SALARIES / AUG. 06, 2015
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5 Non-Traditional Jobs That Pay Surprisingly Well

Yes, I’m going to be completely obtuse and use a cliché Robert Frost quote to start this article: “Two roads diverged in a wood and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” Now tell me, is there a better quote to use for this article about non-traditional jobs? Well… I’m waiting, is there? There isn’t; you would have found it by now. Anyway, not everyone is cut out for the banal nine to five, five days a week, but everyone needs a source of income so they can live, so what is a fire-juggling freak like you to do? Well, here are some non-conventional jobs that pay surprisingly well.

See Also: Killer Jobs! 10 Most Deadly Professions

1. Bellmaker

I know there is a sexual joke here that relates to the male anatomy, but I’m so above that. Also known as bellfounders, these artisans of melted bronze have been continuing a centuries’ old tradition that involves a lot more than pouring molten metal into casts. Bellfounders actually need a musical ear in order to fine tune the bells (by removing material from it once it’s finished). You can also consider them sculptors to a limited capacity since they also have to engrave and decorate the finished bells. Best of all is that there’s not that much competition since there are only a few foundries across the world that specialize in casting bells, and even fewer people that actually do it. Although it’s very labor-intensive, a large bell can fetch around $65,000 and an average-sized one about $31,000 – not a bad pay day when the bell ends.

2. Swordmaker (Actually knifemaker, but they’re about the same)

Before you put my name on a blade, hunt me down and chop me up in small wolf-bite pieces, I am fully aware that knifemakers aren’t swordmakers and vice versa. One guild (that’s for the Medieval dorks amongst you) makes short blades, the other long blades. Huge difference, huh? Well, anyway, this form of forging (and I swear this is the last metal-related profession on this list) is a little bit more financially fickle than bellfounding, as the competition is intense and to establish yourself as a competent swordmaker or knifemaker might take decades. But if you manage to even enter the middle tier, you can feasibly sell your knives for anywhere between $500 and $1,000. Hand-forged swords on the other hand always break into the four-digit, single decimal sums (that’s the thousands for the un-math-y). They can sell for tens of thousands of dollars if they carry a bit of pedigree with them, too. And let’s be honest: how many Linkedin profiles have “Master Swordmaker” as a skill endorsement?

3. Arms Dealer

OK, so maybe this does involve forging, but much earlier in the product sales process. As mentioned in an article I wrote about working in the black market, arms dealers can work both legally and illegally. We’ll go with the legal side of things since I already covered the type of arms dealer that deal from the darker side of things.

Arms dealers are heavily regulated, because just as every 80s and 90s movie has repeatedly said: “This technology would be catastrophic if it fell into the wrong hands”. You need special licenses from the United States (if that’s your primary country of residence) and you can expect to be heavily scrutinized by N.A.T.O., the U.N., and you native country’s military and intelligence service. Again, these are measures to make sure that the weapons sold aren’t going to the nationalist religious fanatics…well, anywhere. Zealots are annoying enough when they knock on your door at 2 p.m. on a Sunday while you try to sleep off a hangover, now imagine them armed with RPGs and Kalashnikovs.

So, the person or legal entity (usually other governments) receiving the weapons then needs to sign extensive paperwork certifying that they in fact are the people that are going to have and use the bought armaments while also being subject to the same scrutiny as the arms dealers. From there on out, an arms dealer is basically like a wholesale buyer. With the appropriate paperwork in hand, they will visit locations (mostly in the former eastern bloc where there are many weapon factories) and start bidding on stock against other arms dealers trying to get stock for their own deals. Within N.A.T.O. countries like Bulgaria, the dealer will undergo another check when the local government will call the U.S. Defense Attaché System and reconfirm the legality of the transaction. Then you make million (or even billion) dollar commission and call it a day.

They once said “war is hell”, but for these guys it’s more like “war is sell”. I know it’s bad grammar; I heard it in a movie and thought it sounded catchy. Who’s the writer here? You or me?

4. Brothel Manager

Yes, this is a thing, and you can read another article of mine if you are interested in making a career selling sex (I know we seem to like weird deviances, but we like to delve into the wilder side of jobs here. It’s so much more interesting, after all).

Managing a brothel is legal in a few places of the world, which helps with the regulation of health standards, while avoiding the exploitation of workers. Sure, you’re not going to be a top earner, but it pays a little bit better than the national average salary. That makes sense, too, because the reputation of the establishment lies squarely on the shoulders of its manager. Transactions, money, and the health and safety of employees (and in some cases, clients) all lie in this person’s hands.

In many cases, the manager will also offer emotional support to the employees if there is a death amongst them (no matter how low the levels of exploitation are, sex workers have very high levels of substance and alcohol abuse). Another disadvantage is the fact that it would be more than challenging to add “Brothel Manager” to your résumé, putting you in danger of being stuck in a similar position. The good thing is that you aren’t a pimp but a manager, thus absolving you of any obligation to wear feather boas and garishly colored floor-length coats.

5. Jiggle Composer

I’m sorry, I meant jingle composer, but I got your attention, didn’t I?

Well, if you’re unfamiliar with the work of jingle composers, let me tell you that they are the most evil of musical individuals (well, sans Justin Bieber; I’m still trying to convince myself that he isn’t the Devil’s son). You know the music from the commercials that you just can’t get out of your head? Well, you can blame that on jingle composers. They actually get rewarded handsomely for getting annoying, repetitive tunes stuck in our heads with salaries ranging between $42,000 and $85,000 annually. Not bad for a musician that couldn’t cut it as a concert pianist. Yeah, I went there! That’s for all the stupid songs you made me hum incisively throughout the years, you rat bastards!

See Also: 5 Jobs in History That Would Have Killed You

Are there any other non-traditional jobs that you would like to add to the list? Let us know in the comments section below!

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