Sitting in a small cubicle every day from nine to five can help you make ends meet, but it’s rarely an exciting career path. There are unconventional jobs out there, and some of them pay very well.
Let’s be clear about one thing: you won’t walk into one of these jobs and earn a $100k starting salary. If you stick with the job and gain experience and expertise, though, a six-figure annual salary is entirely possible.
1. Theatrical & Performance Makeup Artist
💰 Median Salary: $134,750 per year
Theater performances, TV shows, and movies wouldn’t be the same without makeup artists who use cosmetics and prosthetics to bring various characters to life. They ensure the physical appearance of actors and live show performers reflects their roles’ settings, personalities, stories, and eras.
These makeup artists prove that associate degree jobs can pay more than $100K annually. Besides this degree, you can also complete a cosmetology training program or get a bachelor’s degree in theater, depending on where you want to work.
2. Bingo Manager
💰 Median Salary: $68,988 per year
A bingo manager working at a retirement home will rarely earn over $100K a year, but one working at a renowned casino can easily surpass this amount. The top 10% of the best-paid bingo managers see themselves $148,441 richer every year.
Bingo managers are responsible for overseeing daily processes, pre-approving payouts, and ensuring that their departments are compliant with the relevant laws and regulations in their area.
A high school diploma and a few years of experience in a similar field are usually enough to land this type of job.
3. Professional Gamer
💰 Median Salary: $64,168 per year
Though the average salary is around $64,168 annually, many professional gamers can easily earn as much as $187,200 a year.
Most earn their salaries by increasing their skills and competing in well-paid international tournaments. Some receive compensation from ads and sponsors, while others are employed directly on gaming platforms, working as game testers.
Alternatively, professional gamers can also become influencers on platforms such as YouTube or Twitch, playing games to entertain audiences and increase their viewership.
While becoming a professional gamer can be a lucrative job, it takes a lot of skill, hard work, and luck to break through and start earning over $100K a year.
4. Food Scientist
💰 Median Salary: $78,340 per year
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, food scientists can earn as much as $130,540 annually. Therefore, any food lover could find this to be the perfect career path for them.
Food scientists use various skills and knowledge to do their jobs. They need to be familiar with microbiology and chemistry to perform tasks such as analyzing food content, ensuring the safety of different kinds of food, introducing new flavors, improving the quality of processed foods, and more. Many are even responsible for creating better ways to process, package, and preserve food.
5. Custom Jewelry Designer
💰 Median Salary: $487,331 per year
Though the precise salary will heavily depend on the place of employment, custom jewelry designers can earn well over $ $487,331 annually.
It’s one of the best slow-paced jobs that require the utmost attention to detail, a steady hand, and artistic skill.
Custom jewelry designers need to know how to work with different types of metals and precious stones, properly shape them and combine them into eye-catching rings, bracelets, necklaces, earrings, nose rings, and more.
As a general rule of thumb, most custom jewelry designers need to spend several years gaining experience in jewelry stores before they can earn a six-figure salary.
6. Body Part Model
💰 Median Salary: $75,000 per year
How much body part models earn depends on their employer, with some earning just around $25,000 and others well over $124,730.
Body part models can specialize – becoming only hand or foot models, for instance – or they can be general-purpose models. Most will work in commercials, such as hand or foot cream commercials, nail art ads, and pedicure ads.
However, the most lucrative option is usually working in the entertainment industry as a body part double for celebrities who don’t want to or can’t expose their own body parts.
7. Clinical Ethicists
💰 Median Salary: $105,636 per year
Clinical ethicists evaluate ethics in healthcare organizations and consult with their staff, patients, and families on ethical concerns. They help identify issues and find solutions for better policies and care.
A bachelor’s degree in medicine, public health, or philosophy is necessary for this occupation. You’ll need clinical experience and can get a Healthcare Ethics Consultant (HEC) Certification.
8. Voice Architect
💰 Median Salary: $118,235 per year
Voice architects have a highly technological job, designing voice network infrastructures for enterprises, such as on-premise and cloud phone systems. They create and improve VoIP (Voice over IP) solutions to help companies streamline communications through internet connections.
This profession typically requires a bachelor’s degree in engineering or a related field, but equivalent work experience might also get you the job.
9. Ethical Hacker
💰 Median Salary: $105,031 per year
Ethical hackers are the good guys fighting cybercrime. Governments and companies hire them to hack into their systems and find potential security vulnerabilities cybercriminals could exploit.
You’ll need advanced computer skills to be an ethical hacker, which typically requires a bachelor’s degree in information technology or a specific cybersecurity field. However, a completed course or relevant previous experience could be enough.
💰 Median Salary: $55,247 per year
Coroners in the US earn $55,247 annually, on average, but the best-paid ones can earn well over $126K.
Depending on where they’re employed, coroners can have an array of different responsibilities, including determining the cause of death, performing autopsies, collecting and analyzing crime scene evidence, identifying the deceased, and more.
It’s a taxing job and certainly not for everyone, but can be well worth it for those who have the stomach for it.
11. Ballet Master
💰 Median Salary: $101,140 per year
Ballet masters (or mistresses) hold dance classes at a professional ballet studio and teach dancers the elegant art of classical ballet. They’re former principal dancers and soloists who have performed professionally for several years before receiving the “master” title.
You don’t need a formal education to be a ballet master, only extensive professional experience. Some companies may require a graduate or bachelor’s degree in dance to teach ballet but will still value years of performance experience.
12. Senior Energy Consultant
💰 Median Salary: $108,002 per year
Energy consultants are some of the most valued professionals in times of climate change. They propose cost-effective solutions for better energy efficiency and minimal environmental impact, including renewable energy systems. They help industrial, commercial, and residential consumers live and work more sustainably.
While you only need a high school diploma or GED to be an energy consultant, a certification is a plus. A senior professional with a bachelor’s degree in engineering, physics, or renewable energy management can secure a higher salary.
💰 Median Salary: $105,900 per year
Actuaries help insurance companies and financial institutions assess and minimize financial risk. They use statistical and mathematical models to analyze data, like mortality, morbidity, and disability rates, to help create insurance policies, retirement plans, and pension plans.
You’ll need a background in mathematics, statistics, actuarial science, or a related field. However, as you’ll get on-the-job training, no additional experience is required.
14. Nuclear Power Reactor Operator
💰 Median Salary: $104,260 per year
Being a nuclear power reactor operator may sound intimidating, but this high-paying job can be a breeze. Your daily activities include monitoring reactors to ensure they run smoothly and adjusting control rods if necessary. Regular maintenance and potential repairs are also critical for maximum safety.
Extensive on-the-job training will prepare you for this technical job, for which you can apply with a high school diploma or an equivalent. You’ll also need to pass an annual US Nuclear Regulatory Commission license exam.
15. Commercial Diver
💰 Median Salary: $60,360 per year
Commercial divers can earn as much as $115,000 per year or more, depending on the specific tasks they are performing.
Commercial divers work underwater, most commonly installing underwater equipment, making repairs to the existing equipment, inspecting the environment, removing debris, and more.
Often, they need to use tools such as drills, underwater welding equipment, torches, and more, so they go through months of rigorous training. However, no formal education is required, only relevant certifications and experience.
16. Radiation Therapist
💰 Median Salary: $82,790 per year
The best-paid radiation therapists can earn as much as $107,830 annually, though it usually takes a few years to climb over the $100K threshold.
Most commonly working in the field of oncology, radiation therapists use sensitive machines to deliver radiation therapy to patients with tumors or different types of cancers.
Radiation therapists have numerous important duties and responsibilities, including maintaining the machines they’re using, monitoring patients and their reactions to treatments, tracking treatment processes, and more.
17. Certified Nurse Midwife
💰 Median Salary: $112,830 per year
Nurse midwives are some of the best-paid professionals in healthcare, easily earning up to $166,170 annually.
Certified nurse midwives don’t solely offer care during childbirth. They provide prenatal and postnatal care, assisting men and women with family planning, postpartum healthcare, routine screening, and more. They assist with conception, offer to counsel, perform diagnostic tests, and offer comprehensive reproductive healthcare.
It takes a few years of studying and obtaining relevant experience to become a certified nurse midwife, but it’s a well-paying position that’s well worth it.
18. Truck Driver
💰 Median Salary: $71,254 per year
On average, truck drivers in the US earn around $71,254 per year. However, many companies will pay experienced drivers as much as $146,138 or more annually.
While it doesn’t require much skill, keep in mind that it is a tough job. Truck drivers are known to spend as much as 12 hours daily on the road. They have strict deadlines and spend a lot of time away from home. However, they are usually well compensated for it.
There are no formal education requirements for this position, though anyone who wishes to become a truck driver needs to obtain a commercial driver’s license.
19. Oil Rig Operator
💰 Median Salary: $108,068 per year
Hardly anyone dreams of being an oil rig operator, spending months on an offshore platform in harsh working conditions to extract oil using heavy drilling machinery.
Many change their perspective after receiving the first paycheck. Still, the job is physically and mentally demanding, requiring long, sometimes even 12-hour shifts. The protective gear makes it even more uncomfortable.
Operating an oil rig requires only a high school diploma or GED, but it’s not always a requirement. Completing BOSIET (Basic Offshore Safety Induction and Emergency Training) is necessary, and you’ll get on-the-job training. Welding, mechanics, and heavy equipment operation classes available in many trade schools are a plus.
20. Air Traffic Controller
💰 Median Salary: $129,750 per year
Air traffic controllers monitor, authorize, and direct aircraft to ensure flight safety and minimize delays. They leverage radar sensors and communicate with pilots to streamline landings and takeoffs and assist in harsh weather conditions.
You’ll need an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in aviation to become an air traffic controller. You can earn it at an FAA-approved Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative (AT-CTI) school. Once you get the necessary degree, you must pass the Air Traffic Selection and Training (AT-SAT) exam at FAA Academy.
You don’t have to go the traditional route and join a business or tech career to earn over $100K a year. There are plenty of unique, even weird, career opportunities that could prove to be both better paying and more fulfilling. You just have to think outside the box to find a weird job that suits you.
However, keep in mind that regardless of the job you choose to pursue, you shouldn’t expect a six-figure salary right from the start – few careers will offer that much to beginners. Still, if you invest in your education, build up your skills, and gain enough experience, the jobs mentioned on this list can quickly turn out to be highly lucrative.
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