Useful jobs when colonizing/exploring unknown territory

I’m looking for jobs that you’d think would be useful when colonizing/exploring unknown territory.

The premise of the WIP I’m currently working on is that somehow a large corporation has found a way to another dimension. After doing some test they discovered that humans were able to survive the conditions of this dimension as it is similar to our own. (right amount of oxygen, an atmosphere to protect live from solar radiation, …). They form three international groups to send to this dimension to explore it and eventually set up a colony or multiple colonies. Each group will consist of 8 people so they will have to fulfill multiple roles.

Right know I have:

- special forces: mostly for keeping the group alive
- cook/survivalist: providing nutritious meals using whatever they can find
- manager: someone who has some experience in leading
- construction worker: for the heavy lifting and building the colony
- chemist: for chemical reasons
- biologist: someone to handle all the unknown plants and animals
- engineer: taking care the equipment that was brought with them
- doctor: keeping everyone healthy
- geographer: mapping the land and knows how to best use it.

There will be 3 groups of 8 people. These will first explore the area they arrived in and once they find a good and safe location, reconvene at that location to set up their way back and only connection with our dimension. (for more information see post 40)

Do known any occupations that you think would be useful or do you think any of these could be replaced by something better, please let me know.

Well, it also depends on when the exploration mission is taking place, as well as where to.

Say, Europeans exploring the Americas needed very different skills than a group trying to colonize a star system.

It depends on when this is based. If it’s near future, a lot of people tend to have multiple roles. Also, if we’re talking about the first group to explore someplace rather than somebody living someplace already set up, they probably wouldn’t even have a cook. They’d more than likely have ready to eat meals of some sort.

The premise is that somehow a large corporation has found a way to another dimension. After doing some test they discovered that humans were able to survive the conditions of this dimension as it is similar to our own. (right amount of oxygen, an atmosphere to protect live from solar radiation, …). They form three international groups to send to this dimension to explore it and eventually set up a colony or multiple colonies.

edit: I’ve also added this to the first post now.

So is it present time?

  • special forces: mostly for keeping the group alive
  • cook: providing nutritious meals
  • event organisor: someone who has some experience in leading
  • construction worker: for the heavy lifting and building the colony
  • chemist: for chemical reasons
  • biologist: someone to handle all the unknown plants and animals
  • athlete: will be useful depending on which sport


Gatherers and hunters are necessary even if you are in the future, otherwise how will one get the initial resources? A single Explorer class could be possible. Same goes for Farmers, even if it means one guys overseeing the machines.

Geographer is a must! He knows about the soil (Important!) He knows how to map the area (Important!) He knows about mining and farming.

I would take away event organizer, its just silly. I would go for a Manager instead: Same role, but more authority. Architect/City Planner maybe? Psychologist as an adviser maybe (He oversees the citizens and all that)?

Medic is also important.

Doctors/nutritionist: Gonna have to make sure you have someone that can take care of those that are there, keeping everyone is healthy after all :slight_smile:

And…@MKVP technically beat me to it sigh

Depends on the situation and resources at hand, but a tanner/tailor might be useful for longer stays. You wouldn’t want to wander around in an unknown environment with some inconveniently placed holes in your clothes.

Yes, it is present time. We wouldn’t be anywhere close to this technology in the past and probably not even in the present, but I don’t think I would do be able to incorporate other future technology into the story and do it justice, so I will set it in the present.

@MKVP How could I forget medic? Also I wasn’t to sure on event organizer, but I couldn’t really think of anything better to suit that role. I was first thinking of something like mayor, but it would be weird for a mayor to just leave his position. Manager is a great suggestion for that role, thank you.

Think how NASA would do it. Like I said, people would likely have multiple roles, typically two, even beyond that they would have a passing knowledge of other roles as well, that way if someone dies or whatever the mission isn’t crippled. And while they’ll likely have one or two people who could qualify as cooks, they’ll have read to eat meals, or more likely something like meals in the form of liquid in a bottle or bars, since they keep for a long time (months or years) and take up a lot less space, which is always a concern.

Each group will consist of 8 people so they will have to fulfill multiple roles, what I’m looking for right know are occupations the members would have had before they went on the expedition. For example the biologist would be useful for finding plant that could have medical or food applications, studying the creatures that roam the dimension so they know which would be useful for the colony and where the weaknesses are for those they need to fight. They will know these because they have a basic anatomy of animals of most species on earth and since they physical conditions in this dimension are the same as in ours the dimensions creature would have to comply to the same constraints in anatomy.

Also I edited the main post with some the suggestions that already have been given thank you everyone.

I’d suggest doing some research on the subject. Even if that research is reading some colonizing other worlds sci-fi, or some survival tv shows or even looking into what we did when going into space.

I’d say that it depends entirely on what the purpose of the group is. If they’re there to explore I’d imagine you’d primarily want scientists. You’d of course want your scientists to be capable of doing other tasks, such as operating a camera in order to record everything that they discover. You’re going to want to ensure that those going are physically fit. They’ll likely undergo as rigorous training as astronauts did. Of course one will be in charge. But you’ll want people to multi-task, especially if you’re just sending a small group to begin with.

If that small group survives of course then they’ll send larger groups.

You’ll also likely want to double up on some of the science roles. You wouldn’t want just one doctor, you’d want people with first aid. And the doctor’s likely going to need to be responsible for doing tests on the rest of the group, taking blood samples, vital signs etc, frequently because they’ll want to how everyone responds to this new dimension.

You’d likely want multiple biologists/botanists. Everything in that other dimension is going to need to be analysed to see if it’s toxic before they even consider eating it. (And there’s definitely going to need to be a quarantine for when/if they return.)

Will they be capable of getting shipments of food from earth? Because that’d make things so much easier than needing to rely on the local wild-life. Someone’s going to need to be able to fix all the gear/electronics/computers/monitoring equipment that’s sent.

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I second that doctor would be important.

Also, tech specialist- someone to keep all the machinery in proper working order.

Communications specialist, to document and draw up reports to send home as well as maintain clear lines of communication when orders from HQ come in. Also likely to be in charge of personnel, and payroll.

Surveyor- someone to plot out expansionary and exploratory efforts, either through digital imagery, computer readout… could also be in charge of inventory; keeping track of supplies.

You could combine cook and chemist, in theory. Or cook and biologist. Or cook and doctor. Could also combine chemist and biologist into ‘scientist’, and have more than one with specified roles.

If there’s an expectation for intelligent life- a linguist. Someone who can try making sense of the random gibberish or scribbles in that universe.

Anyway, yeah- other people have suggested good things, too- it’s a bit of a ‘how much funding is being put into the project’ as well. More staff, more roles, more specialization, less generalization.

If survival and building up a permanent base is the goal: farmer, engineer, mechanic, electrician, plumber.

This is my list. (Very simplified)
A leader
A nurse
Construction guy
The town idiot(entertainment)
Jack(jack of all trades kinda guy)

I’d imagine that many in the team could interchange roles. I’m assuming that the mission will be dangerous, so someone will need to fill in should an accident occur.

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Construction worker - could be replaced with “Engineer”. Someone who is good with invention and fabrication, but also has the theory in place to plan larger projects.

The chemist and biologist could be combined. You specifically want xenobiology, the study of rare or exotic life forms.

Athlete - I question the use of this. How do they know the alternate dimension will prize sports? If you want someone athletic and fit in addition to special forces, I suggest replacing it with “wilderness survivalist.” They are good at hiking, rock climbing, as well as other skills related to navigating and surviving rough terrain or dangerous animals.

Suggestion to add: Diplomat/linguist. If you come across intelligent species or human cultures different from your own, you need someone equipped to understand and communicate with very different groups. They may also have some training in economics and trade.

Also, think about redundant training. If each person who specializes in a vital role is constantly training someone else to take over for them in case they die or need assistance, that increases your mission efficiency.

As well as occupational specialties, you will need certain social roles filled for maximum efficiency. You might read up on some theories of group dynamics, particularly in crisis situations. The balance of personalities and group harmony may matter as much to the success of a mission as the individuals. Some roles that matter (these can be doubled or tripled in the same individual, or repeated among multiple group members):

  • Leader (as you mentioned.) Keeps on task, inspires.
  • Dorm mother/father - does not necessarily have to be older, but comforts others, stays calm, nurtures, and models the ideal parent.
  • Entertainer/mascot - this group member can be weaker (and defending them may bring the rest of the group together.) They are likeable, fun, good-spirited, hard-working, and may be younger than the rest.
  • Stoic - Whatever happens, this person continues quietly working on what is most important.
  • Second-in-command - An effective leader needs to delegate. If they have to isolate themselves or leave the group to solve a problem, someone needs to be able to step up.
  • War leader - self-explanatory. Is not aggressive and does not start conflict, but will efficiently eliminate threats.
  • Genius/strategist/inventor - can shun socializing if they have more important things to do, as they should be left alone to work out the products of their visions. Can create technology or strategies to adapt to unfamiliar circumstances.
  • The Fun Person - someone needs to be able to make jokes, organize social events, and encourage people to enjoy themselves, or morale will suffer.
  • The Knowledge Encyclopedia - the more you know! If someone has eclectic knowledge, all the better. Who knows what exactly will be needed on your expedition?
  • Hard Man/Woman/Person - When the going gets tough, it helps to have at least one person who is unfazed by blood, operates best in a crisis, is familiar with security, can be intimidating if necessary, and possibly also has knowledge of interrogation tactics or criminal methods. A team of all heroes may lack a vital element for survival.

For a detailed look at group recruiting and planning, I suggest reading the first few chapters of The Sparrow, a well thought out novel about an exploratory expedition to an unknown planet.

  1. I think in addition to the jobs listed, the team needs:
    a) An engineer to maintain/repair the equipment. Could also drive/pilot the vehiclrs the team is using.
    b) A surveillance drones operator/information analyst to scout large areas from above and determine where the specialists should go for detailed investigation.
    c) A prospector to search for resources. The corportion will probably be interested in mining them.

  2. Some of the roles on your list aren’t really neccessary, I would remove these from the list:
    a) Special forces. A single fighter won’t provide very much protection, for example if the group splits or the SF fighter needs sleep, and if you include multiple there won’t be enough slots for the rest. It would be better to ensure that the whole group is armed and trained in the use their weapons. I thinks some of the group should have military experience, but not neccessarily all of them.
    b) Cook. The team should have prepared rations for the mission and definitely shouldn’t eat any of the alien native stuff. The doctor/medic should have enough knowledge on nutrition too.
    c) Construction worker. One person can’t build a whole colony, this should be done by a specialized and equipped construction team after the first scouting mission. The team should just find a good location for the future base camp.
    d) Athlete. What should they do? I think all eight memebrs of the group should be very athletic and in top physical condition.


Considering its a group of 8, I would go with:

  • Engineer
  • Doctor
  • Chemist
  • Labourer (or any generic term for people doing the cleaning, cooking, building etc)
  • Special force or security only if there is some sapient enemy to fight against.

I love these sorts of thought exercises. They’re so much fun.

@WulfyK’s idea of drones make fantastic sense.

Would they be able to be piloted from our own dimension? There’d definitely need to be someone on site to maintain and operate them though. Using vehicles to take samples and to record everything would be great too. Maybe there could even be robots for defensive purposes.


Some important questions for consideration.

  1. How frequently can the people in the other dimension communicate with the real world?

  2. How often, and how easily can things be sent back and forth?

I would say you don’t want the people themselves travelling back and forth because there could be any number of health consequences in doing so. But if supplies and equipment can be regularly sent that’s a completely different story from a group that’s only able to be in communication every couple of months and is otherwise isolated.

If it’s months between communications then if any sort of disaster happens they have to deal with it themselves. If their food supplies are spoiled they can’t just send for more, they’ll need to ration. If someone gets injured they can’t just be sent back they need to be taken care of. If a machine gets damaged it needs to be fixed on site. If batteries run out they’ll have to be replenished not replaced.

I’d expect everyone to be at the peak of physical fitness and to have trained rigorously before hand. I’d expect them to be skilled in using whatever weaponry is sent along with them. I’d also expect everyone to be extremely intelligent. I’d expect them all to have a basic knowledge of first-aid as well as whatever scientific analysis skills and survival/scouting skills were deemed necessary.

I’d also expect everyone to be a specialist in at least one area, but that there would be some cross-over. That’s at least for the initial exploration expeditions. I’d expect any building to be done with pre-fabricated easy enough to assemble materials that the group could build themselves without having any construction knowledge.

I’d expect a whole wealth of information to be sent with them on electronic devices so even if they don’t have specific knowledge, they can easily look it up.

The first difficulty I’d have them face is only being able to travel between dimensions every six months, because that’s the only time the portal’s open. It increases tension.
The second difficulty, is I’d completely fritz all of their electronics.
Thirdly, if I wanted to be really mean, I’d kill the doctor. Or better yet the doctor would disappear.