We work in places like Stanton or Dayton or Reston, where there’s an Applebee’s or Olive Garden on every corner, and yet we are hungry. Our Starbucks orders use four adjectives or more, and our thirst is mighty yet. As red blooded Americans, we yearn for the frontier, the unknown, the Wild West! There’s something to be said for running water and KFC, but the human spirit cries out for more. To help you along, here are seven extreme places in the world where you can actually get a job.


There’s more to Antarctica than penguins and icebergs, though, frankly, if you’re not interested in penguins maybe you should move on to the next item on this list. The only thing really happening on Antarctica is scientific research (and the occasional marathon). But even if you’re not a scientist, your skills are needed. There are several permanent facilities in Antarctica where scientists work. Among them is McMurdo Station, which is run on nuclear power. Because the scientists are already tied up studying meteorites and ice shelves, somebody’s got to keep the thing from blowing up and hurting the penguins. That’s where you come in. If nuclear isn’t your thing, either (jeez you’re picky), you can still find any number of jobs operating and maintaining various facilities.


If you have a clearance, there’s a good chance at some point you’ve seen a desert, whether it’s Ft. Irwin at the National Training Center, or somewhere less miserable…like Iraq. And if you’ve been to the desert, you’ve probably been struck by the feeling that, wait, deserts are terrible places to be and vastly inferior to Orlando or San Francisco. So if you’re still reading, you’re part of the few who either didn’t get enough sand the first time around, or actually enjoyed it. Do what you love, I say, and if you want to spend more time in the desert, your best shot is either training contractors who will be going overseas, or getting a job in security yourself. But those aren’t your only options. Military facilities, for example, take wildlife preservation very seriously, and there are frequently postings for biologist positions.


There is a place in America where you have to carry a gun or you will be eaten by bears or wolves. That place is Alaska. It may not be the last wilderness in the world, but it’s certainly the most intense one in America. There are all sorts of reasons why you might find a job listing for the wilderness, including conservation and biology-oriented fields. Because there’s oil up there, you might also find yourself either running a drill, or cleaning up a former drilling site. The point is, if you want to be armed lest a moose murder you, here’s your big chance.


It’s no secret the wars we fight today are, well, secret, and where there’s war, there’s money to be made as a contractor. Not every job in a hostile area involves war-fighting, though. Sometimes, companies operating in such areas need things as prosaic as IT workers… and that could be you! (While I submit that Syria would be a lousy place to have to clean a computer virus, I suspect that if a computer is keeping you safe, it’s a pretty lousy place to have a virus in the first place.) While the postings themselves are ever in flux, there are usually jobs listed for Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, among other joyful places. If we’re going to fight wars anyway, you may as well make a few dollars on it.


Did you see Black Hawk Down and think, Hmm, that would be a lovely place to live and work? If so, your wish is ClearanceJob’s command. Translators and regional experts are the jobs most in demand these days, though the ongoing humanitarian and military relief efforts mean there are often coordinator and facilitator positions open as well. And where there are people, there are computers, so IT jobs in the Mog are more common than you might think. Somalia gets its own item on this list because even for a war zone, Somalia is crazy dangerous. It still has pirates!


On the way home from Afghanistan, for whatever reason, my battalion had a week-long layover in Kyrgyzstan. I don’t remember much of it except for being miserable and ready to get home, but one thing I’ll never forget are the mountains, and how cold they were. Even after an Afghan winter—no slouch in the cold department itself—Kyrgyzstan was a frozen hellscape. I once took a shower in which the water practically froze as it came out of the pipe. (There was no hot water, of course.) So if you like cold, and even better, if you like cold mountains, places like Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan are screaming your name.


Do you know all the words to “Under the Sea,” from The Little Mermaid? Or were you just in the Navy? Regardless, if you want to work underwater, ClearanceJobs can help you. The United States has the premier submarine fleet in the world, and it takes a lot of people to keep it moving. There are submarine IT jobs (of course!), submarine maintenance jobs―even submarine warfare analyst jobs, for those of you who love the game Battleship and want to go pro. And most of these jobs are based (currently) in the continental United States, so you can scratch that adventure itch and still get to Applebee’s before Happy Hour ends.

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David Brown is a regular contributor to ClearanceJobs. His most recent book, THE MISSION (Custom House, 2021), is now available in bookstores everywhere in hardcover and paperback. He can be found online at https://www.dwb.io.