Off-road race-truck driver
Why it’s cool: Like to drive fast in the dirt? If so, this job is for you. You’ll wrap yourself in safety equipment and then strap into a high-performance rig. This type of off-road racing is arguably the most habit forming of all disciplines. There are a variety of racing series to choose from, including Score-International, Lucas Off-Road Racing Series. Valley Off-Road Racing Association, and the Traxxas TORC Series. Heck, you can even go run Dakar if you want. Most racing series have several classes of competition. Variations in the off-road racing world include tough truck racing, mud racing, and truck pulling. So build or buy a rig, get some sponsors, and go racing.
Why it’s cool: There isn’t a lot of pavement in a farmer/ranchers world. The tools of this trade include tractors, harvesters, skid-steers, and of course the four-wheel-drive pickup truck. An average day on the farm/ranch requires significant off-road travel and much of it is done pulling trailers or wagons. The corn won’t plant itself, the hay won’t bale itself, and the beans won’t walk out of the field and into the bin, and there’s a machine for each. Got grazing animals? They need to be checked from time to time and that means traveling to wherever they are over whatever terrain stands in the way.
Why it’s cool: Quite simply, geologists study the earth. It could be earth processes (like earthquakes or volcanic eruptions), earth materials (like rocks), or earth history, for example. Similar to a doctor, there are a slew of areas geologists can specialize in. The thing many of these jobs have in common is that they require off-road travel to some extent. The prelude to all this fun is a few years in college to procure a degree. After that, you could be employed by the United States Geological Survey, a mining company, or a university, among others. Have you ever wanted to wheel your way to a spewing volcano or to giant earthquake fissures?
Ice road truck driver
Why it’s cool: If you think summer stinks and snow is the way to go, this is for you. If you relish the thought of driving a truck in the middle of nowhere on several feet of ice in frigid weather punctuated by vision-blocking whiteouts, you’ll be in heaven. Similar jobs include ice road construction and ice road plowing, both of which carry significant challenges and require wheeling skills. If you survive, you’ll have great stories to tell your grandkids. A variation on this job is a truck driving job in a country like Russia or India, where the road system is more like a trail. Basically, you’ll be off-roading heavy trucks, which is pretty cool, actually.
Why it’s cool: If you’re assigned to patrol one of our nation’s borders you’ll probably be planted in a four-wheel-drive vehicle. The Border Patrol has a large vehicle fleet and it utilizes several different types of vehicles including the Ford Super Duty and Raptor; Chevy Suburban and Tahoe; Ram Power Wagon; and Jeep Wrangler. Most of the time you’ll be in the middle of nowhere, wheeling like a boss.
Why it’s cool: Patrolling miles of beach for a living is not a bad thing. A few years ago we visited the Outer Banks of North Carolina and had a chance to chat with a local sheriff’s deputy whose job it was to patrol the beach including the remote section from Corolla to the Virginia state line, including the unpaved community of Carova Beach. He seemed truly happy with his job. Go figure. We also visited with the local fire department and got a look at some of their four-wheel-drive equipment including an ambulance and pumper truck that were all set up for beach travel.
Electric transmission tower inspection/maintenance
Why it’s cool: Those huge metal electric transmission towers and poles must be inspected regularly. Most of the line maintenance is done by helicopter and other means, but the tower itself must be inspected for things like corrosion and fatigue. Further, some of these towers must be regularly inspected, primed, and painted. As you can imagine, four-wheel-drive vehicles and specialized equipment are often used to access these towers and poles. A variation of this job is the actual construction of the towers and poles, which require that equipment and vehicles be driven in to help complete the work.
Oil and gas exploration
Why it’s cool: It is said that the U.S. oil and gas exploration and production industry consists of about 5,000 companies. These companies have annual combined revenue of about $290 billion. The oil and gas exploration industry uses some very cool vehicles like the vibroseis trucks and buggies. These rigs have a large pad that is lowered from the vehicle to the surface and then vibrated to generate seismic waves, which allow geologists to “see” the earth’s subsurface and find oil and gas.
Why it’s cool: Most mines are located in remote areas so just getting to the mine can be a challenge. We were trail-riding in Governor Basin near Ouray, Colorado, recently and we passed a small, privately-owned mine. This mine was far from the paved road and at high altitude. Just getting to the mine required a fair amount of wheeling and a lot of time. Parked on the shelf trail near the mine portal was a gear-laden Super Duty dragging a trailer. We’re not sure how they planned to get the ore out, but we’re guessing it had something to do with the Super Duty, which means even more wheeling.
Why it’s cool: The U.S. military has some of the coolest vehicles. Period. Most are designed to go just about anywhere. Sign up with Uncle Sam and you could find yourself piloting a Humvee or M1117 light armored vehicle; Stryker or M113 armored personnel carrier; M-ATV or Buffalo mine-protected vehicle; or even a turbine-powered M1 Abrams main battle tank. No road, no problem,
4x4 magazine editor
Why it’s cool: Finally, there’s this. If you want to eat, sleep, and drink four-wheel drive, you may want to pursue a job at a 4x4 magazine like Four Wheeler. Trail rides, annual tests, ongoing evaluations, project rigs, and installs are the typical order of the day. We’re in four-wheel-drive mode from sunup till sundown (and even occasionally in the middle of the night when deadlines are looming). It’s all four-wheel drive all the time in the 4x4 magazine business.