“What do you do?” This is probably the #2 question we ask when we meet someone for the first time, right after asking, “What’s your name?” Some of us found something we love that we look forward to each day, and just happen to get paid for it. Some of us found some apparatus that would provide funds to meet our obligations, but hate what we have to do. Most of us are somewhere in between. And we have all probably met someone who told us their occupation and we either thought or said out loud, “I’m not at all familiar with that.” There are actually a large number of jobs like that – jobs that go unnoticed because they are out of the public eye, or because they are very rare. Here are some very obscure jobs you are not likely to hear about at your next networking event.
7. LEGO Master Builder
It seems everyone grew up playing with LEGO bricks. But no matter how old you are, you can very easily see a set of them and dive in and try to create something. Most of us seem to have that inner adventurer that wants to try to create something. Some of us aren’t all that great and don’t end up finishing the next LEGO castle. Did you have one kid in class who could build intricate structures out of LEGO sets and simply mesmerize everyone else? Were you one of those kids? You can actually do this for a living, and you can get paid lots of money for it. Known as LEGO Master Builders, these are employees of the LEGO Group to create those huge structures built of LEGO bricks that occasionally go viral on the Internet. If playing with LEGO pieces has been your dream all along, you could definitely give this a shot. However, you’d have to be really good at it to have a chance.
6. White Hat Hackers
If you were around 30 years ago, think back. Had you ever heard the term “hacker”? Probably not. But today, with almost everything from traffic to databases to supply line inventories, hacking is an increasingly serious threat for almost everyone. This is especially true of hackers in countries where the Internet isn’t regulated much. There seems to be a new story every day about someone getting hacked by someone in a far-away country. To combat this threat, there’s an equally high demand for good hackers who know the basics of getting into networks without being detected. They expose vulnerabilities in high-value targets like government databases. Known as White Hat Hackers (as opposed to the regular black hat hackers), these individuals are hired by corporations and governments around the world to do their best to get into the employers’ networks. If you’re really good at it, you may earn a fortune for doing a contract job, with a chance to be hired by your client at the end of it. The best part? Absolutely no one will ask how you got those skills in the first place as long as you’ve never used them to do actual harm. To qualify, you simply need to get really good at hacking.
5. Food Stylist
Think about how much food advertising has changed over the years. If you’ve ever seen a food ad and thought “wow, that looks good,” it’s not because that’s how it’s supposed to look. Instead, a highly-specialized professional called a food stylist made the food look good for the camera. That person is known as a Food Stylist. If that sounds like a joke, we assure you that it is not. You can go to your local employment listings website and find a posting for one of these right now. The job is not easy to do. Styling food is an art form that you master after years of persistent practice, which also involves know-how of photography and videography. If you do get your foot in the door and become a food stylist for a local firm, you may work your way up and someday get to style food for the big brands. Needless to say, that pays quite well.
4. Professional Sleeper
“I wish I could be paid for sleeping” has crossed most of our minds, usually after something kept us up until 3 AM, but we have to get up to go to work. That’s understandable, as sleeping is so wonderful. But what if we were to tell you that you could actually get paid to sleep? In some cases, you’ll earn a lot (depending on where you sleep). A professional sleeper is a serious occupation and provides services that are required in many modern industries. Although it’s not your typical full-time job, you could earn a sizable income if you land the right gigs. From researchers (who regularly need sleep testers for various experiments) to mattress brands that need sleepers to test their products and artists who require sleeping subjects, professional sleeping could be a lucrative career if you advertise yourself well enough.
3. Professional Mourner
No one likes to think about the death of a loved one. Everyone copes in his own way. Some people mourn for days before getting their lives back to normal. Others shut themselves away until they can be around people again. Some people grieve for days, some for years. Still, others take it one step further and get professional mourners to do their grieving. Although it may sound weird to the rest of us, these mourners are dedicated professionals in quite a few parts of the world. Professional mourning has been a thing for thousands of years in many regions, including Africa, China, and ancient Egypt. If you read the Bible, some of the mourning described during the time of Jesus was carried out by professional mourners. However, China is mostly where it’s still big business. The job consists of showing up to the funeral and staging a believable session of mourning—complete with physically breaking down and wailing. This may sound alien to the rest of us, but it’s completely normal in Chinese culture. These pros can also earn quite a bit depending on how good they are.
The last two jobs on our list are, shall we say, down and dirty.
Smell is how many products work to sell themselves. From soaps to deodorants to candles, how a product smells is as much a part of its commercial success as its appearance. So, who is in charge of making sure that things smell the way they should? You guessed it (presumably from the title of this entry). Odor judges determine the best smell for a particular product. Obviously, they have to go through plenty of bad odors, like those from armpits, to come up with a deodorant to counter the smell. It may sound like a horrible job, but it’s also a crucial one. They also deal with issues like whether a particular type of seafood is contaminated by a nearby oil spill. Of course, you must have a keen sense of smell – and for the bad smells, a strong stomach – to qualify for this job. It may end up paying quite well if you work at a large organization.
1. Shark Tank Cleaner
Visiting an aquarium can be a lot of fun. You can check out all kinds of water life, from plants and tiny fish to the big whales and sharks. Most people have a great time and then return home. However, the curious ones look at the whole setup and think, “I wonder who cleans that?” There’s no way to keep the artificially created ecosystem healthy without someone actually going into the tank and manually cleaning it. In fact, there are shark tank cleaners tasked with doing exactly that. The job is dangerous because the sharks are always in the aquarium. You can’t just make an expensive secondary tank to house the animals until the cleaning is done. However, the cleaning isn’t the crucial part. It’s getting used to being around sharks that are already angry at all humans for keeping them in captivity. The cleaners have to learn shark behavior and be good at diving—as well as knowing when to get out—to even be considered for the role. They spend around 30–40 hours in the tank per week as a part of their job.