79 Cool Jobs That Pay Well or Spark Great Conversations
Cool jobs may not grow on trees, but they do make life more interesting. After all, who wants a world in which only ho-hum occupations exist? If most of us have to work for a living, then we at least deserve a chance at doing something that doesn't make us all yawn when we talk about it.
The coolest jobs give us hope. They stoke our imagination and inspire us to keep striving for a world that rewards curiosity, playfulness, risk-taking, and willful service to others. They represent bold steps forward in our collective evolution. Plus, awesome jobs aren't just fascinating or impressive; they are also proof that humans don't necessarily have to work in dullsville. With today's cool careers as our examples, we can create more occupations that make us feel alive and energized instead of numb and bored.
What makes a job cool? Well, for starters, a cool job provides a fun topic of conversation. Almost everyone enjoys discussing fascinating, adventurous, out-of-the-ordinary, or impactful careers. But, frequently, an awesome job is also one in which the person who has it feels like he or she is living the dream and doing something that doesn't feel much like work at all.
That said, everybody has a unique perspective on the world as well as a unique set of interests. So one person's "cool" job is often another person's "I don't really care about that" job. It's all a matter of taste, experience, and personality. Even so, most people can probably agree that the following jobs are pretty awesome.
The extensive list of cool jobs below is in no particular order. But it is broken into eight different categories based on general interests and personality types. As you explore them, you'll notice that some of the jobs could easily fall under more than one category. They include jobs for:
Cool Jobs for Proud Geeks
There's no shame in being smart and hyper-focused on something that requires a lot of knowledge and intelligence. In fact, the word geek is being used more and more as a genuine badge of honor. These occupations represent just a few of many possible career paths that are cool because of their scientific, technological, or visionary contributions to the world.
Science is full of really cool jobs, so it's hard to single out just a few. But who isn't fascinated by the danger and awesome power of volcanoes? Their eruptions are breathtaking to watch, whether they are oozing lava or sending huge plumes of ash into the stratosphere. Volcanologists get to study how explosive geological formations are created. And many of them even get to study volcanoes up close (i.e., while standing inside or at the edge of their craters or vents) in order to get better at predicting the timing or extent of their next eruptions.
- Average salary (for all geoscientists)—$105,7201
2. Quantum physicist
Jobs don't get any more mind-blowing than this one. Physicists who study quantum mechanics are delving into some of the deepest mysteries of the universe and our existence. They get to develop and test theories about the nature and behavior of energy and matter at the smallest levels of physical reality. They continue to make astonishing discoveries about atoms, sub-atomic particles, and extra dimensions of space and time that dramatically alter our understanding of what we're all made of and what is truly possible.
- Average salary (for all physicists)—$118,5001
The ocean is complex and awe-inspiring. And it is super-important to nearly all life on this planet. Oceanographers study the intricate dynamics of the ocean's waves, currents, ecology, chemistry, and geological systems. As part of their fact-finding activities, they often go out onto the open sea aboard cool research vessels. Plus, for many oceanographers, their work is increasingly focused on tracking and predicting the harmful effects of climate change, such as ocean acidification.
- Average salary—$62,4632
4. Biomedical engineer
Creating artificial human organs has to be one of the coolest jobs ever. Some biomedical professionals actually get to take on that challenge. Others are involved in designing or evaluating new healthcare technologies such as artificial limbs, micro-implants, pharmaceutical drugs, or therapeutic and diagnostic medical devices.
- Average salary—$91,2301
5. Robotics engineer
Are humans in danger of being enslaved or wiped out by artificially intelligent robots? The jury is still out on that question. In the meantime, robotics engineers are moving forward with developing some of the most impressive machines ever created. The growing sophistication of robotic technology means that machines are taking over some of humanity's most dangerous and least desirable tasks. With some training in electronics or mechanical engineering, you can start playing a role in that progress.
- Average salary—$81,0002
6. Deep-sea marine biologist
The ocean's deepest waters are home to creatures that are both amazing and terrifying. From alien-like species that glow in brilliant colors to monster-like fish that seem to be all teeth, the deep sea continues to reveal new and awesome wonders that are worth studying and bringing to the world's attention.
- Average salary (for all marine biologists)—$51,2892
Science helps make civilization better in so many different ways that it can be easy to overlook the serious contribution that it makes to criminal justice. Forensic science professionals play a huge role in determining whether people who've been accused of crimes are guilty or innocent. The evidence that they identify, collect, and analyze frequently makes all the difference. So forensic science positions aren't just cool jobs to have; they also have a significant impact on who gets sent to prison.
- Average salary—$60,0901
8. SETI astronomer
The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) is a scientific undertaking that seeks to find evidence of other intelligent and technologically advanced life forms in the universe. How awesome is that? Imagine having the chance to be the person who finally detects an alien civilization by using gigantic radio telescopes or other impressive equipment. Many astronomers in this field have cool jobs that pay well and ignite the imagination day after day.
- Average salary (for all astronomers)—$110,2201
9. Ethical hacker
Computer and information security seems to become a bigger issue every year. After all, criminal hackers and other bad guys continue to develop new ways to find and exploit electronic vulnerabilities in the information systems that companies, governments, utilities, and individuals rely on. But information security analysts (sometimes called white hat hackers) get to use their own computer hacking skills for the positive benefit of society. They help prevent malicious attacks by finding vulnerabilities (and suggesting ways to fix them) before the bad guys do.
- Average salary—$93,2501
10. Museum technician
Museums hold a lot of humanity's most interesting and cherished artifacts and natural wonders. And people actually get paid to work with those collections and create amazing exhibits from them. Artwork, fossils, skeletal remains, historical items, and exotic botanicals are only a few of the many types of objects that museums store, research, and display.
- Average salary—$44,8801
Making accurate predictions is really hard. But it's also really cool when it's actually accomplished. Futurists are able to study current and emerging trends and make educated guesses about what might happen next. As a result, many organizations seek the advice of reputable futurists to help them manage risk and forecast social, technological, and business opportunities.
- Yearly pay varies widely, but some of the most successful futurists have made six-figure salaries.
Awesome Careers for Creative Freaks
We're using the term freak affectionately. The amazing talent and enthusiasm that a lot of creative people share with the world is something to behold. Artists, designers, performers, and other imaginative individuals enrich our existence and help ensure that humanity keeps reaching for new ideas and more enlightened ways of thinking and experiencing life on this planet. That's why they often have some of the coolest jobs around.
12. Film director
Most people love to watch good movies or television shows. A great film can do more than entertain us. It can make us see and understand a different perspective, make us feel various emotions, or inspire us to reflect on our actions, our place in the world, or our opportunities for making things better. Film directors get to interpret stories, shape how they come across on screen, and make many of the most important creative decisions for each new project.
- Average salary (in the motion picture industry)—$105,5501
13. On-call musician or singer
Music has been called a universal language. So it's no wonder that the demand for both live and recorded music continues to remain strong. And meeting that demand requires professional singers and musicians. Here's the coolest part: You don't need to be in a band or orchestra in order to make a living from your musical skills. Plenty of talented people in the industry get to play or record music on an as-needed basis for a huge variety of different musical artists, including those who are famous and those who may become famous.
- Average pay—$33.62 per hour1
14. Cirque du Soleil acrobat
Being a performer for one of the world's largest theatrical producers is often more than just exciting. Because of what they do, acrobats for Cirque du Soleil definitely have jobs with a huge wow factor. But they also frequently enjoy a family-like bond with their fellow performers. And many of them get to travel extensively and perform their amazing feats of physical and artistic prowess in different cities.
- Acrobats have reported salaries ranging from about $50,000 to more than $250,000, depending on their experience and whether they have sold the rights to any acts that they've helped create.
15. Costume designer
Yes, you actually can make a career out of helping other people play dress up. Some professional costume designers work for film or theatrical productions and create imaginative or historically accurate wardrobe items for actors and performers. And other designers get to develop fun, wild, and scary costumes for Halloween companies.
- Average salary—$40,0002
16. Special effects makeup artist
Like some costume designers, many makeup artists get to help transform the look of actors and performers for movies and TV shows. Their talent for applying makeup and using prosthetics ensures that performers look like the creatures or characters that they are striving to portray.
- Average salary (in the motion picture industry)—$83,5801
17. Voice-over artist
You've probably heard the work of voice-over artists in movie trailers, documentary films, radio ads, airports, and large shopping malls. Many voice-over artists have backgrounds in acting or broadcasting. But whatever their training, they often have really cool jobs since they simply use their distinctive voices to enhance film projects or to communicate messages to the public (and to make those messages sound interesting).
- Average pay—$45 per hour2
18. Hollywood actor
Fame and fortune are what a lot of aspiring actors hope to achieve. But you don't necessarily have to become an A-list celebrity in order to experience the coolest aspects of Hollywood. A lot of people with acting training get to play great parts in movies and TV shows while refining their talents and enjoying the artistic process. In a lot of cases, they even get to travel to awesome locations and interact with big-time celebrities and other fascinating and creative people.
- Average pay (in the motion picture industry)—$40.86 per hour1
19. Forensic artist
Science isn't the only useful forensic tool in criminal investigations. Art is also frequently used to help law enforcement locate suspected criminals or figure out what happened. Some artists specialize in drawing facial composites based on the descriptions of eyewitnesses. Others sketch detailed crime scenes or create sculptures or 3D computer renderings and animations.
- Pay varies significantly, especially since forensic art is often just one aspect of a broader full-time career in law enforcement or criminal justice.
This job will probably remain a very cool option for many years to come. After all, movies, video games, and other forms of digital entertainment are showing no signs of losing their popularity. On the contrary, the demand for animated media continues to surge around the world. Animators get to help create some pretty awesome 3D characters, objects, environments, and special effects.
- Average salary—$70,3001
Two-dimensional artwork is still widely used for all kinds of commercial purposes. And, in some ways, illustration is as cool as it gets. Illustrators often have the ability to render ideas and concepts more freely and imaginatively than photographers can. Plus, the market for professional illustration is as varied as ever. Electronic media has joined greeting cards, books, magazines, product packaging, calendars, and other forms of print media as places where illustrated visual art can be found in abundance.
- Average salary—$44,5882
22. Music producer
As long as the world still has bands and other music artists who want to record songs, producers will be called upon to help make that happen. Music producers tend to have awesome jobs because they get to have direct input into the overall tone and artistic expression of the recordings that they work on. In fact, beyond supervising the technical aspects of recording and mixing, producers often make suggestions about everything from song lyrics and melodies to song arrangements and instrument choices.
- Average salary—$50,0002
Cool Jobs for Sports Enthusiasts
Obviously, being a professional athlete or coach might be pretty awesome. But reaching that level of success is relatively rare. However, a sports enthusiast can sometimes make money from his or her passion in other ways, especially with some college-level training in sports and recreation.
23. Sports announcer or color commentator
Radio and television broadcasting offers one of the coolest avenues for earning money and still being involved in sports. Imagine getting to announce games play by play, provide commentary about the action, or interview individual coaches and players before, during, or after games. Most jobs are at the college and minor-league levels. Yet, with experience, connections, and a little luck, some sports broadcasters are able to land jobs that let them cover professional leagues (for higher-than-average salaries).
- Average salary—$35,1592
24. Referee, umpire, or other sports official
Sure, sports fans often like to tease the people who are in charge of ensuring that games or matches are played safely and fairly. But, aside from being a player or coach, enforcing the rules is probably the best way to be part of the action. And if you become accomplished enough to work in the pros, you'll have the chance to interact with celebrities and earn significantly more pay than what is typical at the high school or college level.
- Average pay—$10.31 per hour2
25. Safety car driver
Car races are extremely dangerous events under even the best conditions. But accidents or bad weather can temporarily make a racetrack too treacherous for full-speed competition. That's when the safety car driver hits the track. He or she leads the pack of racecars around the track at safe speeds until obstructions are cleared or conditions improve. Plus, many safety car drivers get the added benefit of getting to drive high-performance vehicles.
- Pay varies a lot depending on whether you work at amateur car races or at the professional level (such as at Formula 1, NASCAR, or IndyCar races).
26. Baseball bullpen catcher
Some former baseball players (from the high school, college, and pro levels) get the opportunity to help pitchers warm up before or during games. It's a job that requires great catching and throwing skills. But those abilities can often be developed through plenty of practice, such as by catching high-speed balls from pitching machines. The job usually comes with a lot of free travel and food. And, at the pro level, it involves hanging out with baseball stars.
- Salaries vary a lot, and baseball teams prefer to not to make them public. But some reports have indicated that yearly pay can range from about $20,000 to $60,000.
27. Tennis ball boy or girl
When it comes to cool jobs for teens, this one is pretty distinctive. Most major tennis tournaments hire young people to run and fetch balls at the end of each point or unreturned serve during matches. The ball boys or girls then give those balls back to whichever tennis player needs them when it is their time to serve. It's a job that can provide the chance to meet tennis stars. And some tournaments (such as the U.S. Open) even hire adults for the job. You just need the ability to run fast and throw accurately.
- Pay varies, but most people begin at minimum wage or get paid a set amount per match (which can range from about $25 to $150).
The Coolest Jobs for Food and Drink Connoisseurs
Most humans enjoy indulging in tasty food and beverages. But some people have extra enthusiasm for those experiences and get to turn their culinary interests into very cool careers. With enough motivation and some professional culinary training, the possibilities are extensive.
28. Food or beverage tester
Full-time jobs in this field can be difficult to come by, but that doesn't mean they aren't awesome. From chocolate and ice cream to beer and other alcoholic beverages, the range of culinary delights that companies need to test is large and diverse. Testers get paid to use their senses and rate various products on aspects like smell, visual appeal, flavor, texture, mouthfeel, and aftertaste.
- Average salary—$58,0002
Wine expertise is a valuable commodity. People who dine in fine restaurants—or who need to select impressive wines for special occasions—will often pay good money for the recommendations of a professional sommelier. After all, becoming such an expert usually requires that you've spent plenty of time sipping and tasting lots of wines and learning about grape varieties, vineyards, wine-growing regions, food pairings, and many similar topics.
- Average salary—$46,0002
30. Personal chef to the stars
Many celebrities hire private chefs to prepare meals for them based on specific preferences. Beyond the opportunity to meet and interact with various celebrities, the job can sometimes come with additional perks such as free travel opportunities or health benefits. Personal chefs often get their start by signing up with private chef agencies and slowly developing a good reputation through word of mouth.
- The median yearly pay of personal chefs is about $40,665.2 But some celebrities pay their personal chefs six-figure salaries, especially if they work full-time and exclusively for them.
31. Food stylist
It is often said that people eat with their eyes first. Food that looks attractive is frequently believed to be tastier or more nutritious than food that is visually unappealing, even though the reality is sometimes just the opposite. So professional food stylists are essential to the art of promoting food and beverages in visual mediums such as cookbooks, magazine ads, television, and film. They use creative techniques (and sometimes inedible substances) to make food look as appealing as possible when filmed or photographed.
- Most food stylists work as freelancers and set their own rates, so pay varies according to their reputations and the markets that they cater to.
Anyone who loves beer would probably consider this career really awesome. After all, it basically involves being in charge of making beer. Aside from creating recipes, training workers, ordering supplies, and ensuring that all of the brewery's equipment is functioning properly, a brewmaster usually gets to enjoy frequent tastes of the finished product (you know, for quality-control purposes).
- Average salary—$48,4662
Awesome Jobs for Travel Lovers and Adventure Seekers
The urge to explore is at the very heart of what it means to be human. We are all curious creatures. But, of course, some people have a greater need for travel or adventure in their lives than others. Some people even seek out danger. Thankfully, a lot of cool jobs exist for those who enjoy exploring, traveling, or experiencing daily thrills.
33. Scuba diving instructor
Tourists continue to keep the demand for scuba diving lessons high. As a result, this job often comes with a lot of cool perks. For example, some diving instructors are hired by resorts in exotic destinations that offer free lodging (and, in some cases, free food and free travel) as part of their temporary employment contracts. Plus, many diving instructors only work part-time, yet they often earn enough to explore and enjoy the benefits of each new destination. So it can definitely pay to earn all of the required certifications.
- Pay varies quite a bit, but many diving instructors earn substantial tips, especially those who work for high-end resorts in popular destinations.
34. Flight nurse
The healthcare sector is full of awesome jobs that pay well. But few of them offer as much excitement as this one. Flight nurses get to be part of rescue operations and medical evacuations while flying aboard airplanes or helicopters. They provide emergency care to patients who are in critical condition and need to be airlifted to the hospital. Becoming a flight nurse first requires that you go to school for registered nursing and gain experience in trauma care.
- Median salary—$61,9382
35. Travel writer
It usually takes a lot of persistence and many years of effort to become a truly successful travel writer, but those who achieve that goal end up with really cool jobs. They get assignments from magazines, advances from book publishers, or invitations by tourism agencies and travel companies around the world to experience and write about awesome attractions and destinations.
- Pay is wide-ranging. Those who are just starting out typically must have another job to self-fund their initial travel adventures, whereas the few who make it big can sometimes receive six-figure contracts or advances.
36. Paranormal investigator
Yeah, this job is really out there. Some people actually spend day after day investigating strange happenings such as UFO sightings or alleged encounters with ghosts or mysterious creatures. Many of them have a background in engineering technology, computer science, history, or the social sciences. Some of them have also received private detective training. They frequently use standard investigative methods along with special equipment that can detect and record energy fluctuations as well as visual or auditory anomalies.
- Very few paranormal investigators make money from their efforts unless they have received book or television contracts. Most investigators work for non-profit organizations on a volunteer basis.
37. ESOL teacher
A lot of people who teach English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) do so in foreign countries that they want to explore. They get to immerse themselves in other cultures and traditions while helping other people learn one of the world's most widely spoken languages. In some cases, their employers even pay for their accommodations while living abroad.
- Pay varies from country to country, but the average salary is $44,358.2
Only the most elite firefighters get to experience this awesome job. Imagine parachuting out of airplanes and landing in remote areas of the forest in order to attack raging wildfires. For the first two days of each new attack, smokejumpers have to be self-sufficient. But many of them get opportunities to fight wildfires all over the country. Sometimes, they are even deployed to other nations.
- Typical pay—$16.00 per hour plus hazard pay, which is about $4.00 per hour extra when battling uncontrolled wildfires3
39. Undercover agent or spy
The reality might not be as awesome as what you see in James Bond movies, but this job still has to rank as one of the coolest ever. Covert intelligence-gathering operations always have an exciting element of danger. And it takes a lot of courage and creativity to mask your identity and gain the trust of those you are spying on.
- Salary range for agents in the Central Intelligence Agency's clandestine service operations—$54,423 to $82,840, depending on experience and qualifications4
A great music concert can energize the soul. But it takes a lot more than rock stars or other music performers to put on a memorable live show. Roadies get to go on tour with the stars, but they work behind the scenes and handle all non-performance aspects of a show's production—from constructing and tearing down stages to ensuring that all musical instruments, lighting, amplifiers, video screens, and special effects are set up and working properly. Many roadies (particularly guitar, bass, and drum technicians) have been discovered for their own musical talents while on tour and have gone on to become stars themselves.
- Pay varies depending on the specific position. For example, stage managers earn yearly median pay of $38,753, and sound engineers and lighting technicians earn median pay of $39,199 and $41,926, respectively.2
41. Whitewater rafting guide
It probably feels pretty awesome to ride wild river rapids multiple times a day. It's an intense experience that is complemented by the important responsibility of keeping other riders safe while ensuring that they have a great time. This job is seasonal since it can usually only be done in the summer. But almost anyone with strong arms and good core strength can train to become a rafting guide and get paid for having a ton of fun.
- Average pay—$13.63 per hour5
42. Private island caretaker
Yes, this job really exists. It usually involves looking after the island retreats of wealthy people in between their holidays. It requires having good skills in general maintenance, being in good shape, and having a temperament for solitary island living. In a lot of cases, a background in boat maintenance is also very useful.
- Salaries vary a lot, but some jobs have reportedly paid more than $100,000.
Very few people can meet the high standards that are required for working in outer space, but that doesn't stop this from maybe being the single coolest job ever. After all, astronauts get sent into orbit high above the earth. And they do important work that directly leads to major medical and technological breakthroughs for all of us here on the ground. Plus, some of them have been to the moon. And, within the next few decades, some of them will likely become the first humans to set foot on Mars.
- Civilian astronaut salaries range from $66,026 to $144,566.6
- Military astronauts are paid based on their active-duty rank.
44. Ski instructor or ski patrol officer
Getting paid to hit the slopes: it's a perennially cool job that offers the chance to have fun every day. Whether it involves teaching other people how to ski or enforcing the rules of the mountain so that all skiers and snowboarders stay safe, this type of occupation often leads to great memories and conversations. That's why, as far as seasonal jobs go, these remain a popular option.
- Average pay of ski instructors—$13.00 per hour2
- Average pay of ski patrol officers—$10.54 per hour1
45. Commercial diver
Working under water is a pretty impressive way to make a living. Many commercial divers get to travel for each new job, and a lot of them specialize in performing certain kinds of tasks. For example, some divers conduct underwater experiments or set up explosives, whereas others help build, inspect, or repair underwater structures. Plus, some commercial divers with photography training earn money by taking professional photos of marine life or natural or man-made structures.
- Average salary—$54,6401
Being a plant scientist can involve a lot more adventure than you might think. In fact, some botanists get to explore remote corners of the world that have never been seen by civilized humans. They help discover new plant species almost every day while trekking through tropical rainforests and other exotic landscapes. And some of their discoveries lead to the creation of important new medicines.
- Average salary—$49,8912
47. Cave explorer
Estimates vary, but some experts believe that humans have explored fewer than half of the world's caves. So plenty of new frontiers still exist right here on Earth. And that means a lot of unusual species have yet to be discovered. Many caves are even under water.
- Most cave explorers are volunteers, but paid research crews do exist. With a science degree, it's possible to find cave research jobs sponsored by universities or other scientific institutions.
48. Aircraft test pilot
Danger and excitement are the hallmarks of this occupation. So it's pretty hard to argue that test pilots aren't cool. They fly new-model airplanes or helicopters as well as aircraft that may have been out of service for a long time. As a result, they never really know how safe the aircraft are that they're climbing into or whether that aircraft will perform well. But without their courageous work, nobody would ever know—until it was too late. Test pilots have usually attained many years of professional flying experience after their initial flight training.
- Average salary—$117,0482
49. Fake corporate executive
It sounds like a joke, but some Chinese companies have actually been known to hire Caucasian men to pose as Western business leaders. Real business experience helps, but you mostly just need to look the part and maybe attend a few dinners, tour a factory, go to one or more ceremonies, and get your picture taken with local Chinese leaders and businessmen. It's all intended to make your temporary employer look like a credible, globally connected company.
- Some reports have indicated that it's possible to earn about $1,000 for a week as a fake corporate executive.
50. Vacation tester
This job is awesome, but it's also rare. Some luxury travel companies hire professional reviewers with hospitality backgrounds to experience and rate different high-end travel packages in order to ensure that they will meet the standards of wealthy clients. As a result, vacation testers get to enjoy five-star restaurants, luxury hotels, and tours of museums, landmarks, and natural regions—all for free.
- Pay varies and is usually kept quiet within the industry. But some travel companies and tourism agencies have sponsored contests in which the winners received over $100,000 to do this kind of job for a year.
Cool Jobs for Animal Lovers
Animals—of every variety—deserve respect and humane treatment. Plus, they are often a lot easier to love than humans. That's why many people are attracted to careers that involve positive interactions with animals.
51. Non-farm animal caretaker
The world is filled with both wild and domestic animals that are homeless, have been abused, or need to be rehabilitated. So a lot of people with training in animal care perform very important work every day, even when it involves tasks as simple as providing food, water, and a clean place to sleep or play.
- Average salary—$23,6301
52. Wildlife tour guide
Some people get paid to escort tourists through wilderness areas in order to observe and photograph wild animals in their natural habitats. Few things are cooler than seeing animals as they are truly meant to be.
- Average salary (for all tour guides and escorts)—$26,9201
53. Dog trainer
Dogs truly are our best friends. Most of them love people unconditionally. Plus, they are a whole lot of fun to be around. Dog trainers get to interact with a large variety of canines while teaching them obedience, tricks, or how to help people who have disabilities.
- Average salary (for all animal trainers)—$33,6001
54. Animal massage therapist
Humans aren't the only creatures that can benefit from massage therapy. Dogs, horses, and many other animals also respond well to massage treatments. This cool occupation requires special knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of various animal species, which can often be learned through a veterinary technology program. But it's also possible to earn special certification through an organization such as the National Board of Certification for Animal Acupressure & Massage.
- Pay varies a lot since animal massage therapists are often self-employed and set their own rates.
Awesome Careers for Big Kids
Some of us never want to grow up. We might be adults, but we still value the joyful feelings created by engaging in fun and games that are supposedly only reserved for children. Thankfully, many adults are able to make a living by being the big kids that they truly are at heart.
It's easy to feel childlike wonder when you get to dream up new worlds, characters, storylines, and other game elements. Plus, bringing those things to life involves collaborating with a variety of fun-loving professionals such as writers, programmers, and other people trained in art and design.
- Average salary—$58,2532
56. Lego master model builder
Lego bricks are some of the coolest, most popular toys of all time. They are just plain fun. And, for a few lucky teens and adults, Lego bricks represent the building blocks of their entire careers. They get paid to design, build, install, and maintain awesome Lego models and conduct workshops at the toy maker's various theme parks and events.
- Reports vary, but pay can sometimes go well above $12 per hour. However, Lego model builders usually begin their careers as apprentices and reportedly earn pay closer to around $10 per hour in the beginning.
57. Disney face character
What could be more childlike than pretending to be a Disney prince, princess, fairy, or evil villain all day at one of the company's popular theme parks? It's a job that is all about making kids (including big kids like you) smile, laugh, and feel pure joy and wonder. Most face characters begin their careers in furry costumes before moving on to their other roles.
- According to one report, pay starts at about $8.20 per hour and rises to a maximum of about $13.59 per hour.7
58. Amusement park ride tester
From kiddie rides to roller coasters and other thrill rides, every attraction at every amusement park needs to undergo regular testing in order to ensure safe and fun experiences for guests. Positions for this type of job are limited since the responsibility of actually riding each attraction often falls to a park's operations manager. But if rides are your favorite thing, then no other job could be more awesome.
- Average salary (for operations managers at amusement parks and arcades)—$88,2501
59. Professional mermaid
Here's another job that is almost too cool to believe. Some people get paid to wear mermaid costumes and perform under water as part of shows or attractions at hotels, resorts, theme parks, fairs, and various events. They are also sometimes hired for film or photography shoots. Most professional mermaids are strong swimmers, physically fit, and have backgrounds in freediving, which means that they can hold their breath for two to five minutes at a time.
- Pay varies significantly, but some mermaid performers reportedly earn between $100 and $300 per event.
60. Toy designer
Some industrial designers specialize in dreaming up new and innovative toys. They can often let their imaginations run wild while developing toy ideas that kids might find cool. From dinosaurs to aquatic robots, the playful possibilities are endless.
- Average salary (for all industrial designers)—$69,8201
61. Skateboarding instructor
A lot of cities and recreational organizations host periodic skateboard camps where kids and teens can learn the basics of this fun activity. As a result, instructors are often hired to help teach and mentor kids in the art of safely riding skateboards and performing simple tricks. It's even possible to get certified through an organization such as the Skateboard Instructors Association.
- Pay varies, but some jobs have been advertised for as much as $15 per hour or more.
62. Prop master
Theater, television, and movie productions always require people to acquire or create believable props. It's frequently a fun and creative job that feels more like playtime than work.
- Average salary—$42,3545
63. Stunt coordinator
Imagine having the awesome job of designing impressive action sequences for movies, TV shows, or live performances. Stunt coordinators help cast the people who perform dangerous stunts and choreograph each sequence based on the goals of directors and what has been scripted.
- Average salary—$39,5365
64. Summer camp counselor
People who help kids have a great time at organized camps frequently have some of the coolest summer jobs. They often get to lead fun outdoor activities and make full use of their penchant for imaginative play.
- Average pay—$9.00 per hour2
65. Professional storyteller
Oral storytelling has a long tradition that goes back several centuries. And it is still alive and well today. In fact, some people have built successful careers out of telling popular and obscure folk tales or ghost stories at public or private events. They've developed a captivating style of performance that fires up the imagination in both kids and adults.
- Most professional storytellers are self-employed, so pay rates vary. But some of them have reported charging $250 per hour or more for their performances.
Cool Careers for Helpers and World Savers
It's good to care and to want to help out. In fact, it is truly awesome. That's why professionals who assist other people or perform work that benefits society or the environment frequently have really cool jobs. They often earn money by making the world a better place, even if it is only through one personal interaction or project at a time.
66. Music therapist
All kinds of people experience benefits from creating or listening to music. In fact, music has been shown to improve mental, emotional, and physical problems. That's why music therapists are increasingly employed to help addicts recover, seniors regain lost memories, and victims of cancer, stroke, or disabilities heal or achieve overall better well-being. Aside from musical expertise, most people in this field also have some counseling training.
- Average salary—$39,6082
67. Professional cuddler or platonic friend
Loneliness is an extremely common problem. Many people, for a variety of reasons, simply do not have companions in their non-digital lives. And even people who do have day-to-day companionship may not like eating or doing other things alone in new cities when they travel by themselves. Professional cuddlers and platonic friends help put a dent in those problems by providing temporary companionship without any judgment. That often involves holding their clients close or joining them for meals, walks, or shopping adventures.
- Pay rates vary a lot, but some people in this field have reported earning between $60 and $80 per hour when self-employed.
68. Park ranger for the National Park Service
America has many national parks that need to be preserved for the enjoyment of current and future generations. A lot of them are natural areas with amazing wildlife, but other parks are home to important historic and cultural landmarks. Park rangers get to help conserve, protect, and manage those national treasures while also sometimes educating the public or assisting in search and rescue operations.
- Average salary—$58,7208
Plenty of kids still dream of having this occupation. As a result, battling fires and saving lives will probably always be considered a cool job, even though most firefighters don't jump out of airplanes.
- Average salary—$49,3301
No list of cool jobs is complete without doctors. Their work might require a huge amount of schooling and a high tolerance for stress, but they heal people and save lives. When it comes to the coolest type of doctor, things are certainly up for debate. But neurosurgeons have to be prime candidates for that honor since they perform operations on people's brains and spines.
- Average salary—$393,3402
Here's something else that's really awesome: using sound waves to generate images of people's internal organs. That's what medical sonographers get to do. They use highly advanced ultrasound technology to produce images that help doctors treat and diagnose their patients.
- Average salary—$70,8801
Beyond the fact that they look really cool, giant wind turbines are important contributors in the fight against climate change. They generate clean electricity without emitting any greenhouse gases. And they can be really exciting to work on. Wind turbine technicians often get to climb several stories in order inspect or repair leading-edge equipment.
- Average salary—$53,0001
73. Director of culture (or chief culture officer)
Many progressive companies now hire experts in human resource management to lead efforts for the development of inspiring workplaces. The job titles of such professionals vary, but they frequently get to organize fun team-building experiences, create energizing workspaces, plan enriching training opportunities, and develop systems for the ongoing personal and professional growth of employees.
- Average salary for all chief executives—$185,8501
- Average salary for all human resource managers—$117,0801
74. Professional lip reader
Many deaf people are great at reading lips. So some of them offer speechreading services that involve making transcripts of what is being said by people in videos or live situations in which little or no discernible audio is present. For example, professional lip readers sometimes get hired by law enforcement agencies to translate surveillance videos or to help medical patients or disabled persons communicate when they are unable to write down or verbalize their thoughts.
- Professional lip readers tend to work on a freelance basis and set their own rates, so pay varies significantly.
75. Professional matchmaker
Online dating sites now provide most matchmaking services, but many relationship-seekers still prefer to get assistance from more traditional in-person matchmakers. That's especially true of wealthy and well-educated people who have very particular standards. A professional matchmaker can often help clients see beyond their surface preferences and find potential partners that more closely match their deepest needs and desires.
- Pay varies for matchmakers who operate their own companies, but the average salary of employed matchmakers is $37,747.5
76. Home stager
Selling your home is always a stressful process that's full of uncertainty. But home stagers help ensure that residences look as appealing as possible to the kinds of buyers you're trying to target. Their expertise in areas like interior design, marketing, and real estate can translate into homes that sell more quickly and for a lot more money.
- Most home stagers operate their own consulting companies, so their pay rates vary. Earnings can range from about $5,000 a year for new, part-time home stagers to six-figure salaries for those with full-time operations and well-established reputations.
77. Sustainability coordinator
Can you picture a job that actually lets you make a meaningful difference in the efforts to create a more socially and environmentally sustainable economy? Sustainability coordinators have awesome jobs because they get to help organizations reduce or eliminate the harms that they cause to people or the environment. With the right environmental and sustainability training, they are often able to plan, organize, and monitor a variety of initiatives that have positive impacts.
- Average salary—$46,0002
78. Personal shopper
It's no secret that a lot of Americans love to shop. Many people would spend every day shopping if they had the money. But did you know that some shoppers earn money by doing what they love most? They offer services to people who dislike shopping or who don't have time for it. And they frequently have a lot of expertise when it comes to current fashion styles, technology trends, and lifestyle preferences.
- Median pay—$14.92 per hour2
A lot of professionals in this field would say that it feels awesome to help couples, families, groups, and organizations stage memorable events. The job involves organizing many different aspects, including food and beverages, entertainment, and, sometimes, odd or unusual requests. Some event planners and coordinators even get to meet or work for celebrities.
- Average salary—$51,2001
Discover the Coolest Job for You
The opportunities to build an awesome career are more abundant than ever. So think about what you find cool and take action to create a fulfilling professional life around it. Check out nearby training options right now by conducting a quick search with your zip code below!
1 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, website last visited on July 5, 2016.
2 PayScale, website last visited on July 5, 2016.
3 U.S. Forest Service, Fire & Aviation Management, December 22, 2016.
4 Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), website last visited on July 5, 2016
5 SalaryExpert, website last visited on July 5, 2016.
6 National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), website last visited on July 5, 2016.
7 CNN, "Disney workers try to get more pay, better benefits," website last visited on July 5, 2016.
8 FederalPay.org, website last visited on July 5, 2016.