Have been offer a job.

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    I’m very excited to say that I’ve been offered a Job in the usap. Here is my problem though, I was just offered another job in the middle east with KBR(Kellog, Brown, and Root) for 84,000$ tax free for 11 months. The job with raytheon is only going to pay 1,100.00 a week. I have really wanted to get down to the ice for about a year or two. In the very least I’ve been thinking about it that long. The money is pretty big deal, but they would be two completely different experiences. If I go to the middle east I’d be confined to the base except for two, ten day leaves. Plus in the middle east I’d be working a lot more than in the usap.(7/12 hour day with no days off what so ever).

    I was just wondering what every ones take on all this is? What would you do if it was you and why?


    Money is always a big thing but no one is shooting at you on the Ice.

    Been There

    No one works in the program for big money. One thing to remember is your out of pocket expenses are pretty low when you are on the Ice. If you don’t hit the bar alot you can spend $20-$30 a week and pocket the rest. Standard work week is six nine hour days with one day a week off and some holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. And I repeat, no one is shooting at you. 😀



    congrats on the offers.

    I understand the value of bouncing the question off of people who are emotionally detached, but ultimately only you will be able to decide which way to go….keep in mind that you will be eligible for a completion bonus on your base pay in the USAP (with a potential of somewhere between 16-20% in your first season)…so the base weekly salary you have been offered is a slight bit understated. Also keep in mind that you will be working 84 hours per week if you take the KBR position as opposed to 54 on the ice – so your hourly rate goes way down. Also, if you enjoy the occasional libation, you won’t be able be able to enjoy that in the middle east. Of course, to the best of my knowledge, you won’t necessarily have a roommate in the middle east (but you may) where it’s a sure thing at MCM. Other than that, you really have to decide how important the money is to you – or at least that is what I would be looking at if I were in your position (and I have been)

    good luck


    Here is the way I see it so far. Feel free to correct or add something, it will only help me with my process.

    If I break it down the major pros and cons it would look something like this

    RAYTHEON on the ice
    20.37 per hour. (est. $25,000 for 6 months)
    With one whole day off a week (unless they tell me I’m working).
    Not able to leave the ice, but holidays are observed for the most part.
    Shared dorm is likely
    Some freedom

    KBR The big shi$&y sand box!
    24.57 per hour. ($84,000 for 11 months)
    No taxes (I think. Still looking into that)
    2 ten day leaves with flights paid up to $860.00.
    Work 11 hours a day 7 days a week with no holidays(i think)
    Internet and phone
    Housing could be shared.
    confined to base
    confined to base
    There isn’t to crazy of a risk, but there a chance of the base getting shelled or rpg’s fired. To be honest that isn’t a big deal to me. I believe the risk is minimal.


    So what’s the job? That could make a difference too.

    Several years ago my usual employer wanted me to go to Iraq, but I would have been out on some field site where things might have been a bit dicey. And that is when those videos of engineers getting beheaded started showing up. As an engineer, I opted to go to the ice instead.

    Depending on where you are in the Middle East, you could be in an open bay trailer or even a tent. Just like the ice, the new guy gets the worst housing assignment. Which even at McMurdo is not that bad.


    If you’re doing it for the money, choose KBR, not RPSC. Like people have mentioned previously, you’re not going to make a tremendous amount of money with RPSC, as compared to KBR (unless you’re a MD). You’re chosing the Ice for the experience. Remember you have people with doctoral and master’s degrees that clean toilets and wash dishes for less than $400 a week for RPSC (that’s less than $7.50 an hour).

    Depending on what your job is with RPSC, maybe you’ll be able to make your summer contract into a year long one, so you could make up to $57,200 before taxes in 12 months, not including your completion bonus. Also depending on your job you might get to go to the various field camps in Antarctica, say if you’re in comms and have to set up the sat links or a power plant mechanic and set up the generators. You first said that you’ll be working 7/12 with KBR than 7/11. If you’re working 84 hours a week for 48 weeks, and making $84,000, that’s like $20.83 an hour, very similar to what you would be making with RPSC, or if it’s 77 hours a week, it’s like $22.74 an hour.

    I was surprised that KBR was still hiring people from the US, I thought 2 or 3 years ago that were mainly going after people from Eastern Europe and India, so they can pay them less, and pocket more of their government contract money for themselves.


    The job would be my profession, which is a crane operator. That would be at both locations. I get the feeling 98% of my work would be on base in the middle east. I’m trying to find out more info on that, but I know that they told me I would be confined to base for 11 months. That statement leads me to believe that all the work is on base.

    I also was trying to get a solid baring on what the hours worked there would be and I’ve been talking to someone who just got back about that. He said the hours can be pretty lax for someone like me (crane operator). As I would be working mostly on a as needed bases. So it looks like it would be closer to 7/11’s or less. I’m pretty sure on my 1st phone call they said 7/11’s. Even when I work here at home sometimes I go in and I may not make 1 lift in a whole day. It’s the nature of the job to not do anything except read a book and wait sometimes.

    ICEMAN, from what I can tell KBR is hiring all the high skilled positions here in the states. The people who I’ve talked to are Master Electricians, Skilled Operators, Lead Journeymen, and things along those lines. I don’t think the are hiring the more mundane jobs stateside anymore, like cooks and dishwashers. I know they wanted my NCCCO which a national cert. for crane operators and that is only a standard in the states. There really isn’t international cert. for what I do. It’s left to the country which the work is done in. I’m sure those war torn middle eastern states don’t have any requirements, so KBR must be seeking out the better man or woman for the job.


    Also the money is a pretty big deal for me. I know what the numbers are when you break it down to hourly. The thing is I’m young and I’ve never had the opportunity to make 84 grand in a year. So if I do the middle east and I spend 30 grand while I’m there(that’s high balling it) when I came home I would have 50 grand in the bank. This is where I’m getting torn. The ICE has been a pipe dream of mine for a few years. Part of “me says go and do what your heart wants to.” The other side says “50 grand in the bank don’t be stupid go make the money.”

    I should have added that I don’t have anything holding me down. I don’t own my house and I can break my lease anytime. I don’t have a wife or even girlfriend right now. I have a place I could keep my things including my truck while I was away. Oh and here a biggie I own everything I have outright, meaning I don’t have any payments I’d have to maintain.

    Thanks for all the input guys you’re really helping me out.

    Been There


    If you are hired as a crane operator for the Ice you will also be a heavy equipment operator. You will not sit and only operate the crane and nothing else.
    You also might be sent to South Pole as a crane operator (Mantis tracked cranes) at some point during the season.

    As everyone has said, the Antarctic contract is not a big money contract but if you have dreamed of going to Antarctica it sounds like this is your opportunity. With nothing hanging over your head and no costs back home you are in the perfect position to deploy to the Ice. And you will have the opportunity to meet and work with some great people.

    Go for it, might be your only chance. You can always make money later.



    Been there, I was thinking the exact opposite that he should do the KBR thing, then reapply as a crane/heavy equipment operator after here’s done it Iraq. Of course there’s always the chance he won’t make it this far the next time he applies for the Ice. Plus the next time he applies (if he chooses to do the KBR thing) there’s going to be a new contractor or at least Raytheon partnering with another company for the new contract (which I hope doesn’t happen).

    Been There

    Iceman I hear you but Jake has a job offer in hand for what is a pretty good position in the program. If he does well when he can always look at working summers on the Ice and working the of season for someone else. Some of the groups bidding on the support contract might be in the position to offer off season work at other locations.

    For Jake, the NSF support contract is being rebid. Selection should happen in October, 2009, with a transition period until April, 2010, when the new contract takes over. Every time the support contract has been rebid a new organization has always won but each time the new contractor hires many of the outgoing employees. Hiring folks with previous Antarctic experience is critical to the success of any new contractor. If you take the position offered, like the work and want to return, you have a big advantage the following season, regardless who the contractor would be. Cannot tell you what to do and many folks on this blog have been in the program a long time and might not be able to give you unbias advise. Have to include myself in the group that has worked in the Antarctic way too long to be able to tell you what to do.



    B T, I’m not looking for someone to tell me what to do. I just thought it would be a good idea to seek others opinions on the situation that’s all. Anyway I think I’ve made my mind up, though my mind is still racing. It probably will till I have a official contract with KBR.

    Thanks again for all the input guys.

    Been There


    Not telling you what to do, just telling you what I would do if I was in your position. But I have the advantage of a number of year experience in the program, very many years. 😀


    Big Jake.
    Ok, I’ll be the devil’s advocate. it sounds to me like the money is the biggest thing for you. Undoubtably either place will be an adventure. It sounds like the Iraq gig is winding down. You may not have that chance again. The ice will be ongoing for a while. You might try both. Iraq now and the ice later. Of course there are no guarantees. Get the name of the person on ice who is doing the hiring and keep in touch.

    When you make it to the ice, let it be because you want to go. It’s an exciting adventure and you will be the hero of everyone you know. People will line up to ask questions about global warming or penguins etc. Once you go to the ice, you become an ambassador for the program as well. You may well find your relatives all want you to speak to their childrens schools. You can decline of course, but it’s a nice part of the adventure.
    Most of the program participants are only partially in it for the money. You will find that at the end of the summer, there is an exodus of icepeople not back to the states, but on their continuing yearly adventures. Many of last summers friends are treking through Tibet. One is climbing to the Everest base camp. Others are in China, Kuala Lumpar, Fiji, Rarotonga, diving the Barrier Reef, or backpacking Austrailia. Then there is New Zealand, one of the nicest countries in the world to hang out in. Everywhere you go in the world, you are running into icepeople doing the same things as you.

    I’ve never hiked the Appalachian trail, but I always wanted to do it. My whole life, I read books about people who hiked the trail, but I never actually met anyone who did it. In 1997 on a South pacific Island, I finally met one person who did it. Then I got to McMurdo. It seemed like I was the only one who hadn’t. Bottom line, you will be living with the worlds foremost scientists and the workers will be the most ecclectic group of people you will ever meet in your life.

    There is a saying on the ice, that the first year you go down for the adventure, you will take any job for a chance to go. The next year you go down for the money. But the third year, you go back because you no longer fit in the corporate world. After 4 month long vacations in the worlds most exotic places every year , you find it very hard to go back to a job that gives you a week or two vacation a year.

    Adventure on the ice, adventure after the ice and a new way of looking at the world, that’s what brings people to the ice.
    Hope you get both jobs.

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