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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 March 29, 2021

    5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

    5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

    When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

    What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

    The Dream Type Of Manager

    My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

    I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

    My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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    “Okay…”

    That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

    I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

    The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

    The Bully

    My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

    However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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    The Invisible Boss

    This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

    It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

    The Micro Manager

    The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

    Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

    The Over Promoted Boss

    The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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    You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

    The Credit Stealer

    The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

    Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

    3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

    Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

    1. Keep evidence

    Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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    Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

    Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

    2. Hold regular meetings

    Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

    3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

    Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

    However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

    Good luck!

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