Chicken sexer, iceberg mover and 13 more of the weirdest jobs on Earth
We all gotta pay the bills somehow, and a nine-to-five desk job isn't for everyone. Luckily, humans are adaptable, capable of turning even the most "unique" gifts and odd skills into cold, hard cash. It takes all kinds, after all.
If you're looking to get off the hamster wheel, or simply wish your job made for better dinner-party conversation, you might want to consider this curated list. Mic dug around to find the most unusual gigs around, including everything from feeling faces to inspecting potato chips.
Here are 15 of the strangest jobs that you can actually get paid for out there — ranked from quirky to "that's a real job??" You're welcome.
15. Professional bridesmaids
There's a new class of bridesmaids for hire — willing to be on-hand for special days — for a price. After all, who says money can't buy friends? Everybody occasionally needs a few extra bodies to fill a room.
And this service is not meant for just friendless Bridezillas: Some simply want their real friends to be able to chill during the reception: "Brides also hire me because ... they are looking for a professional to handle all the dirty work so their bridesmaids can get to the open bar a whole lot faster," Jen Glantz, one such practitioner, told CNBC.
Alas, you might find that working as a bridal party member can be a competitive line of work: Glantz told CNBC said she has had more than 10,000 applicants trying to join her burgeoning business.
Estimated pay: Between $500 and $2,000 per wedding, according to Glantz.
14. Professional mourner
Clearly a lot more serious than crashing a wedding for pay, but you can work in a similar way by attending funerals to help fill extra seats, too. Firms like RentAMourner.co.uk hire people to put on black, show up and help out.
"Rent-A-Mourner can supply professional, discreet people to attend funerals and wakes," its website explains. "If you simply need to increase visitor numbers or introduce new faces, we can help."
Estimated pay: About $68 per wake, according to Time, although the placement service takes a cut.
13. Tampon tester
There's a reason the string in your tampon never breaks. It's because some fearless soldier has devoted their lives to testing different prototypes of tampons, selecting the best ones for you.
A tampon tester is not just looking for string and structural strength, but also, obviously, absorbency.
Estimated pay: $26,000 per year.
12. Potato chip inspector
How do you think your potato chips ended up looking so uniform in their bag? They weren't all born that way, as potatoes — like people — come in all different shapes and sizes.
The person to thank for your Platonically-ideal chips actually stands in front of a conveyer belt picking out all the odd-looking, burnt and broken ones.
Love a real challenge? Potato chips reportedly may clump together as they come out of the fryer.
Estimated pay: $35,000 per year.
11. Face feeler
The face feeler tests out the efficacy of different face products, from shaving gels to face creams. The goal? Smooth, clear skin.
Strange as it may be to spend most of your day going up to people you don't know and stroking their faces, it sure beats testing deodorant.
Estimated pay: $26,000 per year.
10. Sex toy guinea pig
Just as face products have to be tested, so do sex toys. You can't just let those vibrators on the loose without proper testing.
Some people make their money by getting sent sex toys regularly, trying them out and then reporting back to the manufacturer regarding how good — or bad — they were. One British woman reportedly teased out close to $40,000 in exchange for her feedback.
Estimated pay: $39,300 per year in certain cases.
9. Dog food tester
Yes. This is real. Patricia Patterson, a dog food tester at Kansas State University's Sensory Analysis Center, told the Guardian in a 2013 piece on odd jobs that she's looking — or tasting — for flavor and texture. She'll also look for foods with less crumbs, a major allure for pet parents.
Talk about an iron stomach: To get the comparisons right, Patterson generally compares the dog food against other human foods like cream cheese and olives. Yum.
Estimated pay: Between $25,000 and $60,000 per year, depending on experience.
8. Armpit and kitty litter sniffer
Somebody's got to figure out if a new deodorant works or if that kitty litter will make your apartment smell like a stale cat box instead of spring showers.
And that person is a highly-skilled odor sniffer. They can help with the development of a huge range of products and they understand the chemistry of odors. They're the people who figure out how to make the smell of nail varnish less likely to give you a headache. And they're the people who make their way across a line of people with their arms up — and smell their armpits to see which deodorant was most effective: a gift to us all.
Estimated pay: Between $19,000 and $52,000 per year.
Fish counters help give the commercial fishing industry and regulators an idea of how much there is to go around.
The Guardian's odd jobs piece also singled out one Julie Booker for her fishy work: In 10 minute intervals, she counts fish in the Ballard Locks, between Puget Sound and Lake Washington. She'll stay up till 1 a.m. on occasion to keep up with the fishes, and her results help shape local fishing rights.
She's also likely to school any record-keeper when it comes to fast counting: She once documented 450 sockeyes in 10 minutes.
Estimated pay: About $16.42 per hour.
6. Professional passenger pusher
Morning commutes are rough. Especially in some particularly crowded Asian cities like Tokyo and Shanghai, it would seem, where municipal authorities in the crowded cities hire professional pushers to push overflow into stuffed train carriages.
So if you're all about space efficiency and you've got some muscle on you, this might be the job for you.
5. Chicken sexer
Thankfully the demands of this job aren't quite as dubious as its title suggests, but it's still a little gross.
Chicken sexers are tasked with identifying the genders of chicks, which is no easy task. Apparently a common way of determining chicken gender is to squeeze the chick "until it relieves itself," thereby getting a view of where the emission came out from. Fun.
Estimated pay: Up to $61,300 per year.
4. Foot sex worker
You can read all about this line of work in a 2013 New York Post story: It documents a New York University student named "Olivia," who subsidized her college experience by going into foot sex work. She let men fondle, kiss and suck on her feet for their sexual gratification.
Is this for everyone? Maybe not. Is it legal? Sort of.
Either way, it can be lucrative: According to Olivia, who said she worked part-time hours, she raked in $200 in just 40 minutes.
Estimated pay: $300 per hour.
Here's a job for someone who's looking for something a little quieter.
Even icebergs park in the wrong place sometimes and they need to be towed away. After the Titanic sunk, the International Ice Patrol was set up to address the problem and keep the seas clear. Its job is to keep an eye on the North Atlantic Ocean and move any icebergs that might get in the way of a ship or an oil rig or anything that doesn't do well with iceberg collision.
One hitch? You may have to join the Coast Guard, not a walk in the park.
Estimated pay: Coast Guard recruits start at roughly $20,000 annually.
2. People who give small electric shocks
You might have to go south of the border to find this job. In Mexico, there are people known as "toques," whose job it is to administer electric shocks. More impressively, toques get people to actually pay them for the privilege.
Prime locations are bars and clubbing scenes — generally where there are lots of drunk people around. Passersby will pay toques, who travel with their own electric shock box, a few dollars to get shocked to varying degrees. Whether the shocks make partygoers feel more sober or more drunk appears to be some matter of some debate.
Estimated pay: About $50 a night.
1. Dog surfing instructor
Need we say more? It's a surfing instructor... for dogs. Or, more specifically, for rich people who have dogs.
Pooches also seem take to surfing pretty quickly — there's even a competitive dog surfing circuit.
Estimated pay: Potentially $80 per 90 minute session.
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