Granted, the topic of this post pushes against the boundaries of what is healthy quite violently, but I guess more than a few of us have thought about really appropriate jobs and hobbies for Steampunks (and obviously Dieselpunks). It is all a question about how far you want to carry your lifestyle.
The trouble is, most really suitable jobs are either only available in minute quantities or have lost the glory of the olden days.
During the Age of Steam Powered Train Engines, being employed as a train driver might actually have been a job ripe with adventure (especially if you worked along the Trans Sibirian Railway, I guess) but nowadays, just take a look at what most trains and their personell are like… Sadly, train-related jobs are out of the question, but you can still built a model railway that is very steampunk, with all the little Tesla-towers and Zeppelins in it…
So how about some craft? Jake von Slatt and Datamancer are shining examples for where some technical skill and mechanical apitute can get you. The same goes for all the people who built steam-powered motorbikes and other such vehicles. Most of this is obviously a leisure-time interest and the average city-dweller neither has the space, nor the time nor the ressources to take it as far as Mr. von Slatt does it. Still, a little welding, sewing and tinkering is quite common in the Steampunk community (I’ve got some home-made pieces of jewelry myself) and quite appropriate, too.
Zeppelin pilot or crew member, while definitely one of my favourites, is almost completely out of the question for lack of Zeppelins, and the ones that are still around (like the Goodyear blimps and the new Zeppelins) simply do not cut it for me. So the most glorious job has so far become extinct… How sad.
Yet, there is some hope, because you can still be an intrepid explorer, just like Livingstone, von den Steinen or Kingsley.
Yes, you may say, the entire world is already known, but it was back then, too. Fact is, wherever Europeans and Americans went to discover places, they always met people there. Basically, they were on one great trespassing-spree all around the globe. All places were already known, just not to them.
This is where you can pick up. There are enough places you do not know anything about and only have read or seen superficial stuff about. So, travelling and getting to know new places first hand is an appropriate past time for the reckless Steampunk or Dieselpunk. If you are able to write interesting accounts of your journeys, you can make a living of it, too.
I would like to go on, but there is once again the sound of an air-raid siren coming from the next room.