10 Weird Jobs That Can Pay Surprisingly Well

Two sommeliers, male and female tasting red wine and making notes at degustation card

Many more occupations are held roughly in the U.S. than the typical jobs that first come to our minds. If you’ve ever watched the show Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe, there’s a good chance it opened your eyes to the existence of a countless number of professions that fall way outside your typical nine-to-five.

As weird and unconventional as many of these jobs may be, it doesn’t mean they’re not good, respectable jobs. Many of these jobs come with salaries. They’re just different. And, like any job, they each come with their own set of rewards and challenges.

10. Commercial diver

Commercial diver
Commercial diver | Dive Magazine

A commercial diver earns their pay working underwater. Duties can vary greatly but include checking for pipe leaks; inspecting and cleaning pipe valves, inspecting bridges, ships, docks, and sewers; and even salvaging wrecked ships. Anyone up for some 18th-century shipwreck treasure hunting?

Education: To become a commercial diver, you’ll need a high school diploma, scuba certification, and you’ll have to complete a commercial diving training program.

Average salary range: $35,000-$96,000


9. Airplane repossession person

Airplane repossession
Airplane repossession

The thought of a repo man flying away in your airplane is pretty comical, but it doesn’t make it any less real of a job. If you buy a plane and can’t afford it, you can be sure the bank is going to come knocking. This gig is serious enough for the Discovery Channel to about it, and we all know everything we see on TV is real.

Education: While getting into this line of work can be pretty lucrative, it does have its limitations. For one, you have to be able to fly a plane, and you’ll need a pilot’s license to do that.

Estimated average salary range: 6%-10% commission on each plane’s resale price ($10,000-$900,000


8. Genetic counsellor

Genetic counsellor
Two young women scientists working together in genetics

Counselling for hereditary disorders might not seem like the most uplifting profession. Still, you will be in a position to help others as they cope with the unfortunate genetic hand they’re dealt with. A genetic counsellor assesses the risk for various inherited conditions, sharing this information with families and other healthcare professionals to support informed decision making. He/she counsels patients on unfavourable test results and coping methods for those at risk and couples with hereditary conditions who are trying to conceive.

Education: A master’s degree in genetic counselling is typically required, and you can expect to have to come to work in a casual top and nice pair of genes.

Average salary range: $52,000-$87,000


7. Body part model

Body part model
Body part model

Have a nice pair of hands? According to Forbes, a top “parts model.” Depending on their look — delicate or “practical” — hand models will usually book fashion and beauty shoots or commercial work for food and cleaning products. You may even find yourself doubling for celebrities who have a less-than-appealing set of their own.

Education: The parts market isn’t vast, so competition is tough. You’ll also need to take direction from heads of photography and deal with inevitable hand cramping.

Average salary range: $1,000-$10,000 for a day’s work, up to $75,000 per year


6. Ice cream taster

Ice cream taster
Ice cream taster

I’ve had some terrible ice cream, so either not all ice cream is taste-tested, or these companies need a new set of mouths working for them. Regardless, it’s a real gig that pays real money, but do you want to chance to ruin your love of ice cream with too much of it? Yes, yes, we do.

An ice cream taster, also known as a taste tester or food scientist, checks to make sure each type of ice cream is up to snuff, containing the right ingredients, textures, and flavours so consumers won’t be disappointed. Depending on the company’s role, tasters may even be involved with inventing new ice cream flavours.

Education: Many companies look for candidates to have a degree in dairy science or food science and a keen sensitivity to tastes and insensitivity to brain freeze.

Average salary range: $35,000-$97,000


5. New York City hot dog vendor

New York City hot dog vendor
New York City hot dog vendor

You can’t just slap a hot-dog stand anywhere on the side of the road and expect to make a killing, but in the right location, a full-time gig selling hot-dogs can turn a decent profit. It’s not unheard of for vendors in prime New York City spots to pay over $300,000 in annual rent to the city — so what must they be bringing in if they can afford this type of fee?

According to the New York Post, one hot dog vendor when business was peaking and only paid $60 a year for a vendor’s license.

Education: While no specific education requirements are necessary, you are running a business, so brushing up on essential business skills couldn’t hurt.

Estimated salary range: $100,000-$300,000+


4. Bingo manager

Bingo manager
Bingo manager

They may get their start in your grandma’s retirement-home bingo hall, but you’ll typically find these professionals managing the casinos’ bingo departments, and it can be big business. A bingo manager oversees and directs the department’s daily activities, approving jackpots and payouts and ensuring compliance with federal and state gaming regulations.

Education: Specific requirements will differ depending on the employer, but you’ll typically need 3-5 years of experience to land a gig as a bingo manager. Unfortunately, your grandmother’s referral won’t hold much weight.

Average salary range: $45,000-$100,000


3. Sommelier

Two sommeliers, male and female tasting red wine and making notes at degustation card

If your passion for wine extends beyond drinking it, a job as a sommelier might be of interest. A sommelier, or wine steward, manages everything from identifying and purchasing an organization’s wine collection to its proper storage and promotion. You’ll likely work with kitchen staff to develop food and wine pairings, as well.

Sommeliers commonly work with upscale restaurants, hotels, and other locations where expensive wines are sold. They’re expected to demonstrate a thorough knowledge of wines, vineyards, geographic regions, and, of course, the grapes themselves.

Education: Requirements can vary, but some employers look for years of experience, also, culinary school training with an emphasis on a fermented grape drink (wine).

Average salary range: $40,000-$71,000


2. Nuclear power reactor operator

the simpsons
The Simpsons via Facebook

Nuclear power plants take a highly-trained licensed professional to ensure these plants never come anywhere close to having a meltdown.

Other than working in an overly-secure environment sensitive to attack, nuclear power reactor operators are responsible for operating and controlling nuclear reactors. A typical day consists of adjusting control rods, monitoring reactors, and responding to abnormalities. No sweat, right?

Education: Nuclear power reactor operators typically need at least a high school diploma, but extensive on-the-job training is needed to prepare for the (NRC) license exam. You’ll have to pass a yearly exam to keep your license as well.

Average salary range: $60,000-$120,000


1. Elevator inspector

Elevator inspector
Elevator inspector

These inspectors make sure your elevator delivers you seamlessly, but their job also goes beyond elevators. These inspectors examine and maintain all lifting and conveying devices such as elevators, escalators, moving sidewalks, ski lifts, and even amusement park rides to ensure they meet safety and compliance codes. The next time you reach your floor without plummeting to the ground, you know who to thank.

Education: To elevate your chances of landing one of these jobs, you’ll typically need at least a high school diploma with considerable related-work experience, as inspectors typically learn on the job.

Average salary range: $44,000-$81,000