When it comes to choosing a career, thinking outside the box can pay off in a big way, and not just financially. A unique job, performed in a work environment that’s anything but boring, can put a whole new spin on the idea of job satisfaction.
GOBankingRates has put together a list of some most the most bizarre ways people earn a living. Chances are you’ve never heard of some of them — but one of these jobs might be exactly the opportunity you’ve been waiting for.
- Income: Up to $2,000 per gig for experienced, highly reputable clowns
Running around in silly clothes teasing an 1,800-pound animal is one of the cool jobs in the rodeo circuit. Rodeo clowns have two roles — to entertain and to protect rodeo cowboys.
In their entertainment capacity, rodeo clowns add a comedic touch to the competition. In addition to engaging audiences from the sidelines, clowns head into the arena to perform skits between events.
But the job’s not all fun and games. During events, a rodeo clown must distract a bull to prevent injury to the rider, sometimes putting himself at risk. “Bullfighter” is the contemporary term for rodeo clowns who work in this capacity. A type of rodeo clown known as a “barrelman” — for the barrels that mark a barrel-racing course — crouches inside a barrel during the rider’s performance in cases he or she is needed.
A rodeo clown can perform wherever there are bull-riding events, including Australia and the United States.
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What Being a Rodeo Clown Entails
Dangers of the job: Going nose to nose with a rodeo bull comes with risks of getting gored, trampled or kicked. Chances are you’ll get injured during your rodeo clown career. The vocation has a 77.4% injury rate.
How to land the job: Go to rodeo bullfighting or clown school to learn the skills needed to entertain the audience and divert the bull’s attention. Get your first gigs at local youth or amateur rodeos to showcase your work.
- Income: $933 per day
If you’re an adrenaline addict, becoming a stunt person might be your ideal version of a fun job. Leaping from burning buildings, crashing cars and flying through the air are all part of the stunt person’s work duties.
Like non-stunt actors, many stunt performers work in theme parks and amusement parks rather than in the film industry. But if TV or film is your goal, you’ll need to join the Screen Actors Guild or the American Federation of Television and Radio artists to apply for jobs.
Stunt performers struggling to find film gigs at home might consider working overseas. Although the United States’ film industry is by far the largest, film is also big in China, Japan, the U.K., Germany and Canada, among others.
What Being a Stunt Person Entails
Dangers of the job: Ignorance is definitely not bliss as a stunt double; not knowing the proper stunt technique is the No. 1 reason for on-the-job injury, according to the Houston Chronicle.
How to land the job: Learn how to safely catch fire, fly on cables and crash cars at the United Stuntmen’s Association 150-hour course in the Seattle area. Send out a reel showcasing your stunts along with your resume. Move to Los Angeles, Vancouver or New York to be in the heart of the film industry and make connections with an unpaid apprenticeship.
- Income: Up to $50,000 per season
Shows like “Deadliest Catch” profile the life of crab fishermen as they spend months at a time at sea. This weird job is detail-oriented, repetitive and physically draining: Maneuver 600- to 800-pound crab pots across the deck and lower them into the water, marking their location. After the pots are full, pull them up and sort the catch.
What Being a Crab Fisherman Entails
Dangers of the job: The pay might be lucrative, but crab fishing is one of the most dangerous occupations and definitely not a fun job. Weeks or months at sea, long work hours and winter weather contribute to the industry’s high death rate from drowning and hypothermia. Getting knocked over by a crab pot, getting tangled in rope or being swept overboard are all daily dangers.
How to land the job: Although there are no educational requirements to be a crab fisherman, you’ll need to be in top physical condition to be considered for a job in the crabbing industry. Operating dangerous machinery, heavy lifting and long hours are the norm for months on end. The easiest way to enter the industry is to start with less competitive catches, such as salmon, and work your way up to qualify as a master licensed crabber.
Livestock Artificial Insemination Technician
- Income: $43,450 mean annual salary
Artificial insemination helps dairy, swine and other livestock farmers create strong herds through selective breeding. Where one bull might only service 100 cows per year, artificial insemination (AI) can increase that number to more than 60,000.
An AI tech might collect sperm from a male animal, detect when females come into heat and inject sperm through the female’s cervix when she is in peak heat. Good communication, record-keeping and animal handling skill are required. A high percentage of workers involved in animal breeding are self-employed, so business skills are likely to be helpful as well.
What Being a Artificial Insemination Technician Entails
Dangers of the job: Liquid nitrogen can freeze human flesh almost immediately, causing severe frostbite. Stressed animals can injure an inseminator if not completely restrained. Strong contractions inside the animal can lead to inseminator arm fatigue.
How to land the job: Although you can learn to inseminate an animal in about three days, employers might require additional qualifications such as a degree in livestock, animal husbandry or another related field. Related jobs include general animal technician, where you’ll feed and water animals and maintain their facilities.
- Income: $30,000 to $49,000 per year
If you love making people look beautiful but just can’t keep up the chairside chatter, becoming a mortuary cosmetologist might be the answer. As a funeral home beautician, you’ll use special techniques such as airbrushing, contouring and facial reconstruction to make the deceased look like their loved ones remember them.
What Being a Mortuary Cosmetologist Entails
Dangers of the job: Like any funeral industry job, there’s a risk of illness from exposure to viruses or bacteria.
How to land the job: A cosmetology license is key to getting into the industry. Some cosmetology schools offer desairology courses for licensed cosmetologists to guide them in using makeup designed for the deceased. Employers may require previous work experience in cosmetology besides the educational requirements.
- Income: $40,000 to $70,000 per year
Death can be a traumatic experience — not only for those experiencing it, but for those left behind. An end-of-life doula helps the dying and their family through the transition from life to what’s next.
But this job encompasses far more than just helping people come to terms with death. Whereas hospice attends to the medical needs of terminally ill individuals, doulas help create a comforting personal space that enfolds the dying’s spiritual and social beliefs during the last few months of life. They might help with legacy planning, forgiveness rituals, tying up loose ends, at-home funerals and aftercare for grieving loved ones.
What Being an End-of-Life Doula Entails
Dangers of the Job: You’ll get constantly exposed to fear, anxiety and depression that’s common among those dying or about to lose their loved one. Old squabbles and hard feelings can disrupt the peaceful environment you’re there to create. While you won’t be administering any medical treatment to the dying individual, you’ll need to take appropriate precautions to prevent catching any communicable diseases.
How to land the job: Many death doulas have experience in the healthcare field, but it is not necessary. Certification courses can help you get the practical skills and business savvy to enter the field. Although a few hospitals and hospices offer doula care, as an end-of-life doula you’ll be in charge of creating your own client base.
Income: Up to $2,000 per wedding, depending on services provided
Always being a bridesmaid can be a good thing if you’re getting paid for it. The honor bestowed on family or friends to be bridesmaids comes with a lot of responsibility, and some people need help to get everything done. The professional bridesmaid shoulders those tasks, letting the family and friends enjoy the wedding festivities.
The professional bridesmaid often works undercover, posing as a friend of the bride. From managing the pre-wedding to-do lists, balancing the budget and coaching bridesmaids and maids of honor, she might tackle any and every part of the wedding process.
What Being a Professional Bridesmaid Entails
Dangers of the job: Bridezilla, MOB-zilla and MOH-zilla, to name a few. Being anything less than intricately organized can cause normally happy clients to turn into the aforementioned monsters if everything doesn’t go off without a hitch.
How to land the job: Being a professional bridesmaid is another one of those cool jobs you can’t major in when you go to college. Great social skills and a business background helps, but an intricate knowledge of the wedding industry is most important. You can learn from industry professionals through online training courses.
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Jodi Thornton-O’Connell contributed to the reporting for this article.