Unique Careers: 24 Occupations That Are Anything But Ho-Hum
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 in areas like healthcare, business, beauty, culinary arts, design, and the skilled trades. 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 that you love—something that you 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!
(Note that the annual salary range being reported is based on May 2016 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unless otherwise noted.1)
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 works to improve a person's overall well-being through artistic expression. Art therapists use it as part of a healing process, and it can help to 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 of getting 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 as well as in counseling or psychology. Most aspiring professionals start out by completing a psychology degree program in order to achieve a bachelor's degree prior to moving on to a master's degree program. And to become certified by the American Art Therapy Association (AATA)—which is typically required in order 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. Some art therapists are even hired by corporations and businesses to offer professional development classes. So there are a lot of possibilities out there!
- Annual salary range—$28,010 to $72,340 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 can involve anything from ensuring that the mother's birth plan is being respected to feeding the mom ice chips to massaging her back during contractions.
A doula who offers postpartum care assists the mom—as well as her partner and other children—with transitioning 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 give the mom an opportunity to shower.
It has been found that expectant mothers who have doulas experience improved birth outcomes. For example, one study found that doula-assisted mothers were less likely to have low-birth-weight babies, less likely to have birth complications, and more likely to initiate breastfeeding.2 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 not one 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 that can 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, your location, and the types of services that you provide. Many new doulas will start out by volunteering their services in order to gain experience and get their names known within the birthing community.
- Pay range—$500 to $3,500 per client3
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 in order 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 in order to understand what they are seeking, you will begin finding and interviewing candidates that could be a great match. The organization is relying 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.
In order for you to do your job well, you will need to have a strong professional network and a keen grasp of the job market. 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 refer your services.
If you are quick-thinking, fast-acting, intuitive, and able to build relationships and communicate well, then this could be a great career path for you. 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 on your own independently, you are usually paid in one of two ways. You are either paid an agreed-upon fee up front, or you receive an agreed-upon amount once a candidate is successfully hired. The amount that you are paid is typically a percentage of the annual salary for the position that you are trying to fill. So how much you earn in a given year is dependent on the number of clients that you have and the types of positions for which you are recruiting.
- Average annual salary—$84,0004
It's likely that this is one of the more interesting career paths that you never knew existed. Hippotherapists are also called therapeutic riding instructors and equine therapists. Hippotherapy is the practice of 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 in order to enhance the patients' levels of interaction, recreation, and socialization. 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
You could be responsible for teaching private and group lessons, creating lesson plans to support your riders' goals, performing assessments, writing progress notes, and caring for the horses and barn. Along with enjoying learning and teaching, you will need horsemanship skills and an understanding of a variety of disabilities and special needs. Depending on your background, you may want to start out by volunteering at a therapeutic riding center in order to gain experience. You also may want to consider earning a social science degree or diploma since hippotherapists often draw inspiration and treatment approaches from related fields like psychology, counseling, sociology, 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. Although salary data is not readily available, some therapeutic riding instructors report salaries ranging from $29,000 to $50,000 per year.
5. Master Distiller
You have probably heard of a brew master 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 that are 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 be helpful to have a background in chemistry or chemical engineering, microbiology, or food science.
- Average annual salary—$71,0004
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 that take place 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—$39,180 to $79,620 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 courier positions tend to be more common in larger cities, like New York, that have downtown cores and business districts where delivering via vehicle 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 the layout of your city, and willing to navigate quickly through heavy traffic in almost any weather conditions, then this could be one of the interesting occupations worth considering. Note that you may be required to have your own bike. And being able to complete your own repairs could be a plus since it could limit any downtime from having your bike in a repair shop.
- Annual salary range—$19,260 to $44,440 or more
8. Body Painter
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 just a small part, like the arms or legs. This practice has been around for a long time. Body painting is actually 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, when painting people, you will need to follow strict guidelines in order to ensure that your paint is non-toxic, hypoallergenic, and easy to wash off (with the exception of 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 in order to gain valuable experience.
- Annual salary range—$22,850 to $117,720 or more
9. Live Mannequin/Human Statue
Live mannequins are a new and unexpected form of advertising. They can really grab attention and provide an experience that sticks with potential customers. And the position is exactly as it sounds. 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 like 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. Then 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 may even paint themselves silver or gold. Then they take up a pose in a busy spot—usually somewhere that has a lot of tourists—and they remain extremely still other than occasionally moving an arm or cracking a smile to shock the 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 a lot of the behind-the-scenes work that is commonly known to stress the bride and her bridesmaids.
Many women actually shudder when they are asked to be part of the wedding party. Although it can be seen as an honor, it is often a huge time, energy, and financial commitment—especially when the bridesmaids do not live in the same city as the bride. This is where the 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, then you can expect to be taking care of a lot of the "dirty work" and seemingly infinite details while 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 personal 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 all 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 in order to restore balance. It can work to stimulate and improve disorders related to the cardiovascular, digestive, endocrine, immune, and nervous systems.
As an acupuncturist, you will start out 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—usually in a calm, quiet, and comforting environment—and 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—$39,330 to $135,650 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 repo 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 location of the aircraft 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 definitely not quite 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 simply 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 be able to fly the plane. And you could expect to receive good compensation for doing so. You will likely work on a commission basis, and 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 as well as 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
If you want to become an elevator mechanic, you will likely need to complete a four-year apprenticeship program overseen by the National Association of Elevator Contractors. 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 because, as of 2015, there are 35 states that require elevator mechanics to be licensed.5
- Annual salary range—$37,890 to $114,980 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 areas like developing new products, enhancing manufacturing processes, or coming up with better packaging solutions.
Food scientists definitely fall into the category of interesting professions. They work for companies like Jelly Belly where 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. This can help prepare you for positions working for food manufacturers, laboratories, universities, and government agencies, which are the most common settings in which food scientists are employed.
- Annual salary range—$37,800 to $117,480 or more
Funeral service managers have an important and serious role. They manage funeral homes, and, depending on the size of the organization, 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 in order 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 and 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 staff to help with the administrative responsibilities so that they are able to spend time focusing on operational activities pertaining to accounting, budgeting, human resources, and marketing—all in order to ensure that the funeral home remains organized and efficient. Ultimately, you and your staff handle important details to make the planning process less overwhelming for families so that they are able to focus on grieving and remembering the lives that they have lost.
- Annual salary range—$39,240 to $147,990 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, the reality is that 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 on 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—$51,480 to $140,830 or more
17. Nurse Midwife
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 moms prior to hospitals and doctors. And in some parts of the world, midwives are used almost exclusively for prenatal and postpartum care, whereas 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 desired and medically safe to do so. You can empower women to plan and personalize their births, spend time teaching 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. (In contrast, patients with certain medical or obstetrical conditions are referred to obstetricians or high-risks specialists). And midwives can offer family planning services, gynecological checkups, labor and delivery services, and 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 women have a background in healthcare and some midwifery training, but they are not nurses. The North American Registry of Midwives may certify them, but they are limited in the scope of the services that 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 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 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 then need to complete midwifery training and meet the certification requirements as set out by the ACNM.
- Annual salary range—$66,660 to $142,510 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 kinds of trauma that results in the loss of one or both of their eyes, they turn to the care of an ocularist to fit them with artificial eyes.
An ocularist is a skilled technician who can construct, fit, shape, and maintain artificial eyes, which are called ocular prostheses. Although an artificial eye does not restore a person's vision, it does allow the patient to maintain his or her 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. And this is very helpful for people who are adjusting to new lives 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 top of 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 because it is important that they 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. However, if you like the idea of helping people with their eyes, but are unsure of the time commitment required to become an ocularist, you may want to check out training to become an optician as an alternative. After all, unlike an ocularist, an optician can actually help people with their vision.
- Annual salary range—$60,000 to $100,000 or more6
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 that there are a lot of 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 in order to be free from jail until his or her court case begins. The amount of the 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. Then, when the accused appears for all of his or her scheduled court dates, the bail money is returned to the bail bondsman and 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 his or her court hearing, the bail money is not released. In order 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 are unable to locate a fugitive, a bail bondsman will often hire a bounty hunter (also called a bail enforcement agent) to find the suspect. When accused criminals originally sign their bail bond contracts, they sign away some of their constitutional rights and are agreeing 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, others require them to be registered, and a small handful of states require them to attain court orders prior to making arrests.
As a bounty hunter, you need to carry out a great deal 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. Alleged criminals fail to appear in court approximately 25 to 30 percent of the time, according to a 2011 report.7 And although exact numbers are not known, it has been reported that bounty hunters catch their fugitives up to 97 percent of the time. So, considering that 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, but 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.
20. Ethical Hacker
Imagine being an IT professional who is paid to legally hack into organizations' computer and network systems. It is an ethical hacker's job to find weaknesses in an organization's information technology systems in order 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 now 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 the professional services of ethical hackers, having respected industry training and credentials could help boost your employment and earning potential.
- Annual salary range—$29,799 to $183,832 or more8
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 in order 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 government.
You could be working with both classified and unclassified data that is 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 pertaining to 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.
- Starting salary range—$51,603 to $76,498 or more9
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 that are 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 an advanced education in the areas of electronics and mechanical engineering.
- Annual salary range—$50,716 to $105,438 or more8
23. Video Game Tester
Did you know that people are actually 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. This takes careful, detailed attention because you are checking to make sure that every element of the game works and that there are no glitches or flaws throughout the levels and sequences.
Although 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—$20,350 to $59,980 or more (for quality inspectors in the arts, entertainment, and recreation industries)
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. Every time 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 both 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 definitely 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. In fact, 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:
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.10
- Annual salary range—$58,300 to $157,590 or more
From films and TV shows to video games and other multimedia projects, the work of computer animators 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—$38,520 to $115,960 or more
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—$35,390 to $119,550 or more
There's never any shortage of companies, entrepreneurs, or organizations that are 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—$33,950 to $121,720 or more
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—$33,740 to $130,050 or more
Although it's true that 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—$28,870 to $96,570 or more
So much variety exists in this creative field that it's relatively easy to build a career that feels unique. In fact, experienced graphic designers often have fascinating job and project histories that are unlike any other kind of professional you might encounter.
- Annual salary range—$27,950 to $82,020 or more
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—$26,260 to $91,230 or more
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—$25,670 to $83,030 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—$21,710 to $90,030 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—$17,930 to $49,050 or more (plus tips)
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!
1 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, website last visited on September 6, 2017.
2 National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), The Journal of Perinatal Education, "Impact of Doulas on Healthy Birth Outcomes," website last visited on June 16, 2016.
3 Parents, "How Much Do Doulas Cost?," website last visited on June 16, 2016.
4 Indeed, website last visited on December 19, 2016.
5 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, website last visited on June 16, 2016.
6 Job Monkey, website last visited on June 16, 2016.
7 National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS), Reducing Courts' Failure to Appear Rate: A Procedural Justice Approach, Executive Summary, website last visited on June 16, 2016.
8 PayScale, website last visited on June 16, 2016.
9 Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Career Opportunities, website last visited on June 16, 2016.
10 CNN Money, "100 Best Jobs in America," website last visited on March 23, 2017.