Looking for a unique job? There are a myriad of rare jobs out there that are in demand and pay well. Maybe one is right for you! In this article, we’ll take a look at eight rare jobs you might never have previously considered.
If you ask a child what they want to be when they grow up, chances are you’ll hear answers like, “Fireman! Doctor! Astronaut!” And while these are great careers, some people are making a great living “off the beaten path,” so to speak. With 134.82 million people working full time in the US (as of October 2023) there are bound to be some who are working more uncommon, less-conventional jobs. If you’re looking for something different in your career, read on. You might find a well-paying, rare job that suits you (and where you might not have to wear a suit!).
In this article, we’ll discuss eight in-demand, rare jobs that pay well, including:
What is the rarest career?
What is an example of an odd job?
8 rare jobs that are in demand
While there are a myriad of rare careers in the US (and the world), one career stands out. There are fewer people in this profession than any other, making it the rarest in the world. And it's probably a vocation that has never occurred to you. Ever. (And no, it’s not “Scorpion Snuggler.”) Can you guess?
It's Wood Patternmaker. If you guessed that, good for you, because there are only 330 of them in the US, per the Department of Labor Statistics (May 2022). With a median annual salary of $45,720, it may not be the most lucrative career in the world, but with so little competition for jobs, you’d probably never be laid off. Wood patternmakers create wooden molds that metalworkers use to cast molten metal. They utilize highly developed woodworking methods and techniques to produce complex designs to exact specifications. A Wood Patternmaker has to have a keen grasp of design, carpentry, precision, and creativity.
Okay, let’s get down to brass tacks. You’re not looking for a side job, you want a real career that is unusual and offers a good salary. No problem! If you're looking for something other than "butcher, baker, or candlestick maker," here are eight uncommon jobs that have great salaries.
Love wine? You might consider a career as a sommelier, aka a wine expert. They handle everything from curating an organization’s wine collection, overseeing its storage, and even instructing customers which wine would best enhance their meal. Working primarily in fancy restaurants and hotels, sommeliers must develop an extensive knowledge of the winemaking process, different vineyards, regions, and grapes.
Number of jobs: There are 273 professionals worldwide who have received the title of Master Sommelier since it was established in 1969.
Salary: While entry-level sommeliers can earn $30,000 to $40,000 per year while they’re learning the business, senior sommeliers can earn between $70,000 and $100,000, and head sommeliers (also known as wine directors) can fetch $100,000 to $150,000 per year.
Orthotists and prosthetists fit patients for medical supportive devices such as artificial limbs, braces, or other supportive devices. They design and create the devices by studying a patient’s medical history, taking measurements, interviewing patients, and performing follow-up evaluations to ensure the device’s comfort and effectiveness. Most orthotists and prosthetists work in the medical equipment and supplies manufacturing industries, but may also work for healthcare services, the federal government, or hospitals.
Genetic counselors work with clients and evaluate their risk for a range of inherited conditions, such as birth defects. After receiving specialized education and training in medical genetics, genetic counselors work with patients to provide them with information about genetic diseases, negotiate with insurance companies to ensure the testing is covered, and help the patients make decisions based on the results of the testing. Genetic counselors may provide general counsel or specialize in areas such as cardiology, pediatrics, prenatal, or neurology, and may work in labs, clinics, hospitals, universities, or private practices.
Going up! An elevator inspector makes sure that elevators are working at optimum safety by inspecting and recommending repairs of elevators, escalators, and moving walkways (both passenger and freight) to meet safety codes and regulations. An elevator inspector may also perform compliance checks in new elevators to ensure that all standards, guidelines, codes, and laws are being met
While sometimes glamorized in movies, an ethical hacker is an IT professional who is hired to gauge the security of a network by actually trying to hack it, and then reporting on their findings and making recommendations for improvement. They use their skills, education, and knowledge to execute risk assessments and check for weaknesses in an organization's security to protect them from breaches, vulnerabilities, and other nefarious activities.
Number of jobs: There are 166,000 registered ethical hackers worldwide.
Median average salary: $107,254
If you’ve watched any TV police procedurals or true crime shows, you’ve probably heard about forensic science technicians. Forensic science technicians work in labs or at crime scenes and help police or other criminal investigators collect and analyze evidence found at the scene of the crime. They also take photos of evidence and the crime scene itself, make sketches, record findings, and catalog the evidence, and may also delve into links between the suspects and the criminal activity with DNA analysis, and confer with other specialists, such as toxicologists, pathologists, and odentologists (teeth). Some forensic science technicians (called forensic computer examiners or digital forensics analysts) specialize in computer-based crimes and use data to identify fraud, identity theft, and other illegal activities.
Number of jobs as of 2022: 18,500
Median average salary: $63,740
A personal chef will prepare meals for individual clients in their homes or commercial kitchens based on the client’s needs, either on a daily or weekly basis. Not to be confused with a private chef, who prepares meals either in a client's home or in a restaurant, personal chefs are generally self-employed and work with individuals or families who don’t have the time (or the desire) to cook their own meals. Working with the client, personal chefs create personalized menus based on their tastes and dietary restrictions, do the grocery shopping, and serve the meals. Some may also do catering. Specialties within the personal chef field include vacations, events, health and wellness, and celebrity chefs, who work with famous or high-profile clients.
Put simply, a geographer studies the Earth, analyzing patterns, interactions, and developments on the planet’s surface. They study climate, populations, politics, culture, vegetation, and how the Earth’s environments influence the land and its inhabitants. Geologists work in the field, gathering data through observation, land surveys, and interviews. They use technology, such as Geographical Information Systems (GIS), satellites, and aerial photography to study landmasses and how they might be changing. Geologists may work in fields as diverse as transportation, urban planning, cartology, or environmental conservation, and help manage the issues and concerns that are happening to the planet.
Number of jobs in 2022: 1,500
Median average salary: $88,900
No matter what field you choose, it’s important to find satisfaction in your work. Finding a job in a rare or non-traditional field can offer financial rewards, as well as a variety of opportunities and advancement, but it’s not for everyone. There may be some challenges from society (“You do what for a living?) and you might not have a lot of mentors available to you. But if you're doing what you want to do, even if it's unusual or "different," you're on the right path for career success.
Ready to find a new career? Try our Job Search Strategy tool to develop a roadmap to find the right job for you.
Wood patternmaker is the rarest job in the us, with only 330 people filling that role.
Finding an untraditional or rare job can lead to career fulfillment as well as financial stability.
There are rare jobs within most fields, including medicine, engineering, science, food, and IT.
Jennifer Inglis is a freelance writer and content creator with extensive professional expertise in advertising, media analysis, teaching, writing, and literature. Prior to working for Career.io, Jennifer was a public school teacher, teaching courses in college and career readiness, writing, and public speaking. Jennifer has a master’s degree in Teaching, and is the author of two published novels.