How to Work in Antarctica
Despite the extremely cold temperatures and 6 months of total darkness, Antarctica is home to thousands of people every year. If you’re hoping to head to the South Pole and join them, landing a job at one of the Antarctic research stations is your best bet. The key to getting one of these jobs is demonstrating that you’re a skilled worker, and also showing that you're a good fit for the harsh, cold Antarctic climate.
To work in Antarctica, start by applying for jobs there through your country’s national Antarctic program. Apply for a generalist job, like a food server or janitor, if you’re looking for work that doesn’t require a lot of experience. If you’re a specialist, like a doctor or chef, apply for specialist jobs at a national research base. To join the research team at an Antarctic base, have at least a graduate degree and apply for a scientific position.For tips on improving your chances of getting a job in Antarctica, scroll down!
Finding a Job
Look for jobs through your country’s national Antarctic program.Many countries have a national Antarctic program that connects job seekers with open positions in Antarctica. You can apply and interview for jobs through your country’s program.
- You can find your country’s national Antarctic program by visiting .
- If your country doesn’t have a national Antarctic program, look for open jobs through a neighboring country’s program. Keep in mind that some national programs will only hire their own citizens.
Look at national research stations to find the most available jobs.Most of the available jobs in Antarctica are based in national research stations across the continent. Although these stations are dedicated to scientific research carried out by a variety of scientists, they also employ a large support staff that keeps the bases functioning.
- Your country's national Antarctic program can help connect you with available jobs at research stations.
Apply for a generalist position if you’re not a specialist in a certain field.Research stations are always looking for people to fill generalist positions. You don’t need to be a specialist or have a degree to get a generalist job, so it’s a good option if you don’t have a lot of experience.
- You may be able to find a job as a janitor, food server, or shuttle driver as a generalist.
- The downside to applying for generalist positions is that you’re usually competing with more applicants.
Search for specialist positions if you're an expert in a certain field.Research stations in Antarctica aren’t only looking for scientists — they also need specialists to help support all the people working and living there. If you’re skilled in a certain field, you might be able to find a job in that field in Antarctica.
- Cooks, doctors, mechanics, electricians, carpenters, and firefighters are all types of specialists that are employed in Antarctica.
- You may have an easier time getting a specialist position than you will a generalist position since the pool of applicants is usually smaller.
Apply for a scientific position if you’re a postgraduate or postdoctoral scientist.Scientific research is the reason people are in Antarctica in the first place, and there are always opportunities for new scientists. Look for research programs that are focused on your particular field of science and apply for them. Some types of scientists that commonly work in Antarctica include:
Improving Your Chances of Getting Hired
Tailor your resume to the job you’re applying for.Since there are more applicants than there are jobs in Antarctica, you want to stand out as much as possible. Tailoring your resume can help you do that — a tailored resume will show the hiring manager that you’re the right fit for the job!
- To tailor your resume, update your employment history and job descriptions so you’re focusing on the kind of experience that the hiring manager is looking for.
- Look for keywords in the job description and include them in your resume. For example, if the job description says “Looking for someone with excellent project management skills,” you could include the keywords “project management” in your resume.
Commit to working in Antarctica for an extended period of time.It costs a lot of money for research stations to transport employees to and from Antarctica. Make yourself a more attractive candidate by agreeing to stay and work for a long period of time — it will save the research station money, so they’ll be more likely to hire you.
- The exact amount of time you’ll need to work depends on the job, but in general, aim to commit to at least 6 months in Antarctica.
Keep yourself in good physical shape.In general, employers in Antarctica are looking for healthy candidates because of the harsh climate and demanding nature of the work. You may need to pass a physical exam to get the job you’re applying for in Antarctica, so it’s important that you’re healthy and physically fit.
Surviving in Antarctica
Pack plenty of layers to wear in the cold.The temperature in Antarctica can drop to below −100 °F (−73 °C). Therefore, it’s really important that you bring lots of thick, heavy layers to wear when you’re outside.
- Remember to pack gloves and headwear to keep yourself warm.
- Opt for waterproof outer layers, like jackets and pants. If your clothes get soaked with water, they’ll quickly freeze, so it's better if they're waterproof.
Bring a vitamin-D lamp if you’ll be working during the winter.In Antarctica, the sun rises and sets once per year. During the winter, there are 6 months of total darkness, which means your body won’t be getting any vitamin-D from the sun. A vitamin-D lamp can make up for the lack of sun so you don’t get sick.
- The winter in Antarctica starts the end of March and ends the beginning of September.
Find out where you'll be staying in Antarctica before you go.Most jobs in Antarctica require employees to live in dormitory-style housing at the research base. Depending on your job, you may be expected to live with 1 or more roommates. Ask your employer about your living situation ahead of time so you can prepare yourself.
- If you're worried about living with multiple roommates for an extended period of time, you may want to try to find a job where you'll get your own room.
Avoid working during the winter if there’s any chance you’ll need to leave.Travel to and from Antarctica becomes nearly impossible in the winter once everything freezes over. Over-winter employees are required to remain at their base for the duration of winter, even in the case of an emergency.
- You’ll still be able to communicate with people outside of Antarctica during the winter.
- In case of an emergency, there are support staff on hand, like doctors and nurses.
- To apply for jobs in Antarctica, visit the website for your country's national Antarctic program.
- Keep in mind that the pool of candidates for jobs in Antarctica is greater than the number of available jobs. If you don't get a job this time around, work on improving your resume and apply again in the future!
- It's easy to get dehydrated in Antarctica because of how dry the air is. When you're living in Antarctica, make sure you're drinking at least 1.5–2 gallons (5.7–7.6 L) of water every day.
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