10 cool and unusual jobs that are actually viable careers

If you’re looking to enter the job market, or change careers, and none of those common, everyday gigs interests you, maybe we can help. This is a list of cool and unusual jobs that often pay well, and most important, are viable careers.

Because that’s the thing about these “unusual” jobs lists. They always list gigs like “Ice cream taster,” “mattress tester,” and “armpit sniffer” which are definitely unusual, but not really helpful because they’re all either super rare or super gross.

So, we tried to create a list of cool jobs people can actually do, and maybe even view as career options. Granted, a couple of these are pretty niche, and hard to break into. But if they weren’t, they’d be common. And then we’d be back where we started. Others are just a little less known.

Here you go. Maybe you want to be a….

Sommelier: A sommelier, or Wine Steward, is a wine professional. A sommelier may work in the tourism and hospitality industries, and be responsible for wine service in restaurants, and the development of wine lists. Sommeliers may also write books and articles, run wine tours, work as consultants for events, work in wine sales and marketing, and do just about anything that requires wine expertise. There are certification programs across Canada. Sommeliers can even work their way up to take the Master Sommelier exam. The title of Master Sommelier is the most prestigious in the world. Only 246 people have earned it. Five of them are Canadian.

According to Payscale, a sommelier makes an annual salary of $29,473 – $75,043 CAD.

Perfumer: Often, a perfumer is also known as a “cosmetic scientist,” and is responsible for chemical testing materials used to develop cosmetic products like shampoos, soaps, and creams for a larger company. Or, if you’re one of those people with a magic nose, you can become the person who is responsible for developing fragrances for fancy perfume houses, or even your own company. A perfumer might also create scents for hotels, events, and more. To be a cosmetic scientist, one would need a degree in a related discipline. To be a perfumer, special training at a perfumery school may be required, along with an apprenticeship.

According to Biz Fluent,  a junior perfumer usually starts out at about $60,000 USD a year, and experienced top talent can earn six-figure salaries. In 2011, a perfumer’s annual starting salary at Givaudan was $140,000  -$150,000 USD.

Dog trainer/walker/groomer/sitter: If you love dogs, there’s always a big demand for these services. Particularly in big cities. To be a groomer you need special training, usually acquired through an apprenticeship program. Walkers sometimes need to have a vehicle to work for an established company and to be insured, though the company will also often cover the insurance. Work for someone else or start your own practice. While all of these are often seen as temporary or part-time gigs, they also make good careers – particularly if you have your own business. All of the groomers in my area are always booked solid weeks in advance, and the dog walkers and sitters are super busy too.

According to Payscale, a dog trainer earns $23,192 – $105,414 CAD a year.

Midwife: A midwife is a registered health-care professional who provides primary care to clients with low-risk pregnancies, collaborating with other healthcare providers such as physicians, nurses and social workers. According to Ryerson.ca, midwives work in community-based group practices with a team of other midwives who cover a 24-hour schedule and are on call seven days a week. A midwife is with the client from conception through delivery and beyond.

Midwives in Canada go through a four year Bachelor of Midwifery at one of the seven Midwifery Programs available across the country.

According to jobbank.gc.ca, midwives earn an annual salary of $58,240 – $106,662 CAD

Pastry Chef: Pastry chefs make delicious, and often beautiful, desserts – pastries, cookies, cakes, cupcakes, doughnuts… in restaurants, bakeries, hotels, and pastry stores. One might work as part of a larger team at a big operation, or as the sole dessert maker in a smaller one. An executive pastry chef would create new recipes and design the dessert menu in a more upscale restaurant. And, of course, one can always set themselves up as the owner of a cake store, making desserts for weddings, special occasions, and events. This career requires creativity, attention to detail, and love of food. There is more than one pathway to becoming a pastry chef, including formal education programs, and on the job training.

According to jobbank.gc.ca, a pastry chef earns an annual salary of $23,920 – $53,331 CAD.

Stuntperson: The stunt person does all the dangerous, death-defying stuff in the movies that an actor can’t do – crashes cars, jumps from buildings, dangles from planes, gets set on fire, etc. If you’re the sort of person who spends his or her spare time doing crazy parkour or similar, this might be the job for you. A successful stunt person is someone who is in amazing shape, has high fear and pain thresholds, can listen and follow instructions, pays close attention to detail, and has a specialty stunt skill to bring to the industry. It also helps if you’re generic looking, to pass off as whoever you’re standing in for. Breaking into the industry requires headshots, a demo reel, a resume, and a few connections wouldn’t hurt. According to ACTRA, working as a background performer on a film is a good way to seek out the stunt coordinator and speak to them about your skills.

According to jobbank.gc.ca, stunt people earn an annual salary of $22,797 – $72,800. But big names can command big money. Dar Robinson, the highest paid stuntman in his day, earned about $100,000 a stunt.

Ethical hacker: An ethical hacker is someone who hacks into networks and computer systems to test for vulnerabilities and improve security. Just about any organization with a computer system, including businesses and government organizations, may use the services of an ethical hacker. There are courses offered across the country in Certified Ethical Hacking. Job titles for those with  CEH-certification also include “penetration tester,” “network security specialist,” and “site administrator and auditor.” This is one of those opportunities to turn your potentially evil skills toward good.

According to Payscale, a penetration tester earns a salary of $35,000 – $96,000, while a security consultant makes $52,853 – $113,044 CAD.

Interior landscaper:  Landscaping isn’t just an outdoor job. Interior landscaping, a.k.a., “plantscaping” and “interiorscaping,” is “the practice of designing, arranging, and caring for living plants in enclosed environments.” Interior landscapes provide green spaces with plants, trees, sculptural and ornamental elements, and water features. This might be in an office building, hotel, restaurant, home, shopping centre, or any building that has plants in it. Interior landscapers work alone or for specialized companies. They have a knowledge of plants, trees, and design, but require no formal education. Experience and training are usually acquired on the job.

According to Payscale, a landscaper in Canada earns an annual salary of $29,120 – $67,600 CAD.

Zoologist: Zoologists “study the physiology of animals, their behaviour, and how they interact with other species and their environments.” They’re an important part of the preservation and understanding of wildlife and habitats. A zoologist might work for a zoo, wildlife centre, national or wildlife park, or aquarium. Or for a conservation group, “where they may help rehabilitate and release animals, plan conservation and ecotourism initiatives involving local communities, or lobby governments on policy.” They might work in offices, labs, or the field. The job requires at least a bachelor’s degree, usually in something like zoology, wildlife biology, or ecology, or general biology. Higher education doesn’t hurt. Outdoor skills can also be useful.

According to jobbank.gc.ca, zoologists earn an annual salary of $41,600 – $114,566 CAD.

Art therapist: According to the Canadian Art Therapy Association, art therapy “combines the creative process and psychotherapy, facilitating self-exploration and understanding. Using imagery, colour, and shape as part of this creative therapeutic process, thoughts and feelings can be expressed that would otherwise be difficult to articulate.” In Canada and the United States, art therapists must have at least a master’s degree or a master’s level diploma in Art Therapy. And a bachelor’s in fine arts, psychology, social work or counseling is required for entry into an art therapy program.

According to Payscale, an art therapist earns an annual salary of $31,866 – $153,550 CAD.

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