Careers That Could Get You Out of The Office


Check out these desk-defying careers that could get you off your seat and on your feet.

By Tony Moton

Tired of being stuck in a cubicle? Dread the sedentary life of office work?

Good news: there are careers out there that can get you out of the office.

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And it's a good thing too - career expert Laurence Shaktin, co-author of the book "175 Best Jobs Not Behind a Desk," points out that working long hours while seated or immobile can be risky business.

"There's a lack of physical fitness in the population," Shatkin says. "It's documented that sitting at a desk all day is not good for your health."

But back to the good news...According to Shatkin, the outlook and earnings for people who like to be physically active are good. "This is particularly true in health care because these jobs have a fair amount of physical activity and they pay well," says Shatkin.

Think a career outside the cube might be for you? Check out the following desk-defying careers.

#1 - Physical Therapist Assistants

This is one of the fastest growing of all occupations due to the need for more services provided by physical therapists. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 37,900 new workers are projected to enter the field between 2008 and 2018.

Defying the desk: Physical therapist assistants work hand-in-hand with physical therapists, getting a real workout by showing patients how to exercise or providing therapeutic treatments like massage.

Education: Look into an associate's degree in physical therapy, which is required by law in most states, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Average earning potential: Physical therapist assistants have an average annual wage of $48,590. The number is higher for workers in home health care, who average at $60,360 a year.*

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#2 - Registered Nurses (RNs)

RNs make up the largest segment of workers in the health care industry. In fact, they currently account for 2.6 million positions and that total is projected to reach 3.2 million by 2018.*

Defying the desk: Prepping patients for exams, checking monitors, pushing wheelchairs - it's all just part of the gig for RNs. And it all involves some kind of physical movement.

Education: If you want to pursue RN opportunities, you have options aplenty. Consider earning a certificate, associate's degree, or bachelor's degree in nursing.

Average earning potential: The average annual compensation for RNs is $63,750, and there could potentially be a lot of room for growth. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, top earners have an average yearly income of $93,700.**

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#3 - Private Detectives and Criminal Investigators

Detectives and criminal investigators do much more than just get the facts. People in this profession could also find themselves doing exciting work like protecting the lives of corporate executives and examining evidence at crime scenes.

Defying the desk: Private investigators used to be called "gumshoes"...perhaps because they're always on their feet. They stay active by conducting field work, observing suspects, and helping with raids and arrests.

Education: Consider earning an associate's degree in criminal justice or a bachelor's degree. Though not required, most detectives and investigators have some college under their belts, according to the Department of Labor.

Average earning potential: Detectives and criminal investigators have an average annual compensation of $65,860. The average jumps to $75,390 for federal investigators.*

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#4 - Chefs and Head Cooks

Creativity and food knowledge are two of the main ingredients you need to pursue chef or head cook opportunities. The most skilled cooks in the kitchen, they often lead their staff by example.

Defying the desk: While chefs might sit at a desk from time to time to do paperwork and order supplies, the bulk of their duties involve preparing meals and supervising cooks in the highly charged kitchen atmosphere.

Education: For formal preparation, consider earning an associate's degree in culinary arts or hospitality.

Earning potential: Chefs and head cooks have strong earning potential. While the average yearly compensation for this profession is $44,240, the top ten percent of chefs and head cooks average at nearly $70,000 a year.*

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#5 - Elementary School Teachers

Teachers provide instruction and guidance to students during their formative years. According to the Department of Labor, the demand for teachers is highest in mathematics, science, and bilingual education.

Defying the desk: Elementary teachers are constantly in motion, providing classroom instruction and supervision on a one-to-one basis. The gig often requires staying mobile and alert...and keeping up with young students.

Education: Set your sights on a bachelor's degree in elementary education to open the door to opportunities on this level. State licensing is required for public schools, but not for most private schools, according to the Department of Labor.

Average earning potential: On a yearly basis, elementary school teachers have an average compensation of $53,150. The top ten percent of teachers in the field average at $78,720 a year.*

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#6 - Massage Therapists

Did you know there are as many as 250 known types of massage and bodywork? According to the Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals, the various hands-on techniques are ever-growing, as is the public's interest in massage as a health remedy.

Defying the desk: Massage therapy is a physically demanding profession that often requires you to provide client services in a wide variety of desk-free settings. Think studios, hospitals, fitness centers, and sports medicine facilities.

Education: Look to enter an accredited massage therapy program, which should cover anatomy, physiology, and massage techniques.

Average earning potential: While yearly earnings can vary considerably because massage therapists generally work part-time, the avearge earning potential is $39,780.*

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*Job growth figures as reported by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, in May 2009.

**Income as reported by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, in May 2009.

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