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7 Uncommon Professions That Can Pay Incredibly Well

7 Uncommon Professions That Can Pay Incredibly Well

Despite what most of us learn growing up, the college-to-career track simply isn’t suitable for everyone. Some people prefer freelancing their way through life, pursuing whatever passion excites them most at the time, rather than settling into a 30-year career plan. Even so, we can all appreciate the flexibility afforded by financial freedom, and even the happiest of wanderers still needs to pay the bills and put food on the table.

Fortunately, many of the most unusual jobs and occupations out there today — those fit for a special breed of free-spirited individual — can actually provide a strong safety net in terms of steady income.

If you’re looking for an adventurous alternative to the 9-to-5 grind, check out these seven unusual professions that can pay incredibly well.

1. Golf Ball Diver

If you’ve ever hit the links for 18 holes, you’ve probably sent a few expensive golf balls sinking to a watery grave. Even the game’s greats are known to make a splash down in the water hazard from time to time, and if it wasn’t for treasure hunters like Dick Smith of Midwest Diving Specialists, golf course ponds all across America would soon be overflowing with shanks and slices.

Smith, who was featured in a profile by ESPN.com back in 2006, estimates that more than 200 million golf balls are splashed down each year. As a professional golf ball diver, Smith and others like him don scuba suits and head down into the depths to retrieve buckets upon buckets of these lost balls. As a reward, golf ball divers can routinely earn $50,000 annually, with the best in the business taking home $100,000 per year through retrieval and resale of their sunken treasures.

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2. Sommelier

If you’ve always had a refined palate and preferred a nice glass of burgundy over a bottle of Bud Light, becoming a sommelier could be the perfect way to turn your good taste into great pay.

Sommeliers work in the fine dining industry, assisting customers in selecting the right bottle to pair with their meal, while carefully curating a restaurant’s revolving menu of varietals.

You can become a certified sommelier by taking a six-month course, and the best in the business can easily take home over $80,000 per year.

3. Poker Player

Some average Joes have proven that you can play poker online for money and turn that into a big tournament payday. In 2003, an anonymous accountant by the name of Chris Moneymaker did just that, turning a fistful of dollars into a $2.5 million prize as the winner of the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event.

It’s been more than a decade since the “poker boom” launched by Moneymaker’s miraculous win and ESPN’s wall-to-wall coverage, but even so you’ll find poker rooms across the country packed with avid players.

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With the 2016 WSOP underway in Las Vegas, another unlikely champion has put poker in the news once again. As a 29-year old finance professor at the University of Arizona, Mitchell Towner says he played the game only once or twice a year during his doctoral studies. Even so, Towner outlasted more than 6,900 opponents to win the $1,500 buy-in Monster Stack event at the WSOP, earning $1.12 million and a gold bracelet in the process.

Along with other first-time-entrants-turned-big-time winners, like Shankar Pillai and Hung Lee, Towner proved that playing poker can be quite the lucrative pastime.

4. Waterslide Tester

Nothing beats the thrill of heading to the waterpark on a hot summer day and taking as many trips as you can down the steepest, curviest waterslides. But for adults trying to earn a living, spending your days sliding into the pool and splashing around doesn’t exactly sound like a viable career option. Unless you’re Seb Smith, that is.

Back in 2013, the U.K.-based resorts marketer First Choice issued a public notice to fill one of the company’s most coveted positions: full-time waterslide tester. Smith beat out more than 2,000 other applicants to secure the dream job, and today he earns about $32,000 per year to travel the world and test out SplashWorld’s waterslide system.

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waterslide

    Source: Flickr

    5. IMAX Screen Cleaner

    When you sit down to catch a flick in an IMAX theater, the main draw is obviously the massive screen on which the film is projected. And while these huge 72-by-52-foot IMAX screens are perfect for showcasing special effects and superb cinema in spectacular fashion, they’re also great at attracting dust and dirt.

    Just like your television screen at home, the standard IMAX screen is eventually coated in a thin layer of airborne particles and other grime. But instead of balling up some paper towels to address the problem, IMAX theater owners rely on special screen cleaners to get the job done.

    For an average annual salary of $45,000, members of an IMAX screen cleaning team climb tall ladders and wield vacuum-like devices to remove the usual dust and debris, along with Gummy bears, spit wads, and other oddities which tend to accumulate on them.

    6. Food Truck Operator

    The food truck fad of a few years back may not be driving full steam ahead any longer, but competent cooks capable of carving out a niche for themselves can still make a great living.

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    Depending on your locale and the level of demand there, opening up a food truck can be a great way to combine your culinary skills with an entrepreneurial spirit. Rather than taking the risk which comes with opening a full-fledged restaurant, first-time food truck owners can make a relatively small gamble. If things don’t work out, the truck and equipment can be resold to recoup losses, but if your food finds an audience, food truck ownership can easily produce a six-figure salary.

    7. Video Game Tester

    Growing up, many of us had dreams of being paid to play Nintendo games all day, battling Bowser and saving the Princess in exchange for a paycheck.

    Today, with major companies like Sony, Microsoft, and Apple investing heavily in the gaming industry, demand for video game testers continues to grow. Offering an hourly wage which averages between $12 and $18 per hour, companies like EA Games devote entire teams of testers to their Quality Assurance department.

    There’s no need to resign yourself to a well-paid job you dislike or take a massive pay-cut for a dream position that means you practically go pro bono. If up until this point you’ve struggled to put your finger on a profession that makes you happy, rest assured there are plenty of unconventional jobs out there that offer great opportunities to learn, grow, have fun, and be more than reasonably remunerated.

    Featured photo credit: Flickr via flickr.com

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    Last Updated on December 3, 2019

    7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

    7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

    I often hear people say, “I want to be successful but don’t know where to start” or “I’ve achieved career success yet I’m not happy.” And then I ask, “what does career success mean to you?” And many have a hard time articulating their response with much conviction.

    It’s common that people lack clarity, focus, and direction. And when you layer on thoughts and actions that are misaligned with your values, this only adds to your misdirected quest to achieve your career success.

    A word of caution. It’s going to take some time for you to think about and work on your own path for career success. You need to set aside time and be intentional about the steps you take to achieve career success. In my opinion, this step-by-step guide is apart of your life philosophy.

    1. Define Career Success for Yourself

    Pause. Give yourself time and space for self-reflection.

    What does career success mean to you?

    This is about defining your career success:

    • Not what you think you ‘should’ do
    • Not what people may think of you
    • Not adjusting to friends and family’s judgements
    • Not taking actions based on societal or community norms

    “A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms” – Zen Shin

    When you strip away all your external influences and manage your inner critic, what are you left with? You need to define career success that best suits your life situation.

    There’s no fixed answer. Everyone is different. Your answer will evolve and be impacted by life events. Here are a few examples of career success:

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    • Work-life balance
    • Opportunities for growth and advancement
    • Feeling valued that my contributions had an impact

    Now even as you reflect on the examples above, the descriptions are not specific enough. You’ve got to take it deeper:

    • What do you mean by work-life balance?
    • What do you consider to be opportunities for growth and advancement?
    • How do you like to be recognized for your work? How do you know if your contributions have had an impact?

    Let’s take a look at some potential responses to the questions above:

    • I want more time with my family, and less stress at work
    • I want increased responsibilities, to manage a team, a higher income, and the prestige of working at a certain level in the company
    • I’d like my immediate leader to send me a thank-you note or take me out for coffee to genuinely express her or his gratitude. I’ll know I’ve made an impact if I get feedback from my coworkers, leaders and other stakeholders.

    Further questions to reflect on to help narrow the focus for the above responses:

    • What are some opportunities that can help you get traction on getting more time with your family? And decrease your stress at work?
    • What’s most important for you in the next 12 months?
    • What’s the significance of receiving others’ feedback?

    Now, I’m only scratching the surface with these examples. It takes time to do the inner work and build a solid foundation.

    Start this exercise by first asking what career success means to you and then ask yourself meaningful questions to help you dig deeper.

    What types of themes emerge from your responses? What keywords or phrases keep coming up for you?

    2. Know Your Values

    Values are the principles and beliefs that guide your decisions, behaviors and actions. When you’re not aligned with your values and act in a way that conflicts with your beliefs, it’ll feel like life is a struggle.

    There are simple value exercises that can help you quickly determine your core values. This one designed by Carnegie Mellon University can help you discover your top 5 values.[1]

    Once you have your top 5 values keep them visible. Your brain needs reminders that these are your top values. Here are some ways to make them stick:

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    • Write them on cue cards or notes and post it in your office
    • Take a picture of your values and use it as a screensaver on your phone
    • Put the words on your fridge
    • Add the words on your vision board

    Where will your value words be placed in your physical environment so that you have a constant reminder of them?

    3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

    When writing your short-term and long term life goals, use the SMART framework – Specific Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Treat this as a brainstorming exercise. Your potential and possibilities are limitless.

    How you define short-term and long-term is entirely up to you. Short-term can be 30 days, 90 days, or 6 months. Maybe long-term goals are 4 months, 1 year, or 10 years.

    Here are a few self-reflection questions to help you write your goals:[2]

    • What would you want to do today if you had the power to make it the way you want?
    • If no hurdles are in the way, what would you like to achieve?
    • If you have the freedom to do whatever you want, what would it be?
    • What type of impact do you want to have on people?
    • Who are the people you most admire? What is it about them or what they have that you’d want for your life or career?
    • What activities energize you? What’s one activity you most love?

    Remember to revisit your core values as you refine yours goals:

    • Are your goals in or out of alignment with your core values?
    • What adjustments do you need to make to your goals? Maybe some of your goals can be deleted because they no longer align with your values.
    • How attainable are your goals? Breakdown your goals into digestible pieces.
    • Do your short-term goals move you towards attaining your long-term goals?

    Get very clear and specific about your goals. Think about an archer – a person who shoots with a bow and arrows at a target. This person is laser focused on the target – the center of the bullseye. The target is your goal.

    By focusing on one goal at a time and having that goal visible, you can behave and act in ways that will move you closer to your goal.

    4. Determine Your Top Talents

    What did you love doing as a kid? What made these moments fun? What did you have a knack for? What did you most cherish about these times? What are the common themes?

    What work feels effortless? What work do you do that doesn’t seem like work? Think about work you can lose track of time doing and you don’t even feel tired of it.[3]

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    What are your desires? Try it out. Experiment. Take action and start. How can you incorporate more of this type of work into your daily life?

    What themes emerge from your responses? How do your responses compare to your responses from the values exercise and your goals?

    What do you notice?

    5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience

    Do you have tendencies to use your head or heart to make decisions?

    I have a very strong tendency to make rational, practical, and fact-based decisions using my head. It’s very rare for me to make decisions using my emotions. I was forced to learn how to make more intuitive decisions by listening to my gut when I was struggling with pivotal life decisions. I was forced to feel and listen to my inner voice to make decisions that feel most natural to me. This was very unfamiliar to me, however, it expanded my identity.

    Review this list of Feeling Words. Use the same technique you use for the values exercise to narrow down how you want to feel.

    Keep these words visible too!

    Review your responses. What do you observe? What insights do you gain from these responses and those in the above steps?

    6. Be Willing to Sit with Discomfort

    Make career decisions aligned with your values, goals, talents and feelings. This is not for the faint hearted. It takes real work, courage and willingness to cut out the noise around you. You’ll need to sit with discomfort for a bit until you build up your muscle to hit the targets you want.

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    Surround yourself with a supportive network to help you through these times.

    “These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them” – Rumi

    7. Manage Your Own Career

    Not to be cynical, but no one can make you happy but yourself. If you don’t take control of your career and manage it like your own business – no one will.

    Discern between things that you can control and what you can’t control. For example, you may not be able to control who gets a promotion. However, you can control how you react to it and what you’ve learned about yourself in that situation.

    Summing Up

    For many who have gone through a career change or been impacted by life events, these steps may seem very basic. However, it’s sometimes the basics that we forget to do. The simple things and moments can edge us closer to our larger vision for ourselves.

    Staying present and appreciating what you have today can sometimes help you achieve your long-term goals. For example, if you’re always talking about not having enough time and wanting work-life balance, think about what was good in your work day? Maybe you took a walk outside with your co-workers. This could be a small step to help you reframe how you can attain work-life balance.

    Remember to take time for yourself. Hit pause, notice, observe and reflect to achieve career success by getting deliberate and intentional:

    1. Define Career Success for Yourself
    2. Know Your Values
    3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Life and Goals
    4. Determine Your Top Talents
    5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience
    6. Be Willing to sit with Discomfort
    7. Manage Your Own Career

    “When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.” – Lolly Daskal

    Good luck and best wishes always!

    More Tips on Advancing Your Career

    Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

    Reference

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