Even though the weather’s a bit ropy at the moment, we’d rather be outside than cooped up in a stuffy office. Here, TNT chats to professionals living the high life …
“There’s almost nothing better than being in command of a flying machine – especially when happy passengers are paying you for the privilege,” smiles Aussie pilot Chris Mann, MD of The London Helicopter, which offers sightseeing tours over London as well as charter flights.
It’s an expensive career choice as you will need to get your private and commercial pilot licences before you can apply, however you can earn £40k+ once trained. Mann worked as an instructor before “twisting the arm” of a charter operator to let him work in the office in return for flying experience. Now a chopper company MD and having flown the Beckhams to the Grand Prix, you can see where a bit of arm-twisting can get you.
You missed a spot: cleaning Lloyd’s HQ
High-rise window cleaner
Ever wanted to abseil down one of London’s tallest buildings? Become a high-rise window cleaner and that’s basically what you do every day, but with a squeegee in your hand.
“I love being up high over London on a summer’s day,” says Kyriacos Theodorous, who is an on-site cleaner at the 88m Lloyds of London HQ in Lime Street.
High-rise window cleaners need intense safety training, including how to work safely at height – by not falling or dropping anything – avoiding back or muscle problems, working in cradles and cherry pickers as well as abseiling. The good news is that your company will put you through the training needed, so your beginner’s salary of £25k can stay in your pocket.
Plus, although serious, the training can be great fun. “For my abseil course I went to the Lake District and we had to climb around chimneys and practice rescues,” says the 29-year-old, who is employed by Principle Cleaning Services. “That was the hardest but also the best experience.”
Get high: work as a climb guide at Up At The O2
Up At The O2 climb guide
What better way to see London than to climb over one of its most iconic buildings? “Depending on the weather, temperature and light, the views change so you see London differently almost every climb. That’s what I love about it,” says Ross Walker, 31, an Up At The O2 climb guide from Scotland.
As a guide, you can expect to earn from £20k per year. And the best bit? Other than climbing or mountaineering experience and first aid training being an advantage, you need no specific qualifications to get the job.
“I climbed over the O2 for my birthday. I really enjoyed it and was looking for a job at the time, so I applied,” tells Walker. You do need to be good with people and at remembering when pointing out the sites of London.
You also need to be prepared to work in all weathers: “The worst I’ve had is when we got caught in a storm,” Walker says. “The winds hit 60mph and there was hail. It was great fun.”
Flying through the air on an outdoor 10m-high trapeze is certainly one alternative to sitting in an office chair. “I started out as a gymnastics instructor, but discovered the circus and fell in love with all things aerial straight away,” says Debs Richards, who is a performer and teacher at Gorilla Circus, which is running an outdoor trapeze school in Regents Park until September.
To become an instructor and performer, it is simply a case of training until you become good enough to start working professionally. Salaries vary, depending on experience. If you are performing, you’re usually paid per show, whereas instructors can earn around £25,000 per year.
To get involved Richards advises: “You should be passionate about circus, have a love for heights, and a brave streak is always beneficial!”
Indoor classes are available during the winter months – for more information, click here.
Helicopter pilot: Stapleford Flight Centre offers dual instruction from £166 per hour.
High-rise window cleaner: Your company will put you through Industrial Rope Access Trade Association training.
Up At The O2 instructor: O2 will put you through two weeks of training including first aid, equipment use and rescue drills.
Trapeze artist: Gorilla Circus offers intermediate classes to their ‘frequent fliers’ and can advise you about more advanced training.
Photos: Supplied; main image by Jason Hawkes