5 STEM jobs for outdoor types

27 Sep 2022


Think STEM careers are all in the lab or behind a computer? Think again.

STEM careers aren’t all white coats in the lab. If you’re an outdoor type, we’ve got the perfect STEM jobs for you.

The beauty of STEM is that it isn’t just for one type of person - it’s for everyone.”
Nav Phokela

We know that STEM careers aren’t just for one type of person. If you’re studying Maths, Chemistry or Physics and loving it, but aren’t keen to be stuck inside, there are still plenty of career options for you. Let’s take a look at 5 of the best STEM jobs for those that prefer to be right among the action.


 As the saying goes, “geology rocks!” The study of Earth’s material composition – that is, what our planet is made of – takes in everything from the effects of climate change on rocks and minerals to physical changes to our planet over billions of years, and analysis of resources such as water, petrol and gas. There’s a huge field of important work to be done by geologists and, best of all, plenty of it is outdoors.

While geologists will, of course, need to spend time in the laboratory analysing samples or using a computer to run simulations, it’s a career that demands interaction with our natural world. Across the wide range of geology careers, expect hands-on tasks like:

  • Landscape surveying
  • Resource exploration and extraction
  • Collecting rock, mineral or fossil samples
  • Exploring and mapping geological formations

 Some careers that fall under the banner of geology include:

  • Geochemist/Mineralogist/Petrologist
  • Hydrogeologist
  • Palaeontologist
  • Engineering geologist

What to study:

Undergraduates are generally able to study geology as a major stream in a Bachelor of Science, although some institutions like the University of New England offer a more specific Bachelor of Geoscience.


The field of ecology turns an eye to our natural environments and the life that exists within  them. Ecologists seek to understand the complex relationships between animals, plants, fungi and other forms of life. The goals are as varied as you might expect, and include climate-induced natural changes, the relationships between human and non-human life, the progression of invasive species, conservation and much more.

It’s a broad field, but to truly understand any aspect of the life within our natural world, ecologists must be active in the field. Tasks will depend on an ecologist’s specific career stream, but can include:

  • Sample collection
  • Restoration projects
  • Habitat analysis
  • Observation

Ecology careers include: 

  • Marine ecologist
  • Land management consultant
  • Plant ecologist
  • Ecosystem ecologist

What to study:

Bachelor of Science students can follow major streams into ecology, including agricultural science, marine biology, plant science and zoology. There are also some specific degrees at undergraduate level too, like the Bachelor of Animal Ecology at University of the Sunshine Coast.

Agricultural scientist

There is a complex relationship between humans, animals and the natural environment, and agricultural science looks deeply at that relationship through the lens of production. Food production, livestock management and farming are all key elements studied by agricultural scientists, who will definitely have to get their hands dirty to explore this world.

Some tasks you might expect in an agricultural science career include:

  • Collect samples of produce, feed and soil
  • Work with farmers on production techniques
  • Analyse agricultural effects on the environment
  • Study and identify crop and livestock diseases

Agricultural science careers to consider: 

  • Agronomist
  • Food production
  • Biotechnology
  • Livestock science

What to study:

As always, agricultural science tends to be found as a major stream in a Bachelor of Science degree, but it can also be studied specifically at institutions like La Trobe University, which offers a Bachelor of Agricultural Science (Honours).

 Nature photography

The beauty of STEM is that it isn’t just for one type of person – it’s for everyone. This career falls under a few categories, combining an outdoor STEM career with creative skills. Nature photographers are multitalented, requiring an intricate knowledge of the natural environment, such as ecosystems, weather patterns and animal behaviour, as well as the technical skill of photography. It can be a rewarding career both as an entertainer (as anyone who has ever read National Geographic will attest) and a pure scientist, getting the chance to document elements of the natural world that, in some cases, have never been seen before.

A nature photographer would be expected to have at skill set that includes:

  • Photography
  • Ecology
  • Biology
  • Meteorology
  • Geology

What to study:

 A good photographer – whether their subject is nature or not – needs a solid grounding in the technical aspects of photography. There are many courses to study for these skills, often starting at TAFE level, like the Certificate IV in Photography and Photo Imaging at the Chisholm Institute. Combine this with any specific stream of natural science and you have the makings of a successful nature photographer.


 Students of history based on what has been left behind, archaeologists literally dig into the past to make their discoveries. By their nature, archaeologists will find themselves in the field, excavating in order to uncover pieces of human history that have been long buried. Archaeologists look at a huge spectrum of history, from the earliest evidence of human civilization to relatively recent examples. Archaeologists, besides simply digging for history, attempt to contextualise it, figuring out what we can learn from the past that might help us improve the future.

Some typical tasks in the day of an archaeologist might include:

  • Surveying
  • Excavating
  • Processing and analysing findings
  • Working with institutions to understand and display findings

There are also some subcategories of archaeology to consider, such as:

  • Bioarchaeology
  • Zooarchaeology
  • Paleoethnobotany
  • Lithics

 What to study:

It is certainly possible to study an archaeology degree at undergraduate level, and a popular example is the Bachelor of Archaeology at Macquarie University.

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