15 Odd Careers That Actually Pay Pretty Well

by Chris Tecmire

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What do you think of your job?  Do you enjoy it or do you need a change of scenery?

Or maybe you recently lost your job and are in need of employment.

Well, you’re in luck.  I have some ideas for you.  However, I must warn you that you won’t find too many of them on Monster.com.  You’ll have to look elsewhere.  The mention of these odd careers usually produces a slightly bewildered response.


15 Odd Careers That Actually Pay Well


Can I Really Major In That?

Flavorist – Flavorists work with chemicals in order to reproduce flavors for perfumes and food.  You’ll need a superhuman sense of taste and smell in order to get the job.  Oh, and a background in chemistry is really important too.  Experienced flavorists can expect to make up to $250,000.

Futurist -  Your mission if you choose to accept it – Figure out what inventions are coming around the bend, so that the corporation that employs you can be on the cutting edge and stay ahead of the game.  It’s part trend-spotting and part understanding social behavior and knowing what will be needed and when.  You may be able to see an $83,000 salary in your future.  That’s what the average futurist makes.

Ethical Hacker - If you’re the type who thinks they could take down the U.S. government with a single swipe of your mouse, why not use your skills for good instead of evil?  Ethical hackers help businesses locate and evaluate IT risks before the real hackers get to them.  It’s preventative maintenance.  You can expect around $75,000 per year in compensation.

Pearl Diver - If you’ve ever pictured yourself off the shores of Tahiti, diving for sunken treasure lost by famous pirates long ago…you’ve been watching too many movies.  It’s probably not quite like that, but you can absolutely make diving a career.   Here’s some information about diving off the shore of Australia.  Offshore rates can reach over $1200 per day.

Pet Psychologist – Have you ever talked a parakeet off a ledge?  Then this may be the job for you.  I can’t imagine why animals need psychologists, but apparently someone believes there’s a need for services like behavior wellness therapy out there.  The average salary for diving into Lassie’s psyche is $78,000 per year.


Weekend Warrior “Sports”

Poker – Poker has blown up in the last 5 or 10 years.  It went from being kept in dimly-lit backrooms and smoky casinos to being aired on ESPN.  The winners become celebrities and get filthy rich off of the oodles of tournaments that are played every year.  The winner of the 2011 World Series of Poker, Pius Heinz, won $8.7 million!  By the way, don’t feel too bad for the runner up.  He won over $5 million.

Darts – I used to have one of those electronic dart boards with the plastic-tip darts.  I thought I was pretty good, but I can’t say I ever thought of making a career out of it.  Fortunately for Phil Taylor, he did.  Phil won $938,497 in 2011 from dart tournaments.

Racquetball - There’s an international racquetball tour.  Please go back and read that last sentence again.  Never mind – I’ll say it again.  There’s an international racquetball tour.  And Kane Waselenchuk won $270,000 last year on this racquetball tour.

Competitive Eating – But, let’s say that racquetball is too much running, darts take too much hand-eye coordination, and poker requires far too much concentration for you.  What’s left?  How about eating?  That’s right…there are people who will pay you to eat bucketfuls of food!  Granted, you can’t just sit down with a napkin and a spoon and enjoy your Lucky Charms in peace.  You have to eat gut wrenching quantities of Lucky Charms in only a few chaotic minutes.  But still.  That’s a pretty good job.

Joey Chestnut, the world’s hot dog eating champ consumed 68 hot dogs and buns in only 10 minutes, taking home $10,000 for his efforts.  In total, he made over $200,000 in 2011.

Professional Fan – So, wait.  You’re telling me that even eating is too much work for you and you need something a little simpler?!  Fine, how about being paid to be a sports FAN?  That’s Cameron Hughes‘ story.  He has made a living out of being a professional fan at sporting events.  He’s kind of like a mascot without the silly costume.  Teams pay him to watch the game and get the crowd into it.  And he gets paid very well in order to do so.  In fact, he makes at least $2,000 per event and produced an annual income well into the 6 figures last year due to the high demand.  Cameron has attended over 1,000 games in 4 countries and been paid to attend each one of them.


They Deserve Every Cent They Get

Crime Scene Cleaner - If you watch CSI or Bones and think this job would be a cinch, just remember that there are certain senses that are not being used when you’re sitting on your couch watching TV.  Enough said.  On the other hand, you’d probably have some interesting stories to tell, as long as they aren’t told over dinner.  You could make up to $55,000 cleaning up all those fluids.

Golf Ball Diver - It may not be quite as glamorous as the Pearl Diver job listed above, but golf ball diving has become a $200 million business, and if you’re looking for adventure I have one word for you…alligators.  Keep away from all the water snakes, snapping turtles, and crocs, and you might just bring home $50,000 – $100,000 worth of bacon.  Not bad.

Airplane Repossesser - Sometimes rich people fail to make their payments too.  Sometimes they give the plane back willingly and sometimes they don’t.  That’s where you come in.  You’ll need to legally steal the plane and safely fly it back home.  So, conjure up your inner James Bond, make sure you know how to fly many different types of planes, and then get going.  The best part of this career is the pay.  An airplane repo dude can expect to make between 6% and 10% of the resale price of the plane.  That means you could be making 6 figures per repossession depending on the circumstances.

Hair Boiler - Did you know this existed?  I didn’t.  Apparently hair boilers operate large vats for the purpose of boiling hair in order to curl it.  Why does it need to be curled?  I don’t know that either.  I suppose it would probably be for wigs and weaves, but I’m just guessing.  However, if real hair is used, I have to imagine the smell is not pleasant.  For that they deserve every cent of the $45,000 they are given.

Chicken Sexer – Yes.  That’s seriously the real name of the profession.  I’d like to meet the guy who came up with this name.  I simply want to ask him if he meant it as a joke or not.  Anyway, Chicken Sexers simply sort baby chicks by their gender.  I won’t get into the graphic details of how they do that, but large chicken operations need someone to very quickly sort the chickens into those who will lay eggs and those who will not.  Though it may sound glamorous, apparently it can be quite stressful and actually pays the least of any of the jobs on this list.  The high end tends to be around $28,000 annually.

However, I have some sad news.  You should know that the long-term outlook isn’t great.  In fact, chicken sexing won’t be around for much longer if Dr. Butt has anything to do with it (I swear I’m not making this up).  He has designed a new device called an “oestrogen sniffer” that determines the sex of the chicken without any human involvement.  Yet another win for the machines.


What have we learned?


Obviously, this particular list of odd careers is not necessarily meant to be used as a guide for your high school’s next career day, but it can teach us something.  Here’s what it’s taught me.

You can make an income doing just about anything.  Quit stifling your imagination.  If you’re tired of feeling trapped by your profession, dream up something new.  It can’t be any worse than chicken sexing.

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Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Karl B (The Frugal Berry) September 26, 2012 at 4:35 am

Interesting list! I questioned the golf ball diver job until I did a google search. Very interesting!


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