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Want To Wheel For A Living?

Gmc Sierra Driving Down Dirt Road
Ken Brubaker
| Senior Editor, Four Wheeler
Posted April 1, 2012

Career Path

Do you wish you could wheel for a living? Do you crave a job that puts you in a vehicle on the dirt? Is the smell of dust like a slice of heaven compared to the purified air of an office?

Well, if you’d like to spend your days in the great outdoors instead of the stifling indoors, take heart, because there are a few jobs out there that’ll put you behind the wheel of something with an engine as you bounce contentedly over unpaved goodness.

We put our heads together and compiled a few jobs that you may want to consider if you’ve had it with being stuffed indoors every day. This is by no means a complete list, but it’ll give you a few ideas. It could change your life. Instead of shaking your head in disgust at the end of a long day indoors, you may be shaking your head to get the dirt out of your hair. These jobs give new meaning to the term “career path.”

Bureau of Land Management or U.S. Forest Service
Why it’s cool: The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages 264 million acres of public land and the Forest Service manages 193 million acres. That’s a mind-boggling chunk of primarily wide open, undeveloped space. Get the right job at the Forest Service and you’ll probably be driving a four-wheel-drive truck or SUV because that’s what 80 percent of its fleet consists of. The BLM has a number of vehicles in its fleet and many of those are four-wheel drive as well.

Off-road tour guide
Why it’s cool: Those without a four-wheel drive vehicle or those with a four-wheel drive that have little practical off-road experience often turn to guided four-wheel drive tours to get into the backcountry. The guides/drivers of these tours get to wheel a lot in some of the most spectacular scenery imaginable. Typically these tours are based in areas that are visually stunning and/or are inaccessible to standard vehicles. We’ve seen these tours in places like the Carolinas, Tennessee, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Hawaii, Michigan, California, and Nevada. “Honey, we’re moving to Hawaii so I can be an off-road tour guide.” Has a nice ring to it.

Automotive quality/ durability test driver
Why it’s cool: A lot goes into the research and design of a four-wheel drive vehicle and the auto industry relies on a talented group of people to make it all happen. After all the R&D is completed, the vehicle must be tested in the real world. New vehicle testing is legendary. Every aspect of every component is put through the ringer. Extreme hot weather testing and cold weather testing is the norm. Companies send the vehicles, test drivers, and a bevy of test equipment to some of the most inhospitable places on earth. Get a job here and you’ll probably get to wheel a lot in some wicked conditions.

Monster truck driver
Why it’s cool: The modern monster truck is a technological marvel. About the only thing it can’t do is drive itself. Land a job driving one of these machines and you’ll be in control of 66-inch tires and over 1,000 horsepower. Best of all, every time you go to work you’ll get to show off to thousands of people and you’ll be airborne most of the time. Hey, that’s probably a tad different than what you’re doing now, right? There are actually scores of monster trucks doing their thing across the U.S. Some promoters even take the rigs to places like Spain, Finland, Poland, and Costa Rica, so you may get to travel the world.

Off-road park owner
Why it’s cool: The beauty of owning your own off-road park is that you can go wheeling any time you want. That is, if you’re not too busy attending to the business of running the park. But even maintaining the park is fun in the dirt. Many parks have on-site equipment to create and maintain trails and obstacles. This means you can build a new obstacle and then be the first one to try it out. Heck, you can even name the obstacle, because you are The Man. Does it get much better than that?

Heavy equipment operator
Why it’s cool: The tools of this trade include bulldozers, backhoes, and excavators. Some have wheels and some have tracks. Pilot one of these earth-moving monsters and you’ll most likely be in the dirt all day in a variety of conditions. Want to step it up? Four Wheeler Editor Cappa recommends trying to land a job piloting a fire dozer. “I’ve seen these things climbing crazy hills and on the side of cliffs pushing dirt to slow the wildfires around my house. Sometimes they roll over. Pretty high-risk job, but it’s rad. You can find videos if you search “fire dozer” on YouTube. I looked into it once. It required something like 500 hours of dozer experience.” Another option is operating heavy equipment at the city landfill. If you can handle the smell.

Why it’s cool: The logging industry has some of the coolest off-road equipment on the planet. When you go to work in this business you may have the opportunity to drive skidders, forwarders, processors, delimbers, feller bunchers, and log loaders, among other things. The terrain is often unforgiving and the work continues in all but the worst weather. The logs have to be transported out of the forest and this duty falls to the logging truck drivers. These drivers have to pilot straight and combination trucks on dirt roads that are often slippery. Sounds like a fun challenge to us.

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