Fast Tracks To Adventure

Why spend Monday to Friday behind a desk when you could be getting paid to do what you love best? Here are our favorite adventure jobs, and top academic programs that will prepare you.

Sep 1, 2003
Outside Magazine

Underwater Archaeologist
Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL (850-644-2525,
To embark on this enviable career exploring shipwrecks on the seafloor, Florida State's program in underwater archaeology—the only undergraduate program of its kind—requires students to be certified divers. Fieldwork includes looking for the HMS Fox, a ship lost off Florida's St. George Island in 1799.

Environmental Activist
Duke University, Durham, NC (919-684-8111,
The Nicolas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, ranked one of the country's top environmental colleges, isn't just for lobbyists and policy wonks. In the field, students also study natural habitats, including marine environments, forests, and fisheries.

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI (734-764-1817,
No other profession involves more outdoor work, and this geology program—consistently ranked in the nation's top ten—includes a summer hiking and studying the northern Rockies near Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Park Ranger
Slippery Rock University, Slippery Rock, PA (800-778-9111,
Study emergency medicine, search and rescue, firefighting, and criminal law at one of only two four-year programs in the United States (Northern Arizona University is the other) and you may soon be calling Yosemite "the office."

Environmental Architect
University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA (510-642-6000,
Berkeley leads the field in teaching students how to design intelligent buildings that blend harmoniously with the surrounding ecosystem, using gray water, superefficient cooling systems, and passive solar heat.

SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, NY (315-470-6500,
Learn forest management and its economic, political, and aesthetic impacts. You'll also have the opportunity to study overseas, analyzing watershed-management programs in Nepal or reforestation efforts in Mongolia.

Adventure Filmmaker
University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA (213-740-2311,
After you're schooled in building suspense, constructing narrative, and operating a boom kit at this prestigious film school (since 1965, at least one USC graduate has been nominated for an Academy Award each year), you can chase Dean Potter up the Nose, camera in hand.

Adventure Entrepreneur
Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA (215-898-5000,
Hit B-school! This program—styled after a small-business workshop, complete with focus groups—will help you decide whether to start a rafting company in the Amazon or a trekking outfit in Asia, and teach you how to market your idea and find funding. Undergrads can earn a minor in entrepreneurial management.

Gear Inventor/Designer
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA (617-253-1000,
A materials-science degree from the country's top engineering school will open doors. Study fluid dynamics to build the ultimate rodeo kayak, or master the elasticity of solids for creating an ultralight shockless mountain bike.

Fitness Coach
University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM (505-277-0111,
This program in the exercise science department delves into the effects of elevation on VO2 max and why elliptical training improves conditioning, while encouraging students to become ultrafit themselves. —CRISTINA OPDAHL