18 high-paying non-desk jobs

Money

Hundreds of non-desk jobs continue to grow and thrive, according to a new analysis of labor market data from CareerBuilder.

When you think about the average job, you probably picture sitting at a desk typing away at a computer all day. But spending 40-plus hours a week in a cubicle isn't everyone’s idea of a perfect work environment. Luckily, there are many careers across a variety of industries that have you up on your feet, going from one location to the next and meeting new people every day.

Jobs like this may provide real mental and physical benefits—CareerBuilder research found that workers in non-desk jobs are two times less likely to complain about their work environment and significantly less likely to report being overweight.

And best of all, these jobs don't just offer great environments and a slimmer waistline—they can offer bigger paychecks. Some non-desk jobs pay $20 per hour or more on average and are projected to grow by at least 5 percent from 2019-2024. They include:

1. Wind turbine service technicians generally work outdoors, often at great heights and with a partner. They may also climb ladders – sometimes more than 260 feet tall – or work in confined spaces inside the turbine to reach mechanical equipment.*

  • Median hourly earnings: $22.20
  • Projected growth (2019-2024): 31 percent
  • Typical entry level education: Postsecondary non-degree award

2. Physical therapist assistants are frequently on their feet and moving as they set up equipment and help and treat patients. Because they must often lift and move patients, they are vulnerable to back injuries. Assistants and aides can limit these risks by using proper techniques when they assist patients.

  • Median hourly earnings: $27.61
  • Projected growth (2019-2024): 14 percent
  • Typical entry level education: Associate degree

3. Occupational therapy assistants spend much of their time on their feet while setting up equipment and, in the case of assistants, providing therapy to patients. Constant kneeling and stooping are part of the job, as is the occasional need to lift patients.

  • Median hourly earnings: $28.51
  • Projected growth (2019-2024): 13 percent
  • Typical entry level education: Associate degree

4. Rotary drill operators set up or operate a variety of drills to remove underground oil and gas, or remove core samples for testing during oil and gas exploration.

  • Median hourly earnings: $26.00
  • Projected growth (2019-2024): 11 percent
  • Typical entry level education: No formal educational requirements

5. Dental hygienists clean teeth, examine patients for signs of oral diseases such as gingivitis, and provide other preventive dental care. They also educate patients on ways to improve and maintain good oral health.

  • Median hourly earnings: $35.78
  • Projected growth (2019-2024): 10 percent
  • Typical entry level education: Associate degree

6. Cartographers and photogrammetrists spend much of their time in offices; certain jobs require extensive fieldwork to collect data and verify results.

  • Median hourly earnings: $30.41
  • Projected growth (2019-2024): 8 percent
  • Typical entry level education: Bachelor’s degree

7. Elevator installers and repairers have a physically demanding job. They sit or stand for extensive periods, lift items that can weigh 50–200 pounds, work in cramped quarters inside crawl spaces and machine rooms, and may be exposed to heights in elevator shafts.

  • Median hourly earnings: $38.21
  • Projected growth (2019-2024): 8 percent
  • Typical entry level education: High school diploma or equivalent

8. Electrical power-line installers must be comfortable working at great heights and in confined spaces. Despite the help of bucket trucks, all line workers must be able to climb utility poles and transmission towers and balance while working on them.

  • Median hourly earnings: $33.19
  • Projected growth (2019-2024): 8 percent
  • Typical entry level education: High school diploma or equivalent

9. Security and fire alarm systems installers install, program, maintain, and repair security and fire alarm wiring and equipment. Ensure that work is in accordance with relevant codes.

  • Median hourly earnings: $21.48
  • Projected growth (2019-2024): 8 percent
  • Typical entry level education: High school diploma or equivalent

10. Chefs and head cooks work in restaurants, hotels, private households, and other food service establishments. They usually stand for long periods and work in a fast-paced environment.

  • Median hourly earnings: $20.64
  • Projected growth (2019-2024): 7 percent
  • Typical entry level education: High school diploma or equivalent

11. Flight attendants work primarily in the cabin of passenger aircraft, dealing directly with passengers and standing for long periods. Flight attendants spend many nights away from home and often sleep in hotels or apartments shared by a group of flight attendants.

  • Median hourly earnings: $24.28
  • Projected growth (2019-2024): 7 percent
  • Typical entry level education: High school diploma or equivalent

12. Millwrights perform repairs that include replacing worn or defective parts of machines. They also may be involved in taking apart the entire machine, a common situation when a manufacturing plant needs to clear floor space for new machinery.

  • Median hourly earnings: $25.95
  • Projected growth (2019-2024): 6 percent
  • Typical entry level education: High school diploma or equivalent

13. Boilermakers perform physically demanding work in cramped spaces inside boilers, vats, or tanks that are often dark, damp, noisy and poorly ventilated. They frequently work outdoors in all types of weather, including extreme heat and cold.

  • Median hourly earnings: $29.93
  • Projected growth (2019-2024): 6 percent
  • Typical entry level education: High school diploma or equivalent

14. Hydrologists study how water moves across and through the Earth’s crust. They work in offices and in the field. In offices, they use computers to analyze data and model their findings. In the field, they may have to wade into lakes and streams to collect samples or to read and inspect monitoring equipment.

  • Median hourly earnings: $38.50
  • Projected growth (2019-2024): 6 percent
  • Typical entry level education: High school diploma or equivalent

15. Surveying and mapping technicians work outside extensively and can be exposed to all types of weather. They often stand for long periods, walk considerable distances, and may have to climb hills with heavy packs of surveying instruments. Traveling is sometimes part of the job, and surveying technicians may commute long distances, stay away from home overnight, or temporarily relocate near a survey site.

  • Median hourly earnings: $21.55
  • Projected growth (2019-2024): 5 percent
  • Typical entry level education: High school diploma or equivalent

16. Construction and building inspectors spend most of their time inspecting worksites; they also spend time in a field office reviewing blueprints, writing reports and scheduling inspections. Some inspectors may have to climb ladders or crawl in tight spaces to complete their inspections.

  • Median hourly earnings: $28.04
  • Projected growth (2019-2024): 5 percent
  • Typical entry level education: High school diploma or equivalent

17. Athletic trainers specialize in preventing, diagnosing and treating muscle and bone injuries and illnesses. They work with people of all ages and all skill levels, from young children to soldiers and professional athletes, and are usually one of the first health care providers on the scene when injuries occur on the field.

  • Median hourly earnings: $22.92
  • Projected growth (2019-2024): 5 percent
  • Typical entry level education: Associate degree

18. Aerospace engineering and operations technicians work in manufacturing or industrial plants, laboratories and offices. Those who work in manufacturing or industrial plants are frequently directly involved in assembling aircraft, missiles and spacecraft.

  • Median hourly earnings: $32.38
  • Projected growth (2019-2024): 5 percent
  • Typical entry level education: Associate degree


*Occupation descriptions from BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook. Earnings, education and projected growth from Emsi.