certificate in sonography.

The BLS reports that the median wage of diagnostic medical sonographers is $67,080 per year, $32.25 per hour. The industry is expected to have 18,000 new positions by 2028, up 14 percent from the 2018 figure of approximately 130,700 active positions.

Miscellaneous Physically Active Jobs

You found your career passion, and it doesn’t involve a traditional desk or non-desk job. Unlike an attorney, accountant or healthcare professional, there’s no specific plan of action to take. That won’t stop you. You’re going to follow the road less traveled, and that is pursuing one of the many miscellaneous active careers. In fact, many of the miscellaneous physically active jobs only require some kind of certificate, Diploma or licensure in addition to a high school Diploma or GED.

1. Personal Fitness Trainer

Healthcare doesn’t always focus on healing the sick or injured. Instead, some miscellaneous healthcare jobs involve helping people meet personal health goals. Fitness trainers instruct, motivate, and lead clients in exercise activities. You may lead a class in group fitness exercises or assist a single client in losing weight. You do this by understanding your clients health needs, goals, physical strengths, and weaknesses. You take that information and develop specialized exercise programs to help them meet their fitness goals. For example, you may design an exercise regimen for a client who wants to lose weight, but has a limited physical movements.

Fitness trainers instruct motivate and lead clients in exercise activities.

You show clients the form and techniques to correctly perform the exercises.

You not only instruct; you also measure their performance. You’re responsible for providing feedback on their progress. To become successful, you need strong motivation, customer service, and problem-solving skills. This job requires a Personal Trainer Diploma.

The BLS reports that the median wage of fitness trainers is $39,820 per year, $19.15 per hour. The industry is expected to have 45,700 new positions by 2028, up 13 percent from the 2018 figure of approximately 356,900 active positions.

2. Hairstylist

Styling hair goes beyond giving someone a great hairstyle. It’s about taking care of their soul, mind, body, and perception of self. Hairstylists work in a salon or barbershop. If you have an eye for natural style and beauty, you’re creative and love styling hair, this might be a career for you.

Becoming a hairstylist is one of the physically active jobs where no college degree is required. Instead, you earn a cosmetology certificate of proficiency. You take courses in how to style hair, use equipment, and sterilize it. After earning your cosmetology certificate, you’ll have to pass a state board examination.

The BLS reports that the median wage of hairstylists is $24,830 per year, $11.94 per hour. The industry is expected to have 63,900 new positions by 2028, up 8 percent from the 2018 figure of approximately 766,100 active positions.

3. Massage Therapist

You like taking care of people and promoting good health, but you don’t want a job directly in the healthcare industry. If this is the case, a job in massage therapy may be the only non-traditional healthcare job you’ll ever want to do. You treat your patients by massaging the soft tissues in their body in order to:

  • Reduce stress
  • Assist in pain recovery
  • Assist in rehabilitating sports injuries
  • Promote good health
  • Ease overworked or tired muscles

As a massage therapist, you also determine the best course of treatment by talking with clients about:

  • Medical history
  • Desired results
  • Symptoms

A Diploma in massage therapy takes about one year to complete.

The BLS reports that the median wage of massage therapists is $41,420 per year, $19.92 per hour. The industry is expected to have 35,400 new positions by 2028, up 22 percent from the 2018 figure of approximately 159,800 active positions.

High-paying Outdoor Jobs

You love the outdoors and the thought of being completely away from a desk thrills you. Becoming an environmentalist, firefighter, marine biologist, or forest ranger are not the only high-paying outdoor jobs available. Here are some non-office jobs you might envision yourself doing:

1. Travel Guide

Do you want to guide a wilderness expedition? Have you dreamed about taking a group to the Half Dome in Yosemite Park? Or maybe you’re interested in guiding people to different countries – or your own country. Tourist guides are needed in every city or major venue. Some guides work in a particular location, like a museum. Other guides lead tours around a city, perhaps on a historical bus tour or haunted house tour.

To become a tour guide, you need to know about the history, hidden places, and culture of a city, country, or area. You have to know how to relate to people and make them feel comfortable. You also must know how to resolve issues ranging from finding misplaced luggage to medical care.

To become a tour guide you need to know about the history hidden places and culture of a city country or area.

Education requirements vary depending on what type of tour guide you want to become.

The BLS reports that the median wage of travel guides is $28,100 per year, $13.51 per hour.

2. Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers

Do people depend on you to repair equipment? Do you like traveling to different worksites? Are you interested in ventilation, heating, cooling, and refrigeration systems? You may want to think about joining one of the fastest growing industries right now. As a HVACR, you are responsible for repairing, installing, and replacing components in HVAC systems.

Part of your job involves providing regular and seasonal maintenance such as cleaning ducts and replacing filters. You may check refrigerant levels. You have the option of specializing in certain areas of HVACR equipment like solar panels, commercial refrigeration, and water-based heating systems.

It takes about one year to earn an AAS and learn what’s needed to work on commercial and residential heating, ventilations, and air conditioning systems.

The BLS reports that the median wage of heating, AC, and refrigeration mechanics and installers is $47,610 per year, $22.89 per hour. The industry is expected to have 46,300 new positions by 2028, up 13 percent from the 2018 figure of approximately 367,900 active positions.

3. Locksmith

When someone is locked out of his or her home or vehicle, do you want to be the one called? A locksmith is someone who installs, repairs, and adjusts locks. In other words, when a driver is locked out of his car, home or office, you’re the one he depends on to make everything OK. The locks may be a key card entry, electronic system, or a traditional lock and key. In addition to opening and installing locks, you’re also responsible for repairing and installing safes.

Being a locksmith isn’t a desk job for sure. You travel around to different worksites. You’re responsible for communicating with supervisors, providing customers with service receipts and giving written reports.

Most locksmiths are self-employed.

The BLS reports that the median wage of locksmiths is $43,740 per year, $21.03 per hour.

4. Construction Supervisor

A construction supervisor or manager is responsible for the financial side of construction projects.

A construction supervisor, or manager, is responsible for the financial side of construction projects. As a manger, you will budget, plan, supervise, and coordinate each project. Some mangers choose to work from a main office, but that’s not a requirement. You can complete your work at the construction sites. This allows you to monitor the project first-hand and make decisions or changes to the construction project.

Your specific job tasks depend on the needs of your employer and scope of the construction project. You’re also responsible for:

  • Hiring and firing employees
  • Supervising workers
  • Performing inspections at the worksite
  • Scheduling each construction phase
  • Executing the designs provided by project engineers and architects

Becoming a project manager requires a basic understanding of construction fundamentals. Strong communication and management skills are also needed to become a successful construction manager. This non-desk job requires at least an AAS in Construction Management degree. The degree can prepare you for other physically active jobs like:

  • Drywall installer
  • Farmer
  • Construction laborer
  • Tile worker
  • Building inspector

The BLS reports that the median wage of construction supervisors is $93,370 per year, $44.89 per hour. The industry is expected to have 46,200 new positions by 2028, up 10 percent from the 2018 figure of approximately 471,800 active positions.

Non-desk Jobs for Lawyers

You love the law. You spent three extra years in college just to learn the law, but you yearn for something more, but without leaving your law degree completely behind. You want total freedom from a desk job – and still earn a high salary. You have options.

1. Mediator or Alternative Dispute Resolution

Working as a mediator or ADR is closely related to the legal profession. Before you groan, consider the freedom:

  • You meet in a conference or meeting room instead of an office desk.
  • You can work part-time and still make a high salary.
  • You can use your law degree.
  • You can leave the long hours of legal research to someone else.
  • There will be no long days in court or conferences.
  • There is no negotiating with other attorneys.
  • Plenty of on-the-job training is available.

A mediator decides the outcome of situations without having to run a messy political campaign or beg for votes.

The BLS reports that the median wage of mediators is $62,270 per year, $29.94 per hour. The industry is expected to have 600 new positions by 2028, up 8 percent from the 2018 figure of approximately 7,700 active positions.

2. Postsecondary Teacher

Postsecondary teaching involves working at a private, public, community, or vocational school. You spend the majority of your time instructing students in the classroom. The type of courses you teach depends on your subject area expertise. Maybe you’re interested in teaching tort, criminal justice, or contract law. Maybe you have a diverse background and prefer not to solely focus on law, but another closely related area.

Postsecondary teaching gives you a flexible schedule and variety. You may choose to teach one course throughout your teaching career, or diversify courses. Outside the classroom, you advise students and do administrative and research tasks. Since you already have a degree, no additional education is required.

The BLS reports that the median wage of postsecondary teachers is $78,470 per year. The industry is expected to have 155,000 new positions by 2028, up 11 percent from the 2018 figure of approximately 1,350,700 active positions.

Take the Next Step

When you think about high-paying jobs, it’s time to envision yourself in an active career like you always wanted. You’re ready to take the next step, remember that you have access to non-desk jobs that pay well. These jobs may require a lot or a little education. They include jobs that allow you to not only work with the public, but help them too. There are many programs offered by Vista College that provide the opportunity for a physically active career. Contact Vista College today for a free, no obligation consultation from one of our career education counseling experts.

Not sure if a desk job is right for you?

We put together an infographic outlining the pros and cons of a traditional desk job. Read through it to see the different aspects of a traditional job and how it compares to some of the physically active careers we profiled.

What Can You Do With an AS or AAS Degree? Find the Job That Matches Your Skill Set

There are various kinds of well-paying careers that you can land without a bachelor’s degree. There are many programs offered by Vista College that provide the opportunity for a physically active career. Contact Vista College today for a free, no obligation consultation from one of our career education counseling experts.

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