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15 Jobs that won’t tie you to a desk

Do you cringe at the thought of spending each and every workday glued to a desk? If so, you’re not alone. Many people would prefer to have a job that allows them to be active and move from one place to another.

Physical therapist working with patient

In his new book 50 Best Jobs for Your Personality, Third Edition, occupational expert Laurence Shatkin, Ph.D., provides a list of the best jobs not behind a desk. He says, “It’s worth noting that the average activity rating for the jobs on this list is only 67 on a scale of 0 to 100. Several jobs on the list are rated in the high 50s. We live in an information-based economy, with much of the growth in Dilbert-type settings, so any list of the best jobs includes many options that are not highly active. Nevertheless, a list such as the following can help you avoid the most sedentary choices.”

Here are 15 of the best jobs not behind a desk featured in 50 Best Jobs for Your Personality, plus information Shatkin provides about each job .


Physical Therapist

  • Annual Earnings: $76,310
  • Percent Growth: 30.3 percent
  • Annual Openings: 7,860
  • Job Activities: Assess, plan, organize and participate in rehabilitative programs that improve mobility, relieve pain, increase strength and decrease or prevent deformity of patients suffering from disease or injury.


  • Annual Earnings: $82,040
  • Percent Growth: 33.0 percent
  • Annual Openings: 3,020
  • Job Activities: Diagnose and treat diseases and dysfunctions of animals. May engage in a particular function, such as research and development, consultation, administration, technical writing, sale or production of commercial products, or rendering of technical services to commercial firms or other organizations.

Supervisor of Construction and Extraction Workers

  • Annual Earnings: $58,680
  • Percent Growth: 15.4 percent
  • Annual Openings: 24,220
  • Job Activities: Directly supervise and coordinate activities of construction and extraction workers.

Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanic and Installer

  • Annual Earnings: $42,530
  • Percent Growth: 28.1 percent
  • Annual Openings: 13,620
  • Job Activities: Install, service and repair heating and air conditioning systems in residences and commercial establishments.

Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurse

  • Annual Earnings: $40,380
  • Percent Growth: 20.6 percent
  • Annual Openings: 39,130
  • Job Activities: Care for ill, injured, convalescent or disabled persons in hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, private homes, group homes and similar institutions. May work under the supervision of a registered nurse.

Physical Therapist Assistant

  • Annual Earnings: $49,690
  • Percent Growth: 33.3 percent
  • Annual Openings: 3,050
  • Job Activities: Assist physical therapists in providing physical therapy treatments and procedures. May, in accordance with state laws, assist in the development of treatment plans, carry out routine functions, document the progress of treatment and modify specific treatments in accordance with patient status within the scope of treatment plans established by physical therapists.


  • Annual Earnings: $45,250
  • Percent Growth: 18.5 percent
  • Annual Openings: 15,280
  • Job Activities: Control and suppress municipal fires and fires in forests and vacant public land. Protect life and property and conduct rescue efforts.

Respiratory Therapist

  • Annual Earnings: $54,280
  • Percent Growth: 20.9 percent
  • Annual Openings: 4,140
  • Job Activities: Assess, treat and care for patients with breathing disorders. Assume primary responsibility for all respiratory care modalities, including the supervision of respiratory therapy technicians. Initiate and conduct therapeutic procedures; maintain patient records; and select, assemble, check and operate equipment.

Plumber, Pipefitter, and Steamfitter

  • Annual Earnings: $46,660
  • Percent Growth: 15.3 percent
  • Annual Openings: 17,550
  • Job Activities: Assemble, install and repair pipes, fittings and fixtures of heating, water and drainage systems, according to specifications and plumbing codes.

Education Teacher

  • Annual Earnings: $36,340
  • Percent Growth: 32.0 percent
  • Annual Openings: 12,030
  • Job Activities: Teach or instruct courses other than those that normally lead to an occupational objective or degree. Courses may include self-improvement, nonvocational and nonacademic subjects. Teaching may or may not take place in a traditional educational institution.

Pharmacy Technician

  • Annual Earnings: $28,400
  • Percent Growth: 30.6 percent
  • Annual Openings: 18,200
  • Job Activities: Prepare medications under the direction of a pharmacist. May measure, mix, count out, label and record amounts and dosages of medications.

Radiation Therapist

  • Annual Earnings: $74,980
  • Percent Growth: 27.1 percent
  • Annual Openings: 690
  • Job Activities: Provide radiation therapy to patients as prescribed by radiologists according to established practices and standards. Duties may include reviewing prescriptions and diagnoses; acting as liaisons with physicians and supportive care personnel; preparing equipment such as immobilization, treatment and protection devices; and maintaining records, reports and files. May assist in dosimetry procedures and tumor localization.


  • Annual Earnings: $48,250
  • Percent Growth: 11.9 percent
  • Annual Openings: 25,090
  • Job Activities: Install, maintain and repair electrical wiring, equipment and fixtures. Ensure that work is in accordance with relevant codes. May install or service street lights, intercom systems or electrical control systems.


  • Annual Earnings: $67,200
  • Percent Growth: 19.5 percent
  • Annual Openings: 1,820
  • Job Activities: Adjust spinal column and other articulations of the body to correct abnormalities believed to be caused by interference with the nervous system. Examine patients to determine the nature and extent of disorders. Manipulate spines or other involved areas. May utilize supplementary measures such as exercise, rest, water, light, heat and nutritional therapy.

Construction Laborer

  • Annual Earnings: $29,280
  • Percent Growth: 20.5 percent
  • Annual Openings: 33,940
  • Job Activities: Perform tasks involving physical labor at building, highway and heavy construction projects; tunnel and shaft excavations; and demolition sites. May operate hand and power tools of all types: air hammers, earth tampers, cement mixers, small mechanical hoists, surveying and measure equipment and various other types of equipment and instruments. May clean and prepare sites; dig trenches; set braces to support the sides of excavations; erect scaffolding; clean up rubble and debris; and remove asbestos, lead and other hazardous waste materials.

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