Jobs That Include Low-Range As a Perk - Professional 4-WheelingPosted in Features on August 15, 2014
Readers always ask how they can get jobs like ours, where they would get paid to go 4-wheeling. Since we actually spend more time touching the keyboard than the steering wheel (see sidebar), we researched a few opportunities that pay people to actually go 4-wheeling on a regular basis.
Most jobs driving 4x4s fall under civil service. The taxpayers buy and maintain the vehicles. Factor in health insurance and pensions, and these jobs have several plusses for 4-wheeling enthusiasts.
Ranger: State Parks and the U.S. Forest Service employ rangers to oversee outdoor recreation. Supervising Ranger Andrew Ahlberg of California’s Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area says that rank and file rangers at the state’s eight “off-highway motor vehicle” parks spend about 85 percent of their day 4-wheeling in the field while on patrol. Many of the park’s rangers are enthusiasts who were actually recruited by SVRA employees, both at the parks and through the agency’s outreach programs.
California Ranger qualifications include 60 college course credits from fields related to the job, such as resource protection, history (SVRA Rangers give presentations and answer questions), criminal justice, and public administration. Candidates must then pass tests (written, physical, and psychological) and a background check.
The next step is seven months of academy training. Courses here include emergency medical services, search-and-rescue, law enforcement, and educational outreach.
Ahlberg says that most SVRA rangers also complete EMT certification, since they assist people in remote areas. Academy graduates get their POST (Peace Officer Standards & Training) Certificate and are then officially state park peace officers. After graduation, they complete three months of field training and serve a one-year probationary period.
The California State Rangers also assists other agencies. Ocotillo Wells SVRA is busy in the winter but desolate in the summer, when temperatures can exceed 120 degrees. Rangers sometimes assist the U.S. Forest Service on the Rubicon Trail or work at other parks such as Oceano Dunes (Pismo Beach). The Ocotillo Wells Rangers also help the BLM during King of the Hammers.
California Dept. of Parks & Recreation
U.S. Forest Service
BLM: The two law-enforcement levels are rangers (see above for an example of qualifications) and special agents. Most of these positions are in the southwest and Alaska.
The BLM also employs biologists who are paid to make intelligent recommendations that balance public recreation and conservation. Surveyors, geologists/petroleum engineers, rangeland managers (livestock monitors), and firefighters are some of the other field-based jobs available at the BLM.
Bureau of Land Management www.blm.gov
Game Warden: These positions have broad powers. Wardens often don’t need permission to enter private property, so this is likely the ultimate go-anywhere job. Like other law-enforcement jobs, a POST certificate is generally required, as is some college. See the “Ranger” section above for typical criteria. For details, contact your state’s fish and game department.
Border Patrol: We have been at many shops in the southwest where U.S. Border Patrol trucks were being modified or repaired. With so much land to cover, these trucks get used hard, and much of that work is done on dirt. If you like spending a lot of time playing hide-and-seek in the Desert Southwest, a position with the Border Patrol may be perfect for you.
U.S. Customs & Border Protection www.cbp.gov/careers
Mining, Energy, Natural Resources
The roads to mines and oil fields are seldom paved. Have you ever seen a geo-nerd, a miner, or an oil-field worker driving a sport-compact with a primer-gray body kit?
Geology-related jobsites are often remote. The Alaskan Pipeline is a prime example. Bodies are needed to keep the oil flowing, and those field workers often need ground clearance and traction to get to the job.
The environmental/remediation industry often follows in the energy sector’s tailings. Environmental-compliance inspectors travel to remote jobsites, and skilled remediators are called in when an environmental accident happens. The Department of Energy’s Super Site cleanup projects also employ remediators. Want to live and work in Moab, cleaning up uranium tailings? The Super Site project there is estimated to take at least 10 more years.
U.S. Dept. of Energy
Geophysicist: Geophysicists who want to work in the field can specialize in areas such as unexploded ordnance identification. Related fields include seismology (earthquakes). The listed starting salary for a geophysicist is $30,000 to $50,000 annually.
Colorado School of Mines
Farming, Ranching, Timber
Farmer/Rancher: The original job that requires working in the field, farming/ranching is steeped in wide-lugged tires and red diesel. In fact, much of our modern 4x4 technology is rooted in agricultural machines. Possibly the best part of being a farmer or rancher is that you might qualify for government subsidies. David Rockefeller and Microsoft’s Paul Allen get farm aid, so why not you? Your competitive sled-pulling truck and tractor might be tax-deductible, and that six-figure pre-runner is actually just a nice farm truck, right? (Check with your CPA for clarification to make sure.) The average annual income of a farmer/rancher is $67,260. For information about farm subsidies, contact your state’s Farm Service Agency
A cowboy (or herdspersonfor the politically correct) commonly falls under the umbrella of farm/ranch personnel. Herding is still done by horse, but all cowboys drive trucks in the dirt, according to the Super Bowl commercials. The average annual salary of a cowboy is $38,700.
Ag Business Openings
Farm & Ranch Personnel
Forestry: Government jobs range from stocking ponds with fish to managing harvestable timber on public land. Private-sector companies that sell milled goods and paper products hire people with degrees in forestry and natural resource management.
If you like flannel and physicality, lumber jacking might be your calling. The “offices” are often deep in the wilderness, and the work is dangerous. The average annual salary of a forester is $46,000; of a lumberjack, $30,000 to $80,000.
American Logger’s Council
Jobs in Forestry & National Resources
Utilities, Field Service
Skilled tradespeople are in demand for field-service jobs in the transportation and utility industries. Thousands of miles of railroad track need to be maintained, and certified welders are some of the people who do it. The average annual income of a railroad employee is $81,563 (Dept. of Commerce, 2009).
Utility and energy companies have an ongoing need for aerial lineman to service rural power lines. Journeyman and up positions require a valid certificate/license. The salary range is $51,000 to $121,000.
Most of these jobs are independent-contractor positions. Jeep Jamboree USA (JJUSA) maintains a pool of about 10 contracted off-road specialists/trail experts, all of whom have completed Bill Burke’s International 4-Wheel Drive Trainers Association program (www.bb4wa.com).
Many of these experts started as JJUSA participants, then became trail volunteers prior to being offered paying jobs. JJUSA’s parent company also does corporate events, so the off-road specialists get sent around the world for onsite logistics and route planning. A related job: tour guide for companies like Pink Jeep Tours.
Jeep Jamboree USA
Pink Jeep Tours
4x4 Magazines: No Vacancies
Working on a 4x4 magazine used to be a prime way to get paid to 4-wheel, but only a handful of salaried positions still exist. The few people who have those jobs spend more time on conference calls and at the computer than wheeling. Still, the Ultimate Adventure and other fieldwork offset the office duties, which is why job openings are rare.
The new way to be a 4x4 journalist is by starting an enthusiast site, blogging, and building an audience until the industry notices. The actual work involves long hours, typing, and photographing. “Web wheeling” has definitely become more popular than real 4-wheeling.