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Four jobs for thrill seekers

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( -- Many career paths involve the typical office setting: a desk, an office or cubicle, a computer and so on. But for some people, being in an office just isn't an attractive option. There are many people who are searching for more adventure and excitement than your typical desk job. Fortunately, there are thousands of other careers that enable employees to get out and take some risks.

If you are one of those people who looking for thrills, here are four options that also make a real impact.

1. Coast Guard Rescuerexternal link The Coast Guard is the authority on law enforcement on and around our nation's major waterways. There are dozens of career options in the Coast Guard, says Pete Wypyszinski, a recruiter for the state of Louisiana. In addition to search and rescue, the Coast Guard handles environmental protection, law enforcement, maritime law and transportation regulation.

Training, Requirements and Salary: Coast Guard recruits must be between the ages of 17 and 27 and have a high school diploma. You must also be good health and physical condition and have no major legal violations on your record. Recruits undergo basic training in Cape May, New Jersey, and then have the option of more specialized training.

Risk and Rewards: Wypyszinski says that one of the best things about this career path is how quickly you are involved in activities and missions that directly benefit your community. As for the danger, it is an understood and respected part of the job. "It's dangerous because of the situations we find ourselves in," he says, but adds that the safety procedures in place and the rewards far outweigh the risks.

2. Zookeeper/Wildlife Managementexternal link There are countless possibilities for those who want to work with animals. Regina Mossotti is on the animal care staff at the Wild Canid Survival and Research Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of the wolf and other canid (any animal of the dog family Canidae, including wolves, jackals, hyenas, coyotes and foxes) endangered species located near St. Louis, Missouri. Mossotti is responsible for the welfare of the animals living at the center, including their nutrition, medical issues, breeding and research studies.

Training, Requirements and Salary: Zoological professionals typically have a degree in biology, environmental science or wildlife management. Mossotti says that one key part of getting a job is having practical, on-the-job experience, either through internships or volunteering. According to the American Zoological and Aquarium Association, an animal keeper's salary can range from minimum wage to more than $30,000 a year, depending on skills and tenure.

Risk and Rewards: Mossotti says that the best part of her job is "knowing that I am helping an endangered species survive." One thing that is easy to predict about animals is that they are unpredictable. "You always have to be on your guard," she says, but points out that the animals are more afraid of her than she is of them, and that she follows strict safety protocols.

3. FBI Special Agentexternal link The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Justice. Nearly half of those employed by the FBI are special agents. According to the FBI's Web site, special agents work in areas such as terrorism, foreign counterintelligence, organized crime, white-collar crime, kidnapping and extortion.

Training, Requirements and Salary: Special agent candidates must be at least 23 years old, have a degree from a four-year college or university, and three years of professional work experience. Applicants must also meet certain physical requirements and undergo an extensive background check. All candidates undergo training at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. Entry-level agents can earn between $61,100 and $69,900, depending upon the region.

Risk and Rewards: "Anybody who goes into law enforcement does so with the expectation that it can be a dangerous job," said one special agent who works out of a Midwestern office. "But the FBI does everything it can to minimize any danger to the Agent." And, for her, it is easy to pick out the job perks. "The best thing about this job is that I am part of the solution," she said. "We stand for truth and justice, and I am so proud to be a part of this organization."

4.Firefighterexternal link With a presence in just about any town, firefighters do more than put out fires -- they are active members of the community. These days, most firefighters are also trained and certified as emergency medical technicians (EMTs) or paramedics, and are typically assigned to specific "tactical teams," such as auto extraction, water rescue and dive teams.

Training, Requirements and Salary: Applicants undergo a lengthy application process, including written and physical ability tests and an oral interview. Individuals must be at least 18 with a high school diploma. Those who make it through the steps are placed on a hiring list to await an open position. According to the BLS, the median hourly earning of a fire fighter is $18.43.

Risk and Rewards: It is no secret that many of the tasks firefighters take on involve some level of danger. "You can find yourself in some scary positions, but you feel like you're doing a job that really makes a difference," says Bill Zimmerman, a firefighter based in Indianapolis, Ind.

© Copyright 2007. All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority

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