Unusual Jobs, Science Division

(Last Updated On: March 9, 2017)

Unusual jobs mechanic jonata 200px(Non) Science Fact:  Unusual jobs are a media standby for slow-news days.  Journalists vie to outdo each other in finding odd jobs that will grab the reader’s attention.

However, sometimes unusual jobs appear in the course of a news story.  A news article about the efforts of New Zealand fruit growers to grow kiwi fruit with an edible or peelable skin included the startling statistic that the country has 17 “kiwi sommeliers.”  Not tasters, mind you, but sommeliers.

OK, even “kiwi taster” would rank among unusual jobs when there are only 17 in New Zealand and, presumably, in the entire world.  A search of unusual jobs uncovers many candidates that generally fall into predictable categories (references given later):
Surprising:  banana gasser; snake milker; human statue; hot (horse) walker
Disgusting:  vomit cleaner (for roller coasters); crime scene cleaner; pet food tester; poop scoopers of many varieties
Odd-Sounding:  chicken sexer; smokejumper (parachuting firefighter); golf ball diver; citrus fruit dyer
The Stuff of Dreams:  mattress tester; waterslide tester; chocolate taster; island caretaker

What’s the attraction?  Perhaps if I’m having a bad day at work I’d like to fantasize about a wonderful job somewhere; or sigh with relief that some people have it worse than me.  Perhaps a young friend is thinking about careers and the thought comes, what if there’s some fabulous, little-heard-of occupation that would be just perfect for him or her?

Entertainment aside, you will rarely find regular full-time jobs advertised under any of these names.  Some of the “occupations” are merely one of many tasks performed by someone with a more prosaic job title.  Some of them are the fodder of consultants who may get a few hours of work now and then but who have to hustle if they want to pay the rent that way.  And most of the jobs listed have minimal educational requirements, so if a great job is sitting out there you can be sure that many people will be competing to capture it.

Science Speculation:  Since this is a science blog, are there unusual jobs in science that would be fascinating, or exciting, or unique?  When I looked around, I found more than a dozen such jobs.  One “unusual jobs” site in particular was especially rich in science jobs.  It’s Virginia Career VIEW, a website run by the Commonwealth of Virginia to encourage middle schoolers to think ahead about career choices.  It features 27 jobs, each one accented by a cute image of kids doing appropriate things, and over half of the jobs call for four years or more of college science.  Another great source, though not tweaked toward unusual jobs, is the Bureau of Labor Statistics guide to careers in the sciences.

There’s one important marker of a job that might deserve the serious attention of a young person, or a mature person looking for a career change.  A recognized occupation in science will always have a professional society that provides training, networking, career guidance, skills renewal – all the social connections that accompany a long-term endeavor.  And that society will (I claim) always be a dot-org: that is, it will have a web domain ending with .org.  It will not be one of the many dot-coms and dot-edus that sprout up in every field, intent on advancing their own goals.  Of course, some profit-making dot-com enterprises misleadingly register themselves as dot-orgs, so you have to be careful.  Some dot-orgs are societies of scientists, others are organizations that support companies and individuals in a particular industry.

So that this blog can climb on the bandwagon of unusual jobs, here’s a table I compiled of 14 unusual jobs in science.  The “Cluster” column refers to the broad field of study that includes this job.  Each job listed is an established profession or specialty that you can actually become proficient at and have a career in.

Cluster

Occupation

What They Do

Education

Professional Organizations

Links

Biology Animal Behaviorist Help animals be happy in your home or in a zoo Masters or PhD in physiology, biochemistry, biology, behavioral sciences

iaabc.org

VCV

Indiana

Biology Marine Animal Trainer Train animals to perform & protect their health Bachelors in animal science, marine biology, zoology, biology

imata.org

VCV

Chemistry Food Scientist Invent & develop new foods & flavors Bachelors or Masters in Food Science

www.ift.org

VCV

TargetJobs

BLS

Chemistry Forensic Scientist Document crime scenes; laboratory testing of evidence Bachelors in chemistry, biology or engineering plus MD or masters in forensic science or criminology

aafs.org

Prospects

BLS

FSU

Computers Game Designer & Developer Create & test games for entertainment, medicine or training Bachelors, perhaps Masters, in computer science, math or physics

igda.org

VCV

Study.com

Design 3D Graphic Designer / 3D Animator Create convincing animations Bachelors in graphic design or computer animation

aiga.org, cgsociety.org

VCV

FullSail

Design Hospitality Designer Design restaurants, hotels, cruise ships, resorts Bachelors in interior design or architecture

iida.org – hospitality

VCV

Design Theme Park Ride Designer & Engineer Invent & design exciting theme park attractions Bachelors in art, architecture, industrial design or
engineering.

iaapa.org

VCV

Design Toy Designer Invent & improve toys & their retail packaging Bachelors or masters in art, graphic design, industrial design, engineering, education, or child development.

toyassociation.org

VCV

Engineering Acoustical Engineer Design acoustics of theaters, arenas, meeting rooms Masters or PhD in Acoustics

acousticalsociety.org

VCV

Engineering Geotechnical Engineer Analyze foundations, tunnels, retaining walls Bachelors in civil engineering, Masters in civil engineering or geotechnical engineering

issmge.org

VCV

Healthcare Palliative & Hospice Caregiver Maximize a patient’s quality of life Bachelors or Masters in nursing

hpna.org

GlobalPost

HPNA

Psychology Laughter Therapist Help people find joy through their inner child Masters or PhD in social work or psychology

aath.org

Guardian

eHow

Psychology Traffic & Driving Psychologist Training, signage & counseling for improved safety PhD in psychology with traffic/driving specialization

iaapsy.org – division13

VCV

 

OK, maybe some of these occupations don’t have the same grab-your-arm visceral appeal as Mai Tai Tester or Michelin Restaurant Critic, but still…

Can unusual job titles help motivate young people in career choices?  Do scientists get a kick out of having unusual jobs that provide conversational fodder?

Additional Sources:

Virginia Career VIEW Unusual Occupations

The Most Unusual Jobs And Crazy Careers

The 10 weirdest jobs you’ve never heard of

15 Jobs You Never Knew Existed

10 Unusual Jobs That Pay Surprisingly Well

Drawing Credit: jonata, on openclipart.org

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