Think back to the last time you were at a party or a social event, and you had to make small talk with new acquaintances. Inevitably the question of 'So what do you do?” is asked, and everyone recites their professions. While the regulars seem to always come up – doctor, lawyer, teacher, etc. – every once in a while, someone comes out with a doozy that could leave you scratching your head or picking your jaw up off the floor.
Did you know Horse Exerciser is a job? Or that you can make a living as a Bingo Manager? And even if you have heard of these odd jobs, chances are you'll be surprised at much they make. So, we dug through more than 4,000 of our job titles and picked out some under-the-radar, very fun jobs that pay well with annual salaries of $50,000 or more.
Annual median salary: $54,091
If you've ever found yourself holding a winning ticket at the track, chances are you've benefited, in part, from a horse exerciser.
Everyone who has watched the movie Seabiscuit knows jockeys are the ones who actually do the racing. But what most people don't realize is that other people help exercise and train the horses long before post time. The men and women who do this are called horse exercisers, and their primary responsibility is to ride the horses on non-race days and prepare them for the jockeys. From getting them used to walking in the gate to simulating a mid-race gallop, exercisers must gauge a horse's well-being and responsiveness and accurately relate it to the jockeys and trainers.
This job generally only requires a high school diploma, but also takes roughly seven years of experience to master. Although you won't get rich, if you're a lover of horses and/or want to someday become a jockey, this is a great way to do it and bring home a solid paycheck.
If horses don't blow your hair back, try these related careers that pay well in the leisure industry.
Annual median salary: $54,491
Lots of people whine about their jobs, but only a select few make their careers all about wine.
A sommelier, or wine steward, usually works at an upscale restaurant and is in charge of everything related to the business' wine collection. Customers who have questions or need recommendations ask the sommelier, and he/she picks out precisely the right wine pairing to go with their meal. But in addition to the public-facing part of a sommelier's job, he/she may also travel to vineyards to identify wine, buy wine from distributors, monitor the condition of the wine cellar, and work with restaurant chefs to prepare appetizing food and drink pairings.
Although a college degree is not always a prerequisite, most sommeliers have many years of experience and some will complete training and certification programs. Either way, there's a lot more to becoming a successful sommelier than watching Sideways over and over again.
We know wine isn't for everyone, so get a taste of these related jobs that pay well in food industry.
Annual median salary: $57,158
In an ideal world we wouldn't know what it's like to get bad news about a loved one, but most of us have. And if your case was handled sensitively and professionally, you can most likely thank a bereavement coordinator.
While these workers aren't generally the ones breaking the bad news to people, they're managing the social workers who do. They've also worked tirelessly to come up with a system that makes an impossible situation as painless as possible under the circumstances. This job generally requires a four-year college degree, and bereavement coordinators develop and implement programs to assist the survivors of people with terminal illness. They often work in settings such as hospitals, hospice, and nursing homes.
While some might be surprised at the paycheck bereavement coordinators take home, consider that they work in a high-stress field among emotionally distraught people going through some of the worst times in their lives.
Too morbid for you? There are plenty of other jobs that pay well in the administrative health care industry.
Annual median salary: $62,711
If all you know about pregnancy and childbirth was learned on TV and in movies, you might be tempted to think women casually go into labor and then give birth minutes later while never breaking a sweat or smearing their make-up.
But the truth is there's a lot of preparation, and much of it is done by childbirth educators. These men and women aren't doctors, but they almost always have college degrees and several years of experience. Their job isn't to deliver the baby, but to prepare for the delivery with classes and information regarding childbirth procedures, trends in labor and delivery technology, and even holds pre-conception classes.
Often affiliated with area hospitals, these workers often serve not only as an initial source of information for expectant parents, but a continuing resource even after the birth.
There's a lot of other jobs waiting in the non-profit and social services field.
Annual median salary: $61,140
This isn't your grandmother's smoke-filled bingo hall job.
Often working for a casino, bingo can be big business. And a bingo manager directs it all. Although this position doesn't require a college degree, the person in the job does generally need at least five years of experience. The manager approves jackpots and payouts, handles escalated customer complaints and issues, and maintains total compliance with federal and state gaming regulations. Additionally, bingo managers oversee all aspects of their staff and maintain budgets.
While this annual salary isn't exactly hitting the jackpot, it's a surprisingly high s.
And if Bingo doesn't float your boat, try your hand as a blackjack dealer.
Annual median salary: $63,484
Many people ride in them all the time to get to work, but most people probably don't give any mind to the safety of elevators until they get stuck in one.
Let's face it, if you work in a gargantuan skyscraper it might be good exercise to hike to the 100th floor every day, but for the sake of your time and sanity the elevator is quicker. That's why elevator inspectors make sure all elevators meet safety and compliance codes for passengers and freight. They also inspect escalators, moving sidewalks, and wheelchair lift systems. After investigating complaints, they also can choose to recommend fixes to repairmen.
A college degree is not a requirement, but this job may require specific certifications and licensure depending on the state. All in all, it's a well-paying – albeit up and down – career.
This is just one of many lucrative skilled trade careers out there.
Annual median salary: $66,401
Most of the time when a job pays dirt, that's a bad thing. But for a soil conservationist whose work is dirt, it's a different story.
The main job of a soil conservationist is to come up with plans to prevent erosion and develop practices for sustainable land use, mostly by performing land-use surveys. Whether working in the private sector or in some level of government, conservation and 'green” issues have taken on added importance in recent years. This is especially vital in areas of the country susceptible to the impacts of erosion, such as coastal areas.
With open space and buildable land becoming a precious commodity, the effects of building on said land is carefully documented by soil conservationists. Most people who work in this position have a bachelor's degree in agricultural science or environmental studies.
If you're not exactly soiling yourself to work in this job, there are other careers that pay well in the related field of agriculture, forestry and fishing.
Annual median salary: $67,887
Admit it -- at one point in your life you wanted to be the conductor of a train. It's understandable since trains are cool, but you might not have realized it's also fairly profitable.
Locomotive engineers operate passenger and freight trains. In addition to monitoring things like speed, air pressure, battery, etc. during the trip, they must inspect the train and prepare routes and scheduling prior to every trip. While putting "train conductor" on your resume is impressive, locomotive engineers often work well more than 40 hours, lots of nights and weekends.
Train engineers must be at least 21 years old, have a high school diploma, and years of training involving classroom instruction, simulators and on-the-job training. They must also possess a federal license.
Skilled labor positions are always in demand (not to mention high paying).
Annual median salary: $72,385
Do you want to shape and influence the way society deals with contentious medical issues? You might consider this unheralded position.
Issues such as 'Right to Live,” stem cell research and cloning can often be found in the day's biggest headlines. Emotions run high on both sides of these important topics and they often spill over into the political arena as well. A clinical ethicist takes an unbiased, non-partisan approach to examining each of these issues and providing input that helps shape how patients, their families, doctors, and hospitals deal with these difficult situations.
Most ethicists will need a master's degree or doctorate related to medical ethics, and a minimum of at least five years of experience.
Check out these related careers that pay well in the health care practitioner field.
Annual median salary: $74,765
Are you or do you know someone missing a limb, or who has needed orthopedic braces? Then you should thank a prosthetist or orthotist.
A prosthetist is someone who specializes in designing and fitting people with artificial limbs, while an orthotist designs orthopedic braces such as surgical supports and corrective shoes. Whether the missing limbs are from a birth defect, accident or the increasing number of wounded veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, prosthetists carefully examine the affected area and customize artificial hands, feet, arms and legs for the patient. They are similar careers and many people specialize in both fields simultaneously.
A four-year degree is a requirement and most states require certification from groups such as the American Board for Certification in Orthotics and Prosthetics, along with at least five years experience.
Many health care practitioner jobs pay $100,000 a year and above.
Annual median salary: $84,310
Most people not in healthcare are probably thinking 'what the heck is that?” We'll tell you, but be forewarned this isn't a career for the squeamish.
An enterostomy is an operation in which the surgeon cuts a passage into the patient's small intestine, through the abdomen. The newly created opening allows for the drainage of fecal matter or to insert a feeding tube. This procedure is used mostly in emergency cases of severe abdomen wounds and diseases such as certain types of cancer and Crohn's disease. The enterostomal therapist has to not only care for the stoma post-surgery, but also educate patients on how to properly care for it beforehand. Patients cannot leave the hospital until they know how to properly care for themselves after the surgery, and until they learn, enterostomal therapists are in charge of cleaning and sanitizing the stoma for them.
They generally must have either an associate's or bachelor's degree, as well as earn certification as a nursing degree.
There are plenty of jobs that pay well in the health care field.
Whether you're working in an unusual field or a popular one, the important thing is you're being paid fairly. And Salary.com can help.
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