Tired of Your Desk Job? Check Out These 4 Adventurous Careers in the South
When you have a spirit for adventure, it's safe to say that you're probably not going to work a 40-hour week in a comfortable air-conditioned building.
Your job may have you battling wildfires, hunting for criminals or flying at speeds of 120 mph just a mere 200 feet above the tree tops, or you might be perched 50 feet in the air, handling enough electrical voltage to melt steel.
1. Helicopter Pilot, Scott Yackel
A 19-year veteran pilot with Chatham County Mosquito Control, Scott Yackel is one of those adventure-seekers. His principal job is to support the county’s mosquito control program; more specifically, aerial operations. With 41 different mosquito species in the county, 13 of which carry potentially deadly diseases, Yackel and his team work daily to combat and contain the pesky problem. Yackel’s tools of the trade: three MD 500 helicopters and one fixed-wing airplane, an Air Tractor 402A, which can be regularly spotted flying mosquito missions. Even with a busy schedule eliminating mosquitoes, Yackel isn’t your average mosquito control pilot. His high-flying skills aid in law-enforcement patrols, criminal apprehensions, search-and-rescue missions, firefighting operations and even reconnaissance during hurricane evacuations. Yackel once assisted police in the apprehension of a shooting suspect hiding in a downtown Savannah restaurant. “Imagine a suspect outrunning a helicopter,” said Yackel. That makes him laugh. “Most citizens would say what we do is dangerous. We analyze every mission and complete a risk/benefit analysis to determine if and how the mission can be completed safely. It is worth putting our lives at risk to make a safer environment for our residents and visitors,” said Yackel.
2. Professional Hunter, Eva Shockey
It doesn’t get much more adventurous than traipsing around the globe in search of big-game trophy animals for a living, which is precisely what professional hunter and Daniel Defense Brand Athlete Eva Shockey has been doing for the past nine years. This 29-year-old wife and mother of 3-month-old newborn daughter Leni Bow Brent, works as a hunter, hunting guide, brand spokesperson, social media sensation and television host alongside her father, legendary outdoorsman/TV host Jim Shockey. When she’s not trudging up a snow-covered mountain peak or across the African savanna in search of her quarry, Eva can be found relaxing at her home near Raleigh, N.C., with her daughter and husband, retired NHL player Tim Brent. Of course “relaxing” to Eva typically means spending time in a local deer blind with Tim, also an avid hunter, working on her marksmanship skills, or physically training for her next adventure.
3. Georgia Power Lineman, Herb Hendrick
Staying in the air, Herb Hendrick’s job requires him to work 50 feet off solid ground. While that might not sound as adventurous as flying at high speeds, the fact that he is dealing with 14,000 volts of electricity will make you shiver. Hendrick is a lineman with Georgia Power. 37 years on the job, he’s as experienced as they come. He assures you that a lineman is armed with a level of skill that allows him to refer to the job as more of a challenge than a danger. “You’re dealing with stuff that will hurt you, so you’ve got to be precise in what you do,” said Hendrick. As a crew leader, he’s part of a five-person team responsible for making sure parts of Chatham County have power. One day the crew may be on Elba Island building a temporary substation and the next improving the overhead power lines that adorn Savannah’s Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard. Needless to say, a lineman faces a new adventure every day. Some of those adventures are quite challenging, like Hurricane Matthew. The storm slammed the Georgia coast in October 2016, knocking out power for 300,000 coastal Georgia residents. Hendrick and his team worked 16-hour days for a week straight. From restoring power and rebuilding the system, the main priority was helping customers. “The reward we get is when we see the lights come on. You’re able to start the process of those people rebuilding their lives.” A lineman’s job isn’t confined to state lines. Hendrick and his colleagues have traveled to nearly a dozen states to help with storm recovery efforts. No matter where the day takes them, they’re committed to a team approach and safety. To start your career as a lineman, go to georgiapower.com.
4. Coast Guard, Tanner Marshall
It’s a profession where less than half of the people who apply make the cut. Challenging, frightening, dangerous and adrenaline-pumping are superlatives used to describe Tanner Marshall’s job. Marshall is an aviation survival technician in the United States Coast Guard. Simply put, he’s a rescue swimmer; ready to jump in deep, dark ocean waters in the middle of the night to save lives. Not knowing this was his calling at a young age, you would never know that now. When you talk to Marshall, you would think he was born to do this. Being a rescue swimmer isn’t a career most of us could handle. For one, Marshall must maintain a level of fitness that allows him to perform in heavy seas by himself for up to 30 minutes at a time. He works out five days a week for nearly three hours a day. Likewise, he’s mentally sharp.
"You can be an animal physically, but if having someone bear hug your neck as they cling for life and drag you under water causes you to freak out, this job isn’t for you."
“The mental portion, I think, is harder to acquire. It’s what truly causes people to fail out of swimmer school. You can be an animal physically, but if having someone bear hug your neck as they cling for life and drag you under water causes you to freak out, this job isn’t for you,” said Marshall. Because each mission is unique – Marshall could be searching for survivors after a boat slammed into a jetty or performing a frozen-lake rescue – he is well-trained to execute a wide variety of scenarios. Maybe it’s a combination of the unknown and the feeling of success that keeps him coming back for more. “During one sea rescue, I remember watching the last survivor being lifted into the helicopter; time stopped. I turned back and looked at the boat being battered by the wind, waves and rain. I was so pumped, I kicked up hard, shouted and punched the water in triumph,” said Marshall. Three lives saved. All in a day’s work.
To read more about these adventures jobs, subscribe now or pick up the April/May issue of South magazine.