Updated 31 May 2020
We all know about the traditional, well-trodden career paths, such as doctor, banker, lawyer or teacher. But if you’re someone who doesn’t fit the mould when it comes to work, you might want to consider a more unusual way to earn a living.
There are many reasons why people seek out unusual jobs. They may be tired of sitting in an office from nine to five, or perhaps, have lost their job and need to find a new career path.
More unusual jobs often provide scope for flexible working, which can appeal to those with other commitments such as family, or those who have creative projects they want to pursue at the same time.
And many require few qualifications, so may be suited to those who want to make good money without investing in the training needed for careers such as law.
Crucially, unusual jobs can pay surprisingly well. They can be a great option for those needing to earn a good wage, while doing a job they enjoy.
In this article, we list the top 10 weird jobs that pay well and offer some tips on how to succeed in each.
Not the most glamorous of jobs but, as a sewer flusher, you would be playing a vital role in keeping the country’s sewer systems flowing. Sewer flushers work to clear blockages caused when congealed layers of cooking fat, oils and non-biodegradable waste build-up in pipes.
You’ll need a strong stomach for this job, and should be comfortable carrying out physical work in cramped, claustrophobic and smelly conditions. On the plus side, you won’t be stuck in an office, and you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you’re doing work that’s crucial for everyone’s quality of living.
There are generally no formal academic entry requirements and training is provided on the job.
Salaries start at around £19,000 and can rise to £30,000 with experience and overtime.
Costume character actors dress up as famous children's characters or historical figures to entertain or scare those visiting tourist attractions or events. You could even get a job as a mascot for your favourite sports team or work seasonally at Christmas events.
This could be a dream come true for those who enjoy entertaining people and want to bring their favourite characters to life.
You will need to have great interpersonal skills and be energetic and full of confidence. Acting skills, including improvisation, would be advantageous, as would a good sense of humour. Bear in mind that there can be hight or appearance requirements, and you may have to work on your feet for long hours, sometimes in hot and heavy costumes.
No qualifications are normally required for work as a costume character actor, but many candidates come from a performing arts background. You may need to pass a DBS check if you are working with children.
You could earn up to £30,000 per year working in some of London’s top tourist destinations, such as the London Dungeon. You might even get discounted entry into the attractions you are working at.
While this may sound like a role with GCHQ, a chief listening officer is actually responsible for ‘listening in’ to conversations on social media about a particular brand or company. They then feed the information they obtain back to the relevant organisation, helping it to improve its business strategies and marketing campaigns.
This is a relatively new role – but as social media grows in popularity, companies are increasingly looking to take on chief listening officers to gather and analyse the data available.
You will typically need a degree in communication marketing or similar, along with a strong background in a variety of social media platforms.
Salaries can range from around £25,000 to £60,000 plus.
An embalmer prepares dead bodies for burial, so this one’s not for the faint-hearted. Their work can involve draining blood from the body and replacing it with embalming fluid, as well as reconstructing parts of the body to disguise any physical damage, and applying makeup.
Embalmers need to be able to deal with death and tragedy in a calm, dignified and sensitive manner. They must also show meticulous attention to detail and to be able to adhere to strict health and safety guidelines.
Many embalmers are self-employed and work for more than one funeral director. They generally work regular hours, Monday to Friday, but some weekend and out-of-hours work may be required.
No formal academic qualifications are generally necessary, but you will need to complete a training course approved by the British Institute of Embalmers. These usually last two to three years and can be studied in a classroom or remotely, with some practical sessions in an embalming theatre.
This can be a difficult industry to break into, so, as a first step, it may be helpful to approach a local funeral director for work experience.
With experience, embalmers can expect to earn around £30,000 a year.
Eating crisps or chocolate for a living sounds like a dream job, but a role as a food taster is much more complex than simply munching on snacks, and requires specific qualifications.
Also known as food technicians, food scientists or product developers, food tasters evaluate the taste, look, smell and consistency of foodstuffs, along with numerous other factors. They then need to be able to articulate what they have gleaned from their tasting to their employer, helping them to make improvements to the product.
Most food tasters will need a foundation degree or equivalent in a relevant subject such as food science, food studies or food technology. Experience working in product development within the food and beverage industry may also be helpful.
Food tasters need to have good tastebuds (obviously) and should protect them by eliminating or limiting things like cigarettes, alcohol and very spicy or salty food.
Salaries typically range from £20,000 to £40,000.
You don’t need to have the full supermodel package to earn a living from your appearance – many people are making good money by modelling just one standout feature.
Hand, foot and leg models are particularly popular but there is also a market for ear, hair, bottom, neck, eyes and lips models. They may be used in photographic shoots for close-up images of products such as jewellery, makeup, cosmetics, clothes and shoes. Or they might be required as body-part doubles in films.
Requirements will vary depending on the job – and the body part – but agencies and model bookers will generally be looking for things like smooth, unblemished skin; a graceful, attractive shape; and the ability to pose naturally.
Successful body part models have to take good care of their assets, as an unsightly mark or injury could put them out of work for some time.
There are many agencies offering work to body part models who can advise on whether you have what it takes. Make sure you do your research to find a reputable agency.
Day rates for body part models start in the low hundreds, rising to up to £5,000 for those who are most in demand.
Professional mourners are common in Middle Eastern and Chinese cultures, with a history dating back thousands of years. Clients generally request professional mourners to increase numbers at a funeral service when the deceased has few friends and family to attend.
A professional mourner will usually need to meet with the client beforehand to find out about the background of the deceased. They must be well presented, have good social and conversational skills, and be calm under pressure. They also need a good memory for details, so they can talk confidently and naturally about the deceased.
If you’re interested in becoming a professional mourner, you could sign up with Envisage, which offers this service alongside other promotional and events work. Or companies like Rent A Crowd offer more general work boosting numbers at events such as PR stunts or store launches.
Professional mourners can expect to earn around £45 for a day’s work.
If you’ll happily queue through the night for the latest iPhone or the best Black Friday bargains, then you could turn your staying power into cash by offering your services as a professional queuer.
Also known as line-sitters, professional queuers offer to stand in line for a product or event for those who don’t want to queue for hours, or are unable to due to work or family commitments.
You’ll need to have plenty of patience and not mind standing around in all weathers. A sociable personality would also be a benefit, as chatting with fellow queuers will help to pass the time.
The idea of paying someone to queue in your place is relatively new in the UK, but start-up Bidvine has jumped on the growing trend. It provides an online service linking line-sitters with people who are looking for someone to take their place in a queue.
Customers can ask for bids from queuers around the country – bids are usually around £15 per hour, though queuers are free to quote whatever they like. Alternatively, you could find work by offering your services through social media or even by chatting to friends and acquaintances.
Around 20 million golf balls are lost in lakes and other water hazards on British golf courses every year, so a multi-million-pound industry has sprung up around retrieving them to sell second-hand.
Certified and insured divers can find work searching for golf balls underwater. They may work in teams or on their own, either for a company or independently.
As well as having the relevant diving qualifications and experience, golf ball divers need to be able to work in difficult conditions. Visibility is usually poor in these water hazards, with water thick with dirt and often polluted with fertilizer and pesticide.
Divers, or the company they work for, usually sign an exclusive contract with several golf courses, giving them the right to retrieve the balls. They will either offer a percentage of the balls they find to the golf course owners, or pay a fee for each ball. They can then sell on the rest of the balls.
A golf ball diver will generally earn around £15,000 per year.
Far from glamorous but always in demand, this job involves delivering and collecting portable toilets from festivals, construction sites, functions and private events, as well as cleaning and servicing the toilets.
Delivery drivers must hold a full clean driving licence and have experience driving a 3.5T vehicle. They will also need to be able to take on physically demanding work, operate simple software on a mobile device and have good customer service skills.
Benefits include flexible working hours and a job that takes you to lots of different places, with the opportunity to interact with a varied client base.
Salaries are typically around £20,000 per year.
While following a recognised career path might be the most straightforward way to pay the bills, pursuing unusual jobs that others may not even consider can turn out to be just as lucrative – and much more interesting.
These roles are often harder to come by, so you will likely have to do some hunting around on job sites and relevant forums and websites. Or you might decide to strike out on your own by working as a sole trader or setting up your own business.
But with initiative, hard work and a willingness to take some risks, these weird but wonderful jobs could earn you a healthy income – and provide you with some good dinner party stories too.
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