By Barbara Perone
A Jersey shore artist wants to hire a female Roller Derby model, sans clothing, to pose for him at $200 per hour. Now, that’s what you call an off-beat job!
And there are plenty more of them out there, like: Baby Wrangler, Chocolate Engineer, Cow Pedicurist, Director of Fun, Pet Psychic, Professional Clown, Whiskey Ambassador, or Ice Skating Coach, just to name a few.
Speaking of ice, glaciers move faster than the economic growth in New Jersey during this prolonged economic downturn. And that’s forcing job seekers to get creative by taking the skills they already possess and finding other kinds of suitable employment, even if it means working a non-traditional job that seems a bit unusual. Remember, this is still America, there’s no rule that says everyone has to work a 9-to-5 job, crammed into some tiny cubicle, until they get laid off, or retire, whichever comes first. Let’s examine a few of these out-of-the-ordinary occupations.
What’s a Baby Wrangler?
Just a cutesy term for a Baby Photographer. A bit of trivia: comedian Rodney Dangerfield played the part of a Baby Photographer in the hilariously funny 1983 movie Easy Money. Incidentally, when Dangerfield was 44 years old he got so disgusted with his dead-end salesman’s job he quit to pursue his life-long dream of becoming a standup nightclub comedian.
What’s a Chocolate Engineer?
A Chocolate Engineer gets involved in all phases of candy making, from product development to delivery to the store. These engineers are always taste testing (yum!) their products and concentrating on everything from flavor layering to how to keep the candy fresh from the time it’s made to the time it’s consumed. This is the kind of job a chocolate-loving, former Chemical Engineer might be well suited for.
What’s a Cow Pedicurist?
A Cow Pedicurist is actually a Professional Hoof Trimmer who typically travels throughout tiny towns, from one small farm to another He walks the cow onto a tilt table chute, straps the animal in firmly, secures its feet, then use a hoofing knife, special grinding tools, and finally, a buffing blade to smooth out all four hooves. Once he’s done, the trimmer checks the bovine creature for lameness, even looking between its toes (two on each foot) to remove corns or warts. Periodically, cows need pedicures because foot problems can be contagious and are the most common reason animals have to be removed from a herd. If you like being outdoors, and have had previous experience working with livestock, you might enjoy buffing a cow’s tootsies.
What’s a Director of Fun?
Sounds like a great job, doesn’t it? Just come up with recreational activities for employees. Maybe you could create a $50,000 cheesy version of a Star Trek episode and use the parody as a training video for a bunch IRS staffers attending a work-related conference … no, wait, that’s already been done.
As a Director of Fun all you have to do is make sure all the workers in your organization are having fun. If you worked for a resort hotel your job might entail taking workers to a golf course or to a local beach to catch some rays. You might have to organize a happy hour or ice cream social for employees, or make up fun games for them to play while working, like a scavenger hunt, and award a prize to the winner. How does a Director of Fun bear up under all that workplace pressure? It’s a tough gig, but somebody has to belly up to the bar – no wait – that’s the job of a Whiskey Ambassador!
What’s a Pet Psychic?
Does your dog jump around like a maniac whenever you turn on the electric can opener? Do you find your rugs and curtains torn to shreds by your four-legged friend each day when you return home from work? Does your cat flatten its ears and give you that icy stare/annoyed look, each time you furiously wave a fuzzy pet toy in front of its face? Does your furry critter hide under the bed at the first clap of thunder or when it sees you reaching for the pet carrier?
As a pet owner, you may think these are just your animal’s normal reactions to certain situations. But Pet Psychics, also known as animal communicators, believe owners (whom they call human companions) communicate telepathically with their pets all the time. These “pet whisperers” claim they can use their minds to talk to animals to find out how they are feeling and determine whether their master (or mistress) is doing something that bothers them.
For a fee, they will relay telepathic messages to-and-from pets, either directly, or, by using photographs of the animal. They can also help owners find a lost pet, try to curb a critter’s bad behavior, or, in rare cases, act as a medium to contact a dead pet’s spirit for a heart-broken owner who wants to know if his or her beloved animal is romping and playing in that giant backyard in the sky. If you have a degree in psychology, and love animals, this may be the perfect job for you, but, then, you already knew that … didn’t you?
What’s a Whiskey Ambassador?
A Whiskey Ambassador travels frequently to tasting events, across the county, and primarily promotes a particular brand of whiskey. He or she has to convince consumers, like bar owners & distributors, that the brand he or she is promoting is above the rest. A person who has either a sales or public relations background, and obviously likes the taste of good whiskey, might make an ideal candidate for this kind of work that allows, of all things, drinking on the job! If only future ambassadors could have had a sip out of that 64 year-old bottle of Macallan, considered the finest whiskey in the world after it sold for $460,000 at a Sotheby’s auction.
Benefits & drawbacks of non-traditional work
It’s up to you to decide whether you want to take non-conventional job and determine just how far off the beaten path you are willing to go to find employment. Whatever you decide, just be aware that these kind of positions come with certain advantages and some pitfalls.
The benefits — you won’t be pressured by a demanding boss or forced to work with unfriendly/back-stabbing co-workers and, often, you can work at your own pace with no strict deadlines to follow. The drawbacks — you might not be able to earn as much money as you did on your previous, more-traditional job & typically you won’t get any medical/dental benefits, and that’s a bummer, dude.
Learn more about unusual jobs
To learn more about the variety of non-traditional jobs out there, visit www.craigslist.com or www.oddjobnation.com or www.newsobserver.com or read The Off-the-Beaten-Path Job Book: You Can Make a Living and Have a Life!, written by Sandra Gurvis.
By Barbara Perone