Many high paying careers involving nature or wildlife actually are done in a laboratory or similar research setting. These occupations usually work to understand, maintain, reproduce or improve environmental factors related to natural environments. However, there are a few jobs that allow an up close and personal relationship with the great outdoors while still paying an average salary of more than $60,000 per year.
Biochemists and Biophysicists
Biochemists and biophysicists primarily research physical and chemical properties of biological processes and living things. Some entry-level positions are available for applicants with a bachelor's or master's degree, but a Ph.D. is mandatory for advancement into independent research and development.The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports these occupations earn a median annual salary of $89,470 per year as of 2012.
Conservation Scientists and Foresters
Conservation scientists and foresters are responsible for maintaining land quality in parks, range lands, forests and other natural settings. A bachelor's degree qualifies an applicant for an entry-level position, although employers often seek candidates with a degree specifically accredited by the Society of American Foresters. As of May 2012, these occupations earned an average income of $63,590 per year, according to the BLS.
Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists
Zoologists and wildlife biologists study the habitats and characteristics of wildlife and other animals. Entry-level openings require a bachelor's degree, and a master's is usually necessary for advancement. Some experts obtain a Ph.D. and compose independent research or teach in college settings. The BLS reports zoologists and wildlife biologists earn $62,500 on average each year. Veterinarians in zoos can earn even more, bringing in a median of $77,713 per year treating animals.
Marine biologists can earn high salaries depending on their specialization. For example, Jennifer Hooper, a marine biologist and deputy director at the Association of Village Council Presidents in Alaska, earns between $40,000 and $60,000 annually. With a master's degree in the field, Kim Damon-Randall, a fisheries biologist and supervisor for a National Marine Fisheries Service division in Massachusetts, brings in over $125,000 each year.