Many people take for granted that going work entails sitting in an office at a computer, Monday to Friday, 9 to 5, if you’re lucky. But there are alternative existences out there—worlds of truly weird jobs. Weird is not always bad, sometimes just archaic or nonsensical, but definitely not jobs for everyone. Here are 10 of them.
1. Pet Food Taster
One job most people would not even consider is tasting pet food for pet food companies to ensure quality. The first job requirement is to being able to ingest dog food or cat food; the second is to be able to comment on its texture and consistency as a true “foodie.” While it’s not a dangerous job per se, it definitely doesn’t have mass appeal. However, according to SimplyHired.com the average salary for a Dog Food Taster is around $40,000, based on location, industry, and experience.
Remember how in Jurassic Park the scientist stuck his whole arm into a pile of feces? Well, although most of these would normally be fossilized, you get the picture of what this job entails—in some sense, the study of poop. Pathoecologist comes from the Greek prefix “patho-” meaning suffering or diseased, and “ecologist,” which means the study of organisms and their surroundings. According to insidejobs.com the salary of a pathoecologist can range from $30,000 to around $90,000 based on experience and having a master’s degree or PhD.
Just as the name implies, ufologist is the study of unidentified flying objects (UFOs) ala Mulder and Scully from X-Files. Of course their salaries might not be out of this world, and since many of their theories are hard to prove, many are dismissed by their peers as conspiracy theorists, quacks, etc. One distinguished academic who has worked tirelessly in this field is Peter A. Sturrock, PhD. Of course, ufologist may also bring up debates like the one over Project Blue Book, the 1952-1970 project by the U.S. Air Force to collect reports of UFOs. Their conclusions that most of the over 12,500 reports were misidentifications, has lead many people to believe the project existed as a massive cover-up of UFOs.
4. Duck Master
In the immortal words of Robert Ripley “believe it or not,” there is a hotel in Memphis that has a person who escorts ducks to and from their lobby fountain twice a day. For 50 years this was the task of a bellman named Edward Pembroke who, from 1940 to 1991 when he retired, performed this duty in addition to handling luggage at the Peabody. Edward was also a former animal trainer. Now in addition to its Memphis property, the Peabody also does this in Orlando (I am sure Donald approves). According to their website, this march is done at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily at both hotels and many celebrities from Hollywood have stayed just to witness this. By-the-way, the ducks have their own Facebook page.
5. Bird Deterrent
In Rajasthan, India the exquisite 5-star Rambagh Palace in Jaipur, employs two people as flag wavers to keep the pigeons away from the hotel’s courtyard fountain. Amusingly, the flags carry the image of a crossed out bird—presumably to inform the guests, not sure if it works for the pigeons.
6. Chimney Sweep
This old profession has existed since before the Victorian age and still exists today. It’s still a dirty job since it deals with removing soot and ashes from chimneys, but it’s changed entirely in terms of professionalism. In the old days, children were hired to do the dirtiest work since they were small enough to crawl into tight places. Today chimney sweeps are professionally trained technicians who do more than clear your chimney of soot, they also install, diagnose, and repair the full range venting systems.
7. Odor Tester
Not a job for the faint at heart, or stomach—but it’s for real and companies are always hiring people who can test the performance of new products such as deodorants or detergents. According to careersearch.com the average annual salary for an odor tester is around $35,000. As an odor tester, you are an olfactory guinea pig. As long as the industry you are in can keep producing products for you to test there will be work.
8. Golf Ball Diver
No, the “r” was not accidentally left off diver. Not everyone is a professional golfer; sometimes the water trap gets the best of us. And what better way to retrieve golf balls than to send a diver in after them. The work can be demanding since carrying many golf balls at once is heavy. According to an article on ESPN, an estimated 120,000 balls per year will “get wet” on the 17th hole of TPC-Sawgrass alone.
9. Dice Inspector
A dice inspector has to make sure the odds are not skewed in the favor of either the gambler or the house. Hence the dice inspector works as an independent contractor who makes sure there are no blemishes, and that the proportions of the dice are balanced. The good news for would-be dice inspectors is that you can be employed by the dice maker, the casino, or the governing body that regulates the casinos.
Let’s face it, wearing a heavy costume in the summer heat may not be that cool, but it’s a great gig earning an income by dressing up as a mascot for a college or professional sports team, or possibly a company. Sports mascots are high performance athletes in their own right. Their role is to bring the team and fans together and keep things upbeat—albeit by sometimes making a fool of themselves. According to jobmonkey.com, a full-time sports team mascot can earn around $25,000, but if they are the best in the industry they can make a six figure income depending how popular they are.