Need job. Need fun job.
January 22, 2008 10:05 AM   Subscribe

[grownupfilter] What is the most unique job you've ever heard of - the one that made you say, "Damn, if I wasn't 5 years away from retiring, I'd TOTALLY do _________!"

It's time I growed up a little. Since I've spent my entire working career to date in stupid, boring environments that do not encourage growth of any kind, I now want a fun (and "different") career that is going to last me for the next 10 to 20 years and beyond. Give me your suggestions for great, fun, crazy careers.

My current job: so boring and lackluster that I get my tasks done in 10 minutes and spend the next few hours staring at my desk, as email and internet are strictly forbidden - like as in, I got screamed at on my first day for launching Outlook to see if I had a work email. So I stare or write until I'm given another task. Lather, rinse, repeat.

The rules are: a) you're not pulling it out of your ass - it's a REAL job (or field, at least) that I can find information on and b) you have some sort of reference ("my aunt's friend does this" or "I saw a doc on A&E about this very job!"). It's ok if schooling is needed - I'm currently looking at local and online classes to take in my spare time.

Oh, and fast food, cocktail waitressing, stripping, web design, freelance writing, modeling, blackjack dealing and internet porn star are all out. I've already done those. =)

Now, if you'll excuse me, my lunch break is over and I have to go back to staring at a desk for the remainder of my day work.
posted by damnjezebel to Work & Money (66 answers total) 134 users marked this as a favorite
I've decided that for my next job, I am going to work at a doggie day care. There's one near my office with big windows, and I'm always jealous of the people I see working there- sitting on the ground, playing with 10-15 puppies.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:12 AM on January 22, 2008 [8 favorites]

I knew someone who's parents were linguists. They would go live in areas where the people spoke a language that had no written form. They would live with them, learn the language, and then create a written form of the language. Frankly, that sounded awesome to me. It combines so many great things: linguistics, exotic lifestyles, travel, etc. I want that job so much it hurts.
posted by milarepa at 10:14 AM on January 22, 2008 [5 favorites]

It sounds to me like any job you find might be an improvement, even if you closed your eyes and picked from a list.

There's a book called Gigs (or maybe Gig.) It's a big yellow book, but I can't find it at the moment to give you specifics on tracking it down. They just go around and interview random people about their jobs, and it's way more interesting than I'd have expected. The jobs run the gamut from prostitute to highly-educated, highly-paid jobs.
posted by fogster at 10:14 AM on January 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

@fogster... Studs Terkel did a similar book called Working. Its a little dated but Studs is good people.

How about long haul truck driver? I bet that could be interesting for a while. You could do it semi-part time, make pretty good money and listen to lots and lots of books on tape. Plus, you could wear a trucker hat guilt free.
posted by ian1977 at 10:18 AM on January 22, 2008

Epidemic Intelligence Service at the CDC
posted by tiburon at 10:22 AM on January 22, 2008

i want to be a restaurant critic on an ample expense account.
posted by bruce at 10:22 AM on January 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm highly envious of the people that work at the Seattle Aquarium and Woodland Park Zoo. I'd happily shovel elephant shit and make herring meatballs if I had the time and money.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:29 AM on January 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Seriously though.. for some reason I always thought it would be fun to be a helicopter pilot. I've never even been in one but it has always interested me. I'd imagine the pay isn't too bad either.

Move to Vegas and get a job at one of the helicopter tour places.. spend your days flying around the Grand Canyon.
posted by MarkLark at 10:35 AM on January 22, 2008

My "if I was 18 again" job plan would be: major in Industrial Design instead of Graphic Design, and take night classes in cosmetology, then hitch a ride to Hollywood and apprentice in an F/X makeup studio.
posted by foxydot at 10:40 AM on January 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

Guy in a tree. A few months ago, one of the trees outside my office window was pruned. There was a guy hanging out in the tree with a chainsaw. The chainsaw had some sort of really fast brake, because whenever he wanted his hands free, he dropped the chainsaw to let it dangle from a line on his belt, and never seemed to be the least bit worried about it tearing a gash in his leg or anything. I spent that entire day remembering how cool it was to climb trees when I was a kid, and wishing that I was 18 again so I could say "Screw college. I'm going to be a guy in a tree."
posted by happyturtle at 10:51 AM on January 22, 2008 [3 favorites]

For me it would be a bar pilot.
posted by mrleec at 10:52 AM on January 22, 2008

ones i have been interested in and looked at closely:

-Anything scubadiving, from dive master to underwater welder
-Freelance photographer, it would be pretty sweet to travel the world for National Geo
-Humanitarian work (if money is not an issue), geek corps, peace corp, habitat, etc.
-Microbrewery owner or brew master
-NOAA officer/engineer
-Surfboard shaper

I have actually pursued dive master and now have the connections to become one when i want. Basically, what i am saying is start trying things out and see how you like it.
posted by Black_Umbrella at 10:52 AM on January 22, 2008

Master Carpenter / Furniture Maker. Of course this is exactly the type of thing you could really get into 5 years before and well after retirement.
posted by sanka at 10:55 AM on January 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

MarkLark: I used to commute with just such a helicopter pilot - he used to do the grand canyon tours. He liked it a lot - I think he only left to be closer to his wife's family.

Journalism is pretty merit based - every journalist I've ever known had to work their way up from the bottom, learning as they went. Personally, I'd love to write for WIRED or a similar techy publication (like MeFi's Own digaman).
posted by phrontist at 10:57 AM on January 22, 2008

happyturtle: My dad was a "tree surgeon" in college, and still reminesces about how great a job it was.
posted by phrontist at 10:58 AM on January 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

If I had my druthers, I'd be working as an instructor for NOLS, the National Outdoor Leadership School. They get to lead week- to semester-long trips in the wilderness. Or maybe I'd work for the associated Wilderness Medicine Institute teaching wilderness first aid. The instructors for my WFA course seemed to be having a TON of fun setting up and acting out emergencies, and every day they get to go home knowing that they taught a room full of people how to save lives. Pretty sweet.
posted by vytae at 11:01 AM on January 22, 2008

Oh, and I have friends who train animals for the educational shows at zoos. The job sounds awesome, but the work is seasonal and it's tough to get a permanent position. For now they seem to like moving to a new city every summer, but I figure that lifestyle would be hard to maintain if you wanted to settle down at all. Still, they get to hang out with some amazing animals.
posted by vytae at 11:05 AM on January 22, 2008

One of my best friends is executive assistant at a local robotics lab (I've freelanced there once or twice working on their site copy myself). They decided to make a "robot" version of her and are currently molding the face and miniature body so she'll have an android doppelganger.

They are also incorporating her vocabulary and personality into it.

So yeah, building robots would be my dream job, but I'm not very artistic and a crap programmer, unfortunately.

Hanson robotics and more about them developing "Robokind" here: Zeno's World. Zeno is David Hanson's 2-year-old son, by the way, and he looks VERY much like the Zeno-bot.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 11:18 AM on January 22, 2008

Person who works on those huge fireworks displays
Librarian on a cruise ship
Career counselor in a university
Ice cream man
posted by unknowncommand at 11:22 AM on January 22, 2008

Friend of a friend was the honeymoon editor for either Bride's or Modern Bride. She spent her days traveling around to tropical islands being put up at fancy resorts.
posted by GaelFC at 11:24 AM on January 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

I think it's perfectly obvious that Ira Glass has the world's best job as host of This American Life, but I also wouldn't mind traveling the world in search of its best food a la Mark Bittman or Anthony Bourdain.
posted by Enroute at 11:26 AM on January 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


One f my best friends sort of fell into doing this, and loves it. Amusement parks around the country will have stunt shows, and you just need to get hired by one of them, and they'll train you. From there, you can move into film or anything else you want to do with it.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:30 AM on January 22, 2008

Not an easy way to make aliving but it's hard to beat building guitars.
posted by sully75 at 11:32 AM on January 22, 2008

Thanks for the great ideas (wait, I'm not the OP)!

I've decided that when I retire I'm going to teach French.
posted by JimN2TAW at 11:34 AM on January 22, 2008


Yes! I was recently approached to be a client-actor for a vet school! It only pays $16 an hour and is part-time, but it sounds like so much fun that I'm going to try to make time to do it. You pretend to be a distraught pet owner so the vet students can practice their bedside manner on you.
posted by Enroute at 11:37 AM on January 22, 2008

Archaeologist! Oh wait, I am an archaeologist. Darnit.

In that case, demolitions expert. I think the coolest job in the entire world would be blowing stuff up every day. It would be like being 12 years old forever .... only smarter.
posted by elendil71 at 11:39 AM on January 22, 2008

A friend of a friend is spending six months working in tech support at McMurdo station in the antarctic. They apparently hire seasonal temporary support staff pretty frequently. Not sure that would be a good career, but it would be a hell of an experience.

Here are some links.
posted by dersins at 11:56 AM on January 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

Theatre director. It's sort of my job already, except it doesn't pay (so I have a "day job"), but that's because of certain contrarian choices I've made. I refuse to direct anything "commercial." However, you don't have to be that "pure" to make directing a unique, challenging career.

Each play (if you choose it to be) is wildly different from the last one. I'm currently directing a play set in 18th-century Australia; but earlier this year, I directed a play set in 19th-century England and another set in 20th-century America. I'm directed plays set in Ancient Greece, Scandinavia, Russia, etc.

For each one, I have to research the text, time, place and many other things. I have to learn how to work well with people (e.g. coach actors); I have to learn how to compose scenes like a painter. Because I also produce, I have to learn about finances, publicity and advertising.

Every few months, I start over. There's only so much I can carry from job to job. It feels as if I have a different career several times a year.
posted by grumblebee at 11:57 AM on January 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

My best job ever was as a sales assistant (fancy way of saying lot jockey) for a Porsche dealership. Full time in the summer and part time through a year of school.
All I did was take care of new Porsches, from keeping them sparkling clean on the lot, keeping demos full of gas, to delivering new cars to customers' homes and picking up VIP customers from the airport in their own sportscar. I got to drive all my dream cars, from almost every Porsche made in the last 20 years (except for: GT1, 996 GT3RS, Carerra GT, and 959) to Ferraris, Aston Martins, Lambos, and so on. Our employee "activity" day for a solid year's performance was the owner of the store renting out a local race track for the day along with race driving instructors, and giving us a day of race instruction in Porsches, skid-pad, and slalom through pylons.

It was the greatest job I'll probably ever have, it paid very very little, but I could have cared less. If I didn't have to pay rent, I'd still be doing that job.

Now I sit behind a desk and miss sitting in bucket sport seats.
posted by smitt at 12:00 PM on January 22, 2008

I knew a professional volleyball player once. Year in, year out, she toured the southern coasts of Mexico and South America, making about $40,000 a year and coming back to the US periodically when she got bored.

Personally, I'd like to take the Foreign Service Exam.
posted by koeselitz at 12:07 PM on January 22, 2008

I also knew someone who worked at McMurdo Station. I forget exactly what she did there, but I do know that she didn't have any specialized skills--she worked as a waitress in real life, and I'm not even sure if she finished high school. So it seems that this is an experience available to people from all walks of life.
posted by Enroute at 12:09 PM on January 22, 2008

Open a used book store
posted by fermezporte at 12:27 PM on January 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

I've dabbled at a couple, and there certainly are professionals in these fields, but for me they're best left as hobby-jobs.**

Musician -- can be very fulfilling, but tough to make a living. Most of 'em I know are unable to support themselves. The most successful professional musician I know (national recording artist, millionaire) even says he wouldn't do it over again.

Race car driver -- again, tough to make money at. It's often said that you can make a small fortune racing, provided you start with a large one.

** My current strategy is money-job by day, hobby-job by night. Works well enough for now.

I was recently approached to be a client-actor for a vet school!

Until I read the explanation, I was picturing a job where you go "MEOW! MEOW! MEOWWWW!!!!" and the vet tries to figure out what's wrong with you....

posted by LordSludge at 12:30 PM on January 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

Damn, I'd TOTALLY do sound design.

A couple of years ago I saw a documentary about Christopher Boyes, Michael Semanick, Michael Hedges and Hammond Peek - the team that among other things won an Academy Award for "Lord Of The Rings" - and it just seemed like such a wonderful thing to do. I love the job I got now, but sometimes I actually daydream about being a sound designer. I picture myself out in an open field surrounded by high tech gear and co-workers, saying stuff like "ladies and gentlemen, that didn't sound right, but let's see what happens if I inflate this balloon and drop a ripe pear onto it, that'll probably work".

That, or field recording. For many of the same reasons milarepa stated above, but I'd be very happy just sitting in the parking garage next door to me, trying to capture the ambience.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 12:38 PM on January 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

Certainly not a career but for a while I drove the beverage cart for a swanky golf club.
I worked 3 days a week (never weekends because more working guys golfed weekends) and some days I made almost a thousand bucks.
I was out in the fresh air meeting celebs and half the time parking my cart in near a pond feeding the fish or birds or watching deer or fox or ground hogs.

Good gig.
posted by beccaj at 12:45 PM on January 22, 2008

Master Carpenter / Furniture Maker.

That was my first thought too, especially the furniture maker part. I have an aunt who did this and she loved it. Another person I know turned his hobby of woodworking into publishing a magazine about it. He made more money than my aunt and he still has time to play in his shop.

Also, aside from not getting paid to work with wood, Mathowie has the most incredible job.
posted by caddis at 12:57 PM on January 22, 2008

ice cream flavor developer/taste tester. i know this job exists because in 5th grade i had to do a presentation on "what you want to be when you grow up," for career day. i called a bunch of ice cream companies and they all directed me to the vm of people who fulfill this job function. none of them called me back.

sculptor, travel show host, and international relief work all sound like dream jobs to me too.
posted by flaneuse at 1:02 PM on January 22, 2008

My father works as a towboat captain and has for more than 30 years. He really likes his job. I doubt he would describe it as interesting, but mainly because he's been doing it so long that it's just second nature to him. It's always seemed like something very "different" to me, and it's something you might enjoy. The only issue is that obviously you're not going to start as a captain. You'll have to start working on a boat as a lowly deckhand and then get some certifications and licenses before you can actually pilot one of these things.

Just a thought.
posted by joshrholloway at 1:14 PM on January 22, 2008

I'm really surprised no one mentioned the Peace Corps or being a Missionary.

My wife's great aunt and her husband "retired" in their 50s and joined the corps. They traveled all over Africa and Alaska setting up irrigation systems. She worked 30 years as a phone operator and he was an engineer before that. I don't know what skills you have but you can always teach English as a foreign language.

Sorry if someone did mention this and I missed it.
posted by thewalrusispaul at 1:30 PM on January 22, 2008

Movie critic. Paid to watch films. mmmmm
Restaurant critic - paid to eat in restaurants - MMMMM
HiFi critic - paid to listen to the finest equipment - cool
Meta critic - the pay is lousy, but there are thousands in the job
posted by caddis at 1:40 PM on January 22, 2008

I quit my job last summer to pursue a life as a starving artist. I'm semi-supporting myself by selling art, antiques and collectibles, and I had saved up a big chunk of money to give me a start from jobs where I had been mired in management and spent 80% of my time doing work, commuting, thinking about work, meeting about work, and worrying about work. I am a billion times happier now. I had a plan, though, to get where I want to go. My pre-management job fed my soul to a somewhat satisfying extent (I was a UI Designer/Architect - I'm creative, a puzzle solver, person-focused, information-centric, adaptable, very invested in what I do, and interested in how things/people work), but management killed any desire to go back to "just" being a designer. I had to make a change, and so I started planning and figuring out what I wanted to do.

I tried to write a great American novel, and then I tried to write a cruddy American novel (on the theory that they get published more easily). I thought about going to Hollywood and applying my bizarre story making skills to soap operas (Imagine if someone's Evil Twin turned out to have an even more evil twin!), but those jobs are hard to get if you are some random person with a mid-life crisis and no actual fiction or tv experience or talent for the job. I thought about becoming the new voiceover host on Turner Classic Movies in the mornings, but it turns out the person who currently has that job likes it. Go figure. All along I was finding fabulous old stuff a ridiculous prices, and I kept thinking, "Geez - I could sell that for a lot more." Finally I thought, why don't I? So, I started investigating my options, figuring out venues, and trying the idea out.

Honestly - I haven't regretted it for a moment. I'm a much happier person now, and I haven't once asked anyone for their TPS report. It's a great life - part creative, part treasure hunt. Once you figure out what you want to do, make a plan to get there, and do it. Life is too short to have a theme song of "I hate my job I hate my job" running through your head 24/7.
posted by julen at 2:08 PM on January 22, 2008 [5 favorites]

In a previous life I worked in antique architectural salvage. I really loved it. We would salvage old building parts and sell them. Everything from large columns and mantles to window latches and door hardware from the 19th Century. I loved looking through old dusty parts and putting them back in working order. We got to hear great weird stories about old places all over the place. All sorts of odd people came into that store. I was a member of the Antique Doorknob Collector's of America. I went to preservation conferences. I wore overalls. Not much money but sure was fun for a while. I imagine an old independent hardware store could have a similar quirkiness.

There's an American guy in Italy who rents bikes to tourist and takes them on a tour of the Tuscan countryside. That was fun. And that must be a nice day of work for him as well. We stopped at a winery and for gelato.
posted by dog food sugar at 2:31 PM on January 22, 2008 [4 favorites]

There's an interesting job in the meetings/events field called "Travel Director" where you travel to the location of a meeting or (and this is better) incentive trip to help with the logistics and customer service. You are put up in a nice hotel (usually) and you work hard (often 12 hours each day). But you are working in Costa Rica or Paris (or Dallas, or Detroit) and often you'll get to babysit a nice tour that the group is doing or some other activity that lets you get out of the hotel for a smidge. Maritz out of St. Louis needs a bunch and pays them very little, but after maybe 2 years you can go freelance and charge $350 a day or so, plus expenses.

I often hear of linguists who get to create the fake languages for movies or TV shows. That sounds so cool.

I have a friend who has always been the biggest fan of pop culture, soap operas, etc. She works on a ET-style TV show and will be assigned the "Rick Springfield beat" or something like that.

I think being a forensic accountant would be awesome.

I also think it's good to pick a job that pays ok that you can do anywhere (like work in hotel management) so then you aren't tied to your current location. In some fields, you can choose to live wherever you want, maybe even anywhere in the world, and get a job.
posted by Mozzie at 2:49 PM on January 22, 2008

- Buy a bunch of jet-skis. Set up next to the body of water of your choosing. Rent the jet-skis out and work on your tan.
- Being an ESL teacher in a foreign country can be pretty fun. I did it in Spain. A few hours a week talking to professionals from varied backgrounds put enough money in my pocket to pay the rent and buy ample supplies of wine and cheese.
- Open up a campground somewhere beautiful or become the caretaker of an existing one. In the same vein, become a park ranger. (Bonus for the cool pants and hat!)
- Open up a hostel with a bar/cafe in it.
- Become a sailboat captain or sailing instructor, river rafting guide or flight instructor.
- Also, seconding the scuba-related professions. I once saw an article, I believe in Nat'l. Geo., about abalone divers. They make bank, live in tropical locales and don't even have to work that much.
- Lastly, start a microfinance institution. It doesn't take much capital and you can choose any place in the developing world with a supportive regulatory environment. It worked for this guy.
posted by HE Amb. T. S. L. DuVal at 2:57 PM on January 22, 2008 [2 favorites]

I always fantasized about being one of those water theme park designers. I thought this was a kind of a dream (*ack* "pipe" dream) until I saw a Nat Geo special on water parks.

Yah, hot weather, cool water, a little engineering....maybe a test drive or two....

I suspect that the work is rather sporadic though, as this is something that gets done when the economy is good.
posted by fox_terrier_guy at 3:27 PM on January 22, 2008

I read an article once by a guy who spent some time working in a training camp for the FBI or some sort of police force. His job was to be the bad guy. The camp was set up like a fake town -- houses, shops -- and they'd get different scenarios and act them out; he would try to outsmart the trainees, coming up with devious ways to get the drop on them.

He told one story about being "arrested" and the trainee was flustered and frisked one leg twice -- missing the "gun" he had on his other leg. In the "interrogation room" he said, "that's an ironic painting to have in here" -- and the trainee actually took the bait, turning to look behind them -- there was no painting, of course, but the guy was able to pull out his "gun" and shoot the trainee.

He said he quit because he was starting to get "too into" being the bad guy.

Anyway, I think it sounds awesome.
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 3:43 PM on January 22, 2008 [7 favorites]

I love that scene in ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND where they talk about naming products for a living. I do that. I am still amazed that people pay me to do it. It is fun. I use my brain and reference books and the internet all day and I never work on a project long enough to get sick of a client. Potato chips one day, computer chips the next.

My dog walker used to work as a project manager or something. She decided she liking walking dogs. So she started walking dogs. Her partner just recently joined the dogwalker business because they've been so successful.

Growing up, my dad did special effects prosthetics and pyrotechnics for small budget movies, photography props and music videos. He had to rebuild the Jeopardy! set for Weird Al's "I lost on Jeopardy!", put an iguana on a spit for Wall of Voodoo's "Mexican Radio" and glaze a naked woman to look like a ham for Hustler Humor. I believe they called him an art director. Or a props guy. Or something.

My mom was a costumer for soap operas and sitcoms. She started out because she could sew, but really, all she did was shop all day - put together outfits. "The Ropers" were all her fault. Not my dream job, but for someone who liked to shop and dress people, she had a fantastic time doing it. (She also made costumes for drag shows, but that required a lot of sewing.)
posted by Gucky at 3:56 PM on January 22, 2008 [12 favorites]

A FOAF has a job inspecting organic farms for a high-end supermarket. Said farms are often in Europe or other foreign countries, so he gets to travel there and verify that the lambs (or whatever) are raised in accordance with the supermarket's definition of organic. He doesn't have any specific farm-inspecting training as far as I know, but in previous lives he was a chef and ran a ranch.
posted by magicbus at 4:48 PM on January 22, 2008

Start a vineyard. My friends father has done this and he is more content than a cat splayed out in the sun. Of course this takes a wild amount of money.
posted by pwally at 6:01 PM on January 22, 2008

I'm into food, so off the top of my head, I'd say artisanal cheesemaker or perhaps working in some sort of test kitchen, for a cooking magazine for instance.
posted by missuswayne at 6:03 PM on January 22, 2008

My daughter worked for a few months last year for a civilian contractor who was tasked with training Iraqi police recruits (yes, right here in the middle of Kansas). The employees acted out "crowd scenarios" that the police might encounter back home. She had to wear a head scarf and pretend to be an Iraqi woman. She was not allowed to speak to, or even to really make eye contact with, the trainees. I thought it sounded like a very interesting job, but she said it was boring.
posted by amyms at 6:09 PM on January 22, 2008

I worked at a large zoo in a major city and people often told me I had the coolest job ever. I did.

Half my job was editing (great, since it's something I really enjoyed and excelled in, and yes, Mom, I really did use my "useless" English degree) and the other half of my job was handling the travel department.

So I spent half the year either checking out exotic places to make sure it was appropriate for our program (being treated like a VIP, free airfare, often upgraded to first or business class, staying in the most amazing, over the top places in surreal locations around the world) or leading trips going to the most amazing, over the top places in surreal locations around the world.

Not to mention that my office was in a zoo in a gorgeous setting. Some days I would be overseeing a photo shoot for the newest, cutest baby orangutan or standing knee deep in elephant crap or crawling through stinky aardvark tunnels.

I loved my job. Paid like crap but loved my job. Enough so that I was there for a decade. Oh, and I was in my early 20s when I first started and didn't have any other real responsibilities so I didn't give a shit.
posted by HeyAllie at 6:12 PM on January 22, 2008 [2 favorites]

It wouldn't be the thing for me personally, but In-Place Machining always seemed like a pretty interesting place to work.
posted by madmethods at 6:13 PM on January 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

One of my best friends is (or was, she's on hiatus now) a travel show host. She generally has fun with it, though that is largely dependent on the country she's in - some places she enjoys more than others. For her job, you need years of experience in the media industry; she was already a veteran by the time she got the job. It was for a big company though; smaller companies may give you a better chance. No specific qualifications needed.

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a teacher, fisherman, scientist, newswriter, writer in general, actor, singer. I've worked freelance as a web designer (I found that I actually enjoy the communication aspects more) and as a production assistant to a TV channel (tip: only go if the content of the channel is what you enjoy. Otherwise you'll get bored of celebrity and fashion VERY quickly, trust me).

I met someone here on Mefi whose job is to be a cultural diversity consultant. She works with a youth organization and develops ways for them to be more culturally diverse. Stuff like "make sure you have halal food for the Muslim members" and "here's some dates you might not want to organize events on as they're holy days". Awesome! She had a question about it on Mefi; if anyone remembers the question, post it up.

The people in BrainStore have a fun job: all they have to do is come up with ideas. They get to surf the Net/play with Playdoh/draw pictures/run around/be random and get paid for it. You can get hired as a freelancer worldwide (I just got hired as a NetScout) though the chances of getting work is higher if you're in Switzerland or Germany as that's where they're based.

Along the same lines - some sort of researcher, like what Google Answers used to have. I tried to get a job with one such agency that answers SMS questions, but didn't get it (I took too long crafting my answers into 153 characters, maybe). Professional AskMefi answerer. haha.

My ultimate dream job is to be part of road staff with Up with People, or some other similar youth/travel/education organization. You get to enjoy the trip and do fun and random things with a great bunch of people, and you get paid for it!

Other interesting jobs:

* Entrepreneur
* A consultant on "what I should do after school"
* Someone who gets paid to attend youth conferences
* Event manager
* Public speaker
* Artisan
* Designer
* Fanmail answerer (I actually do this for my TV host friend, but for sorta free)
* Reviewer of some kind (FREE BOOKS. PLEASE.)
posted by divabat at 6:18 PM on January 22, 2008 [5 favorites]

I was an office-bound exec and now I teach figure skating. (Well, still slightly office bound, but the figure skating is half my income).

Is there something that you love to do as hobby and are reasonably good at? (Sewing, cooking, drawing, gardening, hiking, birdwatching, whatever.) Teach it. Best job in the fuckin' world.

I started out as a volunteer, by the way, and worked my way up to getting placed on staff.
posted by nax at 7:17 PM on January 22, 2008

My sister works at McMurdo and is in her second season. I forget what she is doing this time, but last year she was a shuttle bus driver.

The company she works with is Raytheon.
posted by whycurious at 8:18 PM on January 22, 2008

I always sort of wanted to study neuroscience.
posted by you're a kitty! at 9:18 PM on January 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

I think the true answer to this question lies in your own talents and abilities. I'm a jack of all trades (which should be readily apparent by the sheer number of AskMe questions to which I respond). I worked for a number of years as a software engineer and worked for a very large, very successful company. I eventually burned out. I spent three years working as a school teacher and quickly discovered that I had the necessary talent to teach and really make the important lessons stick across different learning styles, but I didn't have the patience for the other elements of my job (network admin, tech director) and I hated grading and dealing with parents. I went back to software engineering but the differences that make it work are that I am far more patient, I think about long-term sustainability, I work with and for people I respect and enjoy, and I live in an area that I adore.

Otherwise, the best place fit for me might be working for a special effects company. My experience and abilities make me very adaptable for solving problems in a creative way in a short period of time. It would also feed my sense of novelty.

One of my favorite jobs ever was working as a violin maker at Bell Labs for one of the fathers of computer music. That job, $5/hr in 1982, still goes on my resume and 25+ years later, I'm very proud of that work and can still draw a fairly accurate sketch of the instruments. You don't find a job like that though - it finds you.
posted by plinth at 8:59 AM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

If I could do anything, I would probably be a Foley artist. It would be so awesome to spend all day ripping heads of lettuce (the sound of bones breaking), banging on various things, and putting shoes on your hands to sync up footfalls.
posted by sluggo at 11:28 AM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm going to double-dip and say that since I can't make robots, I already have the dream job that I'm qualified for... I'm a contributing editor for the Dating & Personals channel on MSN via my main employer (which I'd prefer not to name here).

I pick out the love advice column questions for our experts, contribute to content pitches, copy-edit, format and post content in HTML and manage the scheduling calendar every day. I've had this job for a while now and I'm still wildly in love with it.

It's my job to help people learn how to date again if they've been out of the scene for a while, or if they're starting from scratch; help people with their online profiles, and cover topics and trends of the day.

I also contribute to other online dating site material and dating magazines.

My job is to help people enjoy being single, and when they're ready, fall in love and live happily ever after. I can't honestly think of a better job I'd be qualified for, and it is extremely gratifying and fulfilling.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 12:59 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

Ambassador to the Vatican!
posted by TwelveTwo at 2:25 PM on January 23, 2008

I live in San Francisco, only a dozen miles from Napa. Did someone already suggest "the consultant who helps restaurants pick wine lists," or "the vinyard's representative to restaurants" or "the person who writes the tasting notes for wineries?" Those are my friend's dream jobs.

My current dream job is more like her actual job -- an infill developer. I think it'd be awesome to be the person who goes to the bank and gets the money, works with the architect to design the plans, and works with the contractor to make sure it gets built. If you can take little stress and having to yell at people from time to time, and are good with keeping a calendar, it's the perfect job. And if you're doing it for an affordable housing nonprofit, you don't even feel like a money-grubbing capitalist in the process (not that most people think there is anything wrong with it). Plus, you get to feel like you built something that made your city better.
posted by salvia at 12:05 AM on January 25, 2008

Dream jobs:
1. A real cowboy on a real ranch in the American West. Shitty pay, but you're there in the great outdoors looking at great scenery and riding horses and camping under the stars and eating chuckwagon grub. (Sadly, I'm a middle-aged woman, so it looks like I won't get my dream job.)
2. Assistant to Zahi Hawass, the legendary Egyptian archeologist/head of that country's Antiquities Council and explorer of fabulous tombs and burial sites.
3. Whitewater river rafting guide. Been on some rafting trips and thought I would die of glee. Can't wait to go again.
4. Saver of endangered species. If I had millions, I'd quit my low-paying job and do this now. But I have maybe $1,230 to my name, so this looks like a dead end.
5. Best Friends Animal Society worker. This Kanab, Utah, sanctuary is one of the best-run, most wonderful places on our planet, caring for critters (cats, dogs, horses, etc.) in the golden years of their lives.
6. Props manager's assistant for Battlestar Galactica, any of the Star Trek series and CSI (the original, in Vegas) or CSI: New York.
7. Uncoverer of secret, possibly mind-blowing, documents hidden in the Vatican archives.
8. Builder of fabulous furniture.
9. Restorer of architectural treasures, both in U.S. and around the globe.
10. Finder of Bin Laden and getting to decide his fate.
posted by Smalltown Girl at 2:45 PM on January 26, 2008

At the new California Academy of Sciences I met a man who is in charge of chasing butterflies out of the elevator with tongue depressors. He seemed pretty happy about it.
posted by JimmyJames at 9:14 PM on September 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

4 thoughts:

When I was a little kid I really wanted to be an extra or play bit parts in movies because I liked the idea that playing pretend could be your job, and being an extra seemed not to involve learning lines.

All the park-ranger or natural-park tour guides I've ever met have seemed to really love their jobs.

There are a number of spiritual or growth-oriented retreat/education centers that have some kind of work-study program. It doesn't pay well, but you get free room and board in a beautiful retreat setting, free access to lots of interesting classes and workshops, and you get to be part of a really interesting community. (The Omega Institute in upstate NY is one of these kinds of places; the people I know who've worked there have loved it.)

I had a boyfriend once who really wanted to be a window-washer for highrise buildings. You get to rappel down from the top of the building and hang there in a harness while you clean windows and peer in on business-people's meetings. Apparently it's not an easy field to break into, though. I think he ended up in a job digging ditches for 12 hours a day instead, which he surprisingly still talks about with fondness.
posted by aka burlap at 8:31 PM on November 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

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