Back To Career News

Odd Jobs: 5 Obscure Careers You May Want to Consider


“So, what do you do for a living?” Nine times out of ten, this question is asked out of habit or courtesy. Very seldom do people expect an unusual answer. However, imagine what a nice change of pace it would be to hear someone respond with, “I dive for pearls in remote locations around the world” or “I design Barbie clothes.” Here are five obscure careers that will definitely leave people wanting to know more.


(Photo Credit: RomitaGirl67/Flickr)

1. Cytotechnologist: Median Wage = $29.22/hour

Do You Know What You're Worth?

What exactly does a cytotechnologist do? Good question. According to DirectEmployer’s infographic, “Cytotechnologists work in laboratories and study cell specimens for the purpose of understanding disease and potential disease treatments.” In addition to inspecting specimens, technicians are also expected to have sufficient analytical skills and communication skills, because, as PayScale’s Research Center points out, cytotechnologists “also analyze patient records to understand their history and note if any changes are occurring; when abnormalities are detected, the cytotechnologist passes on the findings to a pathologist so they can be investigated further.” For cytotechnologists starting out in their careers, they can expect an average salary of around $52,000 annually, whereas more tenured techs can make roughly $70,000 per year.

2. Agronomy Salesperson: Median Salary = $49,657

An agronomy salesperson is someone who sells materials needed for growing food. More specifically, agronomists are responsible for consulting on plant diseases and adverse growing conditions, purchase fertilizer and seed, analyze various elements to ensure optimal yields, and conduct reporting on findings, according to PayScale’s Research Center. This industry is predominately male and has a high job satisfaction rating.

Not just any Joe Schmoe can become an agronomist. This particular occupation typically requires an agricultural-related degree, coupled with strong selling skills. Experienced agronomists can earn up to $83,000 annually, and can also expect to receive a very decent benefits package that includes medical, dental, and vision coverage.

3. Certified Ethical Hacker: Median Salary = $68,314

Ethical computer hackers are hired to ensure that computer security systems are properly equipped and protected from outside threats (viruses, other hackers) entering the system and stealing or corrupting valuable information. Top hackers can make up to $120,000 per year and are in high demand due to the increasing occurrence of data breaches and hacks over the past few years. Companies that handle sensitive or confidential information, such as banks and credit card companies, are now taking precautionary measures to ensure that their systems are impenetrable and safeguarded from the threat of cyber crimes.

4. Pearl Diver: Expected Salary = $1,200/day

Experienced pearl divers with an eye for finding and harvesting mature oyster pearls can expect pretty decent returns for a day’s work. Of course, weather conditions, oyster availability, and other such factors impact the earning potential for pearl divers, and it’s worth noting that these divers probably aren’t out every day harvesting oysters, either. Therefore, another income stream for pearl divers is to teach others (e.g. tourists) how to dive for oyster pearls themselves. Either way, being a professional pearl diver is great career option for individuals who are don’t mind calling the ocean their office.

5. Barbie Dress Designer: Median Salary = $60,000 to $70,000

Last, but not least, is a career as a Barbie dress designer. Here at PayScale, we’re huge advocates of women pursuing STEM careers, but Barbie Dress Designer — oh, c’mon, that’s every little girl’s dream come true. This occupation is extremely rare, with Mattel employing a mere 25 or so designers to handle clothing design, and it has an earning potential of six figures. Not too shabby, considering you’re designing clothes for tiny dolls, not humans. However, don’t be fooled. Designing fashions for these pint-size dolls is just as much work, if not more, as designing them for people.

“The doll’s outfits require at least a year of advance planning,” says Barbie fashion designer Kim Culmone to Upstart Business Journal. Culmone and her team even take to the streets and runways of New York City and Paris for inspiration, because it’s only the creme de la creme for the 11?-inch tall fashionista, Barbie. If you want to know more about this fabulously obscure career, read this post.

Whether your occupation is obscure or normal, high profile or commonplace, the most important thing is that your career is meaningful. So, choose a career path that will keep you entertained and fulfilled for the long haul, rather than focusing solely on the earning potential. Do what you love and love what you do.

Tell Us What You Think

What other obscure occupations would you like to add to the list? Share your thoughts on Twitter and join the conversation.

Leah Arnold-Smeets
Read more from Leah

Leave a Reply

2 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
1 Comment authors
AndrewMike Fano Recent comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Mike Fano
Mike Fano

I get so many soundings from personal/ recruiters representing employers. I use to formulae the process, go on the interview(s), be polite…the whole bit, only to find out prospective employer offering $20K++++ less than I make or expect from any consideration to change employers. Not only a waste of time but insulting to experience level and profession. Maybe they want a disposable or a credentialed ‘body’? Get real, respect our time,put your salary range and benefit package up front; we… Read more »


Since salaries vary widely based on geographic locales what do these salary numbers mean? Are they median numbers across geography or based on a particular market?

What Am I Worth?

What your skills are worth in the job market is constantly changing.