What did you want to be when you grew up? While traditional professions like doctor or professional athlete might top many girls' and boys' lists, maybe there have been weirder jobs you've dreamed of: "If only one could make money testing gum flavors — or water slides..."
The good news? You can follow your dreams of doing super fun stuff for money. Nontraditional careers are real (some are even in demand) and you can actually make a decent living in several especially unique professions.
Here are 10 wild, weird jobs, ripe for the picking: ranked from pretty cool to ridiculously amazing.
10. Golf ball diver
Job hazards include exposure to bacteria or toxins in water, along the possibility of being attacked by reptiles. But it's exciting if you love the physical challenge: You might uncover up to 5,000 underwater golf balls in a single body of water, with country clubs, resorts or golf ball retrieval companies paying per ball, CNN reports. Golf ball divers must have the stamina to carry heavy bags of retrieved golf balls, have open water certification and know how to properly use dive gear.
Salary: around $50,000 to $100,000 per year
9. Film set stand-in
One easy way to get your three seconds of fame is to become a paid film set stand in. Film set stand ins may work long hours, but its one of the best ways to get work as a paid actor, according to Backstage.
Many emerging actors take stand in roles because there's little or no audition needed, plus you receive a steady paycheck. Having film set knowledge and being tuned into what the director wants are key to success. Also crucial is understanding how to behave professionally while on set — while joining actor unions such as SAG-AFTRA is recommended.
Salary: approximately $180 per day (for 8 hours of work)
8. Fortune cookie writer
Fortune cookie writers require the skill of a writer and the soul of a prognosticator. Messages can be written in a fun or offbeat manner: "You will be hungry 30 minutes from now," or "Ask your mom" or deeper messages like, "You cannot love life until you live the life you love."
Although they are called "fortune" cookies, writers say that's a bit of a misnomer, as they simply use inspiration from daily life to bring a little levity to the end of a meal. "I don't think I'm a fortune teller," Donald Lau, famed fortune cookie writer and chief financial officer at Wonton Food Company told CNN. "I don't think fortune cookies are meant to be like a horoscope. It's a way to end a meal in a Chinese restaurant and be happy when you leave."
Salary: $38,000 - $75,000 per year
7. Professional snuggler
If you've been told your spooning technique is superb, then consider becoming a professional snuggler. Mental health professionals use snuggling and touch therapy to combat the impacts of PTSD, chronic pain, stress and anxiety, which releases the stress reducing hormone oxytocin.
"Touch has a very powerful effect mediating the bonding between people," Dr. Amir Levine, a psychiatrist at Columbia University Medical Center said in an interview with Mic in 2015. "At the end of the day when [mice] go to sleep, they all huddle together."
Professional snuggling is a platonic, non-sexual experience and snugglers take cues from clients, which sometimes means not snuggling but rather talking over a meal. Snugglers are usually paid by the hour and can work independently or for a professional company.
Salary: approximately $80 per hour
6. Standardized patient
If you like acting, and find medicine and the medical field fascinating — but aren't interested in the rigors of medical school — signing up to be a standardized patient might be perfect for you. Especially if you love drama.
Standardized patients present as a real patient with an illness or health scenario that medical students must diagnose and treat. Your purpose as a standardized patient is to provide students the opportunity to practice the communication, diagnostic and examination skills in a clinical and safe environment before they officially become health practitioners. "Patients" should have exceptional communication skills, in order to fully assume the assigned role.
Salary: $13 to $31 per hour
5. Bingo manager
Don't sniff at Bingo: You can make good money and you don't even have to work in Vegas (or the local church) to run a sweet game.
Casinos throughout the country need a bingo master and someone to oversee and handle all aspects of the game, including state and federal regulations, compliance and payouts. Job requirements also include hiring and managing staff, budgets and interacting with customers. Managers often have a high school diploma, about one year of experience handling money — and must be at least 21 years old.
Salary: $88,000 a year, depending on experience
4. Gum taste tester or "gumologist"
If you have an discerning pallet and can instantly tell the difference between a piece of Fruit Stripe versus Wrigley's gum, becoming a gum chewing tester might be a match for you. Similar to wine testers, gumologists must consider factors beyond flavor — and take aroma and texture into consideration, too.
Only 10% of Americans have a palate refined enough for this position, according to the New York Times, and testers cannot eat, drink, use toothpaste or mouthwash for at least one hour prior to testing the product. Testing consists of sipping various flavors and ranking the samples according to their sugary strength. Testers don't just sip flavors, they sip with their nose pinched closed or sample water or crackers between sips — whatever it takes to arrive at an accurate rating.
Salary: $37,800 annually (depending on the company and the qualifications of the tester)
3. Water slide tester
Water slide testers aren't checking out the newest version of the Slip n' Slide, but rather evaluating some of the biggest, baddest water slides located throughout the world.
Typical requirements include fearlessness, sense of adventure, willingness to travel, as well as strong writing and reviewing skills. Testers are looking for safety features (how likely could you get hurt on this slide), swiftness as you move down the slide, creative features and an overall level of fun. Jobs can be found at hotel resorts, water parks and travel company websites, with many companies not only paying a salary, but also footing travel expenses, according to ABC News.
Salary: $28,500 per year
2. Bed tester
How much do you love to sleep? Do you have strong opinions about what makes a good mattress? Furniture manufacturers and hotels need mattress or bed testers to help them provide the best sleep experience.
Testers are required to "lay down on the job," and evaluate mattress comfort under various circumstances — from a caffeine to an alcohol buzz. Testers also play with room temperature and lighting to determine how external stimuli influences the sleep experience. Blogging, posting on social media or delivering a review to the company or hotel is often a job requirement.
Salary: $5,600 per month
1. Island caretaker
If being stranded on an exotic, deserted island sounds good to you, then becoming an island caretaker might be the career of your dreams.
Some private islands include a luxury home, complete with wifi and the comforts of a posh resort, while other islands may require the caretaker to have wilderness and camping skills. The job requires managing the entire property, home maintenance, ability to work independently, being resourceful, problem-solving skills, landscaping and grounds maintenance. Most private island caretaking gigs last for just six months, but you can make a good amount of money in that amount of time.
Salary: $120,000 per year
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