10 Cool Jobs That Won’t Make You a Lot of Money
Professional skydivers, scuba divers and video game testers have the opportunity to do what they love most — and make money off it. But while these people might be having fun out in the sun or enjoying the company of animals, they might not be bringing home big paychecks. Here are 10 fun jobs around the world and how little they make every year.
Skydiving Instructor: $20,000
Skydivers have the rare opportunity to jump out of planes — and get paid for the experience. As a skydiving instructor, you’ll be working with skydiving amateurs, quelling the fears of first-time fliers and helping friends cross an item off their bucket lists.
To become an instructor, you’ll need accreditation through an organization like the United States Parachute Association. Because many skydivers are paid per jump, and only make between $20 and $40 on each jump, the typical salary for a skydiver is around $20,000, assuming 500 jumps per year.
Video Game Tester: $18,000 to $55,000
Video game testers, sometimes called quality assurance testers, spend their days playing video games still in development, discovering and reporting defects. Although testers need to play the same games over and over, they can get free copies of games and pick up side work as video game reviewers.
Although a starting salary for a video game tester is a meager $18,000, the position can be a foot into the industry, allowing you to work up to a more prestigious position, like programmer or producer, according to the Game Industry Career Guide.
Hostel Worker: $20,610
Hostel workers have the rare opportunity to travel the world, jumping from one job to the next. Some hostel workers even get to live rent-free. Unfortunately, if you plan to work at a hostel, you’ll be traveling on a tight budget.
Katie Dawes of The Hostel Girl jumps from hostel to hostel across Europe, and she says that while wages are low, she gets to meet people from around the world.
“Hostel jobs that pay are hard to find, and when you find one the wage is often very low,” she said. “But the range of nationalities and ages you socialize with, even just for a day or two at a time, opens you up to so many different cultures and lifestyles that, for me, it’s absolutely worth it. I’ve never known another job like it, and of course the bonus comes in the form of pub crawls and city tours with new friends every day.”
Making a living as a comedian is a far-fetched dream, according to a survey conducted by the Centre for Cultural and Entrepreneurial Studies at Goldsmith College London. Of 540 comedians surveyed 55 percent had earned less than 500 pounds ($763) in the past six months. One common hurdle among comedians: finding and getting in touch with venues for work.
But comedians like Dan Nainan sometimes find their passion in entertaining audiences, and the pay takes a backseat to the fun.
“I was a senior engineer with Intel Corp. My job was to travel the world with the company’s senior executives, doing technical demonstrations on stage at events, and I was incredibly nervous about speaking on stage. I took a comedy class to get over the fear, and the comedy kind of took off,” said Nainan, who has performed in 25 countries. “The pay is sometimes very low, or nonexistent, but I love what I do!”
On the other hand, when a comedian makes it big, they really do make it big. Amy Schumer recently broke into the mainstream and landed a TV deal with Comedy Central. Schumer’s net worth is now estimated at $6 million. Even Dane Cook, who fell out of the limelight, has a net worth of $30 million. Because many comedians enjoy the stage, they have the opportunity to become actors on the side too, offering equally volatile but potentially higher pay.
Scuba Diving Instructor: $35,000
If you want to explore an underwater world that most don’t get to see — and help others do the same — a career as a scuba diving instructor might be the best job for you. Training starts when you earn basic open water diver certifications. From there, you can then earn certifications through organizations like the Professional Association of Diving Instruction (PADI), the largest global certification agency in the world, to be an assistant instructor, instructor or divemaster.
But don’t expect to ever make enough to buy a Maserati. The average salary for divermasters is $35,000, according to SimplyHired. Average pay does vary, however, depending on the company, location, industry and your experience.
Umpire and Referee: $24,090
If you are always second-guessing the home plate umpire, you might want to consider a career in the field. Umpires, referees and other sports officials spend their days officiating competitive athletic and sporting events, calling out infractions and handing down penalties.
Educational requirements vary depending on the state and local sports association you work in, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Although some states have no formal education requirements, other states require umpires, referees and other sports officials to have a high school diploma. As of May 2014, the BLS estimated annual salaries for sports officials is $24,090. So the next time you want to heckle the ref, remind yourself he’s probably doing it for the love of the game rather than for the love of the money.
Fitness Trainer and Aerobics Instructor: $34,980
With typical 9-to-5 jobs, fitting in a workout can be a challenge for most Americans. For fitness trainers and aerobic instructors, working out is the job. Jasmine Bryant, who runs Be Natural Be You, said being a fitness instructor is a fulfilling job, even if the pay isn’t stellar.
“I am a Zumba fitness instructor and I make about $18 per class. While I’ve had the opportunity to work for private facilities, my current class is at a local gym and they normally pay between $15 to $20 depending on skill, experience and certifications,” she said. “Even though I don’t make a lot, I love my class and being a fitness instructor.”
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median hourly wage was just $16.82 for fitness trainers and aerobics instructors, who often hold certifications from organizations like the American Council on Exercise.
Supermodel Gisele Bündchen is set to earn $44 million in 2015, enough to make her the 46th highest-paid celebrity, according to Forbes. But most models won’t earn that much money in their lifetimes, even with calendars full of photo shoots and runway walks. The median annual salary for models in May 2014 was just $19,970, or $9.60 an hour, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Animal Care Worker: $19,970
If you prefer pets over people — and high pay — a career as an animal care and service worker might prove ideal. Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics put the median salary of animal care workers at $19,970 in 2012, more recent figures suggest your salary might be higher. A survey conducted by PayScale put the annual average between $17,700 and $40,400 for animal care technicians, many of whom also reported high levels of job satisfaction.
Janet Huey, who operates Pet Stuff Resale, said that while the pay might not be stellar, her job is. “I buy and sell recycled pet supplies,” she said of her unique business. “I get to live in scrubs for much of the year and get to play with folks’ dogs a lot. What’s not to love other than not so much money?”
Ski Patrol or Lifeguard: $19,090
Ski patrol and lifeguards spend the seasons providing assistance and protection to vacationers on the slopes, on the beach and at the pool. Beside enjoying the weather, people working as ski patrol typically get free passes for the slopes, making the job a sought-after position by college students. Meanwhile, lifeguards get to the enjoy the sun — and occasionally save lives. As of May 2014, the annual median salary for lifeguards, ski patrol and other recreational protective service workers is $19,090, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.