The World's Coolest Jobs...Ever

From Whiskey Maker to Director of Golf

You think of whiskey and golf as things you do in your leisure time to unwind. But there are some people who get paid to do these things for a living. Take Colum Egan, the master distiller for Bushmills whiskey in Ireland. Or Jerramy Hainlaine, whose title is actually “Director of Golf” for Hilton Worldwide. And, when you’re watching fireworks this weekend, know that there are hundreds of people across the country who get paid to set off fireworks for a living. We interviewed these guys and seve
Photo: Jeff Maloney | Photodisc | Getty Images

You think of drinking whiskey and playing golf as things you do in your leisure time to unwind. But some people actually get paid to do these things.

Take Colum Egan, the master distiller for Bushmills whiskey in Ireland. Or Jerramy Hainlaine, whose title is actually “Director of Golf” for Hilton Worldwide.

And, when you’re watching fireworks this weekend, know that there are hundreds of people across the country who set off explosives for a living.

We interviewed these guys and several others who have the World’s Coolest Jobs. Click here to read about what their work entails — and how they landed such a cool job.

So, what are the world's coolest jobs? Click ahead to find out!

By Cindy Perman
Posted 2 July 2010

Whiskey Maker

Photo courtesy of Bushmills

Colum Egan has a degree from the University of Limerick in Southwestern Ireland and was developing quite a nice engineering career when he fell in love.

He was living in London at the time and the woman who would later be his wife was from a town in Northern Ireland, 12 miles from the Bushmills distillery.

He wound up moving there and got a job at Bushmills bottling and mixing whiskey for five years before he had the opportunity work with the master distiller, a job that ultimately became his.

One of the most challenging parts of his job is that any new whiskey they create still has to have a Bushmills taste beneath it — smooth, fruity and vanilla, a little floral and slightly spicy.

And then there's figuring out how much to produce. 

“The weird thing is, it just takes so long to make,” Egan said, explaining that whiskey stays in the barrel anywhere from three to 20 years or more. “You have to try to make an educated guess on how much we’ll be drinking in 20 years time!”

Brewmaster

Chris Ericson was on track to be an accountant but his career took a dramatic turn – before he even entered business school. His girlfriend at the time bought him a home-brewing kit as a present when he graduated from Williams College in Massachusetts. He was taking a year off to bone up on business and economics before he entered an intensive graduate program at Northeastern, since his undergraduate degree was in history and psychology. To pay the bills, he got a job in a brewery. Well, that ho
Photo courtesy of Lake Placid Pub & Brewery

Chris Ericson was on track to be an accountant but his career took a dramatic turn — before he even entered business school.

A former girlfriend bought him a home-brewing kit as a graduation present. At the time, he was taking a year off to bone up on business and economics before heading off to Northwestern business school.

That hobby in brewing soon turned into a career and today, he’s the owner and brewmaster at the Lake Placid Pub & Brewery, home of the famous Ubu Ale, in Lake Placid, NY.

Of course, the coolest part of his job is that he gets to travel around to beer festivals and pubs doing “market research.”

He doesn't make as much as his friends who work on Wall Street but they still think he's got the coolest job.

“You clearly have won!” one college friend said to him.

Pyrotechnician

Setting off fireworks is usually something little boys get in trouble for, but Jim Souza is one of the lucky few adults who gets paid to detonate explosives. Souza is actually a fourth-generation pyrotechnician and his family business, , puts on the Macy’s Fourth of July fireworks and about 400 other shows throughout the country. He’s the president and CEO of the company, so his job isn’t all fun and games – he is responsible for all the financial aspects of the company as well as the regulation
Photo courtesy of Pyro Spectaculars

Setting off fireworks is usually something little boys get in trouble for, but Jim Souza is one of the lucky few adults who gets paid to detonate explosives.

Souza is actually a fourth-generation pyrotechnician and his family business, Pyro Spectaculars, puts on the Macy’s Fourth of July fireworks and about 400 other shows throughout the country.

He gets to travel all over the world looking for new and exciting fireworks and says he still gets goosebumps when he hears the crowd’s reaction.

“I’ve designed the show to go off a certain way to create certain moments and feelings. When you hear the oohs and ahhs from the crowd — you know you’ve nailed it,” Souza said.

He’s got a degree in small business administration and marketing from the University of Portland. He trains others in the art of pyrotechnics at Pyro University.

Videogame Tester

Playing videogames too long has also been the cause for more than one boy being sent to his room but here’s something your mom didn’t tell you: Videogames are a roughly $25 billion industry and if you stick with it, you can actually get paid to play them. When Scott Steinberg was 17, he started calling around to videogame makers to try to get a gig testing. He managed to get a part-time gig testing for Infograms, a company that later became Atari. But it wasn’t until the late 1990s, when he met
Photo: Malin Roghelia

Playing videogames too long has been the cause for more than one boy being sent to his room but here’s something your mom didn’t tell you: Videogames are a roughly $25 billion industry and if you stick with it, you can actually get paid to play them.

When Scott Steinberg (left at a trade show) was 17, he landed a part-time testing job for the company that would later become Atari after he simply called them up and asked. He got his first full-time position from a French game maker after meeting someone from the company at a trade show.

Now he tests them from a consumer standpoint and publishes “GameExec” magazine. He’s also the author of several books on videogames, including “Get Rich Playing Games.”

He often gets that “You’ve found the Holy Grail!” look from people but says testing can be tedious because you’re running the same part of the game over and over again, trying to break it. And, testing for a game maker only pays about $8 an hour.

On the upside, “You gain a knowledge [of the game] that many times over eclipses that of its creator,” Steinberg said.

Fake Executive

If you're a white guy in China and you own a suit — Congratulations! You're hired. There’s an odd trend brewing there, where companies hire fake executives from the U.S. and other Western nations to attend events, give speeches and generally just to give that appearance in the community and in the business world of that connection with the western world. “I think it says a lot about the business culture here,” said Mitch Moxley, a freelance writer living in Beijing who was hired to be a fake bus
Photo: Jeff Maloney | Photodisc | Getty Images

If you're a white guy in China and you own a suit — Congratulations! You're hired.

There’s an odd trend brewing there, where companies hire fake executives from the U.S. and other Western nations to attend events, give speeches and generally just to give that appearance in the community and in the business world of that connection with the western world.

“You’d be amazed how often this happens,” said Mitch Moxley, a freelance writer living in Beijing who was paid $1,000 a week to be a fake businessman for a high-tech company building a factory in Dongying, five hours south of Beijing.

“After our company ‘director’ finished his speech and was posing for a photo with the mayor, I remember having this ‘I can’t believe they bought that’ sense of accomplishment — like a teenager who successfully lies to his parents about smoking,” Moxley said. “It was pretty funny.”

Read more here.

Director of Golf

It sounds like a made-up title – like chief television officer or domestic beer engineer – but Jerramy Hainline is proof that “director of golf” is a real job. He works for and as the director of golf, his job is to oversee all of the sales and marketing for the nearly two dozen golf courses run by Hilton resorts, from Southern California to Puerto Rico. And that means he has to play golf in all those places – be it with journalists, famous golfers or sponsors. “You have to play the product,” H
Photo: Paul Lester

It sounds like a made-up title — like chief television officer or domestic beer engineer — but Jerramy Hainline (left, high-fiving pro golfer Se Ri Pak) is proof that “director of golf” is a real job.

He works for Hilton Worldwide and his job is to oversee all of the sales and marketing for the company's nearly two dozen golf courses. And that means he gets to play golf at these resorts, located all over the world — be it with journalists, famous golfers or sponsors.

“You have to play the product,” Hainline explains.

How did he land this dream job? He played golf professionally for three years and met a general manager from Hilton who convinced him to teach golf at one of their resorts. It was so successful they started to create other schools under the “Hilton Golf Academy” brand. He moved up the ladder and now he's the "Director of Golf."

He has a degree in finance from the University of San Diego.