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Saturday, February 12, 2011

I actually get paid to do this! -- Meet 10 people with surprising, unusual jobs

Their jobs may not be the most common in the world, but they are certainly some of the most interesting. Meet 10 people with unusual positions that might make the rest of the workforce a wee bit envious:

1.  Chocolatier
What kid doesn't wish he could grow up to work in a candy factory? As chief chocolatier and vice president of operations for Bissinger's Handcrafted Chocolatier in St. Louis, Mo., Dave Owens is a real-life Willy Wonka. Besides making sure that the molasses puffs are up to par and the chocolate-caramel lollipops are just perfectly chewy, he also helps the 340-year-old company develop new products by putting a spin on its traditional recipes (margarita salt caramels, anyone?).

2.  Professional rum drinker
While the title sounds like something you might have dreamed of becoming during college, Chicago-based Edward Hamilton takes his rum seriously. Hamilton has spent 20 years sailing the Caribbean learning about rum, and he shares his knowledge with companies in the adult beverage industry. He also writes books, serves as an expert source for media inquiries about rum and operates the website Ministry of Rum.
3.  Social media trainer
Though it may look like she's "playing" on the computer all day, Kerry Rego of Santa Rosa, Calif., is actually hard at work. As a social media trainer, Rego customizes Facebook pages, sets up e-mail newsletters and teaches individuals and businesses that a "Tweet" is more than a noise a bird makes.

4.  Game designer
Like Rego, Jim Zielinski often looks like he is playing during working hours. As a senior game designer with Incredible Technologies in Arlington Heights, Ill., he is paid to dream up greens, sand traps and water hazards for Golden Tee's virtual golf courses. To add elements of realism to the fictitious fairways, Zielinski studies and incorporates native plants and wildlife into the settings.

5.  Tour package organizer
When Ludus Tours organizes trips to events such as Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, or the recent Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada, someone needs to make sure that the clients are having a good time. Enter poor Victoria Whyte, a public relations manager who is often called upon to leave her desk to scout out areas first-hand and help vacationers find things like the best dance bars around Pamplona, Spain, when in town for the Running of the Bulls.

6.  Professional bargain hunter
Karen Hoxmeier of Murrieta, Calif., not only benefits from finding a good bargain -- she gets paid to pass it along. What started out more than a decade ago as a hobby has developed into, a website devoted to great deals, coupon codes and other ways to save. Stores pay Hoxmeier a commission to list and sell their merchandise, and thousands of members take advantage of not having to scout out deals on their own.

7.  Matchmaker
While many of us have played amateur matchmaker by setting up friends on dates, Emily Fry puts her knack for pairing to professional use. As president of In Good Company, an upscale matchmaking service located in Chicago, Fry gets to meet new and interesting people every day and find out what makes them tick. Then, she matches up clients and waits to see if the fireworks start.

8.  Personal historian
Another worker who gets to meet interesting people on a daily basis is Corina Kellam, founder of Life History Books. Individuals and families hire her team of personal historians to conduct interviews, collect photos and organize the information into high-quality books that preserve personal memories for generations.

9.  Certified image consultant
Sort of a modern-day fairy godmother, Julie Maeder of New Leaf Image Consulting in Troy, Mich., helps improve her clients' self-esteem through style and wardrobe changes. In addition to shopping for garments and accessories that specifically flatter each individual, she raids their closets to "edit out everything that doesn't fit, flatter or make them feel fantastic." She even does hair and make-up "makeovers" for those wanting a greater change.

10.  Corporate comedian
Finally, imagine getting paid "to make people laugh so hard that they almost wet their pants." This is what Kevin Carroll of Westport, Conn., says he does as a corporate comedian -- someone hired to invigorate business events and drive home key messages in a humorous manner. Carroll's specialty is roasting: creating a custom, good-natured presentation (complete with Photo-shopped slides) based on tidbits he learns beforehand about key people. "It creates great energy and a buzz in the room and sends everyone off on a high."

By Beth Braccio Hering, Special to CareerBuilder

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