26/7/2011UCA TOP TEN OFFBEAT JOBS * | Roberto Ruiz Salvatierra 1
TOP TEN OFFBEAT JOBS 201110 OFFBEAT AND EXCITING CAREERSI’ve been meaning to come up with a practical, handy list of some of my favorite offbeat careersfor some time now. While these lists exist just about everywhere it seems, mine has a specialemphasis on avoidance of certain elements like standard work hours, confinement to onelocation and restriction to one function. Many of these careers are also self-directive, meaningthat you are mostly working for yourself in the end.There are a few categories I have included at the end of each career, which I give a rankingfrom 1-5 stars (1 being low, 5 being high, obviously.)1.Calligrapher.Do you have a steady hand, a creative disposition, a flair with words, or all of the above? If sothan consider a career as a calligrapher. Much of this career is spent making contacts, keepingyour clients up-to-date as to your availability, and refining your craft. Also, expect to spend a lotof time hunched over a desk working your magic with the pens. The perks of this offbeat careerare many: people will appreciate your art, you can set your own hours, work where you’d like,and set your own pay. You’ll be doing a valuable service for weddings, parties, (especiallyinvitations) funerals, and many other social functions.Calligraphers are also usually in demand. I should know. I am a Calligrapher and have been doingit for over 10 years!
TOP TEN OFFBEAT JOBS 2011Pay – Self-employed Calligraphers’ earnings are directly tied to the number and complexity ofprojects they take on. It’s tough to earn a full-time living (but it can be done with a lot of work.)Expect $15,000 to $40,000 per year working full time and with solid contacts. It’s difficult tofathom a calligrapher earning more than $50,000 to about $70,000 per year. Perhaps the bestof the best make more than this, but it’s extremely uncommon.2. Social Dance InstructorThis is a career for those who love to move,don’t mind getting close and personal with membersof the opposite sex and have great teaching abilities. It definitely takes a fair amount of time toget good enough to become an instructor. While you don’t need to be a member of theInternational DanceSport Federation, it helps to have at least 2-4 years of dancing experience,preferably more. There are plenty of styles to choose from, such as latin, swing, ballroom ortango.Believe it or not, I also teach swing dance to beginners and have been dancing for 7 years!Pay – Only the best of the best get paid well enough to “go pro.” Most dancers who teach do sobecause they enjoy it. It’s a good side project though. Highly-regarded dance instructorscommand up to $150 per hour for a private lesson. Usually an instructor will ask for a good dealless than this, and most struggle to make rent if they do it full time without another stream ofincome. It’s possible to open a studio and turn it into a profitable business, but this takes time.
TOP TEN OFFBEAT JOBS 20113. PhotographerThere are actually many levels and variations within this profession. Some photographers workfor a company or magazine (more than likely, more than a few) while others are totallyfreelance, selling their works as art and exhibiting their creations at various media fairs. Youneed to have a lot of patience with this career. Don’t kid yourself, it’s a difficult way to make aliving, and it’s hard work. But the rewards are worth it. You can pretty much work when and howyou’d like, and you get to spend time outdoors. Also check out the world of microstockphotography. Even an amateur photographer can make a quick buck or two through sites likefeaturepics and istockphoto. These sites (and others like them) provide a way to upload yourimages and make money when others download them.Pay – This varies considerably for this profession. I’ve heard a few stories of stockphotographers earning a livable income but they have thousands of photos online. Professionalphotographers struggle from time to time depending on the varying demand for their work.There is potential to make quite a bit, especially if the photographer is well established in acertain market (such as a wedding-photographer in a mid-sized city.)
TOP TEN OFFBEAT JOBS 20114. PsychicBefore I launch into a description of this career, let me tell you that 41% of those whoresponded to a 2005 gallup poll believe in ESP, so there clearly is a market here. Doingastrology charts for people isn’t just a fringe phenomenon! If you are great at convincing peoplethat you are speaking with their dead relatives, predicting their future, or you can at leastunderstand Tarot cards, you have a shot at this endeavor. Obviously many psychics are frauds,so you’ll want to work on convincing people that you really can see beyond the world in front ofus and into the 8th dimension. You need people skills, big time.Pay – I have seen some successful psychics charge $45-$60 per session. Add this up to full-time and you are talking $70,000-100,000 or more per year! That’s more than many entry-levelchemical engineers make. So much for science, I guess.5. Undercover DetectiveIf, instead of taking advantage of people’s trust, you wish to gain their trust, consider thiscareer. An obvious requisite here is to have been either on the police force or worked for thegovernment. While it certainly is an exciting and adventurous career, it’s also potentiallydangerous. Detectives often deal with criminals, drug lords and other folks who skirt the law.These crime-fighters have to be able to think on their feet and keep their cool. This pagedescribes an undercover detective’s life pretty well. This a challenging career, but will certainlybe exciting!
TOP TEN OFFBEAT JOBS 2011Pay – Seems to be in the $60,000-$90,000 range depending on location. Obviously, the longerand more established a detective will earn more than one that’s been doing it for a few years.6. Industrial/Organizational ConsultantThis is a growing field that few people really seem to know much about. Basically the role of anI/O Consultant (or I/O Psychologist) is to get to the root of the problems of various workplacesaround the country (and sometimes the worldThey will usually sort through the issues that the HR department is having trouble picking outand issue a report to the owner of the company detailing where the problems are and who (ifanyone) should be fired and/or promoted. Like a Psychologist, their clients choose theirservices and the I/O consultant will try and fix the problem.Pay – An I/O Consultant who opens a successful practice in a great market can become amillionaire fairly quickly. This is a profitable business, but, like anything that commands highearnings, it requires hard work, a good amount of education, and being in the right place at theright time.7. CartoonistIf you love to draw, have great sense of humor, and loved to goof off in class back in high school,maybe you should consider this interesting career.
TOP TEN OFFBEAT JOBS 2011If you think about it, there are really very few “super-comic strips” that made their authorsimmortal. “Peanuts”, “Calvin and Hobbes”, “Garfield”, and “The Far Side” are some of the bigones, but for each of those there are hundreds more that spend a short time in syndication andare forgotten. It’s a tough career to break in to – many would be cartoonists submit and submitendlessly to papers in magazines hoping (often in vain) to be discovered. But if they make it, it’sa very rewarding feeling to see others laughing at their creations. Pay Level – Let’s be honesthere: only cartoonists who are published in quite a few papers and have some degree ofprominence on the market can make a real living from doing this. (Though the advent of the self-publishing online has created some sensations like xkcd.) There is a large curve here, as themost successful cartoonists can do very well. Bill Watterson, creator of Calvin and Hobbes,actually refused to sell out and licence his characters, something that could have earned himquite a bit more. For him, his creation as a work of art was more important.8. LocksmithThis is a great career for someone who wants to open their own business and help people inneed. The long-term career outlook for locksmiths is fantastic. As long as there are places wedon’t want others to go, and things we want potential thieves to keep their grubby mitts from,we’ll have need for locksmiths. It’s possible that with changing technology, there will be somecrossover between a locksmith and a computer hacker! (Ok, so that isn’t really a career!) Whilebecoming a locksmith requires some training, it isn’t too difficult to break into this relativelyunknown field.
TOP TEN OFFBEAT JOBS 2011Pay – The average locksmith makes around $31,000 per year. If you open your own practice,you will make more and can have others undo the locks for you.9. Professional GamblerYou won’t find this career in many books. It’s exciting, illicit, and romantic as much as it isdifficult, tedious and time-consuming. Just like any other job you have to be willing to learn,work hard, and (more than many other jobs) cut your losses.It’s not easy to make it is a professional gambler either. Many try, most fail. However, the oneswho do succeed spend many hours online or in often unhappy casinos counting cards, countingearnings and trying hard not to go on tilt (let losing get to them and make bad decisions.) Youhave to be very emotionally strong and learn not to give anything away, especially with poker.Oh, and you also have to track your earnings and pay taxes on everything you make!Pay – Varies enormously. If you win a major tournament you can become a millionaire andretire. But this doesn’t necessarily qualify you as a “professional gambler.” Usually it’s difficultjust to make ends meet and you can expect to live a very menial existence while you learn theropes.
TOP TEN OFFBEAT JOBS 201110. Funeral DirectorIf there ever was a career that would frighten away all but the most strong of heart, this mightbe it. One common misconception is that any career involving the dead requires that oneactually physically handle the dead. In reality, a funeral director may only deal with the planningof funerals. Of course, the higher paying positions in this career tend to involve embalming andpreparation of the body. Anyone can clean out caskets and prepare a lobby for guests. It is not acompetitive career, but one thing is for certain: unless the mortality rate dips below it’s currentstanding at 100%, there will always be plenty of openings.Pay – The average salary ranges a bit, but generally is in the $50,000-$60,000 per year range.Notbad at all. Beatsmost office jobs.