Jobs You Can Do in Paradise

Whether you're a plumber, a nurse, a dance instructor or a chef, spending a lifetime in the Caribbean is now possible. The only catch? You'll have to work at it.

But why not?

With the growth of the tourism and hospitality industry, we've seen more and more of the career opportunities once available only at home now offered in key vacation spots. We're not talking about the obvious -- hotel concierge or pool hand. Think about the local contractor, or restaurant manager, who might not have anything keeping him or her stuck in one city.

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It's time to take advantage of this professional freedom. Consider relocation to paradise.

A good place to start would be inquiring to Unique Vacations, private owner and operator of the popular franchises Beaches and Sandals. Its competitor, Club Med, has similar career opportunities.

Both organizations run a portfolio of properties that spans the globe. A plumber in Mexico? A chef in the Dominican Republic?

The primary drawback is the weak starting salary -- but don't be so quick to scoff at the numbers. At Club Med locations, in the absence of a worthy salary, the company substitutes full room and board, full medical and dental benefits, transportation to and from the resort and full use of the resort amenities. There is plenty of room to climb the ranks.

Nurse is among the highest-paid positions to start, offering $1,500 a month. You'll need plenty of experience though to get your foot in the door. Employers are asking for a registered nurse's degree and at least one year of service in an emergency room or with pediatrics. Your patients will be guests and staff.

Fitness trainer is on the lower end of the pay scale, offering just $700 a month. But again, would you rather be cooped-up in a city kick boxing class or kick and punch in the open air, waves crashing behind you. The prospect of getting an even tan while you're working is the cherry on top.

Kate Moeller, Club Med spokeswoman, said the company only promotes from within at its resorts. For example, you accept a position, doesn't matter which one, then move up to "assistant chief of service" then "chief of service" or manager.

"We also have a 'chief of village,' which is sort of a cross between a cruise director and general manager," Moeller said. "This is the most aspired-to position for many of our [employees]. It is like being queen or king of the roost."

Most of these companies that cater to an international clientè have structured recruitment programs to draw worldwide talent. Bases are set up on multiple continents to sell the idea of say, careers in the Caribbean, and anywhere else people go to escape.

Vanessa Lane of Unique Vacations said her company runs this type of ambassador program designed to reel in new employees for all aspects of the business. Frequently, the company looks to graduates of the European hotel and hospitality schools for prospects.

The turnover is low, too. Lane said a Sandals accountant at a Montego Bay resort has been at her post since 1981.

Bob Kessler, the general manager at one of Sandals' Bahamian locations, took his job four months ago and says he loves working abroad because of the obvious climate perks in addition to the exposure to a rich culture.

Kessler hails from Spartanburg, S.C., and has worked all over the U.S. in the hotel and hospitality business and in the cruise line industry. It's too early to say, but he said it would undoubtedly be tough to leave the tropics and return to a temperate climate for work. His affection has not only to do with the warmth in the air, but with the people, too.

"Part of the reason to travel and live around the world is really to see a different viewpoint," he said.

"I think also that in dealing with a different clientè, there's a different attitude. I think even from the Americans, Canadians or whatever … they become, within themselves, a little bit more relaxed and a little bit more laid-back and understanding."