10 Awesome Jobs You Didn't Know Existed (and How to Get Them)


There are certainly some lucrative and reliable careers to be had for those with the proper education or even just a hard-working attitude and high-school diploma. Yet it's increasingly seldom that we see a want ad or a career opportunity that piques our interest and makes us think, "That job seems fun and interesting." (See also: Great Side Jobs)

But the truth is that there are a lot of jobs out there, and not all of them are dead boring.

In fact, some of these jobs are pretty intriguing and don't tend to fit the mold of your typical nine-to-five. These jobs are unique, potentially fun, and interesting, outside of their potential salary. So sure, the paycheck is good and that's what you ultimately want, but these jobs give you something a little extra. (See also: Difficult Jobs That Are Worth the Effort)

1. Ethical Hacker

An ethical hacker is a computer professional who specializes in penetrating networks and identifying weakness in a company's security barriers. So instead of stealing sensitive data or money, the hacker is paid to give a detailed account of where a system is vulnerable so that it can be improved.

Essentially, you're a glorified cyber-security consultant.

To get the gig…

In order to work as an ethical hacker, you need to have a strong computing background with a focus on data security and cybercrime. A bachelor's degree in computer science would be ideal, with a CISM (Certified Information Security Manager) or CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker) certification.

Once you have the credentials, you can apply for jobs with local or federal government, the military, or build your own list of business clients as a freelancer. (See also: Freelancing for Beginners)

2. Glazier

A glazier is a skilled tradesperson that specializes in glasswork for buildings. The work opportunities tend to vary a lot, but a good glazier needs to have a firm architectural background as well as eye for art and detail. It's a sweet deal if you like working outside and are looking to get into the architecture game without having to go for a bachelor's degree. There's also a lot of job security here since competition for this work is fairly low.

To get the gig…

Typically a high school diploma is the baseline requirement; however, potential employees in this area needs to have demonstrable math skills and preferably a few years of apprenticeship under their belts. (See also: Benefits of Apprenticeships)

3. Aerial Photography Pilot

If flying an airplane for a living isn't enough excitement for you, specializing in aerial photography is an option for those with commercial flying experience. This opens up doors for you to work with companies that utilize GIS (Geographic Information Systems) like the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Forest Service, the military, and other government agencies.

To get the gig…

A bachelor's degree is preferred along with commercial flying experience; however, becoming a commercial pilot can happen after you've graduated high school. All pilots need a commercial pilot's license from the FAA, so that's a good place to start.

4. Professional and Amateur Pinball Association Staff Member

There's no question that this is one of the more unique and exclusive career opportunities in existence, but it does sound incredibly fun. In 2004 Kevin Martin bought the rights to the PAPA organization, which now hosts the first world championship events for pinball after a six-year dark period for the sport.

Events feature competitive pinballers playing for prizes and cash (in some cases a lot). The PAPA organization runs on a full team of staff members that includes editors, technicians, web gurus, and a number of volunteer positions. (See also: 9 Benefits of Volunteering)

To get the gig…

This one is tough since the organization is small and tightly funded. However, if you're a pinball fanatic, you're a member of a fairly small minority of people, which means it might be worth getting in touch with the team over at PAPA to see if you could at least start by volunteering.

5. Balloon Pilot

Balloon pilots can find work in the tourism industry or sometimes in meteorology. The work can also coexist alongside a more conventional job as a commercial or airline pilot, which would certainly provide a nice change of pace from the busy scene of the airport.

To get the gig…

Specialized training in hot air balloon flight will be necessary before you can get your license, although you can learn the trade as a student, private, or commercial pilot.

6. Blackjack Pit Boss

As a pit boss in the casino, you essentially get to police the dealers and whatever game tables you're responsible for. In the past, these jobs have been more similar to casino managers; though today, most pit boss's work directly under a casino manager to insure that errors are kept to a minimum and the casino's rules are followed.

To get the gig…

A high school diploma and top-notch customer service skills are the baseline requirements. In some instances casinos will want to see a bachelor's degree, but that's generally not the case. Competition is stiff, however, as this is one of the more sought after jobs in the casino business.

7. Fire Lookout

The U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service and Department of Agriculture will actually employ fire lookouts during peak fire seasons. Your job is to be the primary lookout for early detection of wildfires, working to assist fire dispatchers as well as do simple maintenance around outpost facilities. It's certainly not a bad option if you like hanging out in the woods and getting paid for it.

To get the gig…

Timing is the critical issue here, since most of these jobs are seasonal. You can check firelookout.org for job openings, or the job posting websites for your state's local government. You can also go to usajob.gov to apply.

8. Small Engine Mechanic

When we hear the word "mechanic" we almost always start thinking about cars. But small engine mechanics work on many other machines. In addition to chainsaws, a small engine mechanic deals with mowers, power tools, ATVs, and whatever else runs on gas and is smaller than a car. They're often highly sought after for their unique expertise, meaning that most small engine mechanics can run their own business or work as independent contractors.

Those who do it well can make a lot of money and for the most part set their own hours.

To get the gig…

It's all about reputation. If people know you're good at repairing chain saws and power tools, they'll bring them to you and pay whatever you're asking, within reason. That means a lot of on-the-job training and a genuine interest in your trade. (See also: Hidden Networks That Can Help You Land Jobs)

9. Computational Linguist

This is a variation of a computer programmer's position, but it's unique in that you specialize in helping to build computer programs that can interact with natural human language; think Siri or robotics research.

To get the gig…

You'll need a degree in computer science with a concentration in programming. Additionally, you'll want to have a firm understanding of the English language and a fair amount of experience in object oriented programming.

10. Futurist

In this position you're essentially a market researcher, but a visionary at the same time. Your job is to examine current trends and the present time, to try and predict what is going to happen in the future that will affect economic and business decisions that companies make.

To get the gig…

Generally you'll need to bring a bachelor's degree to the table, preferably in business or economics. A strong background in marketing and business development are also a plus. You can check places like the World Future Society or Futurist.com to find job trends and openings.

Any awesome jobs I've missed? Tell us about them in comments!

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