Top 10 Fun Jobs
The average person changes jobs 12 times over the course of their career. Some of these job changes are linear progressions up the corporate ladder, from junior-level positions to senior management, all within the same industry. But some involve taking a leap to a whole new career.
There are all kinds of reasons to change careers. Maybe things have changed in your personal life, and parts of your job no longer fit with your lifestyle – the late nights and long road trips that seemed fine years ago are now a drain on your work-life balance. Maybe you’re burned out and need something new to reignite your passion for your work.
Or maybe you’re just not having fun anymore.
If that’s the case, perhaps you’ll find inspiration in these fun jobs. They’re a far cry from the usual office job or food service gig. And while their occupational outlook isn’t going to set any records at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, they are a good reminder that careers don’t have to move from Point A to Point B to Point C. Maybe your next position will be similar to one of these dream jobs:
Top 10 Fun Jobs
Caretaker of a Private Island
Who says you can’t make a living at a fun job? A few years ago, Queensland Tourism ran a global search to fill the position of caretaker of Australia’s Hamilton Island, part of the Great Barrier Reef. The winner received $150,000 and a rent-free home with a pool and a view of Whitsunday Islands. Responsibilities included keeping a blog, as well as being willing to “swim, snorkel, make friends with locals and generally enjoy the tropical Queensland climate and lifestyle.”
But it wasn’t all fun and games, said the winner, Ben Southall, described by NZ Herald as a “bungee jumping, ostrich-riding British charity worker.”
“It was the best job in the world but also the busiest job in the world,” he told The Independent. “I remember there was a winner’s party on Hamilton Island, but I didn’t manage to get to it because I was doing back-to-back interviews.”
During his tenure, he posted 47 video diaries, 60 blog posts, 1,500 tweets, and 2,000 photos.
More interested in caretaking and less interested in tweeting? Maybe this job will appeal. Lighthouse keepers maintain the physical structure of these historic buildings and sometimes run tours or manage tourist accommodations, depending on the job description. For example, in 2019, the company running East Brother Light Station on the San Francisco Bay sought a pair of caretakers to run the lighthouse and associated B&B. Pay: $130,000 for couple.
Panda nannying might be less lucrative than island caretaking, but it’s far more adorable. One such job, which was located at the China Giant Panda Protection and Research Center, paid 200,000 yuan ($32,000) and included free accommodations and the use of an SUV. It involved “one mission: spending 365 days with the pandas and sharing in their joys and sorrows,” said the organizers, club.sohu.com, according to China Daily.
Note that this particular job posting is a few years old, but panda nanny seems to be a thing now. So, if you don’t mind low pay and hard work – and you’re legally allowed to work in China – maybe there’s a panda cuddling gig on your professional horizon.
Like a sommelier, but for legal marijuana instead of fine wine, a budtender works in a dispensary and recommends strains to customers. USA Today says that it’s one of the fastest growing jobs in the legal cannabis industry – and considering how fast the industry itself is expanding, that’s really saying something. As more states legalize medical and recreational cannabis, look for demand for this job to skyrocket. So, if you know your strains and have excellent customer service skills, this is one fun job that doesn’t have to stay a pipe dream. (Sorry. We are so sorry.)
Ghost Tour Guide
If you wish every day were Halloween and have the storytelling skills to keep an audience spellbound, maybe a new career as a ghost tour guide is calling you. This is especially true if you live in an area that’s proud of its haunted history, like Williamsburg, Virginia or Savannah, Georgia. These jobs don’t tend to pay a lot – $10 to $15 an hour, plus tips, seems to be the range – but you can’t put a price on the experience of scaring tourists half to death with your spooky knowledge.
Do most of these fun jobs make you feel tired? Maybe you’re more cut out for work you can do while lying down. Some luxury mattress companies, stores, and hotel chains hire sleep testers to try out their products. Many of these positions are temp gigs with a publicity angle, but a few lucky souls get to lie down on the job full-time. For example, back in 2006, Travelodge hired Wayne Munnelly as its “Director of Sleep” for £60,000 per year.
Per The Caterer, Munnelly’s job involved “testing mattress tension and pillow density, as well as writing a 20-point ‘dream plan’ that every guest can follow to get a good night’s sleep.”
It sounds like a job a kid would make up, alongside unicorn wrangler or Minecraft tester, but ice cream flavor inventor is a real job … and it sounds really awesome.
“I have the best job in the whole world,” said Eric Fredette, a Ben & Jerry’s Flavor Guru, in an episode of Thrillist’s series “Job Goals.”
Fredette’s job involves coming up with new flavors and then testing and refining them. He’s personally responsible for flavors like Peanut Butter Half-Baked, Brownie Batter Core, and Chocolate Therapy.
“I go to the grocery store, and I look at the freezer case, and I go that one’s mine, that one’s mine, that one’s mine,” he told Thrillist.
Sarah Fidler, another Ben & Jerry’s Flavor Guru, told Marketplace, “We actually have a few chefs that don’t have a science background on the team and some people who have really strong chemistry or flavor backgrounds. We all balance each other out really well and learn from each other’s strengths.”
Hot Air Balloon Pilot
Want to soar over the landscape in a lighter-than-air balloon – and get paid doing it? Hot air balloon pilots can make a good living taking thrill-seekers on a tour of the clouds.
A rare fun job with strict educational requirements, hot air balloon pilots must be certified by the FAA. Per Job Monkey, would-be pilots must “be 18 years old, log 35 hours of flight time as a pilot, 20 hours of flight time in balloons, 6 hours of flight time with an instructor, 2 solo flights, 2 flights over 1 hour, and 1 flight that rises over 5,000 vertical feet.” Salaries range from $30,000 to $100,000 a year, according to their data.
If you fell in love with “The Little Mermaid” as a kid … and had no idea why Ariel would trade in fins for a prince … you’ll be thrilled to know that you can earn a living as a professional mermaid.
Mermaids work everywhere from waterparks to bars to children’s birthday parties. Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, a 70-year-old attraction in Florida, typically keeps about 20 mermaids on staff. But regardless of where they work, mermaids have a tough job.
“It’s really hard, which is something I don’t think people fully understand, because we want it to look so effortless,” Rachel Smith, head mermaid at Sacramento’s Dive Bar, told Fast Company. “Our legs are tied together, the fish are running into us, and it’s dark. Our tails can weigh up to 35 pounds, but the saltwater makes us float, so we have another five to 10 pounds strapped between our legs; the movement is all from your core, so your abs are really working as you go through the tank.”
Back in 2015, MUTTS Canine Cantina in Fort Worth, Texas offered $100 an hour to a lucky “puptern,” whose job it would be to pet puppies.
“[We] wanted to introduce them to MUTTS concept and have a great time while doing so, and because of this, the idea of the puptern internship was born,” Kyle Noonan, co-founder of MUTTS, told The Dodo. “In this role, the puptern will greet MUTTS members with a friendly face, while offering to play and pet with their dogs — that’s it.”
Jobs like that don’t come around every day, of course. But the fact that they exist at all gives would-be dog cuddlers reasons to keep an eye out. You never know when the next fun job will pop up on social media or the local news, leading you to your awesome new gig.