What do you want to be when you grow up? Teacher, lawyer, doctor, police officer… These are the predictable answers, along with the more aspirational astronaut, ballet dancer, or actor among the younger respondents. Yet, you don’t have to pursue one of these careers to be considered successful anymore, nor do you have to be a lawyer or a CEO to make up to six figures a year. We usually also associate large paychecks with offices and suits, but there are actually many blue collar and even strange jobs out there that can earn a more-than-comfortable living.
There are so many kooky jobs out there, most of which the majority of people have never even heard of but some of which you might actually be good at. There’s something out there for everyone, no matter your background, your education or your skill-level – you just need to broaden your horizons. Sometimes it can be shocking to hear of certain jobs you never even thought existed, and it can be even more shocking to hear how much they earn.
There is, perhaps, a stigma in our society that equates traditionally prestigious and highly-qualified jobs with high salaries. Yet, more often than not, blue collar, manual or creative jobs can earn an equal salary to the man in the suit and, sometimes, can even earn more.
10. Hot Dog Vendor – $30,000+
Hot dog vendors are rarely given a second thought by people passing them in the street, or buying hot dogs from them on their way to work or school or just as a shopping snack. Passing out quick and easy hot dogs seems like a simple gig. Don’t kid yourself though; these street vendors have to keep up with the many health and safety regulations, have to comply to specific limitations around the way their food cart is built and have to keep within certain locations in the city. But with limited overheads and a ready market, hot dog vendors can make a steady living of $30,000 a year, and depending on demand – such as in busy cities like New York – street vendors can actually hit the six-figure mark.
9. Trash Collector – $43,000-$60,000
Some trash collectors can make up to $60,000/year, however the majority make an average of about $43,000. While no education is formally required, there are some skills needed, such as a truck driver’s license and in some cases a license to operate a forklift. Collecting garbage might sometimes be looked down upon as a profession, but it is such a crucial part of maintaining a society that waste management professionals earn every penny of their reasonable salary.
8. Ice Cream Taster – $56,000
Ice cream tasters are employed by dairy companies to taste different flavours of ice cream and to help create new ones. People hired as food tasters make an average of $56,000 a year and can go much higher than that depending on the company they work for. For example, John Harrison is the Official Taste Tester of Dreyer’s company and is known as the “ice cream man”, as he has tasted more than a few hundred million gallons of ice cream and has helped in the creation of over hundred flavours. His taste buds are reportedly insured for a million dollars and his annual salary can be between $70 000 and $100 000 a year.
7. Train Conductor – $58,000-$65,000
This profession includes conductors of passenger trains, subways and streetcars. A high school diploma is the only education requirement and it usually takes a couple months of on-job training to become qualified. Once you are licensed, you can transfer to almost any city without having to complete any more training. The median annual salary of a train conductor is between $58,000 and $65,000/year.
6. Casino Gamers – $57,000-$85,000
Casino gaming managers are responsible for explaining and revising the rules of certain games in the casino, making sure the casino is following specific industry regulations and blending into the crowd to spot cheaters and prevent theft. Many people in this profession have completed degrees in vocational studies, but it’s not a requirement as there is casino training offered. Depending on the city and the casino, gaming managers can earn an average salary of almost $60,000 annually, which can increase up to $85,000 per year.
5. Elevator Mechanic – $70,000-$80,000
Elevator mechanics mainly repair and install elevators and escalators, moving walkways and other sorts of lifts. There is no work experience usually needed to get this job and the only education required is a high school diploma. Most elevator technicians become familiar with the job through apprenticeship, as there is no actual course or training. There are only about 20,000 elevator mechanics in the United States and the salary varies between $70,000 and $80,000/year.
4. Geographer – $75,000
This is a job that is practically never heard of, which makes sense considering there are reportedly only about 1500 geographers in the U.S. The main occupation of a geographer is to modify existing maps and diagrams and to create new ones that deal with the relationship between society and environment. Their median annual salary is around $75,000 a year. A geographer is a scholar, and has usually has completed at least a four-year bachelor degree.
3. Voice-Over Artist – $80,000
Voice-over artists are those who narrate commercials, movies, foreign films, video games or who work as the voices of cartoon characters. There is no actual training required, unless someone completes optional voice coaching lessons. It takes talent, a good demo, and a big break, but once you have those there can be more than comfortable money involved. A voice-over artist with a steady job – even those working for lower budget projects – can make up to $80,000/ year.
2. Funeral Service Manager – $80,000
Funeral service managers are in charge of all arrangements for the ceremony and can also be responsible for dressing and placing the body. At times, tasks can also include embalming and burying or cremating the body. It’s quite a morbid profession, but if you can handle the emotional aspect of it, it pays fairly well. Most of the time, the service manager doesn’t directly deal with the body, but deals more with the family of the deceased in planning the ceremony, setting the prices, and dealing with all legal documents that may be required. Funeral service managers can make up to $80,000 per year.
1. Sommelier – $80,000-$160,000
Sommeliers are usually employed by fine cuisine restaurants and are highly trained and extremely knowledgeable in all wines and in pairing certain wines with food. They are responsible for wine procurement, wine storage and offering expertise to clientele. There are actual courses and training that are offered to become a certified sommelier which usually extend over about six months. According to Forbes, the average,sommelier makes $80 000 a year, a salary which can go all the way up to $160,000.