Mike Rowe does some dirty jobs and exposes us to people who do work that we don’t always think about. There are plenty of career options in the world: banker, teacher, salesperson, policeman, firefighter, astronaut, and so many more that fall outside of the realm of commonly known positions. I’m sure you knew when you were 6 that you’d be a train conductor or a pianist someday. There are so many different paths a person can take in life. And, while many of us end up in desk jobs and sometimes dream about throwing out our blazers and moving to another country, most of us don’t.
If you want to do something different, maybe something that’s a little weird, and see other parts of the world, I’ve got some career options for you! Many of these would be perfect for a gap year or seasonal work, as well!
1. Panda Cuddler
The Giant Panda Protection and Research Center in China’s Sichuan province employs Panda Cub Caretakers, also known as Panda Nannies. Applicants need to have a basic knowledge of pandas, be able to live in China, and need to have good writing and photography skills to post about their experiences. Panda Nannies at this location make about $32,500 and they also get a car while there, along with their room and board.
2. Position-in-Line Holder
In Poland, at least one enterprising man is making a living by waiting in line for you! The hospital system in Poland has huge lines, and Tadeusz Zak takes a fee and will stand in line for you and call you right before it’s your turn. This sounds like an easy one, but Tadeusz said that the longest he’s waited in line was 40 hours!
3. Water Slide Tester
Tommy Lynch has traveled over 27,000 miles in one year for his job: testing holiday resort water slides! Tommy works for holiday giant First Choice, where he checks the height, speed, water quantity, and landing of the flumes, as well as all safety aspects in their resorts all over the world. His actual job title is Lifestyle Product Development Manager, and Tommy was recruited to identify the very best pools to be featured in First Choice’s new-at-the-time Splash Resort collection. He also ensures potential new resorts are up to the company’s standards. Now this sounds like a great way to go to work!
4. Google Maps Trekker
Want to hike and walk in places all over the world that cars can’t easily access? Placess like Hawaii, the Grand Canyon, jungles, and more? Want to hike those places while wearing a giant camera on your back? Perfect! Google hires Google Map Trekkers to do just that! For an in-shape world traveler, this could be the perfect job for you. It lets you be outdoors, see amazing sites, and help in mapping the world for people to explore from the comfort of home. This is the job of a lifetime for outdoor adventurers, hikers, and explorers.
5. Music Festival Staff
Have you ever thought about who works at those huge music festivals you hear about all the time? Are those people all volunteers? What do they do exactly? Now is the time to find out. There are music festivals all around the world, drawing in huge crowds of international performers and concertgoers. These festivals need people to work to support them in a multitude of ways. Event organizers like Summer Festival Guide are always looking for photographers, writers, and the like to attend their events free of charge in exchange for the publicity. And if you’re not qualified for those positions just yet, you can start out by volunteering at some music festivals closer to you to gain some relevant experience.
6. Luxury Bed Tester
A student from Birmingham City University was selected to test out luxury beds every day for a month and get paid $1600 for it! Roisin Madigan, then 22, was helping with a sleep survey carried out by luxury bed specialists Simon Horn Ltd., which sells luxury Savoir Beds, originally made for the Savoy Hotel. So, while positions like this may certainly be hard to come by, they definitely do exist!
7. Cruise Ship Staff
While not a “weird” job really, being a cruise ship employee is not a job most people think of when first starting a career. However, you can work on large cruises, like Carnival and Norwegian cruise lines, or smaller ships. You can work on boats that go to the Caribbean, the Antarctic, Alaska, Canada, the Mediterranean, and more! If you love boats, being on the ocean, and are great at customer service, a cruise ship staff position could be a great fit for you. Cruise ships are often looking for seasonal staff to be waiters, stewards, babysitters, work in guest services, and more. Not every job on a ship requires previous experience, like Steward roles. Check out this site for listings of cruise jobs and more information!
8. Global Mobility Specialist
Global Mobility Specialists work with employees around the world who are transferred to another location for work. They coordinate aspects of international assignments, including connecting them with movers, helping them locate housing, helping apply for Visas, and providing cultural training. According to Amy Meichner, Senior Vice President of Global HR at Cartus, a provider of global relocation and workforce development solutions, “We look for people with a global passion and great service skills. It’s a very high-touch human role requiring good communication skills.” Those new to the field often come from service-related industries and are attracted to traveling the world while helping people.
Check out what Natascha Clark says about her job as a GMS. She’s been doing it 16 years and discusses details about what she does and qualifications for the role. Perhaps you’ve just found your calling.
9. Casino or Club Host
In casinos and clubs around the world, employees called hosts wine and dine high rollers and VIPs, deliver services, and basically fulfill the VIPs needs while they are at the establishment. They generally have the authority to offer complimentary services, like free food and drinks, and are trying to build and maintain a great relationship between the casino/club and the patron. If you love casinos or clubs, have great customer service skills, and enjoy being active and social, this could be a great job for you!
Garrett Oliver, Brewmaster and Vice President of Brooklyn Brewery, one of the country’s top 40 breweries, says a Brewmaster is essentially “the chef of the brewery and he maintains complete responsibility for beer production, from concept through finished product, along with running the brewhouse and ensuring quality control.”
It’s not all about the beer, though, brewmasters need to know organic chemistry, yeast biology, recipe design, flavor, and aroma evaluation. This means a true love of the craft, not simply a fondness for the beverage.
“They come from all walks of life and each has a different path to the job. Most craft brewers are like chefs and start at an amateur level; internships are invaluable.”
11. Professional Healthcare Traveler
Whatever your healthcare specialty might be, you could be taking travel assignments. According to PanTravelers.org, “To be a happy and successful traveler, you must have a sense of adventure, a willingness to adapt and not mind being the perpetual new kid on the block. Travelers must be able to adapt to new situations quickly. They must be able to walk into a new hospital and feel comfortable in their environment within a very short period. Travelers need to be able to socialize easily with strangers, since everyone will be a stranger at first.”
Hospitals hire travelers because they have some serious staffing problems and need someone who can perform their jobs extremely well, so travelers are expected to be very knowledgeable in their field and can expect little to no orientation in some very new environments. If you have the right personality and prepare yourself well, you will find that being a traveling healthcare professional is a fun and rewarding experience!
12. Aircraft Repossession Person
If people and corporations can’t make payments on their airplanes, a repo man (or woman!) has to go out and get it! Airplane repo men have a dangerous job. They research, track, trace, repossess, fly, and deliver airplanes. Whenever payments for airplanes become overdue, airplane repo men are hired by the bank to repossess the aircraft.
Here’s how the job works: The bank contacts the airplane repo company about a specific aircraft, which is then tracked through records for fuel purchases, hangar rentals, tie downs, and FAA records. Next, the airplane repo person must travel to the destination to legally steal the aircraft. Repossession can be accomplished with master keys and propeller locks, or it might require fast work and risky takeoffs. All of this is combined with the thrill of flying the plane into the sunset. The pay is approximately 6 to 10% of resale value of each repossessed plane they capture and return. Not just anyone can do this job, the applicant must be an excellent pilot licensed to fly all sorts of aircrafts, as they may have to fly a private jet, a 747, a crop duster, a twin engine prop plane, a rusted float plane, or even a traffic helicopter in the line of duty.
13. Trail Builders
Trail Builders, or Trail Maintenance Workers, build and maintain trails that lead us on fantastic adventures through the wilderness. They are designed for hikers, bikers, backpackers, climbers, dogs, ATVs, horseback riders, and any other outdoor enthusiasts. Trails are found across our country’s mountains, valleys, and forests. Every trail must be maintained, and typically trail work is a seasonal job that is done when there is little snow and the weather is nicer. A trail builder’s goal is to reduce the overall impact on the environment, as trails eventually get rutted out, overgrown, washed out, eroded away, or covered up. The impact of people, rock slides, erosion, downed trees, and other forces of nature keep trail builders busy! You can be a Trail Builder as a volunteer, or as a paid worker at anywhere from $8-20 per hour.
14. Avalanche Forecaster
An Avalanche Forecaster’s job is to advise the public on what the snow is doing. When snow piles up over the winter season, it creates a sort of layer cake of different storms. The snow pack is affected by mountain weather, aspect, slope, sun exposure, and it can create weak layers, and those weak layers can cause deadly avalanches.
If you love snow, this could be a great job for you, as you’ll spend about 75% of your time outside in the snow. The job entails looking at mountain weather, snow pack, avalanche activity, and historical data to promote avalanche awareness, write and document avalanche reports, forecasts, advisories, special warnings, accidents, reports, and statistics, and then make the information available to the public.
If you don’t have a science or snow-related degree, don’t worry, as all avalanche forecasters must have official avalanche certifications from organizations like the American Institute of Avalanche Research and Education or the Canadian Avalanche Association.
15. Elephant Trainer
Some elephants can lie down, stand on their hind legs, draw and paint, throw a ball, spray water, play the drums, or even sing. An Elephant Trainer has the job of teaching these massive animals impressive tricks and proper behaviors. To train elephants, you may bribe the animals with food or with touch, and likely be required to clean up after the large beasts and provide them with their food and water. Additionally, you’ll exercise them and ensure that these intelligent creatures have enough mental stimulation so that they don’t become bored and possibly destructive. Elephant trainers are most often employed by circuses and zoos all around the world, along with amusement parks and movie studios.
Sources of elephant training knowledge include the American Zoological Association’s Elephant Management Course and a more recreational, once-in-a-lifetime option is to attend a 3-day, $100 course at the Elephant Conservation Centre School in Thailand. But the most important training is hands-on experience. You should apprentice and do internships with elephants if at all possible.