The summer season brings to mind longer days, warmer temperatures — and the perfect opportunity to work outside. GOBankingRates compiled a list of the best summer jobs where you can earn a solid paycheck without having to sit behind a desk. Some of these are perfect summer jobs for college students and graduates, whereas others don’t require a high school diploma, so anyone can apply.
There are good summer jobs in many different industries, but one industry, in particular, claims the top three positions with the highest compensation. Click through to see which job took the No. 1 spot.
31. Amusement and Recreation Attendants
- Median wage: $10.70 per hour
Working at an amusement park or recreational area may be one of the most exciting summer jobs for students. Whether you’re operating a Ferris wheel, serving up hot dogs or renting out kayaks, you’ll be outside and working with people who are (mostly) having fun. Typically, this job has no degree requirements, so even high school students can apply. California, Florida and Texas have the greatest number of positions for amusement and recreation attendants.
- Median wage: $10.77 per hour
If you’re an avid swimmer with a sharp eye, you can pursue a summer job as a lifeguard. Beaches, lakes and pools all need staff to ensure that swimmers remain safe as they cool off from the heat. Many employers require a high school diploma as well as lifeguard training and certification. California, Texas and New York are the top three states that employ lifeguards.
29. Nonfarm Animal Caretakers
- Median wage: $11.42 per hour
Taking care of animals is a great outdoor job for the summer, especially if you love creatures of all shapes and sizes. You might work at a kennel, animal shelter, zoo or aquarium, and you would be charged with feeding, watering, exercising and grooming the animals under your care. This job may require a high school diploma or equivalent specialized training.
28. Farmworkers and Laborers — Crop, Nursery and Greenhouse
- Median wage: $11.69 per hour
Farmworkers and laborers are needed to work in crop fields, nurseries and greenhouses during the summer growing and harvesting season. In this active job, you would plant, cultivate and harvest fruits, vegetables and other field crops. A high school diploma is not required for this job, which makes it ideal for nature lovers of all ages and educational backgrounds. The top states that employ farmworkers and laborers are California, Washington and Florida.
27. Agricultural Graders and Sorters
- Median wage: $11.75 per hour
Before harvested fruits, vegetables and other agricultural products go to market, they must be sorted — and often graded — according to their size or quality. Seasonal workers are needed in this industry, particularly in California, Texas, Georgia and other agricultural states. There is no educational requirement for this type of job.
26. Farmworkers — Farm, Ranch and Aquacultural Animals
- Median wage: $12.77 per hour
These workers attend to cattle, sheep, goats, horses, poultry, fish and bees that are bred for animal products. In this job, you may feed and water animals, herd them from one grazing area to another, examine them for diseases, maintain records and clean their housing areas. No high school diploma is required. Texas, California and Kentucky are the states that employ the most farmworkers in this field.
25. Tour and Travel Guides
- Median wage: $12.77 per hour
If your summer plans usually include visiting new places, you might want to consider becoming a tour and travel guide. You would plan, organize and conduct sightseeing trips or expeditions, either locally or long distance. The top three states that employ tour and travel guides are California, Florida and New York. Most employers require a high school diploma for this job.
24. Forest and Conservation Workers
- Median wage: $13.20 per hour
Forest and conservation workers typically perform their duties under the direction of a forester or a conservation technician, and they work to measure and improve the quality of forests — the perfect summer job for environmentalists. Keep in mind that a high school diploma is usually required, and you will also receive on-the-job training. The top three states that employ forest and conservation workers are California, South Dakota and Washington.
23. Landscaping and Groundskeeping Workers
- Median wage: $13.94 per hour
Landscaping and groundskeeping is an active job that pays well — and, depending on the position, you may be able to cultivate your creative side. These workers mow lawns, lay sod, trim bushes, water and fertilize lawns and grounds. They may also install sprinkler systems. There’s no degree requirement to become a landscaping or groundskeeping worker. California, Florida and Texas are the top three states for employment.
22. Roofers' Helpers
- Median wage: $14.61 per hour
As long as you’re not afraid of heights, serving as a roofer’s helper can be a great outdoor summer job. You’ll assist the roofer by holding tools, equipment, supplies and cleaning the workspace. You don’t have to possess a high school diploma to become a roofer’s helper. The three states with the largest number of roofers’ helpers are Florida, Texas and California.
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21. Carpenters' Helpers
- Median wage: $14.85 per hour
If you enjoy building things but don’t have a lot of experience doing it, serving as a carpenter’s helper can be a great summer job. You’ll provide supplies, hold tools and materials. They also help maintain a clean and safe workspace. High school students are qualified for this job since there’s no requirement for a diploma. The states that employ the most carpenters’ helpers are Florida, Texas and California.
20. Agricultural Equipment Operator
- Median wage: $14.99 per hour
Agricultural equipment operators drive farm equipment like combines, tillers, balers and so forth. They may also operate stationary equipment like threshers or ginners. This could be a fun summer job if you’re interested in farm work and various machinery, and best of all, you don’t need a high school diploma to be an agricultural equipment operator. The three states that employ the most workers are California, Texas and Iowa.
19. Electricians’ Helpers
- Median wage: $15.10 per hour
Being an electrician is a skilled trade, but you can become an electrician’s helper with a high school diploma or equivalent experience — and you might be able to parlay this summer job into an eventual career. These workers assist electricians by holding tools and materials and keeping the work area safe and clean. Texas, Florida and North Carolina are the three states that employ the highest number of electricians’ helpers.
18. Masons' Helpers
- Median wage: $16.05 per hour
These workers assist brickmasons, blockmasons, stonemasons, and tile and marble setters. They hold tools, provide materials and maintain a clean and safe workspace. If you like being challenged, you’re in luck — this physically demanding job requires you to lift heavy materials. California, Texas and Florida employ the largest number of masons’ helpers, and you don’t need a degree for this summer job.
17. Fence Erectors
- Median wage: $16.73 per hour
Workers who build and repair fences and gates using hand or power tools can enjoy the warm summer weather while they complete their tasks. A high school diploma is not required to become a fence erector, so this is a job that’s suitable for people of all educational backgrounds. You’ll find the greatest number of these jobs in California, Texas and Florida.
16. Pesticide Handlers, Sprayers and Applicators
- Median wage: $16.98 per hour
These workers keep plants, trees, lawns and shrubs in good shape by mixing and applying pesticides, insecticides, herbicides and fungicides. You don’t need a high school diploma, but the job usually requires special training and a state or federal certification. Florida, California and Illinois are the three states that employ the most pesticide handlers, sprayers and applicators.
15. Pest Control Workers
- Median wage: $17.12 per hour
Pest control workers use chemical and mechanical means to eradicate unwanted insects, rodents and other pests from buildings. A high school diploma is required, and most states also ask for a license. You can usually expect on-the-job training for pest control workers. The three states with the highest number of pest control workers are Florida, California and Texas.
14. Construction Laborers
- Median wage: $17.21 per hour
If you’re looking for an active job, being a construction laborer will let you work outdoors and stay in shape at the same time. Laborers help construction workers with tasks like moving materials, getting tools and supplies, holding materials in place and so on. There’s no minimum educational requirement, but on-the-job training is often provided and the construction-related skills you’ll learn might come in handy. Texas, California and Florida are the states that employ the most construction laborers.
13. Extraction Workers' Helpers
- Median wage: $17.48 per hour
These workers help earth drillers, derrick operators, blasters and mining machine operators by supplying equipment, tools and materials. You don’t need a high school diploma for this job, and on-the-job training may be provided. Texas, California and Pennsylvania employ the highest number of extraction workers’ helpers.
12. Animal Breeders
- Median wage: $17.82 per hour
Animal breeders select and breed animals according to their genealogy and characteristics — which means you’ll get to work with adorable baby animals. This job requires a high school diploma and may also ask for training or education in artificial insemination techniques and equipment. The largest numbers of animal breeders are found in Wisconsin, California and Iowa.
11. Oil and Gas Roustabouts
- Median wage: $18.07 per hour
This job has a fun-sounding name — as well as a solid hourly wage. Roustabouts use hand and power tools to assemble and repair equipment in oil fields or gas exploration areas. There’s no requirement for a high school diploma, so anyone can apply for this summer job. Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico employ the highest number of roustabouts.
10. Tree Trimmers and Pruners
- Median wage: $18.36 per hour
Tree trimmers and pruners use hand and power tools to clear tree limbs and branches from roadways, sidewalks and utility lines. They also trim dead branches to improve the trees’ health. If you loved climbing trees as a child, this might be a fun summer job for you — these trimmers and pruners work outside on the ground or in a truck-mounted lift. A high school diploma isn’t required, and you’ll find the most opportunities in California, Texas and Pennsylvania.
9. Log Graders and Scalers
- Median wage: $18.38 per hour
Log graders and scalers inspect logs to determine their grade and marketability. They work outside in sorting yards, millponds or log decks, and may also measure logs to determine their volume. A high school diploma or equivalent experience is required. The three states that employ the greatest number of log graders and scalers are Washington, Arkansas and Georgia.
8. Paving, Surfacing and Tamping Equipment Operators
- Median wage: $19.13 per hour
This high-paying summer job consists of operating equipment that tamps gravel or dirt, applies concrete, asphalt, or other materials to roads, parking lots, airport runways and other surfaces. A high school diploma is required for this job. The three states with the highest numbers of paving, surfacing and tamping equipment operators are Texas, California and Florida.
7. Logging Equipment Operators
- Median wage: $19.48 per hour
Logging equipment operators drive logging tractors or wheeled vehicles that have a bulldozer blade, grapple, crane boom or other accessories. They use these vehicles to skid, stack, or load and unload logs. They also pull stumps and clear brush. You need a high school diploma or equivalent experience to become a logging equipment operator, and the three states that employ the highest numbers of workers are Alabama, Oregon and Georgia.
6. Solar Photovoltaic Installers
- Median wage: $20.52 per hour
If you’re looking for an outdoor job that pays well and supports sustainable energy, you might consider being a solar photovoltaic installer — though you’ll need at least a high school diploma or equivalent experience. These workers assemble, install and maintain solar panel systems on rooftops. California, New York and New Jersey employ the highest numbers of solar photovoltaic installers.
- Median wage: $21.19 per hour
In case you didn’t know, fallers are workers who use chainsaws or axes to fell trees. This well-paying outdoor job requires a high school diploma as well as some on-the-job training to learn proper techniques — after all, you’ll want to avoid damage to healthy trees and control the direction of the fall. Oregon, Tennessee and California employ the most fallers.
4. Earth Drillers
- Median wage: $21.36 per hour
These workers operate rotary, churn and pneumatic drills to remove core samples for soil testing or mineral exploration and tap subsurface water and salt deposits. They may also use explosives, which might seem exciting to prospective workers. Earth drillers work in mining or construction but not in oil or gas exploration. A high school diploma or equivalent experience is required, and Texas, California and Florida employ the largest numbers of earth drillers.
3. Oil and Gas Derrick Operators
- Median wage: $22.17 per hour
Derrick operators work outside on oil rigs to rig derrick equipment and operate pumps that circulate mud through the drill hole. There is no minimum educational requirement for this high-paying job — and it’s one of the best summer positions you can apply for. The three states that employ the largest numbers of derrick operators are Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma.
2. Oil, Gas and Mining Service Unit Operators
- Median wage: $23.01 per hour
These outdoor workers operate equipment that helps increase the flow of oil from producing wells or remove obstructions from drilling wells. Luckily, you don’t need a high school diploma to qualify for this high-paying job. Texas, Oklahoma and California employ the highest numbers of oil, gas and mining service unit operators.
1. Oil and Gas Rotary Drill Operators
- Median wage: $25.86 per hour
The top-paying outdoor summer job is an oil and gas rotary drill operator. These workers set up and operate various types of drills to remove underground gas or oil. They draw these samples for testing. There’s no minimum education requirement for this job. If you want to spend your summer in a state that employs a lot of oil and gas rotary drill operators, head for Texas, Oklahoma or California.
This Industry Offers the Highest-Paying Summer Jobs
If you work in the oil and gas industry for the summer season, you might be able to earn more than $20 per hour and enjoy the outdoors at the same time. But while oil and gas companies claim the top three highest-paying summer jobs, there are plenty of other options for those who don’t find that industry convenient or appealing. Whether you want to work with people, animals, machinery or something else, there’s a well-paying outdoor job for you this summer.
Click through to discover side jobs that don’t require a desk or screen.
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Methodology: GOBankingRates compiled a list of 31 summer jobs for people who love the outdoors by using the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May 2018 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, as well as the BLS’ Occupational Outlook Handbook to find outdoor jobs that require a high school diploma, equivalent experience or less. GOBankingRates then took the median hourly wage for each occupation and ranked them by the highest median hourly wage.
About the Author
Karen Doyle is a personal finance writer with over 20 years’ experience writing about investments, money management and financial planning. Her work has appeared on numerous news and finance
websites including GOBankingRates, Yahoo! Finance, MSN, USA Today, CNBC, Equifax.com, and more.