12 careers in exploration (with duties and salaries)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 13 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A sense of adventure is a trait many people look for in a career. Some people have a burning desire to go on adventures and learn about the world. If you have a strong drive to learn new things and explore the globe physically or intellectually, you may want to choose a career that allows you to do so. In this article, we outline 12 different careers in exploration, in addition to their average salaries and key duties.

What are careers in exploration?

Exploration is the process of learning more about the world and the people who inhabit it. Sometimes, professionals explore using physical means, such as hunting for fresh water in a natural park or an amateur wildlife photographer taking a photo of a rare bird species. When a historian unearths an old document in an archive or an investigator utilises evidence to piece together a case, they're engaging in intellectual exploration.

There are a wide variety of jobs in exploration that demand an assortment of abilities and certifications. Some of these careers require extensive travel while others need employees to stay in one spot and conduct in-depth research. Despite these differences, they have the same aspirations, including learning more, finding answers to issues and discovering new things.

Careers in exploration

The following are some of the most common careers in exploration:

1. Archaeologist

National average salary: £26,212 per year

Primary duties: An archaeologist uses their expertise and experience to protect historical artefacts, unearth historical data and learn more about history. They may work for museums, non-profits or even educational establishments. It's common for archaeologists to spend most of their time working with artefacts and analysing historical documents. It's possible for archaeologists who work at educational institutions to also teach courses in history or languages.

2. Astronomer

National average salary: £31,595 per year

Primary duties: Astronomers undertake experiments to test theories and learn more about the properties of matter and other forms of energy. An astronomer's duties typically include planning, developing and conducting observational experiments. They may also analyse data from telescopes, radios and satellites.

3. Tour guide

National average salary: £13,525 per year

Primary duties: Tour guides lead visitors to a city or nation to view local attractions, eat local food and participate in cultural events. Some tour guides work in their home country, sharing their culture with visitors, while others work abroad, leading tours in their first language. Different types of tour guides, such as museum and adventure guides, can provide distinct exploration opportunities.

Related: A step-by-step guide on how to become a tour manager

4. Pilot

National average salary: £35,037 per year

Primary duties: Pilots are in charge of flying planes that transport passengers and cargo from one area to another. They could work for a commercial airline, a government organisation or a military department. They might also work as a freelance pilot or conduct tours in the skies. While some commercial pilots fly the same routes for most of their careers, other pilots' destinations may vary. Military pilots, for example, may undergo missions all around the world.

Related: How to become a pilot in 4 steps (plus how much it costs)

5. Criminal investigator

National average salary: £33,339 per year

Primary duties: To solve cases, criminal detectives gather evidence and employ critical thinking. A police force or military criminal investigative office may employ them. Criminal investigators collect witness testimony and forensic evidence in the field, which may require local or national travel. To assess evidence and create criminal cases, they collaborate closely with lab technicians and other professionals.

Related: Comprehensive guide to starting a criminal justice career

6. Historian

National average salary: £42,069 per year

Primary duties: Historians are academics who research and write about the past, frequently uncovering new facts or challenging common conceptions of historical events. As with other social science topics, historian-based positions are divided into several categories to accommodate the diverse areas and elements of history. Historians usually concentrate on specific periods or topics of history, such as ancient history or military history.

Historians may try to figure out how something has evolved or developed over time by connecting key events that lead to the present. Many historians work for historical groups, governmental organisations or universities, while also writing books and instructing students. Some historians may travel to the sites of significant historical events to read primary texts and conduct research, depending on their field of study.

Related: How to become a historian (plus different specialisations)

7. Geologist

National average salary: £26,329 per year

Primary duties: Geologists conduct research to gain a better understanding of the composition and evolution of Earth's crustal rocks and minerals. They may work for a government organisation, a non-profit research organisation or a private company that may require them to travel throughout the world to perform field research. Some scientists in the field of geology advise governments and corporations on industrial methods for maintaining geological formations, while others estimate earthquake and tsunami effects so that governments can be ready for these natural calamities.

8. Geographer

National average salary: £35,648 per year

Primary duties: Geographers study geographical features and connect new information to current maps and global positioning data. Experts in architecture and engineering may work for public or private organisations to advise on the design and construction of new facilities and other industrial endeavours. In contrast to physical geographers, human geographers study population density trends and other metrics to better understand the relationship between people and the land.

Related: What can you do with a geography degree? (With salary info)

9. Environmental scientist

National average salary: £31,058 per year

Primary duties: An environmental scientist is a highly educated professional with a bachelor's degree or above. The impact of human activities on the Earth's ecosystems and climate is a major focus of their research. Investigating solutions to mitigate the negative effects of human activity, such as water pollution and deforestation, can also be part of an environmental scientist's job description.

Environmental scientists operate in various sectors, and their work might take them all over the world. Volcanoes, marine biology, rainforests and the ecosystems at the Earth's poles are among the topics they may research. An environmental scientist may focus on investigating and measuring changes in the Earth's ecosystems and climate or as an engineer, pursue solutions to climate concerns.

Related: How to become an environmental scientist

10. Wildlife biologist

National average salary: £37,653 per year

Primary duties: Wildlife biologists perform studies to learn about the great variety of native animal species that exist in a given ecosystem. Many wildlife biologists conduct field research in national parks or other sparsely populated places to study the development and interactions of wild species. They may specialise in dealing with a single species in a particular region, and they frequently study and execute conservation measures in collaboration with other scientists. Wildlife biologists may also collaborate on ways to prevent environmental damage and protect endangered animal habitats.

Related: How to become a wildlife biologist: with definitions and steps

11. Travel photographer

National average salary: £26,154 per year

Primary duties: Photographers who specialise in travel or wildlife photography take photos of unusual sights or rare animals. These photographers are mostly self-employed, selling their work to magazines, websites and other outlets. Wildlife photographers usually take pictures of animals and plants, whereas travel photographers may photograph people, historic buildings and cultural events in addition to the natural world. These photographers may also collaborate with advocacy groups to use their photos to raise awareness of global issues.

Related: How to become a photographer

12. Journalist

National average salary: £25,962 per year

Primary duties: Journalists research current events and write articles and other information to inform audiences. They may work as freelancers or for news organisations. Journalists may travel locally, nationally or globally to gather information for their stories, depending on the news they cover. They spend their time interviewing people and conducting research to respond to queries about criminal investigations, local events and global events.

Salary figures reflect data listed on the quoted websites at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

Explore more articles