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Would £66k a year entice you to work as a tradesperson in Antarctica?

4-minute read

Lauren Hellicar

30 January 2020

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How far would you go for your trade? Is Antarctica out of the question? You might change your mind when you see these perks...

The start of a new year can make a lot of us think about our career and business plans, and the changes we need to make to earn more or learn new skills. But some changes are certainly more extreme than others.

Read on for details of an exciting trip some tradespeople will be making very soon, and what they had to do to get there.

What’s the setup?

Australia has research stations on Antarctica and they’re in the process of hiring 150 people to fill a range of roles, including carpenters, electricians and plumbers.

The contracts tend to last between four and 15 months. While life on the frozen continent might not be everyone’s cup of tea, there are some great benefits for those helping to keep the research station running for the 2020-21 season. They include:

  • generous pay – plus a special allowance
  • free rent and board
  • meals included and prepared by a chef

What’s the pay?

Workers on the Antarctic base get a special allowance of AUD$60,974 (£31,647) a year. That’s on top of their basic pay of AUD$66,319 (£34,421) – adding up to a pay packet worth more than £66,000 a year for tradespeople.

Basic annual pay levels for other jobs on the base include:

  • IT officer at AUD\$74,469 (£38,651)
  • medical practitioner at AUD\$199,031 (£103,302)
  • aerodrome plant operator at AUD\$66,319 (£34,403)
  • station leader at up to AUD\$135,321 (£70,199)

What’s it like to live and work there?

Amy Chetcuti was a mechanic on the research stations for 14 months. Here’s what she had to say to The Sun: “It’s a long list when you look at the list of machinery on station and from a trades’ perspective, you won’t find a job like it anywhere else in the world.

“I definitely came home with a lot more skills than I went down with, and not just skills within my trade, but in things like hydroponic vegetables and helping out in the kitchen as well as helping other trades.

“I was able to help with some of the science activities, which included collecting air quality monitoring samples, conducting a seal survey and sea ice drilling.

“There are so many good things about living and working in Antarctica and it really is the experience of a lifetime.

“It’s about so much more than just a job – to see animals in their natural habitat and to become part of that and there is also an amazing sense of community on station, you become one little family.”

Could you see yourself there?

The Australian Antarctic Program website lists vacancies as they come up. For those keen to dip their toe into the icy waters off the South Pole, the first stage of the recruitment process is an assessment of their technical skills and experience. They then need to attend a selection centre to make sure they’re a good fit for life within a small Antarctic community.

Those applying should bear in mind that while there can be as many as 100 people at the station during the summer months, that number drops to around 20 during the winter – and that level of isolation certainly isn't for everyone.

Other unusual career moves

If you fancy a change but the wintry conditions of the Antarctic aren’t for you, there are plenty of other weird and wonderful careers out there. Here are some of the most unusual jobs we found.

Teddy bear repair technician

Swap fixing people’s homes and business premises for a fluffier way to earn a living. According to Monster, you can earn up to £40,000 a year repairing children’s prized soft toys and keeping dreams alive.

Pet food taster

Forget sorting out dog’s dinners left by other less than professional tradespeople, and become a dog’s dinner sampler. Pet food tasters can make around £20,000 a year ensuring the balance of flavours is right for pampered pooches.

Professional queuer

Ever sent an apprentice for a ‘long stand’ as part of their initiation into the crew? There’s a job that actually pays you to stand in queues for those who’d rather not – these professional queuers can get paid £20 an hour.

Sewer flusher

If you’re a plumber, you could take your skills to a new level by becoming a sewer flusher. It may not be the most glamorous job in the world, but you can expect to be paid around £45,000 to keep things flowing.

Professional tea taster

While it's 50-50 as to whether your customers will offer you a brew while you’re grafting away, switching professions to tea tasting means you’ll never go without your breakfast brew or mid-morning cuppa. The pay comes in at around £25,000 too.

Would you give it all up for a chance to live and work on a remote Antarctic research base? Let us know in the comments below.

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