Unless you’re a scientist (and even then), landing a job with one of the national programs in Antarctica is very difficult. Antarctic workers must submit to a battery of physical and psychological tests – and most important, must possess advanced skills in one or probably several areas. Length of service varies from three to 24 months. Be prepared for long hours: in the US program, for instance, the working week is six 10-hour days – with no overtime pay.
Scientists are usually sent to Antarctica as the result of specific research proposals approved by peer review, but support personnel are selected by the national programs themselves, or, in the case of the US, Antarctica’s largest employer, by a private contractor. National programs usually hire only citizens, or people who have eligibility to live and work in that country. For this reason you should contact your country’s national Antarctic program to inquire about employment:
Antarctica New Zealand (www.antarcticanz.govt.nz)
Australian Antarctic Division (jobs.antarctica.gov.au)
British Antarctic Survey (www.antarctica.ac.uk/employment)
L’Institut polaire français Paul-Emile Victor (www.institut-polaire.fr)
Japanese National Institute of Polar Research (www.nipr.ac.jp)
Raytheon Polar Services Company (rpsc.raytheon.com) Recruits about 600 people a year to work at US Antarctic stations. Proof of US citizenship or permanent residency is required. Candidates must pass stringent physical and dental examinations after receiving an offer of employment. Positions range from chefs and clerks to hairstylists and physicians, but the hot jobs – those for which openings are most often available – are usually in the trades or construction. A five- to 13-month contract is usual.
South African National Antarctic Programme (www.sanap.org.za/opportunities.html)
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If you’ve ever thought about living and working abroad, then why not teach English as a foreign language (TEFL)? It could be the key to funding your travels and experiencing new cultures in a totally new way. You don’t need teaching experience or even the ability to speak the local language – although you might learn it while you’re out there.