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Survival Specialist

Model self-reliance and survival skills in extreme situations.

What does a Survival Specialist do?

A Survival Specialist is a Soldier who’s been trained in the U.S. military’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) program, which trains elite military personnel to survive in uncertain or hostile environments. That includes emergency situations where they’re cut off from support and supplies, as well as combat situations that place them behind enemy lines.

In other words, while “surviving” the workday for most people means getting through the staff meeting without falling asleep, making their morning commute without screaming expletives at the car in front of them, and not spilling coffee on their favorite shirt at lunch, “surviving” the workday for Survival Specialists isn’t a figure of speech. It’s their job description. Literally.

As a Survival Specialist, typically known as a SERE Specialist, you therefore teach SERE survival techniques to Soldiers in the Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marines. Naturally, your curriculum includes four components: “Survival,” “Evasion,” “Resistance,” and “Escape.”

“Survival” involves, for example, how to build shelters, fabricate makeshift tools and weapons, find and preserve water, and hunt, trap, and forage for food. “Evasion,” on the other hand, involves how to avoid capture by enemy forces by covering your tracks and hiding. “Resistance,” meanwhile, involves how to resist interrogation, exploitation, and indoctrination as a prisoner of war. And finally, “Escape” involves how to plan and execute an escape from captivity.

Although most of your students are military personnel, you might also teach survival skills to civilians who need them — especially if you’re a retired SERE Specialist. In that case, you might teach private survival courses to the likes of Police Officers, Firefighters, and Park Rangers.

Forget rush hour, staff meetings, and irate customers: Your job is surviving famine, drought, and war!