12 Summer Jobs for Retirees Who Love the Outdoors

The perfect summer gigs for outdoor enthusiasts in their golden years.
Updated April 11, 2024
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For many retirees, summer is synonymous with sandy beaches and splashing waves. But that may not be how you want to spend your golden years.

In fact, you might use the warm embrace of summer to get to work in the great outdoors.

There is no shortage of fulfilling, warm-weather jobs for retirees. Whether it involves the simple pleasure of the sun on your back or exploring pristine landscapes, outdoor roles offer a chance to boost your bank account while staying connected to nature.

These 12 summer jobs are tailor-made for outdoorsy retirees.

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Conservation work

Chudakov/Adobe Wildlife biologist taking water sample

The Great American Outdoors Act was signed into law in 2020 and marked a huge investment in the conservation of public lands. 

It also resulted in a lot of jobs that can be found through the nonprofit New Solutions, a federal partner that works with government agencies to fill positions for workers who are 55 or older.

Conservation jobs include engineering work, regulation compliance, project management, and safety officer roles.

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Dog walker

highwaystarz/Adobe professional dog walker exercising dogs in park

Dog walking offers an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, stay active, and experience the joy of canine companionship, regardless of whether you own a dog.

You can choose the number of dogs you walk and decide whether to pursue the job as a full-time or part-time endeavor. It is a rewarding role that combines exercise, fresh air, and the company of furry friends.


Snapic.PhotoProduct/Adobe uber driver smiling while driving passenger to destination

Sure, you can drive for Lyft or Uber. But other opportunities abound, such as driving for special events like proms and weddings. Limousine drivers may need a chauffeur license or may be required to undergo a background check.

Alternatively, consider package delivery positions for Instacart or Amazon, which will keep you on the go and get you into the elements.

Fitness or yoga instructor

Delcio/peopleimages.com/Adobe fitness coach with arms crossed

If you enjoy combining the outdoors with teaching and staying active, it is hard to beat working as a fitness or yoga instructor.

You can work one-on-one as a personal instructor or lead group exercises. Schedule workouts in a neighborhood park, out by a pool, or at the beach if you want to get outside.


Joshua Resnick/Adobe gardener looking at golden beets

If you consider yourself a “green thumb,” there are many options for outdoor summer work.

Garden centers — including local nurseries and home improvement giants such as Home Depot and Lowe’s — often need extra help caring for plants in the summer months.

If you want to go above and beyond with your plant love, you can earn a master gardener certificate, which local universities typically offer.

Golf jobs

.shock/Adobe golf instructions

There's no shortage of older Americans who enjoy spending their time on the links. So, if you liked getting golf before you retired, there's no reason for that to change during your golden years — and you can make money at the same time.

Golf courses have a lot of employment opportunities. Rangers, starters, and ball pickup machine drivers are all options. Sites such as GolfJobs.com are good resources to check.


AntonioDiaz/Adobe handyman fixing door knob

If you're considered the “handy” person in the family or neighborhood, chances are you'll be called upon to assist in any number of outdoor projects. And that is a good thing.

You can actually get licensed and certified as a professional handyperson and turn that talent into a paycheck. Look for professional handyperson associations in your area.

Pro tip: Taking on part-time work or developing a side hustle is especially helpful if you decide to retire early but don’t want to tap your retirement nest egg until later in your golden years.

National park positions

Marcelo/Adobe national park worker cleaning lake

National parks are among America’s greatest resources. They also provide an excellent way for retirees to make money while enjoying nature.

The National Park Service says about one-third of its workforce is over 50, so you'll be in good company.

Positions are as varied as the parks themselves. Guides, teachers, and service workers are all needed.

Check USAJobs.gov, the government’s job board. Or, find more help through the National Park Service’s Experienced Services Program, designed specifically for Americans 55 and older.

You can also seek out third parties the government hires to handle food, lodging, and tours.

Park ranger

Preston/Adobe Sequoia National Park - Ranger

Rangers have their unique place in the hierarchy of national park employment. While many jobs with the National Park Service don't require a degree, rangers need to have at least a bachelor’s or a combination of education and experience.

Some rangers primarily serve as ambassadors to the public. Others are law enforcement officers.


ikostudio/Adobe young woman wearing denim jacket posing with vintage camera outdoor

The cost of entry for becoming a photographer can be a little steep since the required gear is pricey. However, a good photographer with the right equipment can call the shots if the work is up to par.

The options are vast and varied when it comes to outdoor photography. There are, of course, graduations and weddings. But there are also gigs such as covering high school sports for the local paper or nature photography.


Kuzmaphoto/Adobe American football referee

If you love sports but don't feel like taking to the field yourself, becoming a referee can be an excellent employment option.

Plenty of private companies seek sports experts to ensure games are competitive, fair, and safe.

Don't discount finding seasonal work with school districts, either. Some reports suggest school districts are struggling to find youth sports referees.

Tour guide

dennisvdwater/Adobe tourist looking out over the Isalo national park

Leading tours is a fantastic way to get fresh air and break free from 9-to-5 office work. If you're an adventurer who appreciates culture and heritage, you can turn that passion into outdoor employment.

Being a tour guide has the benefit of not only putting you in beautiful surroundings but also allowing you to share your knowledge. With any luck, it will hardly feel like work at all.

Bottom line

Siphosethu Fanti/peopleimages.com/Adobe black man driving and enjoying career

Retirees can embrace summer by finding fulfilling outdoor jobs. Some of these jobs — such as dog walker and fitness instructor — can be turned into lucrative side hustles that help you earn extra money year-round.

In other cases, you might simply want a temporary job, such as a national park position that gets you outside while the weather is warm.

Whatever your ultimate goals, numerous opportunities are available to help you enjoy your golden years in the great outdoors.

Author Details

Will Vitka Will Vitka is a D.C. area reporter and writer. He previously worked for WTOP, The New York Post, Stuff Magazine, and CBS News.

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