What do you want to be when you grow up? Chances are if you ask that question in any third grade class, your answers will include at least one fireman, one policeman, one cowboy and an assortment of other jobs that are glamorized on television and books.
But there are far more jobs than those that make good reading and television. Some of the most interesting and unusual jobs are those that most third graders have never heard of – unless, of course, a relative happens to be a flavorist or a research chef.
A flavorist will go through five years of intensive post- degree training, take a certification test and spend two more years as a junior flavorist before having a chance at one of the lucrative jobs as a full-fledged flavorist for a major flavor house. What”s a flavor house, you”re wondering?
It”s a research lab that develops flavors that are then purchased by soft drink manufacturers, baking companies, cereal companies and many other food manufacturers. Earnings prospects? In the neighborhood of $50,000 to $80,000 annually at entry level.
Perfusionist Since I brought it up – a perfusionist is a specialist in keeping the heart functioning with heart/lung devices during, before and after heart surgery, as well as in some circumstances when the heart is failing. It”s one of those jobs that offer many exciting moments – the perfusionist interviewed may work in the back of an ambulance, in an operating theater or even in a foreign country. There are only 21 schools in the country that offer the specialized training needed to complete program requirements for a perfusionist, and altogether they graduate less than 150 students a year. An entry level perfusionist can expect to earn $58,000 to $61,000 a year, and one with ten years experience can earn $85,000 to $100,000 a year.
For a flavorist, that expertise is in the blending of chemical components to create new flavors for use in the food industry. A chemist must put in up to seven extra years of training to be able to designate themselves as a flavorist, but at the end of that time, they can expect to earn well over $50,000 a year.
Usability Engineer How would you like a job that lets you shape new software and web sites into something that most users will find enjoyable and easy to use? Usability engineer is one of the jobs that has grown more important over the past several decades. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists about 3500 people working as usability engineers in the country, but that number may be higher or lower than registered members of their professional organization. A usability engineer can expect to make in the neighborhood of $75,000 to $100,000 annually. Since the job is so new, there”s no defined “career path”, but a computer related degree with a minor concentration in psychology is likely to help.
Other jobs may be in niche industries, such as museums or entertainment. Those might include jobs like clown and historical interpreter. Both are performers, but the aim of their art is very different.
Not all clowns are employed by circuses. There are many who freelance, working for flower and message delivery services and hospitals where they entertain children. They may do corporate events, children”s birthday parties or carnivals and fairs. Their annual income is dependent on how well they can market themselves, who they work for, and whether or not they are employed full time.
Those are only five of the roughly two dozen unusual jobs highlighted in the Occupational Outlook Quarterly. In addition to the column “You”re a What?” the OOQ features articles of interest to those entering or re-entering the job market, and those that work with them.
Those are only a few examples of non-traditional jobs that few people consider when asked “what do you want to be…?”
There are hundreds of others, ranging from personal concierge to dog walker to medical aesthetician. If you”re interested in learning about other unusual jobs, pay a visit to the web site of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and wander through their handbook of occupations. You”ll be surprised at the new horizons you”ll find listed.