4 Best Ways to Get a High-Paying Job in Antarctica

Updated on: by Amy Kennedy

Antarctica is probably not your first choice of places to work, but it can give you one of the best opportunities of your life. The following 4 organizations all hire people to work on the cold continent in various positions.Believe it or not, some people like the cold.

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While some seek out winter jobs in Canada, others look for the best jobs they can get in Antarctica, the coldest continent in the world.

It might be hard to fathom if you’re more of a beach and sun kind of person, or someone who just likes to have all four seasons through the year.

That’s exactly why the government sometimes pays people extra to head to Antarctica for work to take over important labor and research positions that a lot of people don’t necessarily want.

Other people simply volunteer to be one of the lucky ones to brave the cold and get to work because it’s something different than they’d get to do otherwise.

Whatever your end goal, you’re here for a reason: to see what type of work is available in Antarctica and whether it might be the right kind of work for you.

So, let’s get to the jobs!

U.S. Antarctic Program Jobs

The United States Antarctic Program (USAP) has been around since 1956 and helps people find jobs in Antarctica doing important research about the continent, its weather, and how it interacts with the rest of the world.

The USAP has about 3,000 open jobs in Antarctica every year, so this is definitely one of the best places to go if you’re interested in snagging one.

USAP doesn’t necessarily hire people directly though.

Instead, it relies on other companies that work through the organization to hire people as support personnel.

Some of these companies include:

  • PAE
  • Lockheed Martin
  • Leidos
  • GHG Corporation
  • PHI, Inc
  • NSF Office of Polar Programs (OPP)

You can find out more on the Jobs and Opportunities page.

Here are a few of the jobs that might interest you in Antarctica:

McMurdo Station Jobs: PAE, Lockheed Martin, and More

One of the most popular places to land a job through USAP is at McMurdo Station.

This spot is a research facility on the southern end of Ross Island.

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McMurdo Station is both a scientific research station and its own community.

It has airfields, a heliport, ATMs, commercial buildings, and residential buildings for workers and their families.

Therefore, if you work at McMurdo Station, there’s a good chance that your family might be able to tag along with you.

There are a lot of current listings open through the Pacific Architects and Engineers, Inc. (PAE) for McMurdo Station opportunities, although Lockheed Martin, University of Texas Medical Branch, and other companies also hire for the positions.

At PAE, you’ll find positions like:

  • Carpenter
  • Light Vehicle Technician
  • Field Camp Supervisor
  • Weather Observer
  • Utility Mechanic
  • Refrigeration Mechanic
  • Shop Foreman

There are plenty of others, and it’s safe to say that people in various industries with all kinds of work experience can likely find a job suited for them.

However, repair and technical skills can absolutely come in handy, as a lot of the positions require people who can work on heavy machinery, vehicles, and other important equipment.

Artists and Writers Program (AAW)

The Artists and Writers program is more like a scholarship program than a job for people who want to enrich their artistry or writing in Antarctica while learning about this incredible place.

The AAW is funded and awards some money to people who are accepted, although not everyone accepted will get grant money directly from the fund.

People from all countries are welcome to apply for this program, but priority is given to U.S. citizens.

Anyone involved in the program will be able to visit the research and science facilities in order to gain information they need for their writing or artwork.

You can go here to find out more about the program and to apply.


Leidos contracts people for various positions for USAP.

Most contractors will have a set period of time they’ll need to stay to complete their jobs, with most positions needing a commitment from October through February.

Leidos has positions available mostly in McMurdo Station and South Pole Station.

Some positions even take place on the Antarctic research vessels!

When you work through Leidos, you’ll receive free airfare to and from your destination and free room and board during your stay.

That’s all in addition to your salary, which the company states is similar to what you’d get paid for the same or similar job in the United States.

News Media Jobs

USAP also seeks journalists and other members of the news media industry to work in Antarctica both to enrich their own professional portfolio and to focus their journalism efforts on the research taking place in Antarctica at various facilities.

News media members can either work through a company that employs people for USAP or as a freelancer, as long as they’re willing to sign a commitment contract.

British Antarctic Survey Jobs

The British Antarctic Survey is the UK version of USAP.

You must, therefore, be a UK resident or at least are legal to work in the UK.

The BAS seeks individuals for various jobs, too, so it’s worth a look no matter what industry you work in or are interested in.

The BAS does most of its hiring, though, rather than contracting people through other companies like USAP.

So, most people working through the program will receive the same types of benefits, which include things like:

  • 30 days annual leave
  • Flexible scheduling
  • Some paid holidays
  • Sick pay coverage
  • Employer discount on some products and activities
  • Career breaks
  • Home-based work for some jobs
  • Pension program

Check out the open jobs here!

Australian Antarctic Division

As you might guess, the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) is like the USAP and BAS for Australia.

This program is Australia’s research, and science-based program focused on deepening the research efforts of Australians in the Antarctic.

This program has strict deadlines for its positions within the program and the application deadlines for the upcoming work season tend to end several months before the season starts.

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You can, however, visit the website and register yourself to be one of the first to know when positions for the following year open.

The AAD is especially well-known for its medical practice program in which medical practitioners can get a once-in-a-lifetime experience practicing medicine in a different continent.

The medical practitioners stay with expedition groups to tend to their needs in case of an emergency, illness, or injury.

In this position, you can be the group’s sole doctor for a 12-month period.

There are also some medical research positions in which you can study how humans interact with Antarctica’s environment and how the atmosphere affects their health.

The medical program isn’t the only one through the AAD though.

The AAD also has a media program, an arts fellowship, a science program for Ph.D. students, engineer positions, and more.

Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology

The Bureau of Meteorology is a division of the Australian government that recruits people for Antarctica expeditions.

The positions here are all weather and atmosphere related, including things like weather observers, meteorologists, technical engineers, and more.

Most expeditions through this program last about 12 months in Antarctica.

There’s also at least four months of training and preparation involved before you ever get to the continent.

You’ll get a base salary that’s similar to what you’d be paid for similar positions in Australia, but you’ll also be eligible for living bonuses and money to cover expenses like food, clothing, and lodging.

Check out current vacancies with the Bureau of Meteorology here.

Pros of Working in Antarctica

Unique and Extraordinary Environment

Working in Antarctica provides an opportunity to experience the unique and pristine environment of the continent.

You can witness breathtaking landscapes, encounter diverse wildlife, and observe natural phenomena that are exclusive to Antarctica.

Adventure and Exploration

Antarctica offers adventurous activities and opportunities for exploration. You can engage in activities like hiking, ice climbing, and exploring remote areas, allowing you to have exciting and memorable experiences.

Professional Growth and Experience

Working in Antarctica can contribute to your professional growth and provide valuable experience.

You will have the chance to work in a challenging and unique environment, collaborate with international teams, and learn from experts in various fields.

Competitive Salary and Benefits

Many jobs in Antarctica offer competitive salaries, often comparable to what you would earn for a similar job in your home country.

Additionally, employers typically provide benefits such as free airfare, accommodation, meals, and comprehensive medical coverage.

Personal Development and Self-Reflection

Living and working in Antarctica, with its isolation and solitude, can foster personal development and self-reflection.

The experience challenges you to develop resilience, adaptability, and problem-solving skills while providing an opportunity for self-discovery and personal growth.

Cons of Working in Antarctica

Extreme Weather Conditions

Antarctica has one of the harshest climates on Earth, with extremely low temperatures, strong winds, and challenging weather conditions.

The extreme cold and inclement weather can be physically demanding and may pose risks to personal safety.

Isolation and Limited Connectivity

Working in Antarctica means being isolated from the rest of the world for extended periods.

The remoteness and limited connectivity can make it challenging to stay in touch with family and friends, and access to the internet and communication may be restricted.

Long Periods of Darkness and Harsh Light

During the winter months, Antarctica experiences continuous darkness, while the summer months bring 24-hour daylight.

Adapting to the long periods of darkness or coping with the constant daylight can disrupt sleep patterns, affect personal routines, and potentially impact mental well-being.

Limited Amenities and Comforts

Living conditions in Antarctica are basic, with limited amenities and comforts available.

You may have restricted food choices, shared accommodations, and limited personal space, which can be challenging for some individuals accustomed to more convenience and comfort.

Psychological and Emotional Challenges

The extreme isolation, confinement, and separation from loved ones can pose psychological and emotional challenges.

Coping with the unique stressors of living and working in Antarctica requires resilience, strong emotional well-being, and effective strategies for managing mental health.

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Conclusion: Best Jobs in Antarctica

If you think you can brave the frigid Antarctica climate to take advantage of one of these once-in-a-lifetime job opportunities, then at least you now know how to go about getting one!

These jobs certainly aren’t for the timid.

You’ll be in temperatures like you’ve never felt before, in a world where there’s nothing around you besides the people you work with and the communities you’ve created with them.

However, these jobs are truly ones you won’t find anywhere else.

You’ll have a hand participating in incredibly important research that can shape how humans interact with the earth now and in the future.

No matter what industry you work in, you can try to score a job with your country’s program because there are a lot of various positions available.

After all, the crews in Antarctica need people to work the same positions as they would back home for everyone to survive.

Cooks, nurses, teachers – I’m looking at you!

Browse the websites and look through the open jobs to find something that might suit your interests and experiences.

Have you or someone you know ever taken one of these interesting positions?

We’d love to hear about it – leave us a comment!

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Richard Fleming

February 12, 2021 at 2:51 pm

interested in a job in Antarctica.,