When someone says “career,” you think of teacher, doctor, lawyer – right? Here are a few other, lesser-known options.

Teacher, Lawyer, Doctor—when someone says “career,” these classic jobs are the first ones you think about, right?

Yet thousands of career choices exist beyond these basics. From jobs at the bleeding edge of change to jobs so ancient you’ve probably forgotten what they do, the careers you don’t know about probably outweigh the ones you do. And in this age of competition, getting further off the beaten trail can be a good way to differentiate yourself from the pack.

We’ve found seven uncommon careers – you know, the ones where you’ve seen the title, but always scratch your head wondering “what do they do?” – with awesome and unusual perks.

1. Chief Listening Officer

You may not have heard of a Chief Listening Officer, but they’ve probably heard from you. One rung higher than a social media manager, CLOs closely monitor social platforms and conversations to keep an eye (and ear!) on what’s being said about their company or brand. Your work enables a fast response to any and all complaints, issues, or misinformation.

Why it’s awesome: This job is extremely new—according to Forbes, the first-ever Chief Listening Officer position was created in 2010. But it’s on the rise. As more organizations rely on social media for market research and customer service, the position of CLO will only become more important.

Average salary: $31,000 – $95,000

2. Food Stylist

Drool-inducing restaurant commercials and sumptuous magazine shots of delectable food don’t come easy: it takes the work of a food stylist to make it all happen. Armed with cooking skills, creative style, and tools ranging from lipstick to lard, you get food ready for its close-up.

Why it’s awesome: This is one of those rare culinary jobs that provides a creative outlet, but doesn’t require you to slave away in a restaurant kitchen.

Average salary: $26,000 – $77,000

3. Global Mobility Consultant

In the globalizing business world, a whole industry has sprung up around relocating workers from one place to another. As a global mobility consultant, you help employees make smooth transitions into their new homes—whether it’s in Bangkok, Berlin, or the next state over.

Why it’s awesome: If you’re the type who enjoys travel and likes learning about other cultures’ systems and traditions, this career could be a perfect fit. But perhaps the best perk is the job outlook: As companies continue to expand across borders, this position is expected to grow by 21 percent (faster than average) over the next few years.

Average salary: $29,000-$93,000

4. Computational Linguist

Computational Linguists help computers and humans communicate with other. More specifically, you create computer programs that can translate, transcribe, and comprehend regular, human language.

Why it’s awesome: This interdisciplinary field is the front line for exciting technological areas like speech recognition and artificial intelligence. In other words, you could help create robots (!). Enough said.

Average salary:  $58,000 – $153,000

5. Greensman

Have you ever noticed Greensman on the film credits role? It’s just one of the many movie jobs with baffling titles (see: Best Boy, Dolly Grip, Libra Technician).

Yet the role is fairly straightforward: You’re in charge of designing and arranging of all plant materials—both real and fake—on a film set. Note: Greensman is an archaic term that can refer to either men or women.

Why it’s awesome: From alien swamplands to a Jane Austen garden, this job lets you use your artistic skills to create whole new worlds. You couldn’t be farther away from a cubicle.

Average salary: $26,000 – $84,000

6. Parabolic Expert

If you dream of a high-flying career, look no further. Parabolic experts train people how to function in zero-g. According to Wired magazine’s profile of parabolic specialist Tim Bailey: “Tim’s job is the closest thing there is to being an astronaut without actually going into space. He spends his days assisting and training people in aircraft flights that simulate a microgravity environment—effectively he’s a flight attendant teaching people how to fly.”

Why it’s awesome: Your office space has no gravity.

Average salary: Unknown

7. Futurist

Futurists are half market researcher and half visionary. In this inter-disciplinary career, you examine the present to detect clues to the future. Your predictions about shifting trends help to guide future business decisions.

Why it’s awesome: You’re always ahead of the curve—and this applies to the job market too. In fact, you might predict the jobs that will be on a list like this a decade from now—like Global System Architects, Urban Agriculturalists, and 3D Food-Printer Engineer. Sounds wild, but according to futurist Thomas Frey: “As a rule of thumb, 60 percent of the jobs 10 years from now haven’t been invented yet.” Pretty crazy, right?

Average salary: $33,000 – $111,000

All salary and job outlook data is from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Which of these jobs sounds most appealing?

Annie Favreau works for Inside Jobs, a site that helps people discover careers they’ll love and build strong, successful futures. Join the conversation on Twitter at @InsideJobs!


  1. Bill Van Eron

    I love these new titles and the work itself. I still would love to help create or see a better career mapping system so students/people could connect better, earlier and realize more.

    • Annie Rose Favreau

      Thanks for the good words Bill! I absolutely agree about the need for a better (and earlier) understanding of careers. Inside Jobs, we’re working hard to help both students and career changers see all their options. Glad you liked the piece!

  2. Mary Clinton

    Great article! I am adding Greensman to my list of cool second career job options. And I agree with Bill. In college, it took me 3 majors to discover my strength and passion. I would have saved a lot of money if that self-discovery had happened before college. 🙂

  3. Brian Roy

    I believe there should be a mandatory class in high school dedicated to searching and discovering as many options as possible. Many of my friends went trough the same situation you went trough Mary Clinton. I never knew about any of these jobs and the salary on each one is impressive. Great article Annie!

    I give anyone the permission to add me on Facebook. I love to network.

  4. Keshav Ram Rajasekar

    Interesting list of jobs! Food Stylist and Futurist appeals very much as a second job!

  5. Barbara Saunders

    I like this list. Especially since it includes some options for people who don’t like teamwork. The only independent type of career I knew about after college was field sales.

  6. Bill Van Eron

    Hi Annie,
    I know Thomas Frey just from a few meetings way back when we were founding members of teh Innovation Network with Alex Pattakos and Doug Hall and just recently reconnected but I also remember Faith Popcorn (Popcorn Report). I am working with a group out of CSU that states they will be the EHarmony of Career search so that is promising for what is to come. I have been doing some work on social communities, but not all the data mining and intrusive advertising, rather how to put more power into people powered communities. Should be interesting and powerful if I can refine it and get it funded. I bet with a model like that we can all brainstorm jobs that should go away.

  7. Jerry Grines

    Great article and pice Annie, just like its said before you graduate the information is already obsolete, how does one go about finding these new 7 jobs and requirements.

  8. Carmen Duncan

    This is a great article and certainly gets folks thinking beyond mainstream positions. Under the tutelage of my business, Mission Accomplished Transition Services, I work with adolescents and young adults on researching careers and educational opportunities that are of interest to them. So many times a young person will mention their desire to be an attorney, doctor, actor/ress, etc. and attending specific educational institutions, but he/she is not educated about the array of possibilities. As a Youth Services Consultant, I work with students and their families to identify the “right” path to success. In addition I facilitate interactive workshops to fully engage youth and young adults in conversations and activities that encourage them to think critically about their future.

    If you are interested in bringing me to your school, youth/young adult focused program or home go to http://www.matransitionservices.com to contact me.

  9. Kem Pu

    Very impressive article. I have read each and every point and found it very interesting.

  10. CellCharge24

    I should become a Food Stylist.It’s awesome!

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