Not everybody can be a Doctor, Marketing Director or Fireman. Indeed, not everybody wants to be.
Some of us are drawn to a stranger world and delight in explaining a weird day at work to our family and friends.
So if you’re curious about the strangest jobs in the world, here are just a few odd jobs for your amusement.
1. Pet food tester
You know that game that drunk people have been known to play?
Well, some people really do that for a living and taste pet food on a daily basis. Of course the reality of the situation is less like a student dare, it’s a daily grind to improve the texture, taste and nutritional value of the food we give to our pride and joys.
A background in food science is an essential requirement.
The job is also described as ‘Food Technologist’, which is a polite way to describe chewing dog food. It’s more advanced than that, though, as the food has to appeal to the owner, as well as the pet.
2. Fake mourner
Some people are, let’s face it, massively unpopular.
But instead of simply sliding them into the ground quietly, some well-meaning relatives try to pack out funerals with suitably sorrowful looking ‘professional mourners’ for fees of up to £50 an hour.
The idea became popular in China and the Middle East (yes many of those wailing women in the street, documented by earnest TV news presenters, are actually hired to scream their lungs out). Now it has spread to the UK and agencies are springing up around the country.
Mourners are briefed on the deceased’s life, but crying is not part of the package.
3. Chicken Sexer
Yes it sounds like a joke, but judging by the three-year training period it’s far more complicated than it sounds.
Technique clearly comes into it, as experienced ‘vent sexers’ are expected to check 700 chicks an hour and maintain 98% accuracy.
The standard rate is £3 per 100 chicks and full-time sexers have to examine the genitals of up to 1.5 million chicks every year. So this joke might wear thin pretty quickly.
4. Legal Bank Robber
Fancy robbing a bank, without the associated risks of prison and an uncomfortable time in the shower? Well you could be a legal bank robber, or ‘Penetration Tester’ as they’re known in the trade.
The purpose of the role is to test the levels of security in place, and in the olden days, the job used to be straightforward, literally breaking into the bank.
Now there are still fake robbers, but penetration testing has extended to computer hacking, identity theft, phoning the operators and trying to trick them out of customer details and even impersonating a police officer to plant surveillance equipment in the vaults too.
It sounds like a riot, and a job that is suited to former secret agents.
Inevitably most prefer to work in the shadows, but this American penetration tester went public a while ago.
5. Teddy Bear Surgeon
Actually it’s a ‘Teddy Bear Repair Technician’, but ‘surgeon’ sounds so much better.
Every major Build-A-Bear outlet has a technician whose job it is to sew arms, legs and eyes back on to ‘injured’ teddy bears. There are a number of independent teddy bear hospitals out there too.
Essential skills are, essentially, the ability to sew. And the patience to deal with the kind of people who would take a teddy bear to hospital.
6. Snake Milker
This isn’t such big business in the UK, where the limited snake milking requirements are generally met by the zoo or reptile specialist that takes care of them.
In some countries, though, snake venom is in big demand and there are specialist milkers who risk life and limb on a daily basis.
Snake venom is required to produce anti-venom, and the best milkers pride themselves on capturing the snakes by hand to minimise stress.
Jim Harrison milks up to 1,000 snakes a week at Kentucky Zoo in the US and has been seriously bitten just eight times in his 50-year snake handling career.
7. Waterslide Tester
Sebastien Smith is now First Choice’s Waterslide tester in residence, taking over from Tommy Smith who, kind of inexplicably, left the dream job after four years travelling the world and giving his verdict on SplashWorld slides.
Unsurprisingly, there were more than 2,000 applicants for the job and Leeds University student Smith had to take part in a slide-off to win the job.
At £20,000 a year it isn’t the best paid position in the world, but then Smith more or less enjoys a permanent holiday while he tests the adrenaline rush and ‘splash factor’ of waterslides from Turkey to Barbados.
8. Professional Sleeper
It has to be said that most medical tests aren’t this easy, and others have been known to come with pretty severe side effects.
But this test, run by NASA in the US, seemed like one of the easiest paydays going.
The American space agency wanted to examine the effects of lying still for 70 days, which is the theoretical time it would take to transport people en masse to other worlds.
So they paid willing volunteers $18,000, or £12,000 to do literally nothing. NASA weren’t on their own either – a hotel in Finland advertised for a ‘Professional Sleeper‘ to test their rooms.
Both jobs sound ideal job for the person we interviewed here who when asked what his ideal job would be, he said “bed tester”.
9. Warden of the Swans
[/caption]This surreal job belongs to Christopher Perrins, an emeritus fellow at Wolfson College, Oxford, which means it’s part time.
Perrins conducts an annual census of the swans on the Thames.
Technically the Queen owns them all, although she only exercises her right of possession around Windsor, so it’s important to someone that they know how many there are.
If you think this is an antiquated post that doesn’t mean anything anymore, you’re wrong. It was only created in 1993 when the Keeper of the Swans job was deemed too demanding and split into two roles.
There is a Marker of the Swans now, too, whose job is literally to, well, mark swans…
London Dungeons hold annual auditions for the role of zombie in their exhibits, and with an average salary of £30,000 then it’s far from a deadbeat job.
It’s simple really: Your job would be to scare tourists who willingly pay for the privilege of being chased through dark rooms by made-up strangers.
If you’re good there’s career progression, too, as you could go on to become a torturer, or even Jack The Ripper.