The Top 11 Manliest Occupations

December 11, 2008

Male angst isn’t easy for any of us – bloggers or readers.  There’s a common ennui in men across the blogosphere, especially on men’s interest sites.  There’s a sense of maybe I should be chopping, blowing up, or fighting something instead of typing away in my cubicle.  Well now you can get a tiny digital taste of the salty testosterone you’ll never spoon into your maw otherwise.

By Reverend Danger

The following article does not represent the opinions of Spike TV or its affiliates.


11. Swiss Guard


They are the oldest military group on Earth – they’ve been around and in fancy clothes for over 500 years. The Swiss Guard were established in France, of course, to protect the royalty there in the 15th century.  Since, these mercenary soldiers have been associated with a variety of courts and offices, but are now most famous for being the Pope's bodyguards.

To be a Swiss Guard, you can’t be married.  You also have to be Swiss, Roman Catholic, and 174 cm tall.  You have to complete Swiss Army training and be ready to die for the Pope.  As a bonus, you'll have a ceremonial sword which you can use to cut enemies in half and a less ceremonial pistol which you could use to shoot stuff.  The last time a Swiss Guard died, by the way, was during the 1527 sack of Rome.  And, they lived through the Nazi’s attempted occupation of Vatican City.  To say the least, they've been doing well for themselves.

10. Texas Barbeque Cook


Live and die by the pitfire…like the sweet sassy molassy in the sauce of JT from Planet Terror.  Few gourmets get as rawly incensed about the nature of their craft as the Texas Barbeque cook.  There is a noble, manly honor to cooking meat with fire, and they feel it in their marrow.  Your cave-fathers before you did it to survive, and well all of us together can still taste the bloody gristle of history in our genetic memories.   Witness the raw, masculine poetry of the ‘que slinger named “Big ‘Un” as he tells you what barbeque really is.

“Good barbeque is cooked the same way that a cowboy dances – slow, easy and often,” muses the Big’Un. “It’s as tender as a lady’s heart, as moist as her . . . goodnight kiss and as lean as a cowboy’s wallet.”

9. Oil Rigger


As an oil rigger, you're basically hired muscle on a man-made steel island.  You make a lot of money doing this for two reasons:  1. Relatively high salary and nowhere to spend it.  2. There’s a good chance you’ll be dismembered or killed. You live on the sea on a giant high chair that has high pressure and high temperature apparatus coiling around it.  Sometimes things blow up while you’re sleeping.

Additionally, because of American oil dependency and the relative vulnerability of a rig being offshore, many people believe that oil rigs are particularly attractive terrorist targets. I’d bet even money that there are no fewer than two ways for you to blow up at your job every day.

8. Bull Rider


This occupation has taken a somewhat less manly turn since my youth with the advent of helmets, neck guards, and what appear to be bull-proof vests. So, for the purposes of this blog, I’m not talking about the pantywaists wearing protective gear.  I’m talking about the guys with dirt ground deep into the creases of their knuckles.  Ground so deep that when they punch you in the gut for givin’ ‘em the hairy eyeball they don’t feel it through the filth, and you come away filthy and broken.

A bull rider succeeds by hanging on to a pissed-off bull for 8 seconds with just one hand.  Sometimes, if they think the bull isn’t likely enough to kill or injure a rider, they’ll use the flank strap to squish his balls or cattle prods called “hot shots” to administer electric shocks.  The average income of a bull rider hovers around $60,000.  Would you shock a bull's balls for that?

7. Bomb Disposal 


Remember Jeff Bridges in Blown Away?  That pretty much says it all.  If you didn't see it, though, this t-shirt alludes to the manliness of this occupation.

Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) was born of wartime necessity in WWI.  Then, as technology progressed, technicians sprouted in all branches of the military and other municipal organizations (police departments, etc.).

Bomb disposal units use a variety of methods to disable explosive devices, from the sort of classic, cinematic wire cutting to purposefully blowing devices up in safe conditions.  The coolest, though, is by using a device called a “pigstick.”  It’s basically a fancy Super Soaker that shoots a jet of water into the bomb and shorts it out without blowing it up.

6. Mayor of Manly, AU


Manly, Australia is a suburb of Sydney, and populated by about 14,000 Aussies.  It was so-named because when Captain Arthur Phillip was exploring the area, he encountered its indigenous people: the Kay-ye-my tribe.  Wikipedia says he was impressed by “their confidence and manly behavior.”  This was most vividly illustrated, I believe, by one of them spearing Phillip on the shoulder upon meeting him.

Since then, though, Manly has become somewhat more tame.  It is a popular, beachy tourist destination with a focus on waterside recreation.  This has been historically true, as Manly was the first place where the flesh-crazed Aussies allowed this guy to mid-day ocean bathing and the concomitant exposure of ankle skin in the late 1800s.  Sluts.

5. Lumberjack


Lumberjacks eat squirrel sandwiches with bark for bread, and they're okay.  They drink gasoline and piss 10W-50 oil for their chainsaws and trucks.  Paul Bunyan was a lumberjack, and he rode a giant blue ox.  Lumberjacks can, hence, be thought of as bull riders who are also really good with an axe.

Lumberjacking was, in 2003, the deadliest job in American with a fatality rate significantly higher than commercial fisherman, and almost double that of pilots (third place).  An excellent treatise on the lumberjack can be found in The Alphabet of Manliness, available for around 10 bucks.

4. Tank Pilot


Governator Schwarzenegger was actually in the belly of a steel beast during his service in the Austrian armed forces. That's good enough for me to prove just about anything is manly.  You may think, though, that it just takes a muscely meathead to pilot one of these steel beasts.  Wrong.  Here is what the controls look like.

Who better to tell the story of a tanker, though, than a tanker? Here’s Aaron Elson interviewing WWII veteran, George Bussel about his time in the steel:

Aaron Elson: The third time you were hit, the last time, did you tell me about that?

George Bussell: I got hit at, what the hell was the name of that town. Of course they had me zeroed in. I forget the name of the town. We pulled in. There was a railroad station, and I backed up right beside the station, because I was supposed to watch the road ahead of us. So I heard a couple rounds come in. The corner of the building was blown off. We had tank destroyers there, and they caught this German, and they tried to give him to me, and I said, "Hell, I don’t want him. What am I gonna do with him?"
You know what they did? They walked him across the street, stood him up against the building, put a .50-caliber slug right in his head. One shot. .50-caliber slug. Because they carried a .50-caliber.

3. Crabber 


Fishing for Alaskan King Crab is an especially lucrative and dangerous niche of commercial fishing.  Popularized on reality television as of late, crabbers work a four month season (October-January) and make enough money to live semi-comfortably in Los Angeles for the rest of the year.  Which means they’re the richest people in Alaska and could basically retire after one season.

This is somewhat of a lie, but their hourly wage is almost certainly triple what yours is.  The rub, of course, is that they often die.  And, it is often cold.  They lack XBOX 360s and other, mainland luxuries while they’re on the ship for those four months.  Life is about balance, and for them, sometimes death is too.

2. Air Marshal


A relatively new occupation in the war on bad guys, U.S. Air Marshals must remain ever-vigilant as their job is characterized by extended periods of boredom peppered with heart-exploding moments of action.  An ex-Marshall friend of mine had this to say:

You get trained to shoot through gaps to hit your target and to fight from inches away – or even while hugging your enemy.  You get knife training – throwing and kill stabs.  Also, you can fly first class on every flight, anywhere in the world, which is comfy.

Regarding what he referred to as “high threat” targets: "If he's not down in 3 seconds, then you should start worrying about your job…civilians barely know what just happened.”  As a bonus, now you can wear comfy shoes as an Air Marshal. 

1. War Journalist


Up until Vietnam, war journalism wasn’t very gonzo.  It consisted of journalists adding text or narration to staged footage or stills given to them by one or the other of the governments involved.   Until recently, history was written by the hand of – well, he who wasn’t dead and could still write.  According to Caesar, Caesar was a brilliant and just military tactician.

Cameras got smaller, and the media got more ubiquitous (could war bloggers be far off?).  Beginning in WWII, alongside the militiamen were pencil jockeys.  They had doffed their bow ties and donned bullet belts.  These weren’t Clark Kents.  These were super men: Ernest Hemingway, Alexander Dumas, Winston Churchill, and Arthur Conan Doyle to name a few.  They went to war with the mightiest of figurative weapons against very real, very mighty literal ones.  Bully for them.