Want to get paid to eat ice cream, watch TV and fly around the world? You can. Check out our guide to a few offbeat careers for your future and how to get them.
The gig: Spending days at the mall talking to people and figuring out what’s cool.
The expert: Liana Morgado, Research Manager, Look-Look
The best part: Talking to trend-setting teens and traveling around the country to find them.
Getting there: Watch TV and read magazines. Then study sociology, anthropology, psychology, marketing or business in college.
Cool fact: Being conscientious is “in.” (Think Brad Pitt in his environmentally-friendly Toyota Prius.)
The gig: Tasting 60 packages of ice cream each day to ensure the quality is consistent.
The expert: John Harrison, Official Taste Tester, Dreyer’s & Edy’s Grand Ice Cream
The best part: Isn’t it obvious? “I get paid to taste ice cream,” says Harrison.
Getting there: Keep your taste buds in tip-top shape, so no onions, garlic or spicy foods that can tweak your taster. In college, pursue a food science or dairy science degree.
Cool fact: The tasting spoon is made of pure gold. Unlike wood or plastic, it doesn’t have an aftertaste. Unlike silver, it doesn’t tarnish.
The gig: Cooking, arranging and making sure food looks yummy in TV commercials and magazine ads.
The expert: Brian Preston-Campbell, food stylist
The best part: Facing extreme assignments like styling a burnt goat head snack for New York Magazine.
Getting there: Work in a restaurant to learn basic food prep, cooking and baking. Then think about culinary or art school.
Cool fact: The ice in most TV commercial drinks is made of acrylic or glass, not water.
The gig: Work with chemists, engineers and designers to create and improve markers, crayons and colored pencils.
The expert: Dave Rowan, Research & Development Manager, Crayola
The best part: “I get to carve out a piece of my day just to be creative and think like a kid,” says Rowan.
Getting there: You’ll need a solid technical background. Take chemistry now and engineering in college.
Cool fact: While it only takes 10 minutes to make a crayon, it can take up to a year to come up with a new shade and name it. Who knew all that work went into mango tango?
The gig: Sketch designs and build prototypes of Barbie’s clothes, accessories and hairstyles.
The expert: Cassidy Park, Vice-President of Barbie Product Design & Development, Mattel
The best part: “Helping to inspire children,” says Park.
Getting there: Draw a lot. After high school, consider going to art or design school.
Cool fact: You and Barbie could be wearing the same shirt. Park’s design staff is inspired by the same sources and uses similar fabrics as human clothing designers.
The gig: Rescue and rehabilitate reptiles confiscated by law enforcement.
The expert: Russell Johnson, President, Phoenix Herpetological Society
The best part: “Dispelling myths and fears,” says Johnson. When he isn’t out wrangling alligators or vaccinating rattlesnakes, he teaches kids to respect their scaly friends.
Getting there: Volunteer to work with snakes at a zoo or animal shelter. Then study exotic animals at veterinary school.
Cool fact: Having a little reptile as a pet can be a big responsibility. A cute 12-inch-long crocodile can grow to 8 feet and live 30 years.
The gig: Traveling the world in search of rare and expensive timber, then supplying it to jetliner companies, RV manufacturers and custom cabinetmakers.
The expert: Keith Stephens, President, Woodworkers Source
The best part: Seeing the world. According to Stephens, Bolivia and Peru have a “combination of cultures you don’t see anywhere else.”
Getting there: Math and foreign languages are key. Before you head to Paraguay with an ax, you’d better brush up on your Spanish.
Cool fact: Wood can be super expensive. Rare African blackwood can cost up to $90 a foot.