11 Summer Jobs that Could Change Your Life

Spend the summer outdoors. Now’s the time to apply.

Imagine spending your summer on an idyllic guest ranch in the old West, or paddling along the tranquil shores of Lake Superior, or riding in a helicopter through the wilds of Alaska. Sound appealing?

Yeah, we thought so.

How about getting paid for it? Even better.

February is peak hiring season for many seasonal employers, so we reached out to the staff of seasonal jobs board Cool Works to share some of their favorite listings. There were almost too many to choose from: “The list kept growing as we talked so we had to try to reign it in,” said Cool Works spokeswoman Courtenay Sprunger. In the end they narrowed it down to 11 unique jobs in scenic locations.

From horse wrangler to gondola operator, the list runs the gamut. Most are entry level and all require a love of the great outdoors.[slideshow:882]

And you don’t have to be a college student to apply, either. Teachers, retirees, those looking for a career change—anyone with the right skills, really—can benefit from an active summer outside.

Take Eileen Spillane of San Francisco for example. Spillane, 45, has been a nurse for 25 years, but decided last year she needed more balance in her life. She applied to work as a guide for the adventure travel company Backroads and spent last summer leading multisport tours through the Tetons and Yellowstone.

“It’s my form of finding balance, and of finding my way to things that make me feel alive,” she said. Spillane now works part time at her nursing job and plans on spending part of this year back on the road, wherever Backroads may send her. (She hopes it’s Alaska.)

Still, there are drawbacks to many seasonal jobs. The pay is usually low; housing, while often provided, is frequently shared; transportation costs to and from the destination aren’t usually covered.

But for the adventurous and able, the perks of spending an entire season in the outdoors can be invigorating and—yes, we'll say it—life-changing.

Still interested?

Read on to see 11 summer jobs that could change your life...