Technically, the recession is over, and on paper, there has been positive job growth for months. Unfortunately, “technically” and “on paper” don’t cut it for people who have been out of work for a long time. For the long-term unemployed, it’s time to start thinking outside of the box and looking for work that falls outside of the parameters of the everyday.
What follows is a list of jobs that are obscure, unheard-of or otherwise out of the ordinary. Some of them pay well, some have salaries that are a closely guarded secret and some look like so much fun that the salary is almost beside the point.
Read ahead to find out about cool jobs you’ve never heard of.
By Daniel Bukszpan
Posted 25 May 2012
The United States Bullion Depository — better known as Fort Knox — is not the largest gold repository in the United States. That distinction belongs to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in lower Manhattan, where approximately $194 billion worth of the trapezoidal gold bars are stored.
Occasionally, those bars will need to be moved, and gold stackers are the people who do it. Each 27-pound bar has to be moved manually, and the repetitive strain is so significant that they work in teams so shifts can relieve one another.
No matter who you are or what you do for a living, you occasionally have days where you’d like nothing better than to blow off work and stay in bed. Some people have taken that urge and parlayed it into a career as a bed tester.
This job involves bouncing on beds to test comfort. It may sound cushy, but it’s serious business to professional bed tester Natalie Thomas, who works for the Premier Inn hotel chain in the U.K. She and her team are tasked with testing all of the chain’s 46,000 beds. In 2011, she reportedly had her behind insured for $6.3 million.
Recreational Equipment Inc. sells sporting goods and recreation gear in over 100 retail locations around the U.S., and in 2011 the company reported sales of $1.66 billion during the previous year. Part of its success is due to an intimate knowledge of the products it sells, gained through extensive testing.
Until October 2011, the testing was performed by field test analyst Adam Hockey. When he wasn’t testing the equipment himself, he farmed out the research to the company’s 9,500 employees. But in a 2011 interview, he confessed that testing the products was his favorite perk.
When hockey season ends, some fans must wonder what happens to the Stanley Cup. Does it go to the game’s MVP for safekeeping, or the winning team’s coach? In fact, it goes to Mike Bolt, a 42-year-old fan from Toronto who has been protecting the trophy since 2000.
Although the compensation for this position is a closely guarded secret, it’s a highly coveted position. “Fans want this job,” he said in an interview in New York magazine. “You hear it from players, and, heck, the commissioner, Gary Bettman, has even said, ‘Oh, I think you have one of the greatest jobs.’” The job has even allowed Bolt to hobnob with CNBC’s own Darren Rovell.
Shooting down an amusement park waterslide is an exciting way to cool off in the summertime. But to offer the maximum amount of fun, it has to work properly, which means testing it for stress factors and aerodynamics. For Tommy Lynch, it also means traveling the world and riding down the waterslides to make sure they’re up to snuff.
Lynch works for First Choice, a British travel company that was part of a $12.5 million rebranding effort in 2011. He calls his job “the best job in the world,” and it’s easy to see why.
People interested in working outdoors and observing animal behavior should consider a job as a Biological Science Tech, observing bison for the Department of Interior. The job location is in Yellowstone National Park, a breathtaking locale with not a cubicle in sight, and the salary is $15 an hour.
Potential applicants should consider that the occupation “requires physical exertion” from constant hiking all over the park. The job description also warns that “coyotes [are] very likely to be encountered, with a possibility of grizzly or black bears.”
Build-A-Bear Workshop in St. Louis does more than just sell teddy bears. Visitors to its website can customize a cuddly toy companion of their own, and it’s made it a company that currently boasts revenue of $395 million.
Since it creates one-of-a-kind items, one can’t simply go into a store and buy another teddy bear if one becomes damaged, so the company employs two teddy bear technicians, Robin Brussell and Maria Kaiser, who fix the damaged toys and return them to their owners. Brussell told CNBC.com that the most frequent trauma suffered by the toys is dog attacks.
Companies that manufacture razor blades claim that their products offer the closest shave you can get. One way companies can test the veracity of this claim is to have someone use their product, then have someone else touch the newly shaved face and testify to its silky smoothness.
The person who performs this duty is known as a face feeler, who will also perform this service on someone who has used a moisturizer or other skin care product.
If you’re more comfortable underwater than on dry land, and you don’t mind having the bottom half of your body confined within the 35-pound lower torso of a sea creature, then a career as a mermaid performer may be for you.
The job is a perfect fit for anyone who loves swimming and can hold their breath for a long time. Mermaids in Motion is a Los Angeles business owned by Linden Wolbert, an underwater model, diver and ocean conservationist, and the business rents out professional mermaid services for theme parks, parties and advertising campaigns.