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Employment in Antarctica

Opportunity Categories:

Opportunities to work in Antarctica fall into the following categories:

Support Worker:
This category is what most people are interested in and qualified for. Because of the far flung and difficult environment of Antarctica, the program has many people in support roles. These people operate stations, laboratories, machinery, helicopters, and research ships, build or renovate facilities, maintain vehicles, outfit field parties, and manage camps. Many trades and levels of skill are involved.

See: Complete Listing of Support Worker Positions

Contractors to the Foundation hire individuals and award subcontracts for performance of support tasks. Click here for a list of Contractors.

Eligibility generally is limited to U.S. Scientists with advanced degrees, who initiate proposals that are submitted by their employing organizations. Graduate students are not encouraged to submit research proposals, but are welcome as members of research teams.

Scientists Assistant:
The scientist who submits a successful proposal typically is authorized to assemble a research team to help implement his or her project in the field. Preference is given to graduate and undergraduate students in the pertinent scientific discipline.

Active or Reserve Duty Military:
The New York Air National Guard operates LC-130 (ski-equipped) airplanes in the Antarctic Program. The Coast Guard operates icebreakers in Antarctica to escort supply ships and to support science. Employment with these organizations generally is limited to active duty and reserve service personnel. Direct inquiries to an Air Force recruiter or the Coast Guard, Department of Transportation, Washington, DC 20590.

Artist or Writer:
To enable interpretation and presentation of the Nation's Antarctic heritage, the Foundation's Antarctic Artists & Writers Program considers requests from particularly well qualified writers, historians, artists, and other scholars in the liberal arts to work in Antarctica. This is a limited opportunity that provides field support but no direct award of funds. The successful candidate will be well-established and working full-time in the appropriate field and will have a means of presenting his or her work to the public. Ask the Polar Information Program (703-292-8031 or for USAP Information Series No. 31, Antarctic Artists & Writers Program.

Public information representative:
Each year the Foundation endeavors to host in Antarctica a small number of members of the press and radio or television crews to observe and report on U.S. activities. Selection is based on ability to understand and present scientific subjects, written commitment from employing organization, and expected size of audience. For information on applications for participation during the 2002-2003 field season, please read the OLPA media advisory. Contact: Media and Public Information Section (703-292-8070 or, NSF.


Excluded categories:
Because some types of activities are not considered to contribute to the U.S. mission for Antarctica, NSF will not consider or approve applications for participation in the program in these categories: private expeditions by mountain climbers or adventurers, visits to promote commercial products, photography (except as in one of the above categories), "space-available" passage on support aircraft flights, and sightseeing or other superficial visits. The support organizations are also bound by this National policy. The Government does not provide support to private expeditions, but does not discourage citizens from participating in such expeditions if they are self-sufficient and meet environmental standards.


Persons selected to work in the Antarctic must pass strict physical and dental examinations whose standards are specified by USAP. Prospective winterers must pass a psychological examination as well.