When it comes to choosing a career, people can be motivated by a wide variety of factors. Some seek job security and a stable salary, while others are driven by their passion or interest; a few are even attracted to something a little more risky.
But some people are not satisfied unless they’re working in a job that really produces the ‘wow’ factor. Many careers allow you to travel the world, but there aren’t many that can show you planet Earth in ways you’ve never seen before.
So if you are looking to follow a career path that is a little more unique, read on. This is the ultimate list of the most extraordinary jobs in the world…
1. Sky Diving Instructor
Despite its beginnings as a closed hobby among adrenaline junkies, skydiving has become one of the most popular bucket list pastimes in the world – which is good news for instructors who are never short of clients. As well as constantly repeating the inimitable experience of jumping out of a plane, you also get the added benefit of seeing serene vistas hundreds of miles long as you float gently back to the ground.
It’s also a position of huge responsibility though, as you literally have your client’s lives in your hands. In the US, instructors attend an initial classroom-based jump school, before logging at least 500 jumps and gaining United States Parachute Association accreditation. In the UK, you must hold a British Parachute Association C license as well as a packing certificate; upon the written recommendation of a BPA affiliated Chief Instructor, you can then attend the 2 BPA-approved training courses.
2. Everest Guide
There aren’t many better views of the world than at the top of it – and you won’t get any higher than at the top of Mount Everest. Reaching the peak of the notoriously volatile mountain range is a life-affirming achievement, but it is also incredibly dangerous – which is why anyone who attempts the climb does so with the assistance of experienced and knowledgeable guides.
Most of these guides are locals, known as Sherpas, but companies also employ foreign specialists. There is no set entry path to becoming a mountain guide – most discover their passion and gradually build up a portfolio of increasingly difficult climbs across the world – but in the US accreditation from the American Mountain Guide Association is necessary to lead expeditions. In the UK, the British Mountain Guides are responsible for training and accrediting guides.
3. Storm Chaser
One of the Earth’s most fascinating natural phenomena is the tornado – and positioning yourself right in the middle of one while everyone else is running away can be an incredibly exhilarating and terrifying feeling.
Unfortunately, being a storm chaser doesn’t pay well – if at all. Some might have their vehicle expenses covered by news stations, and media agencies might pay for a particularly good shot, but the majority are either volunteers who “ground truth” tornadoes (i.e. confirm them in person), or simply thrill seekers who are looking for a rush.
4. Safari Guide
If you want to get closer to nature, then it doesn’t get better than spending your days up close and personal with the iconic wildlife of Africa. You can get paid to do it too, either as a Game Ranger responsible for preserving natural habitats or as a Safari Guide.
You don’t need to be a local either. Most expat guides start off by volunteering and gaining experience, before completing the Field Guide Association of Southern Africa (FGASA) guiding qualification. You will need to complete additional qualifications depending on the country that you work in, and many companies will not hire you unless you can offer something unique (i.e. speaking a certain language or holding a degree in a relevant field), but don’t let this discourage you: it can be done. As long as you don’t mind the long hours, this can be a hugely rewarding job.
5. Cave Diver
Cave divers get to experience first-hand some of the most beautiful hidden corners of the planet, such as Cueva Taina in the Dominican Republic or the Devil’s Ear in Florida. They can also earn a decent pay packet too.
Commercial divers typically build up their experience recreationally and undertake various courses through one of the many recognised global bodies. Most instructors gain their teaching qualifications through the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI); alternatively, those looking to work in the energy or civil engineering industries require additional relevant degrees. It is also possible to become a diver by joining the military or the police.
Another unique way to see the world is to go below its surface as a miner or an engineer. Of course, this isn’t everyone’s idea of fun – quite the opposite in fact – but when you are so far underground, you are exposed to a unique and fascinating environment. Camaraderie between miners is especially strong, creating an open and inviting working atmosphere.
There’s also no cellular reception or internet connection in many mines; perfect if you want to avoid your boss, or just simply escape from the outside world for 8 to 12 hours a day.
Requirements and qualifications differ from company to company, but most positions require some form of related undergraduate degree, such as in geology, mining operations or metallurgy.
Many people dream of becoming an archaeologist when they are young, intrigued by the idea of recovering long-lost relics or stumbling upon the next great discovery. While you get to travel to exotic locations all over the world, you also get to see the world through the eyes of our ancestors – a truly unique experience.
An undergraduate degree in archaeology is a basic starting point, followed by subsequent postgraduate qualifications in your area of interest. Practical experience of fieldwork, usually through a university or other independent organisation is a must, while knowledge of other languages (both ancient and modern) is a bonus. Archaeology is increasingly becoming more technical, so strong IT skills will also stand you in good stead.
8. Ice Trucker
Trucking has always conjured up imagery of the freedom of the open road, taking in the sights of the land from behind the comfort of the wheel. But ice road truckers – popularised by the eponymous TV show – take it to extremes.
Although the roads can be incredibly dangerous (drivers are often expected to cross thinly iced lakes), the Canadian and Alaskan routes offer some of the most amazing scenery in the world; this draws truckers from all over the world looking to take on seasonal work.
Obviously, you’ll need your standard HGV licenses and several years of driving experience at least. But turnover rate is very high, so there are always opportunities. Just make sure you are aware of the extremely cold temperatures and the low pay – many drivers quit after their first trip.
Of course, if you want a totally unique view of the world – and I mean really unique – then why not take in the whole thing in all its glory. Until commercial space travel becomes a viable (and affordable) venture, the only chance to join the very small group of people who’ve had the pleasure of such a view is to do what they do – and that is become an astronaut.
It’s easier said than done though. Both the National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA) and the European Space Agency (ESA) require candidates to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a STEM subject (although realistically postgraduate qualifications will also be needed); additionally, potential astronauts must have at least 3 years of outstanding proven experience in a professional field, or at least 1000 flying hours as a jet pilot. Not to mention being able to meet the highly stringent physical, psychological and medical requirements.
But if you make it, you can take huge satisfaction in knowing you are a member of one of the world’s most exclusive and sought-after clubs – and it doesn’t get much more extraordinary than that.
Do you have any experience in any of the jobs above? Let us know your experiences in the comments below…