Top Tens > Top 10 vehicle related jobs
For anyone with more than a passing interest in vehicles, whether it's cars, bikes, boats or planes, working somewhere within one of the directly related industries could make the difference between a working life characterised by mundane drudgery, or being in the privileged position of actually looking forward to Monday mornings.
Here are our top ten vehicle related jobs:
Top-level racing driver
It's a no-brainer really. Who could resist the allure of a multi-million dollar pay packet, admiration (usually) from thousands of fans, traveling first class all over world to ply your trade, and massive adrenaline highs which inevitably kick in when you're hustling an incredibly expensive piece of machinery around a race track at ludicrous speeds. Too bad its not exactly a realistic career option for 99.99999 per cent of us.
Car designers, understandably, usually start at the bottom of the heap. It's a lucky, or very well connected, person who leaves university with an MDes in Transportation Design and walks into a design position at a major manufacturer with the ability to call the shots. Most start out working on the lower rungs of the design team ladder, perhaps spending several years sketching out door mirrors and grilles for run-of-the-mill family cars. But over time they'll move into more senior design positions, perhaps eventually getting to direct a team of designers in creating something memorable, like an all-new sports coupe. For the lucky few who get to the top of the highly-competitive pile, they can attain celebrity status within the automotive world. For better or worse, names like Chris Bangle, Walter de'Silva, Jason Castriota and Giorgetto Giugiaro will go down in history books. Well, history books about cars anyway.
Being a pilot has to be one of the most glamorous and fun jobs there is. Whether it's the quiet dignity of a commercial airline pilot, or the manic fun of crop sprayer pilots and fast-jet military pilots, most aviators have a pretty sweet life. Becoming a pilot isn't cheap. In fact it's one of the most expensive courses you can take at college. And surprisingly the entry level pay isn't that great either. However most pilots do the job because they love it - and that's another advantage. It makes a big difference to your working life is all the people around you enjoy their jobs too.
Off-road trail guide/fixer
A proper off-road trail guide isn't the sort of person you'd call on for some help if you're planning on tackling the old quarry down the road. Instead these guys services are used if you want to get a team of 4x4s and people from Colombia to Peru and back again without being taken hostage or ending up in Canada. It's not the sort of job you can take a college course for. Life's experiences will either have given you the skills to do it safely, or you'll have to get out an see the world a bit more. The pay might not be out of this world. But your stories will be.
Stunt drivers can be called on for a wide variety of tasks. Their skills can be used in everything from Hollywood films and mind-blowing stunt shows, to car commercials and TV programs. You can take various advanced driving courses which will teach you some of the skills needed to be a stunt driver. However a lot of it is going to depend on a combination of raw talent and experience. If you have a habit of missing gears, don't know what a clutch is for and have trouble parallel parking, you probably won't make the cut. Contrary to popular belief, much of the work a stunt driver does can be fairly dull. For example, during a high speed chase scene, clearly the drivers involved in the chase are being tested, but all the other cars pootling along - even those in the distance - are being driven by stunt drivers. Stunt drivers are used because they can make a car do exactly what the director wants, even if that's not very much at all.
Ship's Captains (of large cruise liners) have the the remarkable ability to be able to come across as even more stoical and reserved than airline pilots. Perhaps it's because they're in charge of a vessel weighing thousands upon thousands of tons, or it could be because they get to wine and dine with VIPs and dignitaries many evenings. Either way, cruise liner Captains don't have a hard life. You get to see the world, mix with interesting and exciting people on a daily basis, and perhaps best of all you get a uniform which makes you look like you rule the world.
Boss of a small-volume car manufacturer
In the world there are two types of car manufacturer. Those who aspire to cater to a market of 6 billion people; and those who make cars for the dedicated few. Often the heads of small-volume car manufacturers have an engineering background, and they've essentially designed, engineered and built their cars from the ground up, and they've then been lucky enough to turn their dream car into a business which pays the bills. Being the founder and head honcho means you can build anything you want - as long as people are willing to buy it. It's like being a little bit of everything; designer, engineer, CEO, test driver, salesman and showman.
Automotive prototype testing engineer
On the final leg of a vehicle's journey from pretty pictures to showroom product, dozens of prototypes are released into the wild to test how the vehicle will cope in the real world. In order to make sure the new vehicle can survive in everything from the sweltering heat of Dubai, to the frozen Nordic plains, companies send the vehicles off into the sunset with a couple of engineers on board to record and analyse how the car performs in extreme climates and different situations. That means these guys get to do everything from dump the clutch on an Aston Martin One-77 in Death Valley and take a 911 four-wheel drifting through the snow in Norway, to the less glamorous task of testing the maximum towing capability of a fully-laden Kia Sedona MPV.
Automotive journalists have the cushy job of testing, evaluating and expressing their opinions on their favorite subject. The job can include anything from writing for an internationally recognized magazine which has a budget capable of paying for their staff to travel half way around the world to sample the latest 5-horsepower power improvement on a lightly-revised Ford Focus. To part-time scribes and freelance contributors whose opinions can be found across a smattering of titles. A career in automotive journalism can involve reporting for a variety of media including; TV, magazines, books and websites. The pay scale is equally varied!
Classic car restorer
For anyone with a love of old classic cars, having the skills to bring them back to life and turn them into rolling pieces of sculpture must be a dream come true. It'll require a couple of years at auto body college, and then many, many more years of experience and practice before you'll be at the top of the trade. But along the way you can build yourself some amazing daily drivers, and hopefully earn some decent money along the way.