Most of us hold down pretty average, run-of-the-mill jobs. From working in a shopping mall to a bar to a 9-5 office job, there isn’t a wild amount of variety in the average career. But of course, in today’s crazy world, creative thinkers don’t have to have an ordinary job to make a good living.
In fact, there are many seriously untraditional ways to make a lot of cash in the 21st century, methods carved out by dreamers who discovered a small niche for their unusual services. These money making schemes are remarkable – some are ridiculous and some are hilarious, but nearly all of them go to show how enterprising people can be. However, there are some things that people do to make money that are ostensibly legal but are both shocking and even unsavoury to many. Money is undoubtedly a powerful thing, and some strange jobs often require people do bizarre things to earn it. As Publilius Syrus once said, “A good reputation is more valuable than money”, so we can’t help but question just how far we might go in pursuit of cash.
We bet that you’d kill for some of these jobs, but it’s more than likely that most of us would run a mile from the others…
10. Selling Human Hair
The popularity of hair extensions these days is higher than ever before: thus, the harvesting of virgin human hair (i.e. hair that has not been treated or dyed) is also more popular than ever before. Although some women in the US donate their hair to extension companies and wig makers, the majority of human hair sourced for extensions comes from India and Russia. The trade is unfortunately linked to poverty: women in these countries are forced to grow their hair and then sell it to earn money. British singer Jamelia investigated the extension industry in a 2008 documentary, and was so shocked by the exploitation she witnessed that she vowed never to wear human hair extensions again.
9. Wearing T-Shirts
This idea is almost a non-idea – so simple that it sounds like it couldn’t possibly lead to any kind of profit. Which is exactly why it’s so interesting. In 2005, Jason Sadler dreamed up the idea that he could persuade companies to pay him to wear their logo on his t-shirt. He would talk about the company to people when he was wearing their t-shirt, as part of the deal. To say that his business has boomed is an understatement: companies loved Sadler’s idea, and soon Sadler had to employ a four-strong staff of t-shirt wearers to keep up with demand. Within five years, he had doubled the price of his services and is currently making a whopping $500,000 a year!
When video gaming first graduated into the mainstream, parents and sceptics were quick to cast it aside as a childhood interest, a mere hobby that wouldn’t amount to much. How wrong they were! These days, the gaming industry is one of the most exciting and most profitable in the world of tech. Hundreds of gaming fanatics from all over the world have now reached the status of ‘professional gamers’, invited to compete in massive international leagues. These competitions are streamed online to millions of viewers and there’s big money to be made. One of the most popular tournaments on earth, The International, boasted a prize pool of $10 million in 2014.
7. Suicide Doctor
Undoubtedly one of the creepiest jobs in history, suicide clinics – more accurately, euthanasia clinics – are now springing up all over the world, where people who wish to end their life can go to receive a lethal injection. The idea was first championed by Jack Kevorkian, an American pathologist. His famous phrase “dying is not a crime” caused huge controversy, but his unorthodox beliefs are being taken more and more seriously nowadays. The most famous suicide clinic on earth is Dignitas clinic in Switzerland, a clinic which has currently assisted the suicides of more than 1,000 people.
Japan’s major cities are incredibly congested, particularly during rush hours like the morning commute. Packed subway stations are unpleasant enough, but can you imagine how you would feel if someone was employed to squeeze you into a packed subway car? That’s the reality of urban life in Japan. Subway stations employ oshiya to cram as many people as possible into the subway before it rolls away. Oshiya also have the task of pulling people off when commuters try to push their way into a severely overcrowded car.
5. Professional Mourner
This profession is quite popular in Africa, where professional mourners have been cultural staples for a long time. Professional mourners are hired to cry at people’s funerals when they die, giving everyone the impression that the deceased was incredibly important and influential. References to professional mourners can even be found in the Bible. Although it isn’t currently very common in the Western world, the idea seems to be catching on: A man named Ian Robertson recently founded Rent-a-Mourner, a business renting professional mourners, in Essex.
4. Selling Dirt
This one is particularly unbelievable, but it just goes to show that if you have a business brain in your head, anything is possible…
Pat Burke from Tipperary in Ireland had this terrific when he was thinking about all of the nostalgic descendants of Irish immigrants living Stateside. His idea? Sell Irish soil to them to sprinkle over their graves when they die. To say that the business has been a success is an understatement. By flogging boxes of soil for $15 each, a product which Burke sources completely for free at home, he has created an incredibly profitable company which recently reported sales of over $1 million!
3. Professional Sleeper
All products we use have to go through a rigorous testing process before they’re made available. It’s not something one would think of, but beds and mattresses need to be tested after they’re manufactured. So, some people out there are actually employed as professional sleepers, testing out beds before they are used by the general public. Often, their heart rate is monitored so that the comfort of their night’s sleep can be deduced. Hotel Finn in Helsinki made headlines last year when they posted a job vacancy for a professional sleeper to test out 35 of their hotel rooms and review the quality of their night’s sleep. Unsurprisingly, the job received over 600 applications!
It’s hard to believe, but eating and obesity itself has now become monetised. This is down to a relatively small group of women who have made a career for themselves by eating. Watching overweight people eat, in particular, is a sexual fetish that used to be quite under the radar, but it has come to light in recent years with the growth of the internet. One of the most famous professional eaters in recent years is Donna Simpson, an American woman from Ohio who has expressed her goal to become the heaviest woman on earth. Donna has her own website where subscribers pay to watch her eat on webcam. The money contributed by her “feeders” goes towards funding her gigantic grocery bills – Donna eats an average of 12,000 calories per day. A food blogger in South Korea, who calls herself the ‘Diva’ (pictured above), set up a live stream of her preparing and eating food which reportedly earns her a salary of $9000 a month.
1. Selling Virginity
This is by far the most controversial (legal) way that people are using to make a lot of money fast today. Selling your virginity has become a common way to make a large lump of cash – seemingly regardless of the potential dangers to personal safety and damage to reputations. Though there are numerous cases of this, the most well-known and well-documented is undoubtedly that of Catarina Migliorini, a 21 year old Brazilian woman who sold her virginity online to a stranger for over $700,000. Afterwards, Migliorini claimed that she didn’t actually lose her virginity, and attempted to sell it again…