Antarctic Jobs...

preparing dynamite charges to collapse Old Pole, December 2010
Workers at Pole, including GA's, prepare dynamite charges to be used for collapsing Old Pole, December 2010.

Scroll down to the employment links and details which are at the bottom of this page, which were checked, updated, and verified on 24 November 2023. NSF significantly cut back on previous seasons, but the Antarctic Support Contract contractors and subcontractors are continuing recruitment for the 2023-24 season. of the more interesting job assignments for GA's (general assistants)...known in the older days as GFA's or general field assistants. This job classification involved getting paid very little, shoveling a lot of snow...and otherwise ending up with a wide variety of interesting and unusual job assignments, such as that depicted above. Many senior management people in the program...including folks like Jerry Marty, got their start this way. Alas...the current contract structure no longer includes this job classification.

Like many other folks, I prefer to go to exotic and unusual places while getting paid to do so. My first trip and subsequent job in the Antarctica...back in the 1970s...resulted primarily from military experience. As things have generally transitioned from the U. S. Navy program of the IGY (and previous) years to one operated by civilian contractors, the hiring situation has become much larger, more complicated, confusing, and of course online.

[If you haven't seen it yet, please check out my historical page which describes the history of the transition from military to civilian support of the U. S. Antarctic program...not to mention the torturous process which led up to the award of the current contract at the end of 2011.]

excavating the Old Pole cosray labAt right...another Old Pole excavation a few years ago--in 1976-77 we're digging out the old cosray lab so that baseline data can be collected. While contractors and hiring procedures have changed over the years, there is still a lot of snow to be shoveled in Antarctica. Job descriptions include phrases such as "...and other duties as assigned." The task seen here involved GFA's, grantees, science techs, and others including the station manager (me).

The previous two support contractors, Raytheon Polar Services Company (RPSC, 2000-2012) and Antarctic Support Associates (ASA, 1990-2000) were pretty much monolithic. While they did utilize some subcontractor support, they hired almost everyone who worked to support the program. They typically would provide advance notice of forthcoming job openings to incumbent employees on the ice (during the previous austral summer/winter seasons), giving them an opportunity to apply and get hired before the job announcements were made public on 1 March. The public announcement and job listing was made on the company web site...and in more recent years it involved a strictly online process--initial by the company...perhaps a phone call or email to verify current interest...a more detailed background check by a third-party HR/screening company such as HireRight...hopefully leading up to a job offer. Additionally, in some years there were job fairs in Denver and elsewhere; these originated as resume collecting "meet-and-greet" sessions, more recently they were more informational in nature, and I've attempted to post information about them on social media.

All of this changed with the award of the current prime contract, originally awarded to Lockheed Martin (L-M) who took over on 1 April 2012. The current Denver office is actually an umbrella organization which calls itself the Antarctic Support Contract (ASC); it consists of a much more extensive network of subcontractors than in the past. While many of the hiring subcontractors maintain a presence in the Denver office, each actually does its own hiring using its own resources, HR departments, and web sites. At the beginning of 2012, as the new contract was being implemented, the initial effort by L-M as well as the subcontractors was to restaff the permanent/full time employees, get signed contracts with the 2012 winterovers, and hire to fill the occasional last-minute replacement vacancy. This process, as well as the initial effort to hire people for the 2012-13 summer and summer/winter, of course went through many changes in procedures, web site links, methods, and contact information.

What has happened more recently? Nothing is certain except continued evolution and change...most recently the transfer of the ASC contract from Lockheed-Martin to Leidos, which officially closed on 16 August 2016. My full details on the contract shift are here. Needless to say, folks involved with the process continue to be reticent about discussing things on open forums, lest their current and/or future status be placed in jeopardy.

The summer season main-body jobs for McMurdo typically run from early October to about the end of February; for Pole the summer jobs generally run from late October to mid-February. The winter jobs start as the summer folks are leaving. Some of the positions are (or can be) summer+winter, and a few of the McMurdo jobs may include part or all of a winter season, now that there is not only WINFLY (several early opening flights to McMurdo around the end of August) but additional flights about every six weeks during the winter. As for Palmer Station, there is usually some job turnover every 2-3 months throughout the year, but most of the summer positions run from September/October through March/April. The program strives to hire the winterovers by July/August, but by the time October rolls around there are always some openings--some people drop out, fail to pass the physical or psychological examinations (PQ), or opt for summer-only positions.

Jerry Marty with a shovel That said...what do you do if you're looking for an Antarctic job? First of all, keep in mind that there are a few other alternatives not otherwise discussed here. If you're attending or near a university or other institution with Antarctic research interests...the principal investigators who go to the ice sometimes need help in the field...shoveling snow, running massive telescopes, diving into icy McMurdo Sound or Arthur Harbor (Palmer), or drilling holes in the ice in search of neutrinos. Most of the people who go to the ice as part of a science project are graduate students involved in the program, but there are exceptions, the most significant of which I've listed below. Other resources (which I really don't know as much about) are those which contract directly with NSF, such as SPAWAR (Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command in Charleston, SC), Kenn Borek Air (Twin Otter/Basler charters), and ACHI (helicopter charters). This page lists contact information for these and several other organizations which provide direct support and occasionally hire people to go to Antarctica. There is no web link to SPAWAR they are a government agency, any direct hire positions must be found on the somewhat inscrutable USA Jobs website. As far as I know they don't have any direct hire Antarctic jobs, but I've listed their hiring subcontractor below as well as provided links and more details about their subcontractors here.

(At right, Jerry Marty is doing a GFA job out in the field, this was 4 November 1974; he would later spend most of the 1974-75 season working at Pole along with his wife Elena. Jerry's first ice job had been in 1969-70 as a GFA assigned to Byrd Station; he returned to the program after a stint in the Army. If you don't know who Jerry Marty the 2000's he was NSF's construction manager for the construction of the elevated station at Pole. And a good friend.)

Before I continue, I must point out something which I get asked about frequently. In the past, the support contractors have often hired people who are not US citizens (or who are not otherwise legally authorized to work in the United States). All this has changed with the current contract--only US citizens are eligible to work for one of the USAP support contractors/subcontractors. There may be some negotiable exceptions for permanent American residents with certain types of green cards authorizing work in the US, or in very rare cases for specific hard-to-fill positions; but most of the job listings specify "American citizenship." (I have hiring links/info for the other English-speaking Antarctic programs below.) This does not preclude non-US researchers from coming down as part of a science project team, but one must already be a member of such a team, or apply to them directly.

I won't go into detail about basic general job search guidelines, there are millions of personal, hard-copy, and online sources for such information. But keep in mind that while you may be looking for a short-term contract rather than a "career," the people who will be reviewing your applications are looking at things from a long-term corporate perspective. For example, I lost out on one position at Pole partly because I didn't have the "right" answers to interview questions about commitment to employment in future seasons. Another thing to keep in mind--employers and reviewers WILL take a look at your public information on social media, blogs, and web sites. I had this issue come up while being considered for another Pole job. Fortunately that employer stood up for me as there was nothing negative involved--and the interesting details were shared with me while I was in their office after being hired. A couple of other quick comments...remember that it can't hurt to tailor resumes and cover letters to the specific job being applied for; also, make an effort to obtain/maintain good contact information. Be sure the prospective employer has the best and current methods to contact you, and make a good effort to obtain specific names and email or telephone contact information for the people doing the hiring.

Enough older resource you should investigate is the Antarctic Memories message board. Although there isn't much traffic there of late, much relevant information is there. Particularly if you haven't worked in the program, you should spend some time researching the various posts (job/hiring related and otherwise). This resource has been around since the early 2000s. The pre-2012 posts about specific positions, application procedures, travel and administrative details during the RPSC contract are a bit obsolete, but the general information about living and working in Antarctica never goes out of date. I'm one of the admins, along with several other folks with a fair amount of experience. If you don't see what you're looking for, feel free to post your own question there or contact me directly.

Next, check out my current and recent past links to Polie sites/blogs. While these are primarily applicable to Pole, one which is highly pertinent for all USAP jobs is the blog by 2012-13 summer cook Jeffrey Donenfeld. While his main blog pages from that era present an extensive exposition of the various Pole life aspects and events during that season, his South Pole FAQ contains a lot of specific detail about living in the place, his extensive efforts to get hired over a four-year period...and how he ended up with the job with five days notice to deploy.

A couple of other resources...first, of course, there is the main site. In addition to the information link described above, the page on "jobs and opportunities" provides additional detail and links. And don't overlook the other pages on this site...such as the Travel and Deployment" page, which includes the USAP participant guide, travel information, and the "deployment packets" which give you some idea of what to expect from the PQ (physical qualification) process and travel to the ice. Also take a look at the UTMB information links mentioned below.

Leidos and ASC sign
My August 2017 photo of the sign in front of the project headquarters
in Centennial, Colorado, a Denver suburb's how to apply. After Leidos assumed the USAP ASC contract by combining with Lockheed-Martin's IS&GS business on 16 August 2016, they first created this web page. It briefly describes their new role in the program and lists the various contractors and their respective general job well as this highly recommended YouTube video linked at the top of that page. But I strongly suggest that after reviewing this page, you go to the specific links (below), where I've included the exact information on how to navigate the various websites and search for positions. I check and verify these frequently, but of course any of them are subject to change at a moment's notice.

Program Management and Integration, Site Management, Functional Area Leadership, Technical Management & Administration (TM&A), Science and Technical Project Services (S&TPS), Information Technology and Communications (IT&C), Infrastructure and Operations (I&O) and Transportation and Logistics (T&L) [these functional department names were created by Lockheed-Martin--perhaps Leidos may yet revise them as they rearrange the furniture]. Here is their job search page. For the Leidos jobs, from here you will still need to do two separate searches by entering the keywords: Antarctic, and Antarctica, (no quotes or punctuation, typical, and NOT in the same search) on the "Enter Keywords..." search box. These searches might yield different results, and non-ice jobs may show up if the job description mentions Leidos' ice presence. Almost all of the Antarctic jobs are listed with a location of Centennial, Colorado (although they may occasionally need to hire science planners who work out of the NSF office in Alexandria, VA, and other jobs may show locations in Reston, VA (Leidos' corporate headquarters) or elsewhere, although the detailed job description will show the actual location.

Best Recycling...
(formerly) Waste Management and Recycling:
has transitioned into Six Mile, LLC, owned by Gana-A'Yoo Services Corporation (GSC). See the link below for waste management job information.

Gana-A'Yoo Services Corporation (GSC, partnered with ESS Support Services)...
Food services, housing & janitorial services, retail & postal services, waste management and recycling: Here is their Antarctic jobs listing page; for more general information about the company, this is the home page of their website. The kitchen staff hired by Gana-A'Yoo (GSC) may actually be employed by partner company ESS, a division of the Australian company Compass Group, because GSC, while having a bidding edge as an Alaska Native Corporation, was too small to handle the contract. Waste management personnel will be employed by the Gana-A'Yoo wholly-owned subsidiary Six Mile.

GHG Corporation...
On-site Information Technology and Communications (IT&C):
This page lists all of the available GHG jobs including the ones in Antarctica, if any. There is also a FAQ page with general and ice-specific employment information.

Amentum (formerly PAE Government Services, Inc (PAE) which was acquired by Amentum in February 2022)...
Infrastructure and Operations (I&O) (trades), Transportation and Logistics (T&L) (supply), and other miscellaneous positions including met, marine tech/boating coordinator, field camp and traverse staff, aviation/AGE support: This is the basic Amentum job information and search page. There are other general information links on this page. For the Antarctic job listings, type "Antarctica" in the search box. Often they list all of the jobs, filled or not. Historical note: Amentum is a new company as of 2020 created by private equity firm American Securities and private investment firm Lindsay Goldberg after they purchased the Management Services business (federal government services) of AECOM. Here's an October 2019 AECOM press release.

Amentum--Antarctic Fire Department...
The Antarctic Fire Department is a specialized organization hired/operated by subcontractor Amentum/PAE. As such, they've set up this hiring/employment information page for both summer and winter positions. During the summer, some of the firefighters rotate to Pole for a few weeks in turn. Their page, which describes their functions and the various jobs, is here, although you still need to go to the main Amentum/PAE employment site mentioned above to apply for these positions.

is an addition to the Antarctic Support Contract consortium, supporting the McMurdo redevelopment as the general contractor for the McMurdo upgrade otherwise known as AIMS (Parsons press release and basic AIMS info). The project started ramping up in 2018-19, and for 2019-20 they hired more people for the project. Then, the pandemic mostly shut things down for a couple of years, but there are a number of jobs listed for the 2023-24 season. Go here and click on "View Jobs" in the center of the page. Then, in the "Keywords" box, type "Antarctica" to see the job openings. As the McMurdo modernization, as of November 2023 they had several open positions.

University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB)
Medical services...go to their "Center for Polar Medical Operations" home page...the "Job Opportunities" link in the left sidebar lists all of the Antarctic positions that they hire, with links to PDF job descriptions. The "apply now" link gives general information about the company, although the "PQ Info" page is password protected. The "training/orientation" page provides some fairly detailed orientation info on the various stations...of interest to everyone, not just medical folks. To see the currently open Antarctic positions and apply for them, go here and type "Antarctica" in the keyword box.

National Science Foundation
has only a very few jobs specifically related to Antarctic operations as opposed to grant approval, science program management, and administration. Any of the USAP-related jobs VERY rarely become available. I subscribe to the NSF mailing list which sends me all NSF polar programs job opportunities as well as press releases, so I'll highlight significant job openings as appropriate. As a Federal agency, NSF uses the official government employment site for many but not all positions. Here's the USAJOBS list of all NSF job openings (not just Polar Programs), which appears to be current as of 24 November 2023.

Global Monitoring Laboratory is currently seeking two technicians for the 2024 winter as is the announcement that was posted on 15 March 2023. This page includes a 70-minute webinar video about the position...and the application procedure is quite straightforward. Alternates may have first right of refusal for the 2024-25 season.

University of Chicago
hires two winterovers to operate and maintain the South Pole well as the machinist...the fabricator of miscellaneous replacement parts as needed for the science and station equipment, as well as the annual South Pole marker. In recent years, the upcoming winterover positions were announced in April. Go to this page. From here, scroll down to "External Applicants" under "University Staff Job Opportunities" and select the link to "search for staff opportunities." On that page, click on "Location" under the search box. If "South Pole" is listed, select it to see the available positions if any. Although the job descriptions may say "Health Screen Required? -- No," we of course know better.

University of Wisconsin
hires two winterovers each year to run the IceCube well as ARA and whatever else they've got going. They start the winterover candidate search in December for the following season. Summer positions if any will also be listed as they come up. Go here...if there are positions available they will be listed, along with instructions on how to apply. Faculty, postdoc, graduate student and other positions may also be listed.

University of Minnesota
hires winterovers to run the BICEP projects--both BICEP3 in DSL and the newer BICEP Array in MAPO. Go here, select "External Candidates," and then type "BICEP" in the search box. The Pole jobs if any will appear with instructions on how to apply.

  NIWC, also known as NAVWAR (formerly SPAWAR; renamed in June 2019 (archived)
(also see this archived April-June 2019 Navy CHIPS Magazine article) is the Navy organization contracted directly with NSF to to provide weather forecasting, air traffic control, flight following, base operations, systems maintenance, systems engineering, and information security services--at McMurdo during the austral summer season. Specifically, the operation supporting USAP is NAVWAR Atlantic in Charleston. Here's the NAVWAR home page. As far as I know, there are no NAVWAR direct hires who go to the ice. Until the 2017-18 season, the subcontractor was Scientific Research Corporation (SRC). But the support contract was rebid, and after some delay the new subcontract was awarded to DIGITALiBiz on 19 January 2018. As a result, and due to new information about DIGITALiBiz's subcontractors, I created this separate page about their contract, the subcontractors, and their job opportunities.

Transportation and Logistics (T&L).See this archived May 2012 news article. The company has reorganized more than once since the ASC contract was awarded...shipping company Maersk has operated some of the supply ships to McMurdo, while freight forwarder Damco is the USAP agent in Punta Arenas and presumably also Santiago, replacing Agunsa. I have never seen any USAP-related jobs posted by either company.

Social media
The ASC Facebook page frequently posts jobs that any of the contractors are trying to fill, particularly the most urgent needs. Go should be able to see the posts even if you do not otherwise use Facebook.

Other country national programs
All countries normally restrict applications to citizens of their respective countries or their close allies...but there may be very occasional exceptions for very hard-to-fill positions. And I'm sure there are a few of you reading this who ARE citizens of such countries. I must apologize for listing only the programs of other English-speaking countries as I am not literate in other languages.

The Australian Antarctic Program--have a look at this page if only to see the great photos! The jobs are listed under "Work in Antarctica" and "Work in Australia." I do like the way they list all of the jobs whether or not the program is actually currently hiring for a given position. They also hire New Zealand citizens.

Antarctica New Zealand...this link is to their Scott Base jobs information page, which impressively features VIDEOS (created by good friend Anthony Powell!) about each position...these videos can be found toward the bottom of this page under the "Roles" header. This section features ALL jobs at Scott Base. To see the current job listing openings, scroll to the center of the page and click on the "click here to visit our recruitment page" link. Then click on the "View all Jobs" link in the lower right to see the current openings if any, including those in Christchurch. They require that applicants be legally entitled to work in New Zealand, which includes Australians as there is a mutual agreement between these two countries.

British Antarctic Survey--this is their introductory job information page. The "vacancies" link lists the current openings if any. I'm unsure of their hiring policy for citizens of Commonwealth nations or other countries. I've also worked in Greenland (albeit supporting the U.S. Air Force working for two different contractors at Thule rather than supporting science), I should mention that science support jobs exist there as well. Polar Field Services (my reference page about Polar Field Services) is the NSF support contractor for the Arctic program--the operation is much smaller than USAP, but they DO hire folks for Summit and other NSF locations/projects in Greenland and Alaska, as well as support positions in CONUS. Here is their jobs the "click here for available jobs" button.

Good luck...and let me know how it goes!

Photo credits: the 2010-11 photo at the top of this page is from Marie McLane; the 1976-77 photo is from Les Rohde; the 1974-75 photo of Jerry Marty is an official US Navy photo by PH1 R. Hilton. Also note that this is a private noncommercial website which is not affiliated with the National Science Foundation or any of the organizations listed; the information and links seen on this page are publicly available and provided here for informational purposes only.