Cool Jobs You Wouldn’t Expect To Make A Living From Outside The Average 9-To-5 Grind
When college students shuffle into the ever-common jobs fair, they are usually presented with a very limited scope of potential career opportunities, and that scope gets even smaller once they select a major. Doctor, lawyer, engineer, programmer—those are the obvious choices. They’ve been around for ages, but the reality of the job market is much more nuanced. There are jobs out there you’ve probably never even heard of, some of which you might be qualified for. Some of these unexpected jobs are high-paying, others sound like a lot of fun – and others yet are just bizarre. Read on to discover the less conventional opportunities out there that are often at the tips of your fingers.
1. Ben & Jerry’s Flavor Guru: $40,000-$200,000 Per Year
If you have a serious sweet tooth – and are shameless about acting on it – this might just be your dream job. Ben & Jerry’s actually pays people to blend ice cream, candy and all kinds of delicious syrupy things into the tastiest dessert imaginable — and then taste it.
What’s clear is this isn’t by any means an easy gig to come by. Ben & Jerry’s features only 13 flavor guru on its website. One can only imagine how much sheer sugar they consume to bring the rest of the world iconic ice cream flavors like Cherry Garcia, Chunky Monkey and Strawberry Cheesecake.
2. Water Slide Tester: Around $26,000 Per Year
When asking kids what they want to be when they grow up, the answers usually range from firefighter and doctor to astronaut. Those aspirations might as well be thrown out the window if someone tells them sliding down water slides is actually a legitimate career option.
Okay, so the actual salary is only about $26,000 per year, so some supplemental income might be required for the fun-loving souls who choose to take this (literally slippery) career path. Becoming a water slide tester can also serve as supplemental income for a young person in college. The bottom line is that you can actually be paid for having fun!
3. Professional Netflix Watcher: Around $20,000 Per Year
Most people binge Netflix series to avoid work or relax after a long day. Others binge for work. That’s right, there is actually a select group of professionals called “taggers” who get paid to lie on the couch all day watching Netflix. Their job is to sift through the company’s massive amount of shows, movies and documentaries, and categorize them based on expert analysis.
This seemingly ideal dream job isn’t just about chilling though, the concept of Netflix taggers was in part established to catch things that a computer might not. And not just anyone can land this gig — preference is typically given to candidates with some kind of a background in film. If you’ve ever wondered how Netflix’s recommendations are always so spot on, these are the people to thank.
4. Private Island Caretaker: $15,000-$120,000 Per Year
We’ve all heard about the uber-rich buying private islands. Whether as secluded vacation getaways or heavenly havens to escape from the anticipated coming apocalypse, the list of private island owners includes Elon Musk, Johnny Depp and the Emir of Qatar. All jokes aside, though, it’s a growing trend that most people don’t know enough about.
The trend brings with it a growing demand in caretakers for the personal paradises. If you are lucky and have the right connections to be chosen for such work, you can spend your days in places most people only see on their Instagram feeds and dream of visiting – not to mention getting paid for it. The only downside here seems to be the potential for a really bad sunburn.
5. Professional Traveler: Around $50,000 Per Year
Everyone knows the feeling of pure envy that simmers when coming across an Instagram photo of someone having the time of their life abroad. Now imagine actually being that person in front of the camera, full time, and getting paid for it. That’s actually possible, it turns out.
In 2009, a website called thebigtrip.com was hiring travel correspondents to trek across the United States for 12 weeks while blogging about their experiences and hosting webisodes. The site paid all travel expenses and health insurance in addition to the salary listed above. Freelancing is also an option, and countless people across the globe have started their own travel blogs, making revenues through various channels such as advertising placements, affiliate marketing and paid partnerships to name a few.
6. Bounty Hunter: Around $60,000
If you’re unsure of what it is exactly that a bounty hunter does for a living, think of Christoph Waltz’s character, Dr. King Shultz, in Django Unchained—only perhaps slightly less hilarious. In simple terms, a bounty hunter is a skilled professional hired by a bail bondsman to capture a fugitive.
It’s a good profession for people interested in using their more cunning side to help the forces of justice, and it can pay pretty well. In most states, bounty hunters are licensed and/or registered professionals that play an important role in the criminal justice system. Aspiring bounty hunters should avoid Kentucky, Wisconsin, Oregon and Illinois, where the profession is banned.
7. Luxury Bed Tester: Around $20,000
This has likely been fodder for millions of dad jokes, but there are actually people who get paid to sleep in the most luxurious beds in the world and then describe their experiences. The pay might not warrant the luxury lifestyle, but the fact remains that these professionals are literally paid to sleep.
Of course, this isn’t the ideal job for the most energetic of people. But even if a master bed professional would prefer to spend less time in bed, there’s a hotel in London that tested a new service that allows people to order a human bed warmer so they’re not cold at night.
8. Disney Imagineer: $30,000-$130,000 Per Year
The Disney Imagineer title combines the words “imagination” and “engineer,” so you can bet it’s not a job for everyone. Imagineers are tasked with turning their wildest dreams into reality at Disney amusement parks around the world. Only the most creative of engineers can handle this position.
Contrary to the title, though, Disney Imagineers aren’t only engineers. They wear many hats and come in many shapes and sizes – from architects and story board artists to mechanics and audio-visual technicians. As the saying goes: if you can dream it, you can do it. If you have the creativity and technical know-how, this job might be for you.
9. Professional Cuddler: $30,000-$100,000
As some might be able to guess, Japan was the first country to open a professional cuddle café years back, but the phenomenon has already spread Westward, where most cuddlers work as freelancers. The job itself is pretty self-explanatory: people pay you to cuddle with them for up to an hour.
If you’re a hugger or a particularly warm person, this might be your dream job. You can make a pretty lucrative salary out of spreading good vibes and making other people happy. The profession is spreading so fast that there is even a convention for cuddlers called “Cuddle Con.” The website Cuddlist.com even offers its own cuddling certification process!
10. Professional Mermaid: Up to $6,000 Per Appearance
Yes, this actually exists. There are people who train to work as professional mermaids – mostly freelancers – whose primarily entertain at parties and events. But becoming a licensed mermaid and starting your own business isn’t as easy as it might sound.
It’s not cheap, either. The Montreal-based company Aqua Mermaid charges pro mermaid hopefuls $3,800 for an intensive five-day training course. And then there’s the 15-pound tail performers have to wear and swim in for between 30 and 45 minutes, depending on the show. These freediving aquatic maidens have to swim like they only have one leg, and gracefully, as one mermaid pointed out in an interview with Bloomberg. This is not a job for the out-of-shape.
11. Fortune Cookie Writer: Around $50,000 Per Year
If you’ve ever eaten at a Chinese take-out place in the U.S., you’ve also received a fortune cookie. It’s one of those guilty pleasures in which we must indulge, along with watching Seinfeld re-runs and reading about astrology. But have you ever wondered who actually writes those fortunes?
No, the fortunes aren’t written by a wise-cracking grandpa sitting in the back of your local haunt for General Tso’s chicken. Fortune cookie manufacturers actually hire freelancers or in-house writers to think of these inspiring or amusing one-liners. Copywriters seeking a fun time might consider this as a career option, though it’s unclear how it stacks up against the coming Artificial Intelligence revolution.
12. Panda Nanny: Around $20,000 Per Year
The salary might not sound like much, especially considering the job requires relocating to China. But just wait until you hear the perks. The Giant Panda Protection and Research Center in China’s Sichuan province offers free meals and free use of an SUV, according to The Independent.
The requirements are only to be at least 22-years-old “and have some basic knowledge of pandas.” The job itself? To spend a year with the pandas and share in “their joys and sorrows,” according to the ad for the position. While the position sounds like fun—and surely, it is—it isn’t easy and requires patience, perseverance and dressing up in the likes of the fabulous panda onsies seen here.
13. Disney Princess: Around $30,000 Per Year
Can you name a single little girl that didn’t want to be a Disney princess at some point? Parents might be able to rest easier entertaining that goal, because Disney princess is an actual career path that exists. People serious about the profession might want to make sure they have some supplemental income on the side, though.
Professional Disney princesses reportedly earn around $30,000 a year—a modest income that doesn’t include the other perks that come with the job. They include 50 percent off cruises, 40 percent off food and free park passes. The other obvious perk? Literally being a princess for a living.
14. Certified Ethical Hacker: Around $90,000 Per Year
Hackers aren’t always the shady figures that conquer your aunt’s computer with a Trojan horse. If you’ve seen the political thriller House of Cards, you know some hackers – better known as “ethical” or “white hat” hackers – are utilized by the forces of good.
These ethical hackers, many of whom work in the security industry, break into protected systems and networks to test their security and identify vulnerabilities before malicious hackers do. These hackers are essential in improving security and therefore often make pretty decent money. If you have a knack for computers, this could be a way to use your talents to fight the forces of modern evil.
15. Decoy Executive: Around $48,000 Per Year
Aptly dubbed a reporter at The Atlantic as “rent-a-white-guy,” certain companies in China have been known to hire Caucasian Anglos to do nothing but dress up in nice suits, shake hands and give Chinese firms the image of being connected to the West.
The author of the 2010 Atlantic piece, Mitch Moxley, worked as one of these decoy executives. He recalled being “paid $1,000 for a week, put up in a fancy hotel, and wined and dined in Dongying, an industrial city in Shandong province.” No prior experience or actual business acumen was required—just “a fair complexion and a suit,” he added.
16. Online Dating Ghostwriter: A Couple Thousand Dollars Per Month
Ever see an online dating profile that’s too good to be true? It might not be – but it might also not have been made by the dater featured in the profile. There are people out there who pay ghostwriters to curate their online dating profiles for them, and it can be a lucrative business.
Meredith Golden, from New York City, charged a fee of $900 per client in 2017 to manage their online dating profiles, including Tinder and Bumble according to a Q&A with MarketWatch. She catered to her clients’ needs and maximized their ability to land dates on various apps. If you’re naturally good at dating and handling ghosting, this might be the job for you.
17. Hot Dog Cart Vendor: Around $100,000 Per Year
It might not seem so glamorous to roam the streets of New York City, Washington, D.C., or any other boisterous metropolitan hub selling hot dogs and other street food. But as we all know, appearances can be deceptive— – vendors often end up making some serious cash.
These carts that have become an integral part of the American city’s natural habitat earn an average of $100,000 per year. Tell that to a journalism or psychology student and they might reconsider their time spent in school. But these vendors work long, hard hours to cart their cash. Truthfully, they deserve every penny.
18. Personal Shopper: $25,000-$100,000+ Per Year
There are two kinds of people in this world: those who love shopping, and those who avoid shopping malls at all costs. If you fall under the former category, this might just be your dream job. Ranging from busy corporate executives to event coordinators to celebrities, there are people who are willing to pay quite a bit for a good professional shopper.
But for those considering personal shopping as a career path, it’s important to note the job isn’t just about making sure your client doesn’t run out of milk. It’s about making sure everything you buy matches your client’s personality, flare and taste.
19. Rental Boyfriend: Around $45 Per Hour
This is a service that began in – yes, Japan – and has since spread to China. In these countries with cultures that are less expressive than many countries in the West, there is a demand among women for rental boyfriends. In addition to being paid hourly, the client is often expected to pay for the date’s expenses.
The job mostly isn’t physical – there’s no kissing allowed, although hand-holding and hugging are often part of the gig. This is one of those professions that works well for people who genuinely enjoy making other people happy, though the perks of going on all-expense-paid dates must be a nice added bonus.
20. Toy Designer: Around $50,000 Per Year
Many of the professions in this list aren’t even considered by young college graduates looking to make their next big move, and designing toys is another one of them. Considering that every kid plays with toys, the demand for people who make those toys isn’t going away any time soon.
That’s plus-one for job security. Sure, the technological revolution has largely wiped out the jobs of many people who physically build toys, but who is going to come up with the next Beanie Babies or Build-A-Bear? The toy industry needs creative designers to make kids happy and sell their product, so compensation is fairly decent for those who think they have what it takes.
21. Dating Coach: Up to $20,000 Per Month
The Internet is filled with men and women complaining about modern dating. Customs, expectations, best practices, and still people just can’t seem to figure each other out. As such, there is a high demand for dating coaches to help their confused fellow humans navigate the romantic landscape.
Because the job most often requires the coach to manage his or her own business, success varies across ventures. But when it works, it works. Sarah Jones, who graduated college in 2007 with plans to become an artist, now earns up to $20,000 a month teaching introverted men how to succeed with women.
22. Golf Ball Diver: Around $200 Per Day
This is what happens when you fuse golf with scuba diving. If you’ve ever wondered what happens to the golf balls that end up flying into ponds on the course, these golf ball divers are the ones who find and retrieve them after the game. The job isn’t easy, but it can well-suit those who are concerned about preserving the environment.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a typical golf course has between four and 12 ponds, and divers spend between eight and 10 hours a day harvesting the ponds for golf balls – some jobs take more than one day. Most golf ball divers only work the job part-time and have supplemental income.
23. Elevator Mechanic: Around $79,000 Per Year
In the modern world, we’ve all come to believe that the only way to make good money is by first getting a college degree. Indeed, we’re even told bachelor’s degrees don’t cut it anymore – master’s degrees and PhDs are the way of the future.
The fact is, that’s not entirely true. The average elevator mechanic makes almost $80,000 per year. The best part is that elevator and escalator mechanics don’t need a specific college degree before signing onto the job, rather vocational training and apprenticeships are all the buzz. It’s not uncommon these days for millennials to complain about having to sit in an office all day. Well, this might just be the solution for them.
24. Dog Surfing Instructor: Unknown Salary
There are people who teach other humans how to surf, and then there are people who teach man’s best friend to do it even better. That’s right, there are actually surf instructors who teach dogs to shred waves and say “Aloha.” Okay, maybe that last part is a stretch, but “ruff ruff” can do the trick too, we suppose.
Information on the profession and potential salary expectations for those interested are scarce, but nice beaches tend to attract the wealthy, who often like to pamper their pets. And there’s a demand for these canine surf instructors. Huntington Beach in California even has an annual Surf City Surf Dog competition.
25. Monkey Chasers: Unknown Salary
Back in 2014, the Indian government hired 40 men to pose as menacing monkeys to scare off the hundreds of smaller real monkeys who were terrorizing members of parliament and other government workers. The job is simple: dress up as a large langur monkey and run around scaring the smaller macaque monkeys, according to The Telegraph.
Why? The macaques were wreaking havoc over the lawns of India Gate, chewing through Internet and telephone cables, stealing food and even swinging through parliament windows. Something had to be done about the little rascals. Though it’s unclear what the Indian government was paying, that is one exciting job. Sign us up.
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