• Give a Gift
  • Customer Service
  • Promotions
  • Videos
  • Blogs
  • Win
  • Games

May 1, 2013

Risky Business

Think your workday is stressful? Imagine leaping from 10 stories, hand-feeding sharks, or dismantling bombs. For these professional badasses, danger is just part of the job description.


Photo Credit: TrujilloPaumier

Special Offer

KATIE "K.T." SCHEER, 33: The Smokejumper
Redding, California

Time on the job: Ten years

Why she loves it: "I don't do desk jobs"

Perk: Four to six months off in the winter and early spring

"I've always loved being outdoors. So I trained to become a smokejumper—we parachute into wilderness areas that can't be reached by regular firefighters and put out fires before they can spread.

I'm the only woman in my crew—only 5 to 10 percent of smokejumpers are female—but I don't mind. Wearing heavy Kevlar suits, we jump from planes as close as possible to a fire. Then the plane throws our cargo—food and water, plus tools like chain saws. As soon as we hit the ground, we cut a line around the perimeter of the fire to contain it. That means we cut the brush and trees out of the way, then dig a trench down to mineral soil. When the fire hits bare earth, there's nothing for it to burn. Depending on the size, jobs can last from half a day to a week.

My parents worry, but I tell them that the odds of getting hit by a car while driving to a fire are probably greater than the odds of getting injured on a jump. Still, I once 'burned out,' which means I landed in the trees but my parachute didn't catch and hold—it collapsed and I fell. Luckily, I just got the wind knocked out of me.

This job is for people who want to push themselves. But there are great rewards. Every time I jump out of a plane, it's a rush." —As told to Melissa Walker

Connect with Marie Claire:
daily giveaway
Go to the Beach

Go to the Beach

enter now
You Know You Want More
More From News & Features
You’ve Probably Seen This Guy’s Forged Art in a Museum

The true story of the master art forger, Mark Landis, captured on film.

ISIS's Latest Victim: An Iraqi Women's Rights Activist

Sameera Salih Ali al-Nuaimy, a human rights lawyer, was executed in public after days of torture.

post a comment

Special Offer
Link Your Marie Claire Account to Facebook

Marie Claire already has an account with this email address. Link your account to use Facebook to sign in to Marie Claire. To insure we protect your account, please fill in your password below.

Forgot Password?

Thanks for Joining

Your information has been saved and an account has been created for you giving you full access to everything marieclaire.com and Hearst Digital Media Network have to offer. To change your username and/or password or complete your profile, click here.

Your accounts are now linked

You now have full access to everything Marie Claire and Hearst Digital Media Network have to offer. To change your settings or profile, click here.