T Nation

Tough But Interesting Physical Jobs?


#1

I'm 23 and in the last 2 months of my degree (Economics/Finance). I realised halfway through that I didn't want to be stuck in an office making spreadsheets for the rest of my life, so now I'm not really sure on what I want to do when I finish.

I applied to the Australian Army last year and got a perfect score on the aptitude test (not difficult) allowing me to do any job, but found out that I had some mild colour perception issues which meant that I was ineligible for most jobs. I think there were about 8 enlisted jobs total, and none that I was interested in (cook, clerk, musician, etc). The rest were officer jobs which is riding a desk for the most part. The only officer job I'm considering is in Intelligence, where I think an Econ degree and foreign language fluency (Russian) would help.

I'm interested in military/security related jobs and would work for a PMC, but most, if not all, require some prior military experience. Not really interested in police work here because most of it's busting drunk drivers and breaking up petty fights. Apart from the federal police and several mostly intelligence gathering government agencies we don't have much in the way of specialised federal LE agencies either.

I considered joining the French Foreign Legion, but I'm in a serious relationship now and can't leave for 5+ years with hardly any outside contact or time off. Plus they test for colour blindness as well.

What does this leave me with? I want something challenging but exciting, preferably (but not necessarily) security related or emergency response. Firefighter is a strong possibility, but considering all options. Willing to move and work in 3rd world countries if I have to.


#2

Just to spitball an idea, since you’re in Australia, are there any types of mining positions you could consider? If your issue is just office work as compared to not liking finance/economics generally, you could consider something like an internal audit job in the construction or mining industry, which (at least per certain of my friends’ experiences) involves a significant amount of on-site inspection and some travel.


#3

Why not just be a bartender and enjoy someplace like Melbourne? Im in a similar position as you and Im looking to get out of a desk job as well - sitting all day is miserable.


#4

[quote]MinusTheColon wrote:
Just to spitball an idea, since you’re in Australia, are there any types of mining positions you could consider? If your issue is just office work as compared to not liking finance/economics generally, you could consider something like an internal audit job in the construction or mining industry, which (at least per certain of my friends’ experiences) involves a significant amount of on-site inspection and some travel.[/quote]

It’s a possibility, but the mining boom is over and everything’s winding down now and people are losing their jobs. I am considering doing something like that though. The petroleum industry is another possibility.


#5

[quote]Aero51 wrote:
Why not just be a bartender and enjoy someplace like Melbourne? Im in a similar position as you and Im looking to get out of a desk job as well - sitting all day is miserable. [/quote]

I’m not really the type that would enjoy it. Most people I know who work as bartenders are really outgoing while I’m more introverted. I’d work as a bouncer or something but at 5’8", 145-150 lbs I don’t think that’s likely haha.


#6

I am not in a trade, nor do I live in Australia, but even I can rattle off some considering I live in NYC, with so much physical work being done here lately. Also, my father-in-law and downstairs neighbors are carpenters and are very satisfied with their professions.

carpentry
brick laying
drywall taping
plumbing
electric work
HVAC
tile setting
painting
cabinet making
roofing
welding
sheet metal work
steamfitting

There are more obviously. You should think of what your aptitude and disposition is suitable for.


#7

This will be kinda long. Apologies.

I think there are a few questions you ought to ask yourself here. Are you looking for a career path or something to try out for bit, have some experiences and make some money? Some fields require significant investments of time/money before you can get started and don’t really pay dividends (either finacial or cool shit-wise) until you’ve paid your dues at the bottomn of the food chain for a bit.

I trained as a commercial surface supplied diver when I was around your age. It was cool as hell, challenging, physical, mentally stimulating and has great earning potential. Saturation divers can potentiallly pull down 100k+ for a single dive lasting 30-40 days. However it takes years of building your skills and reputation before you get a shot and you’re going to need to invest a few grand in training befor you even get a chance to see if it’s for you.

Utility linemen (electrical in particular) also have a pretty good gig, IMO and in my part of the world earn around 100k+/yr with good benefits, as journeymen (i.e. after an apprenticeship program that is very competitive to get into). Tower erection specialists (best job title ever, IMHO) and other rope access technicians get to do cool shit and can make very good income, after they pay their dues. This pretty much goes for any building trade as well really.

Your colour issues may quite possibly disqualify you from many emergency service professions and maybe electrical as well (red/green can be pretty important when it comes to wires, I understand). But you never know until you check. A lot of young guys have a blast working as wildfire fighters for a few seasons. It’s seasonal, tough, exciting, has a great sense of commaraderie and pays ok if you get a bad fire season and the OT kicks in.

How important is your earning potential to you? I’m a tradesperson in a tough, physical job (arborist) that is very interesting at times, however it generally only pays 30-50k/year as an employee and maybe twice that as an owner/operator (if you’re good and lucky). If you’re in it for love, this is manageable, but I can’t recommend it in good conscience as a great way to earn.

That said, it’s cool. You swing around on ropes, muck about with slick rigging stuff, run chainsaws and wood chippers and you routinely drop logs the size of small-mid sized cars from great heights. It’s also brutal in terms of repetitive strain injuries, it’s very difficult to stick to a training program outside work, you’re outside in all conditions, and it is generally in the top 3 most hazardous ways to earn a living. After 12 years, I’m ready to do something else.

You mentioned petroleum. Definitely a good play in terms of potential earning power. Of course, it’s cyclical and tied to the price of oil, but guys generally do well if they can stay off drugs. If you have are willing to work and have any kind of a brain in your head there are opportunities for advancement. That said, I understand the work generally sucks, camp life also sucks and it really is all about the money. Of course, IF you play it smart in terms of saving and investing it can be one of those jobs that can fund an early retirement after which you can spend your time doing what you like.

My advice to you in the immediate future, FWIW: Get some kind of advanced first aid training. This will help you whatever you choose. Narrow down you area of interest. Look a the earning potential and the timeline to reach that poitential for your top choices. Decide if that works for you. Make an effort to connect with people in those fields for some honest, boots on the ground intel.

Lastly, just do something. Try doing hard work, outdoors in shitty conditions. WIldfire fighting, tree planting, general labour. Whatever you go into the ratio of cool shit:just plain shit isn’t going to start to go your way for the first while. You may find that you come to your senses and decide to capitalize on your degree anfd earn a living like a sensible person. Then again you may not.

Edit: Another important question is whether you have a desire to be self-employed and/or a business owner. Some professions lend themselves to this more readily than others.


#8

Some of the security companies have guard positions requiring minimal qualifications. However, fair warning: minimal quals means more douchebags slipping in, and it also means much lower pay - Triple Canopy is paying about $165/day right now in Afghanistan. This is basic tower/gate guard stuff, so pretty boring but it’s something outside the norm and it can be a way to get your foot in the door and network into a better position (that being said, I’m not sure if military is required for that particular position of not).

That said, there are all kinds of overseas contracting jobs, they don’t all have a security focus. I just forwarded a job listing to a friend for paramedics to staff the embassies in Iraq. Inside the wire work, but due to location should still pay pretty well. An econ degree could get you into some form of a government job, or a foreign contract job. The daughter of a friend just graduated with her degree in finance/accounting or something similar, and did a summer internship with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations financial crimes unit. She is waiting for the hiring freeze to end, but she is looking to go into law enforcement in that specialized field - no patrol work, straight to a desk/special investigator position.

I know none of these are physical jobs I mentioned, but there is a ton of stuff out there, it’s all about finding it which unfortunately often stems from luck (right place/right time). It might also be worth the effort to find a desk job you don’t hate that allows you the time and money to pursue other endeavors outside the workplace.


#9

Also, I don’t know how the trades work in Oz, but here in the States an elevator mechanic is a great position. Apprenticeship kind of sucks, but I understand that’s par for any trade. Once you are fully certified and working though, the money is ridiculous and it’s a very stable job - there’s always an elevator being installed or one which needs repair/upgrading.


#10

Thank you for the great responses, definitely a lot of options. I’ve thought about it some more and narrowed down the options a bit:

  1. Security/emergency response type work. Can be grunt work, but in an interesting place (like basic guard work in Afghanistan, defending ships, etc). Something like casino security or bodyguard work appeals to me as well, but the latter is difficult to find in Australia.

  2. A string of interesting seasonal jobs (like commercial fishing). Not really sure what’s out there though.

  3. Learning a useful skill that I can use anywhere, so I’d be able to travel around and do seasonal work or freelance type work. I’m willing to start from the bottom and work my way up until I’m skilled enough, but then I’d prefer to work for myself. So for example something like welding, where I could either do it in a shop or a mine site/oil rig/some far off Alaskan base. I’ve also considered doing fitting and turning and then going into gunsmithing, but all the gunsmiths I’ve talked to here have pretty much just said “go to America” because with our tight gun laws there’s not much of a customer base here. Still an option though.

Earning potential is not that important. I’m not after a big house with a picket fence. I’m happy living a spartan lifestyle while having some disposable income to do the things I like. Ideally I’d like to work steadily for a few months and then take a few weeks/months off to travel or do something else (and by travel I mean backpacking type stuff, not flying around Europe staying in 5 star hotels).


#11

Welding is looking pretty good actually. Does anyone have any experience with that as a career?


#12

Check out Brazilian charity firefighting groups like Alianca de Terra -fight massive wild fires and basically saving the planet as well.

-Once on your CV would prob go pretty far getting a fireman job back home regardless of dodgy colour scores…


#13

[quote]Iron Condor wrote:

[quote]Aero51 wrote:
Why not just be a bartender and enjoy someplace like Melbourne? Im in a similar position as you and Im looking to get out of a desk job as well - sitting all day is miserable. [/quote]

I’m not really the type that would enjoy it. Most people I know who work as bartenders are really outgoing while I’m more introverted. I’d work as a bouncer or something but at 5’8", 145-150 lbs I don’t think that’s likely haha.[/quote]

I’m a 5’8" bouncer with a pretty good rep in the local industry. It’s not impossible to make it happen, but it’s also a pretty big disadvantage. You might be surprised, but being outgoing is actually a really useful trait for a doorman to have.


#14

[quote]Iron Condor wrote:
Welding is looking pretty good actually. Does anyone have any experience with that as a career?[/quote]
Yes. It’s great work and very satisfying but make no mistake about it~ it can be very difficult both physically and psychologicly.


#15

Become an Ironworker like a real man.


#16

I think you’ll be surprised at the level of intelligence in Australian policing at the state level. It isn’t mature yet but it definitely is getting there.

If you want to do actual gathering, then yes, that means becoming an officer. It means starting out with the crappy jobs like the Friday/Saturday night shift before you can get into covert teams or a local intelligence unit.

From there you will be given crappy jobs like trying to find out what is behind the local spate of house break ins. If you prove yourself there then there is far more interesting work for you.

Other than that, there’s plenty of landscaping jobs around. It’s basically doing strongman medley’s all day long.


#17

Kind of smacking myself on the forehead for not thinking of this before considering I am onboard a ship right now, but look into the merchant mariner industry. You said you didn’t mind starting at the bottom, find your local seaman’s/mariner’s union and talk to someone there about what is required to get started.

I am not a civmar, but from talking to some of them onboard it sounds pretty simple to get started as an ordinary seaman. Pay is decent but not great, once you get picked up they send you to a ship for a pre-determined time period (which can be extended, but pretty sure you have to agree to that). You can either ‘play the board’ (jumping ship to ship), or you can get on with a specific ship and crew and have a pretty steady rota that falls in with what you mentioned - work for a few months then a couple months off to hang out/travel.

Plenty of room to move up as well, ordinary seaman => able-bodied seaman => 3rd mate => 2nd => chief mate => captain/vessel master. Obviously takes time, and there’s nothing that says you have to move up if you are happy with your current position.


#18

This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.


#19

[quote]Iron Condor wrote:
Thank you for the great responses, definitely a lot of options. I’ve thought about it some more and narrowed down the options a bit:

  1. Security/emergency response type work. Can be grunt work, but in an interesting place (like basic guard work in Afghanistan, defending ships, etc). Something like casino security or bodyguard work appeals to me as well, but the latter is difficult to find in Australia.

  2. A string of interesting seasonal jobs (like commercial fishing). Not really sure what’s out there though.

  3. Learning a useful skill that I can use anywhere, so I’d be able to travel around and do seasonal work or freelance type work. I’m willing to start from the bottom and work my way up until I’m skilled enough, but then I’d prefer to work for myself. So for example something like welding, where I could either do it in a shop or a mine site/oil rig/some far off Alaskan base. I’ve also considered doing fitting and turning and then going into gunsmithing, but all the gunsmiths I’ve talked to here have pretty much just said “go to America” because with our tight gun laws there’s not much of a customer base here. Still an option though.

Earning potential is not that important. I’m not after a big house with a picket fence. I’m happy living a spartan lifestyle while having some disposable income to do the things I like. Ideally I’d like to work steadily for a few months and then take a few weeks/months off to travel or do something else (and by travel I mean backpacking type stuff, not flying around Europe staying in 5 star hotels). [/quote]

If you are serious about international security jobs, you will have to have tactical training and combat experience. There are simply too many Tier 1 and Tier 2 operators on the open market to compete. Static security jobs are available, but, most of the big companies like DynCorp International, Triple Canopy, Infinity, PAE, etc…are hiring cheaper labor from South American and Africa. They can get a USG security contract and pay the Peruvians/ Nigerians about 30 USD a day. Cheap labor equals better profits. Maritime security is more exclusive and is run by fewer companies. Usually Trident Security out of Norfolk, VA or foreign companies based in Singapore or Seoul. Frankly, unless you are Tier 1, you don’t have much of of chance in that field. They are very few Aussie PMC’s that I am aware of, AEGIS Security , when based out of London, had an office in Sidney and Pretoria, not sure they haven’t been bought out. Once PMC’s were declared illegal in Afghanistan, work shifted back to Iraq and Africa. Some of the major oil companies (18 months ago) were hiring static security for their oil rigs off the coast of Nigeria , however, it was 9 months on and 3 weeks off, money was very good, but living conditions sucked. There are always trade offs in contracting work.

I would suggest this: if you are interested in doing contracting work, whether as a shooter or maintenance person , buy yourself a membership to this website: www.dangerzonejobs.com. It cost 45 dollars US (one time fee) keeps up with all overseas contracts and lists about 200 companies that specialize in contracting work, with direct access to their HR departments. I have no financial interests, nor, receive any fee for referrals. Sample listed. Good Luck.

    	Free Articles 

Find jobs in Afghanistan, Kuwait, Iraq & Others Faster in 2015
Because of war zone draw downs, finding an overseas contracting job is harder than ever. There are no shortcuts to getting hired, but following a proven strategy will help. Here’s what you need to do and how DZJ can help you.
Friday, October 9, 2015

Job Search : Job Search Help 

One Stop Job Search Tool (updated: now 314 companies)
We’ve put together a convenient means for you to get direct access to the employment pages of (currently) 314different companies. Those that right now have overseas jobs in Afghanistan, Kuwait, Iraq and similar areas posted on their sites (192 as of Ocotber 9, 2015) are highlighted for you.
Friday, October 9, 2015

Contracts : New Contracts 

Raytheon Awarded $18.6m to Expand Border Security Work in Kingdom of Jordan
Raytheon has been awarded an additional $18.6 million contract from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) to help the Government of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (GoHKJ) secure its borders with Syria. The award is for increment three of DTRA’s Jordan Border Security Project (JBSP).
Friday, October 9, 2015

Job Search : Job Search Help 

192 Companies with Overseas Jobs Currently Posted
Right now, DZJ follows 300+ companies. I manually checked the entire master list on October 9, 2015 and there are 192 with jobs in Afghanistan, Kuwait and other high risk areas posted on their sites. They are listed here for your convenience, with direct links to the job pages.
Friday, October 9, 2015


#20

Thanks guys, you’ve given me a lot to think about. I’m researching a few of these suggestions currently, but keep them coming if you have more.