Question on returning vs noobs to the ice.

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    As this is my first post and browsed thru Afew pages to not find this question answered.

    Will these contractors always hire back returners over newbies???
    As instructed by you veterans to the ice, I’ve been doing my research and reading a lot of different blogs. As I’m only 27 years old with 10 years expierence in various forms of mechanics from small engines to on/off road CAT,Cummins engines along with various forms of repair. I don’t want to apply for let’s say a lead mechanic position due to my lack in over haul repair’s to these various types of engines. But not over shoot myself by applying for a helper mechanic. ( as I read a recent topic of a mechanical engineer looking over qualify for the position he was looking into)

    It almost seams to me that unless your a returnee, your chances of getting to go down are more luck then anything.

    Any tips back would be great, and thanks to the admins for creating a great site with extremely helpful info.


    It sounds like you’d be a great fit as a mechanic at the MEC, the Mechanical Equipment Center at McMurdo. They do everything from snowmobiles to chainsaws, and a variety of other exotic things. Also consider applying as a Utility Technician (UT).

    They preferentially hire returnees. So yeah, as a noob it takes more persistence. But we all got hired the first time, somehow. Often by applying over and over again, and eventually applying at the right time. Others by being such a PITA that management gave up and hired them.


    I’ll echo Glen.
    Returning people get rehired for the same reason they get rehired anyplace. They are known commodity and it’s already known that they can do the job. The program gains a lot of collective knowledge when people return year after year. They’ll be working while you are still trying to figure out what you are allowed to do and what you aren’t.
    The bottom line though is that most of the time not everyone comes back. Apply for everything you are qualified for. If you get a helper job and you are satisfied with the pay, and you prove yourself, you will most likely be first in line the next season for the job you want.
    As far as pay goes, it is a bit deceiving. It’s hard to figure out how much you are making when you have no choice about paying for anything. No food, water, electric, fuel, car insurance, etc. No nothing. All your money goes in the bank. I made less that my old job in the states, but with the old job I barely broke even, with the ice job, I gained 8 thousand dollars or more in 4.5 months.

    That said , you can spend money and use it up if you aren’t careful. Some will drink it away In the bars. You get a free air ticket home with stops in NZ or other places. Spending a few months traveling around the world between contracts can use up the cash too.


    Thank you sciencetech and thepooles98 for the tips and words of encouragement. I get that the hiring process is hard, weeds out the masses who think they can do to ones who really really want the open contracts.

    Like most people I’m sure ask is pay. Now my reasons for going are more for personal reasons (I.e goals) then the money. I make ok money stateside but nothen great. I see myself going no where (current employer) unless I really challenge myself. I take a huge amount of pride knowing that the trucks I fix put food/goods/clothing in people’s homes and tought what better way then to lend a hand for the USAP. Can’t say I would for many other government programs but I feel as physical effects of our environment are changing. Why not help the program with a skill I have, not to add that I’m a weather geek as well 🙂 . I need to make enough so I can send money home to pay the bills ( not crazy ) but other then that. I’m young and desisions on going down to the ice are only going to get harder the older I get (I.e family, house, health)

    Only other question if you guys know, is jobs in with the VMF tough to get then other GA or UT jobs? As its a specific job with a lot of knowledge?


    Another question to add to my last post.

    As some can side with. My current employer does not offer health insurance (yeah). When getting PQ’d is that thru your own doctor or the doctors in Denver I’m guessing? I never really found any info on this issue. If at Denver I’m also guessing your flight out would be out of your own pocket?

    If by living/working down on the ice will save me money, other then my 1/2 rent some $ for the girlfriend and student loans get paid. Then I’m looking good. My hurdle then would be the money I would need for the PQ’ing and airfare, correct?

    Thank you guys again for taking the time to answer these noob questions. But it is nice to have them answered hence why this forum rocks 🙂


    There aren’t any GA jobs per se these days, but the other less skilled jobs are much harder to get because most everyone is qualified for them. The mechanic or UT jobs are like most other skilled jobs everywhere else in the world, there’s a much smaller pool of applicants, so they either don’t need you or they need you tomorrow morning.

    As for the medical, you will be reimbursed (*eventually*) for costs of the physical exam, required shots etc., although it may take awhile. No need to come to Denver, use facilities locally. If there is any work that needs to be done (dental fillings for example) you have to pay for them. The only need to come to Denver would be to take the psych exam if you were wintering (!) and that trip would be paid for.


    Thanks skua77

    That really sums up on info I’m curious about for now. Other then you hinted on the dental info. So lets just say tomorrow I get a dental check. They fix a filling, fix a other thing or 2. But then comes the waiting game here with the contacts. How long is that check good for? Guessing 6months to a year? Would have to pay for this and need to pay it all over again 6 months later.

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