Unique Careers: 24 Occupations That Are Anything But Ho-Hum
Last Updated January 14, 2021
Why pursue an ordinary job when so many fascinating and unique careers now exist? Forget about all the run-of-the-mill options that make you want to poke your eyes out or take the next flight to Mars. You only live once. And you're not about to settle for being a lemming. You deserve the chance to follow an unconventional path.
Sure, the world is full of great career possibilities. But how do you sort out the most interesting ones? How do you find the ones that are just a little bit different, or even odd or weird? How do you find the careers that may not even be on the average person's radar?
Start here. This article breaks down 24 out-of-the-ordinary careers that are worth considering. Many of them are frequently cited as some of the most interesting jobs in the world. Explore possibilities for:
- Distinctively satisfying careers
- Odd jobs for people who like being different
- Unusual and interesting jobs that pay well
- Jobs with a serious cool factor
- 11 "normal" careers that you can make unique
Having a career that's unique and interesting often comes with substantial benefits. It can mean being paid to do something you love and are passionate about (which can help you maintain a higher level of job satisfaction and fulfillment). Having a cool job can also mean being excited to go to work rather than dreading it. And it can mean being excited to tell people what you do for a living rather than hoping that no one asks you about your sinfully boring job.
So, are you ready to take a path less taken—one that has the potential to make you feel more happy and complete? Some of the jobs below are so unusual that you might not have heard of them until now. Take a look!
Annual salary ranges are current as of July 23, 2020 and are based on data from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program unless indicated as being from (1) PayScale, (2) ZipRecruiter, (3) SimplyHired, or (4) JobMonkey.
Distinctively Satisfying Careers
Just think: You could be one of those people who truly love their jobs. You could earn your paycheck by working at something that you deeply enjoy and go home at the end of each day feeling content and fulfilled. Whether that job comes in the form of helping other people, finding your place in the business world, learning an old-world craft, or developing other vocational talents, one of these unique careers could bring you exactly what you are seeking:
1. Art Therapist
If you are searching for interesting careers in psychology, then becoming an art therapist might fit the bill. Art therapy is an expressive form of therapy that improves a person's overall well-being through artistic expression. Art therapists use it as part of a healing process. It can help reduce a patient's stress and anxiety, improve self-esteem, and provide many other mental health benefits. Many patients find art therapy helpful as a way to get assistance with personal development or working through past traumas. And it is especially useful for those who have difficulty expressing themselves verbally.
To become an art therapist, you will need training in art and counseling or psychology. Most aspiring professionals start by completing a psychology degree program to achieve a bachelor's degree before moving on to a master's degree program. And to become certified by the American Art Therapy Association (AATA)—which is typically required to practice in the field—you will need to complete a combination of clinical and studio hours.
Once you have completed your training, you could be ready to offer art therapy in individual or group settings. Your techniques could be used as a part of assessments, treatments, and even research. You may be able to begin your career within a private practice, community outreach center, mental health or rehabilitation unit, or nursing home. Corporations and businesses even hire some art therapists to offer professional development classes. So there are a lot of possibilities out there!
- Annual salary range: $30,880 to $77,970 or more
Women have been supporting each other through pregnancy and childbirth for centuries. A doula is a woman who offers professional pregnancy and birth support services. She does not take on a medical role. She is strictly a support person for the expectant mother. Along with offering emotional and physical support, a doula may also help a mother conduct research and uncover important information.
A doula typically offers three types of services: pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum support. During pregnancy, she can help the expectant mother locate healthcare providers, develop a birth plan, identify a birthing location, and assist her with making any other informed decisions. During childbirth, a doula strictly focuses on the mother's emotional and physical needs. Her tasks are varied. They can include ensuring the mother's birth plan is being respected, feeding the mom ice chips, and massaging her back during contractions.
A doula who offers postpartum care assists the mom, her partner, and their other children transition from pregnancy to having a newborn at home. The doula might offer breastfeeding advice, perform light housekeeping duties, prepare meals, and even cuddle the baby to allow the mom to shower.
It has been found that expectant mothers who have doulas experience improved birth outcomes. For example, a study in The Journal of Perinatal Education found that mothers assisted by doulas were less likely to have low-birth-weight babies or birth complications. They were more likely to initiate breastfeeding. So you can see why a growing number of expectant mothers are turning to doulas to help support them throughout their pregnancies, births, and postpartum periods.
To become a doula, you would typically complete a short training program. There is no specific educational path, but some of the larger organizations that offer workshops and certifications include DONA International and Childbirth International. Many colleges also offer their own on-campus and online programs to provide you with the quality training you need to set out on this career path.
When you work as a doula, the fee that you charge your clients will depend on many factors. These can include your level of experience, location, and the types of services you provide. Many new doulas will start by volunteering their services to gain experience and get their names known within the birthing community.
- Annual salary range: $25,000 to $60,000 or more1
Headhunters are, essentially, professional recruiters. They are typically hired by organizations to recruit executives or higher-level employees for positions that are never advertised. For most employers, finding near-perfect job candidates can be a costly and time-consuming process. So it can be much more efficient for organizations to hire headhunters to cut down on the time and expense that goes into the recruiting process.
As a headhunter, you don't just collect resumes. You are helping organizations improve their operations and bottom lines by aligning them with the potential job candidates who could best fit within their companies. At the same time, you are helping budding professionals advance their careers. Once you have met with an organization and understand what they are seeking, you will begin finding and interviewing candidates that could be a great match. The organization relies on you to find the person who can fill the open role with the least amount of complications. Organizations want to receive a small selection of resumes of the most qualified individuals.
You will need to have a strong professional network and a keen grasp of the job market so you can do your job well. You may even choose to specialize within a specific industry since many headhunters find greater success by sticking to their areas of expertise. The better you are at matching candidates with organizations, the better you can expect to do in business. Organizations will likely hire you again and may recommend your services.
Headhunter could be a good career for you if you are quick-thinking, intuitive, and able to build relationships and communicate well. Although there is no required education to become a headhunter, those who have human resources training often have a competitive advantage within the field. It could help you begin your career within a recruiting or headhunting firm where you can continue to learn the ropes.
Whether you work for a firm or independently, you are usually paid in one of two ways. You are paid an agreed-upon fee up front or receive an agreed-upon amount once a candidate is successfully hired. The amount you are paid is typically a percentage of the annual salary for the position you are trying to fill. So how much you earn in a given year depends on the number of clients you have and the types of positions you are recruiting.
- Annual salary range: $39,000 to $127,000 or more (for executive recruiters)1
4. Therapeutic Riding Instructor
Therapeutic riding instructors are also called equine therapists. This likely is one of the more interesting career paths that you never knew existed. Hippotherapy is riding horses as a form of therapy for children and adults who experience disabilities. It can be used as a form of physical therapy in which the horse's movements affect the rider's body. It can also be used for therapeutic riding to enhance the patients' interaction, recreation, and socialization levels. And equine therapy can provide life-skills training, rehabilitation, and employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.
Therapeutic riding instructors are part of a care team. You will work with medical professionals to help patients achieve their goals. These goals could include:
- Developing balance, coordination, and mobility
- Enhancing muscle tone and strength
- Improving concentration
- Providing independence and a sense of achievement
- Building confidence and motivation
As a therapeutic riding instructor, you will likely teach private and group lessons. You could create lesson plans to support your riders' goals, perform assessments, write progress notes, and care for the horses and barn. Along with enjoying learning and teaching, you will need horsemanship skills and an understanding of various disabilities and special needs. Depending on your background, you may want to start by volunteering at a therapeutic riding center to gain experience. You may want to earn a social science degree since therapeutic riding instructors often draw treatment approaches from related fields like psychology, counseling, and social work.
Additionally, the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH INTL.) is an organization that offers workshops and certification programs that can help you become established within this profession. Many therapeutic riding centers will require you to become a PATH INTL. certified instructor. So achieving credentials can enhance your opportunities and may bring you greater earning potential.
- Annual salary range: $29,500 to $61,000 or more2
5. Master Distiller
You have probably heard of a brewmaster and a winemaker. Well, a master distiller is a similar occupation, but for a different product. Master distillers are the people who oversee the production of spirits or liqueurs, such as whiskey or rum, for commercial distilleries. Although it is a small professional field, it has been growing with the emergence of craft distilleries in recent years.
As a master distiller, you will need to develop expertise in all of the processes and techniques used to turn raw materials, such as grains or fruits, into finished products sitting on store shelves. With a blend of traditional principles and modern practices, you could be handling anything from mashing and fermentation procedures to marketing and distribution to accounting and human resources. Specific responsibilities could include:
- Sourcing raw materials
- Ensuring that production and aging processes are correct
- Conducting quality-control measures
- Managing staff and operations
- Creating new products
- Training and developing employees
- Managing the overall brand
Although there are distillation schools and workshops, many people learn the trade from the entry level. You could expect to spend several years working your way up within a distillery since there is a lot to learn within the field. However, it can help to have a background in chemistry or chemical engineering, microbiology, or food science.
- Annual salary range: $31,642 to $163,692 or more3
6. Railroad Conductor
Becoming a train conductor is a common childhood dream for many young children. Maybe you were one of them. But what exactly does a railroad conductor do? Well, he or she oversees the crew on passenger and freight trains and manages the activities on board. However, train conductors don't actually operate the trains.
Railroad conductors are often responsible for:
- Managing the loading and unloading of cargo
- Checking passenger tickets
- Announcing stops
- Assisting passengers as needed
- Handling any passenger conflicts on the train
- Ensuring that the train stays on schedule
- Making sure that safety practices and regulations are being followed
Although there are courses available at training facilities and colleges, most conductors are trained on the job. And whether you complete on-the-job or college training, you will need to pass a federal certification test.
- Annual salary range: $45,850 to $98,110 or more
Odd Jobs for People Who Like Being Different
Maybe "unique" isn't quite how you would describe your career dreams. Maybe you want something even a little more "out there" than that. You might be thinking of the kind of job that has people ask, "You get paid to do what?" Well, here are a few possibilities for you to consider that offer exactly that:
7. Bike Courier
Bike couriers are more common in large cities with downtown cores and business districts where vehicle deliveries can be costly and hard to schedule due to traffic jams, construction, parking availability, and other factors. In these cases, bike couriers are often hired to deliver items such as the following:
- Clothing and articles for photo shoots
- Digital files (on flash drives or hard discs)
- Legal, financial, and other sensitive documents
- Corporate gifts
- Medical samples
You may be able to work as an independent contractor, or you could secure a position with a courier company. If you are physically fit, familiar with your city, and willing to navigate quickly through heavy traffic in almost any weather, this could be one of the interesting occupations worth considering. Note that you may be required to have your own bike. The ability to repair your bike could be a plus since it could limit any downtime from having your bike in a repair shop.
- Annual salary range: $20,990 to $46,080 or more
8. Body Paint Artist
Body painters use the human body as a canvas. But unlike tattoos, it is temporary body art that can last anywhere from a few hours to a couple of weeks. The designs can be applied to a person's entire body or a small part, like an arm or leg. This practice has been around for a long time. Body painting is an ancient form of art that has found a place in modern culture. Some of the places that body-painting services are found include:
- Festivals, such as sports events or music festivals
- Fine art exhibits where there are live exhibits or photographs on display
- Commercial settings, such as TV and movie sets or the offices of magazines and ad agencies
- Political protests where body painting is used to gain the attention of the media and people passing by
- Other private events like corporate parties, children's birthday parties, and fundraisers
You could apply the paint with your hands, sponges, brushes, and airbrushes. And the best painters have established artistic and creative talents so good that it's sometimes hard to tell if a person is painted or clothed. Additionally, you will need to follow strict guidelines to ensure that your paint is non-toxic, hypoallergenic, and easy to wash off (except longer lasting products like henna).
You may be able to find classes and workshops that can help you begin developing your body-painting skills. And some body painters have found makeup artist training to be quite helpful. Once you have established some basic skills, you will likely benefit from lots of practice. You could volunteer your services and offer to paint up your friends to gain valuable experience.
- Annual salary range: $31,757 to $107,626 or more3
9. Live Mannequin/Human Statue
Live mannequins are a new and unexpected form of advertising. They grab attention and provide an experience that sticks with potential customers. And the position is what it sounds like. You will stand as a live mannequin in storefronts where you could occasionally change poses and possibly outfits. You may interact with customers or just strictly act as a conventional mannequin.
Tailors and dressmakers sometimes use live mannequins too. (In those instances, they are also called fitting models.) And larger fashion companies use fitting models to test their newest lines. Companies find people with physical builds that they feel represent their average customers. Those fitting models take clothing home with them to test in everyday situations, ensuring that it fits properly and is comfortable to wear.
Another position within this field is that of a living statue. However, living statues are more similar to mimes and tend to fall into the category of street performers. Living statues put together outfits to represent those of real statues. Sometimes they even paint themselves silver or gold. Then they pose in a busy spot (usually somewhere with tourists) and remain extremely still other than occasionally moving an arm or cracking a smile to shock people passing by.
Of course, no education is required to be a live mannequin or human statue. However, many people come from a background in performing arts. And some positions can pay surprisingly well. Although salary information is not available, there are reports of live mannequins, fitting models, and human statues earning hourly pay ranging from $50 to $375 per hour. That does not include the human statues who work as street performers since their earnings strictly come from tips.
10. Professional Bridesmaid
You might be thinking, "Why on earth would anyone hire a bridesmaid?" Well, the answer may surprise you. And it has little to do with not having friends or family members to fill the role. A growing number of brides-to-be are hiring professional bridesmaids to supplement their wedding parties. A professional bridesmaid is hired to do behind-the-scenes work commonly known to stress the bride and her bridesmaids.
Although being part of the wedding party is considered an honor, it is often a big time and financial commitment. Being a bridesmaid can be especially difficult when they do not live in the same city as the bride. This is where a professional bridesmaid comes in.
When you work as a professional bridesmaid, you may not even stand at the altar. Your role could be strictly behind the scenes. Or you may need to walk down the aisle so that there isn't an uneven number of groomsmen to bridesmaids. Each bride and wedding comes with different responsibilities. As a professional bridesmaid, you could be responsible for assisting with any of the following tasks:
- Shopping for dresses
- Planning the bridal shower and bachelorette party
- Taking care of printing save-the-date cards and invitations
- Managing guest lists
- Updating the gift registry
- Working with the photographer, caterer, DJ, and other hired professionals
- Helping the bride eat and go to the washroom
- Touching up the bride's hair and makeup
- Handling any number of sometimes strange and unexpected events that can take place during a wedding
So if you are working as a professional bridesmaid, you can expect to take care of a lot of the "dirty work" and seemingly infinite details. Meanwhile, the rest of the wedding party can enjoy their roles in celebrating the big day with the bride and groom. You will be the go-to person when someone needs a bandage or an extension cord, all items that you should have in your wedding "tool kit."
You are essentially the bride's assistant who is making sure that her needs are met. Your role varies from that of a wedding planner since the wedding planner focuses more on taking care of the larger elements that bring the entire event together. That said, you might find it advantageous to complete event planner training as a way to begin preparing for this unusual career.
Completing event planner training could equip you with the business skills needed to start your own business. Or you could pursue a position with an already-established company. Some professional bridesmaid companies advertise packages ranging from $200 to $1,000 and higher. So you could stand to earn a good living.
Unusual and Interesting Jobs That Pay Well
Getting a non-traditional job might be important to you. But you also probably want to earn a good paycheck. It can be a challenge to uncover career paths that offer you both. However, with hard work and time, you can certainly find a unique job that also presents you with the opportunity to earn a great living. Check out a few occupations that are a little unusual, yet are known to pay quite well:
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese practice in which fine, sterile needles are inserted into a person's body in specific areas called acupuncture points. Electrical stimulation, heat, and pressure can also be used to stimulate these points. These are considered therapeutic treatments that offer many healing benefits.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) describes the body as being made up of two existing forces: yin and yang. The body's natural energy—referred to as qi—flows to keep yin and yang in balance. However, when this energy is blocked, yin and yang become out of balance. It is said that this imbalance leads to illness and pain. So acupuncture is a therapy used to release these energy blocks to restore balance. It can stimulate and improve disorders related to the cardiovascular, digestive, endocrine, immune, and nervous systems.
As an acupuncturist, you will start by assessing your patient's health history and identifying any concerning health issues. Then you may perform physical assessments, such as checking the patient's tongue or pulse rate. Once you have completed this, you will develop a treatment plan.
You will have your patient lie on a table in a calm, quiet, and comforting environment. You will insert needles into acupuncture points, which is not a painful process. Most people do not even feel the needles being inserted. The needles are then left for anywhere from five to 30 minutes before they are removed.
Some conditions that you could treat include:
- Back pain
- Digestive issues
- Sleep disorders
- Anxiety, stress, and depression
- Rheumatoid arthritis
The path to becoming an acupuncturist varies widely depending on the state in which you plan to practice. So it is important to check on your state's requirements because the education and experience stipulations can vary substantially.
- Annual salary range: $42,120 to $148,950 or more
12. Airplane Repo Person
A lot of wealthy individuals and companies around the world have personal and corporate jets. As you can imagine, these jets do not come with a small price tag. And when money becomes tight, there are times when the payments on these jets are not made, and they have to be repossessed. Enter the airplane repossession specialists. These men and women are responsible for recovering commercial aircraft from around the world, sometimes from less-than-ideal locations or owners, making it occasionally risky but equally thrilling work.
You will be responsible for finding the aircraft's location and monitoring the site, somewhat like that of a private investigator. You will be determining the most opportune time to jump into the plane and take off with it. It is not as simple as the car repo man who shows up with a tow truck in the middle of the night. When an owner does not want to turn over their plane, planning to legally apprehend it can feel a bit like you're a secret agent in the latest Hollywood blockbuster.
It is almost unheard of for airplane repo specialists to repossess planes on their own. You are typically sent as part of a team, which includes a mechanic who checks the plane to ensure that it is safe for take-off. Although airplane repo professionals come from all different kinds of backgrounds, you will have to become a commercial pilot since you need to fly the plane. And you could expect to receive good compensation for doing so. You will likely work on a commission basis. Forbes has reported that an airplane repo person can make anywhere from $10,000 to $90,000 per plane, depending on its resale value.
13. Elevator Mechanic
One of the often overlooked yet interesting careers that pay well is that of elevator mechanics. These are the people who install, repair, and maintain elevators, escalators, and other mechanical and motorized lifts. They must possess extensive knowledge of electronics, electricity, and hydraulics. And they are frequently responsible for taking care of the following tasks:
- Reading blueprints
- Installing and repairing cables, control systems, doors, and motors
- Diagnosing problems
- Performing preventative maintenance
- Ensuring that safety protocols and building codes are being met
- Maintaining service records
You will likely need to complete a four-year apprenticeship program overseen by the National Association of Elevator Contractors to become an elevator mechanic. However, completing an electronics engineering and technology or mechanical engineering program could help you advance through your apprenticeship more quickly. Before you begin any training, be sure to check with your state's requirements. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, 35 states require elevator mechanics to be licensed.
- Annual salary range: $44,620 to $124,150 or more
14. Food Scientist
Food scientists are the people who can make food fun. Almost every food product that you see on grocery store shelves had a food scientist working on it. They are responsible for developing nutritious food that tastes good and is free from bacteria that could make consumers sick. Food scientists conduct research, experiments, and clinical trials to create safer foods and preservatives and to come up with better food-processing techniques. They may specialize in developing new products, enhancing manufacturing processes, or coming up with better packaging solutions.
Food scientists work for companies like Jelly Belly. They come up with delicious flavors like banana and coconut, along with more wacky tastes like rotten egg and canned dog food. And at Ben and Jerry's, food scientists are called flavor gurus. They are the masterminds behind mouthwatering ice cream treats with names like Half Baked and Cherry Garcia.
On a more serious note, as the world focuses on feeding a growing population and creating sustainable food systems and packaging, the opportunities available to food scientists could increase. To get started in this line of work, you will likely need to earn a minimum of a bachelor's degree in an area such as food science, chemistry, or microbiology. A degree can help prepare you for positions working for food manufacturers, laboratories, universities, and government agencies—the most common settings in which food scientists are employed.
- Annual salary range: $40,360 to $124,660 or more
15. Funeral Service Manager
Funeral service managers have an important and serious role. They manage funeral homes, and, depending on the organization's size, they may be involved in the day-to-day operations as well. They help people plan memorial services for their deceased loved ones, so they must be personable and compassionate to comfort grieving families.
You could be responsible for managing all aspects of funerals, memorial services, wakes, cremations, and burials. You will offer assistance with making important decisions. You must be respectful of each family's cultural and religious beliefs. Your services could also include assisting with completing and submitting important documents like death certificates and insurance papers, as well as applying for benefits and notifying the appropriate government agencies.
Many funeral service managers have employees to help with the administrative responsibilities so they can spend time focusing on operational activities like accounting, budgeting, human resources, and marketing—all to ensure that the funeral home remains organized and efficient. Ultimately, you and your staff handle details, so the planning process is less overwhelming for families, and they can focus on grieving and remembering their loved one.
- Annual salary range: $44,120 to $161,870 or more
Are you naturally inquisitive? Do you find weather patterns and atmospheric forces intriguing? Then you may want to consider becoming an expert on the earth's atmosphere. As a meteorologist, you will need to understand, observe, and forecast atmospheric phenomena and the effects that they may have on the earth. Although most people associate meteorology with weather reporting and forecasting, not all weather reporters are meteorologists. And the field of meteorology is made up of many different specializations. Some of those specialties include:
- Atmospheric: Study the characteristics and motions of the atmosphere and predict how they could affect the earth.
- Broadcast: Report the weather on TV or the radio.
- Climate: Review historical weather data in order to forecast climate trends.
- Environmental: Research and contribute to areas of concern like air pollution, global warming, and ozone depletion.
- Operational: Research areas like air pressure, humidity, and wind direction and speed.
- Research: Conduct important research on specific issues for organizations and agencies like the National Weather Service, Environmental Protection Agency, NASA, and the military.
Earning a bachelor's degree in meteorology or atmospheric science can help you get on the path to an interesting career as a meteorologist.
- Annual salary range: $49,700 to $147,160 or more
Nurse-midwives offer women primary healthcare services that are commonly provided by doctors and obstetricians. Historically, midwives were responsible for caring for expectant and new mothers. And in some parts of the world, midwives are used almost exclusively for prenatal and postpartum care. In contrast, obstetricians and other specialists are only included in complicated cases.
As a nurse-midwife, you will offer detailed and individualized care to expectant mothers. You can create a supportive and positive environment to help women achieve more traditional and natural childbirths when it is medically safe. You can empower women to plan and personalize their births, teach them about good personal care and healthy habits, and help them manage their physical and emotional changes.
Midwives typically care for women who are in good health. Patients with certain medical conditions are referred to obstetricians or specialists. And midwives can offer family planning services, checkups, labor and delivery services, preconception, prenatal, and postpartum care. If you are considering this career path, then you should know that there are three different types of midwives:
- Direct-Entry Midwife (DEM): These midwives have a background in healthcare and some midwifery training, but they are not nurses. The North American Registry of Midwives may certify them. They are limited in the scope of the services they can provide and typically only attend homebirths.
- Certified Midwife (CM): These midwives have received an accredited midwifery education, but they are not nurses. They are certified by the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM), which gives them a license to practice in some states.
- Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM): These midwives are registered nurses who have also completed accredited midwifery training. They are certified by the ACNM, which gives them a license to practice throughout the country and deliver babies in hospital settings.
Becoming a Certified Nurse-Midwife is the most advantageous option for career opportunities and earning potential. Your first step toward achieving this career is to become a registered nurse (RN). Once you have successfully become an RN, you will need to complete midwifery training and meet the certification requirements as set out by the ACNM.
- Annual salary range: $69,000 to $158,990 or more
Although you may not have heard of this unique career until now, it is a very important occupation. When people suffer injuries, diseases, or other trauma that results in the loss of one or both of their eyes, they turn to an ocularist's care to fit them with artificial eyes.
An ocularist is a skilled technician who can construct, fit, shape, and maintain artificial eyes, called ocular prostheses. Although an artificial eye does not restore a person's vision, it allows the patient to maintain their appearance. Modern technology has allowed the field to advance to the point that many times, you may not even realize that a person has an artificial eye because it looks so lifelike. Having an artificial eye helps people adjust to their new life with the loss or impairment of their eyesight.
Within your role as an ocularist, you will create a cast by taking an impression of the patient's eye socket. Once you have made and shaped a mold, you will paint it to exactly match your patient's other eye. When a flawless eye has been created, you then apply acrylic to it and polish it. The artificial eye fits over the existing ball of muscle within your patient's eye socket, which allows it to move slightly, adding to its lifelike appearance.
After your patients are fitted with their new eyes, they will return to you approximately every six months for checkups and maintenance. You will also teach them about proper care and maintenance between checkups. They must know how to properly clean their artificial eyes and maintain healthy eye sockets.
Becoming an ocularist does take quite a bit of time. You must complete a training and apprenticeship program with the American Society of Ocularists (ASO), which can take approximately five years to complete.
- Annual salary range: $60,000 to $100,000 or more4
Jobs With a Serious Cool Factor
A cool job can be so fun and interesting that it almost seems like it isn't possible to actually be paid for it. But the reality is there are many cool jobs out there, and some of them even pay quite well. That said, the process of getting cool jobs can be competitive since so many people are interested in them. And these jobs may be limited in number because, let's face it, how many waterslide testers are needed across the country? However, with commitment and tenacity, one of these cool jobs could be yours:
19. Bounty Hunter
When people are charged with crimes, they are often released from jail on bail. Bail refers to the dollar amount that the person charged must pay to be free from jail until their court case begins. The amount of bail depends on the severity of the crime, and, sometimes, it can run into tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. Many people simply cannot afford to pay those amounts.
When people cannot afford to pay their bail, they can often borrow the money from a bail bondsman. When the accused appears for all of their scheduled court dates, the bail money is returned to the bail bondsman. The borrower is responsible for paying a small percentage of it back to the bondsman as a form of interest. But when the accused skips their court hearing, the bail money is not released. For the bail bondsman to collect that money back, the bail jumper needs to be apprehended. This is where the bounty hunter comes in.
A bail jumper is a fugitive. When the police cannot locate a fugitive, a bail bondsman will often hire a bounty hunter (also called a bail enforcement agent) to find the suspect. When an accused criminal signs a bail bond contract, they waive some of their constitutional rights and agree that the bail bond agent can arrest them in any state.
So, through the process of assignment, bounty hunters are typically legally allowed to arrest without a warrant and enter private property without notice. They also don't have to read fugitives their Miranda Rights prior to arrest. Technically, bounty hunters have greater authority to arrest bail jumpers than local police departments. However, the specific regulations vary between states. Some states require bounty hunters to be licensed. Other states require them to be registered, and a small handful of states require them to attain court orders before making arrests.
As a bounty hunter, you need to carry out a lot of private investigation activities. You will need to conduct extensive research and spend a lot of time on stakeouts trying to track down fugitives. You might even use spy technology like microphones and night vision goggles. When you have successfully apprehended a fugitive, you will need to return him or her to the county where the arrest originally took place. This could mean having to transport a fugitive across the country.
Bail jumping happens more often than you may realize. A report funded by the Department of Justice states that alleged criminals fail to appear in court approximately 25 to 30 percent of the time. And although exact numbers are not known, it has been reported that bounty hunters catch their fugitives up to 97 percent of the time. Considering bounty hunters typically earn 10 to 20 percent of the bail amount, being a skilled bounty hunter can result in good earnings.
There is no specific educational path to becoming a bounty hunter. Criminal justice or private investigator training can be quite helpful. And you will want to look into whether your state has any specific licensing requirements.
- Annual salary range: $50,000 to $80,000 or more4
20. Ethical Hacker
Imagine being an IT professional who is paid to legally hack into organizations' computer and network systems. An ethical hacker's job is to find weaknesses in an organization's information technology systems to prevent malicious hackers from gaining access. You will report on any vulnerabilities that you find and provide recommendations for fixing them. With the increasing use of technology and the fast pace at which it develops, ethical hacking has become critical in helping organizations stay one step ahead of unethical and malicious attackers. Protecting private data is more important than ever.
The field of ethical hacking has advanced so quickly that you can become a Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) through the International Council of E-Commerce Consultants (EC-Council). You can take an optional short course (which is not required if you have information security experience) and then apply to take the exam. Once you have received your CEH credential, you can also pursue the EC-Council Certified Security Analyst (ECSA) and EC-Council Licensed Penetration Tester (Master) certifications. As more companies seek ethical hackers' professional services, having respected industry training and credentials could help boost your employment and earning potential.
- Annual salary range: $57,810 to $158,860 or more (for information security analysts)
21. CIA Analyst
Can you think of any cooler jobs than those found within the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)? The CIA is responsible for collecting, analyzing, and distributing foreign intelligence to assist senior U.S. government officials with national security measures. Most positions within the CIA require a lot of time spent conducting research, analyzing it, and drafting reports that end up in the hands of senior members of the government.
You could be working with classified and unclassified data collected from foreign broadcasts, satellite surveillance, and contacts from around the world. Your job will require you to possess strong communication and problem-solving capabilities, and you'll need to collaborate as part of a large team of experts. You could be collecting intelligence on anything from Russian nuclear forces to Middle Eastern terrorist groups.
There are many career tracks available within the CIA. They include the following positions:
- Counterintelligence threat analyst: Help protect the government from foreign intelligence operations.
- Economic analyst: Analyze economic issues about crime groups, foreign countries, and terrorist organizations.
- Intelligence collection analyst: Uncover the best ways to collect and use intelligence.
- Political analyst: Take an in-depth look into foreign political systems by analyzing political, social, and cultural information.
Although the CIA recruits people from many different backgrounds, studying in areas like technology, political science, or law enforcement can help make you a more attractive candidate.
- Annual salary range: $45,000 to $104,000 or more1
22. Robotics Engineer
Robotics engineering jobs range from fun to serious. For example, many robotics engineers are involved in making robotic toys, special effects equipment for the entertainment industry, specialized robots for manufacturing, or robots used for deep ocean and outer space exploration. Skilled robotics engineers are valued in several industries—from aerospace and mining to manufacturing and medicine.
Robotics are often used to automate processes or complete work that people cannot, or prefer not to, do. Robot technology can improve safety, productivity, and efficiency. Robotics engineers look at what a robot needs to do. Then, using computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) or computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software, they create a design and bring the robot to life. In this line of work, you could be responsible for tasks such as the following:
- Building robots
- Developing robotic systems
- Designing software that controls robots
- Researching and developing prototypes
- Debugging robotics software
- Installing, calibrating, and repairing robots
- Writing programming codes and algorithms
- Offering technical support for robotic systems
- Integrating robots with other equipment
Robotics engineers typically work for manufacturers or within private- or government-funded laboratories. Beginning a career in this field usually requires advanced education in the areas of electronics and mechanical engineering.
- Annual salary range: $59,000 to $124,000 or more1
23. Video Game Tester
Did you know that people are paid to play video games? You probably never thought that you could earn a living playing video games that haven't even been released to the market yet. But the reality is that you can. Video game developers rely on people like you to test their games. Video game testing takes careful, detailed attention because you are checking to ensure that every element of the game works and that there are no glitches or flaws throughout the levels and sequences.
There are no educational requirements to become a video game tester. Spending your days working for a development studio may inspire you to move your career to the next level and become a video game designer.
- Annual salary range: $24,000 to $104,000 or more1
24. Waterslide Tester
No, you did not misread that heading. People are paid to test waterslides all around the country and all over the world. When an amusement park, hotel, or other tourist locale adds a waterslide, they need quality-control people to test it and make sure that it is safe and fun. You may check on things like how much water is in the slide and how long it takes you to get down. Once you have tested the slide several times, you will provide a report outlining any safety and performance issues that you have found.
Although this is one of the top cool and unique careers out there, positions are limited and highly competitive. After all, who wouldn't want to be a waterslide tester? PayScale has reported that, in 2013, a waterslide tester earned $34,000 annually.
11 "Normal" Careers That You Can Make Unique
You don't necessarily need a strange or unusual job to build a unique career. You can probably infuse almost any occupation with your distinctive talents, personality, and way of seeing the world. Even the most ordinary job can be transformed into something that's one of a kind. It just takes imagination and proactive effort.
Of course, some careers are easier to make unique than others. For instance, anything that requires creativity or inventiveness is worth special consideration if you want the chance at an unconventional professional life. Here are just a few examples to give you a head start in your search:
1. Mobile App Developer
Making apps for Android or iOS devices can be incredibly fun and satisfying. And the field of app development lends itself well to people who think differently and want to put their own stamp on the world. Plus, CNN Money ranked this occupation as America's best job.
- Annual salary range: $64,240 to $164,590 or more
From films and TV shows to video games and other multimedia projects, computer animators' work is more widespread than ever. But there's still plenty of room for animators who can push the envelope with original ideas or quirky styles.
- Annual salary range: $40,250 to $139,940 or more
3. Web Designer or Developer
Think about the incredible diversity of the online world. You can find websites for almost anything that's already been imagined. But countless other websites are yet to be created. This field offers the chance to carve out your own niche by developing websites for the kinds of projects, clients, or employers that truly fascinate you.
- Annual salary range: $39,550 to $142,080 or more
4. Marketing Specialist
There's never any shortage of companies, entrepreneurs, or organizations trying to get noticed or build a following. The bravest ones turn to marketing professionals who dare to try unusual approaches or find unique ways of telling their stories.
- Annual salary range: $34,350 to $122,630 or more
5. Fashion Designer
Does any industry embrace radical, eccentric, or larger-than-life ideas more than the world of fashion? Many fashion designers continue to prove that success can be achieved by following a vision all your own.
- Annual salary range: $37,260 to $149,010 or more
6. Hotel Manager
Although hotel chains often have fixed rules and policies, many independent hotels offer a lot of room for creativity and inspired thinking. If you can imagine new and unique ways to provide services that exceed the expectations of hotel guests, then you may be able to make a truly distinctive mark on this industry.
- Annual salary range: $31,380 to $105,720 or more
7. Graphic Designer
So much variety exists in this creative field that it's relatively easy to build a career that feels unique. Experienced graphic designers often have fascinating job and project histories unlike any other kind of professional you might encounter.
- Annual salary range: $30,810 to $89,210 or more
8. Interior Designer
Like other kinds of designers, professionals who design indoor spaces often get to channel their distinctive style into their work. With experience and a strong reputation, they can frequently also choose a favorite niche to focus on, such as restaurant or hotel interiors.
- Annual salary range: $31,970 to $96,470 or more
9. Event Planner
This is another field in which you can benefit a lot from sheer variety. From weddings and business conferences to special concerts or other live performances, the opportunities to help plan one-of-a-kind events are truly plentiful.
- Annual salary range: $28,590 to $86,390 or more
Most professional counselors specialize in a particular area, such as addictions, mental health, employment rehabilitation, or school and vocational guidance. However, it's possible to combine two or more areas of focus and create a career that sets you apart from others in this field.
- Annual salary range: $27,030 to $77,590 or more
The beauty industry is full of hair stylists, makeup artists, and other professionals who've built successful careers by offering unique or exotic stylistic approaches. It's easiest to establish a distinctive reputation in a major city, but some cosmetologists have also succeeded by embracing the sometimes quirky or unusual possibilities afforded by living and working in fun rural areas.
- Annual salary range: $18,420 to $51,870 or more
Start Developing the Talent That You Need
Many of the interesting and unique careers discussed above—along with numerous others—require you to have at least some formal education. So once you have identified your ideal career path, you will likely need to consider your training options. And you can get started on that right now. In one easy and convenient step, you can identify the trade schools, colleges, and universities offering programs in your area just by entering your zip code into the search box below. It could be the most important thing that you do today!