29 Surprising Jobs That Can Pay Over $100,000

By Rosunnara R.
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There is fantastic news for those who are bored with their 9-to-5 jobs. More people are moving away from traditional careers and into unconventional jobs that are rewarding, offer flexible hours and pay well. Today, people are finding careers in dog walking, standing in line, cuddling, taking care of tropical islands and computer hacking. Some of those dream jobs require a bachelor’s degree, while others just require some related experience.

Check out these high paying careers, including salary information, job responsibilities, and thoughts from people currently in the industry.   

Certified Ethical Hacker

Criminals are constantly coming up with new ways to illegally access computers for credit card information or passwords. The job of a professional hacker is to find any weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Most of these individuals have a master’s degree and CEH certificate from the EC-Council but it’s not always necessary if you are particularly good at it. Professional hackers take home between $50,000 to $120,000 a year depending on experience.

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The Pentagon, FBI and the US Army all hire hackers on the regular. Fortune 500 companies like Apple, Paypal and Alphabet also employ them. Roger A. Grimes says, “I’ve been in computer security for over 30 years, and no job has been more challenging and fun than professional penetration testing. You not only get to do something fun, but ‘pen testers’ often are seen with an aura of extra coolness that comes from everyone knowing they could break into almost any computer at will.” 

Golf Ball Diver

Retrieving lost golf balls can surprisingly be a treasure trove of cash for the right individual. Hardworking golf ball divers can make up to $100,000 annually. The job involves diving into water features at golf courses to retrieve sunken balls, cleaning them and selling them back to golf courses. The job isn’t as easy as it sounds. In order to make a livable wage as a golf ball diver, you’ll need to gather thousands of golf balls each week. Golf course water hazards can be dangerous, too. Depending on the location, snakes or alligators can inhabit the water hazards.

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Location also factors into how much you earn. Some cities have fewer golf ranges, while others have many, which offers more opportunity. For example, Glenn Berger works in Florida as a golf ball diver and claims he earns almost $15 million a year because many golf courses surround the area, including The Player’s Club, Sawgrass and the PGA TOUR’s headquarters. 

Patent Examiner

If you’re fluent in multiple languages, have great analytical skills and know patent law, you can look into becoming a patent examiner. These federal employees review patent applications and judge if a patent is allowed to move forward. In order for patents to be approved, the application must show that the invention works correctly and is both safe and original.

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Patent examiners are one of the first positions to be introduced to new technology. “Inventions are an incremental process, and it is often beautiful to see someone simplifying technology and looking for ways of making it faster,” says patent examiner Laura Smith-Hewitt. Examiners can earn about $122,477 per year. Many people in the profession have a background in science, engineering or computer science. 

Master Sommelier

It sounds fancy because it is. Not many individuals can become Master Sommeliers. This exclusive job requires passing an incredibly difficult exam. In one section, you’re timed and blindfolded while tasting and identifying multiple wines. Worldwide, there are only 255 Master Sommeliers. Upscale hotels and restaurants hire Master Sommeliers to provide high-quality beverage service, which involves spending time with chefs to create perfect food and wine pairings, maintaining the wine cellar, traveling to different vineyards for tastings and selecting the entire wine collection.

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Master Sommeliers can move on to many roles, including winemakers, restaurant owners and importers. Their average pay is between $80,000 to $160,000 annually. Without the certification, a trained sommelier can earn between $23,000 to $84,000 per year.

Nuclear Diver

Nuclear divers are responsible for cleaning, repairing and inspecting nuclear-powered vessels to ensure radiation levels at nuclear power plants meet U.S. safety measures. According to Divers Institute of Technology, “Nuclear divers have to work hard conducting welding, electrical work and inspections in hot water, all while balancing speed and safety.”

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Precautions are constantly taken to ensure the divers are safe. Whenever there’s a sign of trouble, the divers are alerted immediately and the task is aborted. The salary can go beyond $100,000 annually. Professional nuclear divers need commercial diving experience, 200 hours of training on plant operations and safety precautions and an apprenticeship. 

Professional Bridesmaid

When brides don’t want to rely on their family or friends for wedding help, they can now hire a professional bridesmaid. Normally, bridesmaids are unpaid while they help plan the bridal shower, organize the bachelorette party and support the bride on any wedding-related tasks. “The Professional Bridesmaid does all the heavy lifting — so you and your girls can focus on the fun,” says professional bridesmaid Jen Glantz. These wedding experts earn from $300 to $2,000 for each wedding.

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A professional bridesmaid can act as a personal assistant to the bride and can even fill in as a replacement bridesmaid when another bridesmaid drops out. Their job can entail assisting with toasts, speeches and emotional or financial advice during stressful times. The company Bridesmaid for Hire offers these unique services and is always looking for new applicants. 

Professional Cuddler

This is truly great news for people who love to snuggle. A professional snuggler gets paid to improve a client’s mood through cuddling. Snuggle sessions can include watching a movie, having conversations and even eating. The experience must be relaxing for both parties. The important part is that everything remains consensual, comfortable and non-sexual. Snugglers must be affectionate and stop clients when they try to overstep boundaries.

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The majority of cuddle sessions take place in a studio, but they can also be conducted in a home or hotel room. An average session ranges from 15 minutes to five hours. Experienced snugglers state there are over 70 different types of cuddling positions. Clients pay about $80 per hour and they can also give cuddlers tips on improving their cuddling styles.

Bingo Manager

Bingo managers do much more than call out numbers in smoke-filled bingo halls. These professionals are employed by casinos to oversee all aspects of bingo games. There are numerous state and federal laws that govern how casinos operate. Bingo managers are responsible for making sure that the casino’s bingo games are compliant with these laws.

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Bingo managers determine how games are run, authorize payouts, and handle all bingo-related paperwork for the casino. While bingo managers at upscale casinos can make over $100,000 per year, the average salary for a bingo manager in the U.S. is $59,332. 

Dating Profile Ghostwriter

Do you consider crafting the perfect bio for your Tinder profile an art form? Do you often find yourself helping your friends with their online dating profiles? If so, a career as a dating profile ghostwriter might be the perfect fit for you. Dating profile ghostwriters write bios, choose photos, and give clients advice on which online dating services they should use.

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Ghostwriters can make up to $100,000 annually. Meredith Golden, a NYC dating coach, offers dating profile ghostwriting as part of her overall coaching package for $900 a month. Golden shared some of the advice she gives her clients with MarketWatch, saying “Here’s what you want your profile to say: I have a good life, I have a family, I have friends. I am joyful and positive — and in addition to all this good stuff I’m looking for someone to share this with.”

Crime Scene Cleaner

As anyone who loves true crime shows knows, crime scenes can be messy. After the police are finished at the scene, it is the job of the crime scene cleaners to remove blood, fluids, human tissue and other harmful residue. Sometimes this includes removing floors, walls and furniture affected by the odor or fluids. Their work is not limited to crime scenes. These professional cleaners are also called on to clean up drug labs, remove biohazards and decontaminate properties after a disease outbreak. Crime scene cleaners must be able to handle extremely gruesome sights and foul smells.

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A college degree isn’t necessary for this profession. However, most workers enroll in certification courses that cover the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s standards and procedures. The top 10 percent of crime scene cleaners earn about $75,000 annually.

Tropical Island Caretaker

Spending time on a secluded island sounds like a dream job. However, being a tropical island caretaker isn’t all fun and games. The position requires you to promote tourism by posting weekly blogs online, taking lots of good photos and conducting multiple interviews with the media.

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Travel companies look for candidates with strong communication and writing skills to help boost tourism. The pay is heavily dependent on the employer. Tourism Queensland pays their caretaker $150,000 for six months to promote the Great Barrier Reef. Their work package includes airfare, rent and travel insurance. According to Traveller, a tropical island caretaker for Tourism Queensland must “have an adventurous attitude, enjoy snorkeling and/or diving and be willing to try new things.”

Bounty Hunter

Many people got a glimpse of the bounty hunting world in “Dog the Bounty Hunter” featuring Duane ‘Dog’ Chapman. Bounty hunters are responsible for capturing fugitives who don't follow the rules of their bail. Historically, bounty hunters have existed in many countries around the world. However, this profession is only common in the United States and the Philippines now.

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The annual salary for a bounty hunter varies widely. Some bounty hunters can earn $64,490 annually, which is the same salary as law enforcement officers. Other bounty hunters can get paid six figures. The education and training requirements are different in each state, but many states require bounty hunters to be licensed. In California, you need to take a specific training course and complete the 20-hour bail education class. Many bounty hunters earn a criminal justice degree to understand the legal structure of a bounty hunter's work. 

Animal Chiropractor

Chiropractors typically manually manipulate the spine and other joints into alignment in humans to alleviate pain. This has morphed into utilizing those same efforts on animals. Some of the duties of an animal chiropractor include reviewing the animal’s x-ray results, monitoring its mobility and performing adjustments. The American Veterinary Chiropractic Association certifies doctors focusing on animal chiropractic. Since 1989, 1,100 animal chiropractic professionals have been certified.

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Working on animals is difficult because they can't talk. This profession requires that you become experienced in identifying and diagnosing areas of pain. Horse chiropractors are the most common, but animal chiropractors can also work with dogs and cats. Annual salaries for horse chiropractors range from $44,000 to $110,000.

Personal Shopper

Imagine doing a job where you can shop all day long and get paid for it. Personal shoppers pick out clothing and accessories that best suit a client’s needs. Giant retail companies including Saks Fifth Avenue and Macy’s hire personal shoppers. Some personal shoppers work as independent consultants, managing their business online.

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These professional shoppers provide expert advice on items that fit their client’s body or lifestyle. Customers receive help one at a time, making the experience more personal. Earning an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in fashion or merchandising isn't required, but it can be helpful to learn the basics of fashion. The average salary is between $25,000 and $100,000.

Professional Food Taster

A professional food taster sounds like it could be a dream role for those “foodies” out there. But to get hired, tasters have to go through rigorous taste and odor recognition tests. They also need to describe food by identifying tastes, textures and ingredients. When food tasters are hired, their food and sensory lexicon could grow even more. Some food companies expect workers to have a degree in food sciences or a similar field.

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Lawrence Agar, a pizza taster, reveals, “To be able to sit in a restaurant and anonymously watch people eat what you've spent months working on is the biggest win for me.” Depending on the company and how much experience you have, the salary can be between $44,000 and $110,000 annually. For example, gum tasters, also called gumologists, earn up to $107,500 per year. 

Chocolatier

What is better than being surrounded by chocolate? Chocolatiers are different from chocolate makers, who turn cacao beans into chocolate. A chocolatier is an artist who crafts chocolate into extravagant desserts and candies for customers. Chocolatiers make almost $75,000 a year.

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To become a chocolatier, you need to attend culinary school and receive a degree in pastry and baking arts. Homework includes learning about chocolate, reading recipes and tasting all types of chocolate. According to Food & Wine, master chocolatiers recommend spending time with a local chocolate maker to gain more knowledge about the sweet treat.

Cartographer

Cartographers study and design maps. According to U.S. News, cartography is "a job with a low stress level, good work-life balance and solid prospects to improve.” Cartographers gather geographical data to draw a visual representation of the information. The responsibilities of a cartographer include drawing maps in digital or graphic form and updating maps that already exist.

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A bachelor’s degree in cartography, geography, geomatics, engineering, math or surveying is needed. Some states require cartographers to be licensed. The salary ranges from $63,990 to $100,670 depending on experience. Those hired by the federal government tend to earn the highest salaries.

Airport Wildlife Control Expert

An airport wildlife control expert prevents airplane collisions with birds and other mammals. Some of their responsibilities include analyzing animal strike patterns, managing the habitat around the airport and conducting tests to prevent animal/airplane strikes. Currently, experts at John F. Kennedy International Airport are testing aircraft lighting to give birds more time to get out of an airplane’s way. Other animals that may collide with planes include coyotes, turtles, deer and alligators.

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Between 1990 and 2017, 194,000 wildlife strikes with civil aircraft took place in the US. According to CNBC, an airport employee suggests getting hired through the USDA because they’re connected with many airfields. Airport wildlife control experts take home between $38,000 and $60,000 a year. 

Dog Walker

Dog walking is another newly blossoming career option, as people still want pets but have a hard time finding the time with their busy work schedules. Some dog walkers find jobs using the Wag app, where workers can make around $17.50 per walk. However, some people market their own dog-walking businesses and have their own clients. Two professional dog walkers from California say they can earn between $30,000 to $80,000 a year.

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Sam Williamson, founder of Dog Walking Dunfermline, earns over $34,000 a year. Dog walking transitioned from a hobby to a career for Williamson. The best part is she works less than 20 hours a week. Formal education isn’t necessary for this role, but dog walkers must know basic dog care, canine behavior and first aid.

Chicken Sexer

Yes, you can actually get paid to look at baby chicks all day, but it might be their undercarriage. Commercial chicken hatcheries hire what are called “chicken sexers” to check the gender of newborn chicks. While female chicks are valuable and are often sold to egg companies, male chicks are considered useless. Chicken sexers are common in Japan and the UK. In the 1920s, Japanese researchers discovered chicken sexing could be taught. Their teachings spread to the UK when Koichi Andoh, trained hatchery employees on how to distinguish the chicks in England.

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Determining the sex of the chick is based on mostly on intuition. Sexers look at the chick’s rear, but it’s not as easy at looking at a dog or most other animals to determine their sex. In Japan, professional separators found a way to teach students how to become a sexer, but can’t articulate the knowledge. Once trained, individuals automatically know how to distinguish the female and male chicks. The job sounds strange, but professional chicken sexers earn up to $60,000 a year.

Professional Line-Stander

As patience is becoming more and more of a virtue in today’s fast-moving society, individuals have taken the opportunity to make a career out of it. Professional line standers are in high demand during new product releases like iPhones or massive sales such as Black Friday. Those interested in being a professional line-stander, can start their own line-standing business, post a Craigslist ad, or offer line-waiting services on TaskRabbit.

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According to Business Insider, Robert Samuel, a professional line-stander, claims he makes about $1,000 each week. Samuel is the founder of Same Ole Line Dudes (SOLD Inc.), which is a professional line-standing business. Samuel’s employees have been hired to wait in line for tickets, food or auditions. One of his employees made $800 by waiting 43 hours for a client’s “Shark Tank” audition in Denver.

Gum Remover

Thank your local gum remover for gum free sidewalks. Major cities like New York and Washington, D.C., hire professional gum removers to keep all of the sidewalks clean. When gum is peeled off sidewalks, it leaves a black mark on the sidewalk. Gum removers, also known as gumbusting professionals, use special cleaning tools to make sure sidewalks remain spotless.

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The job is unpleasant, but the pay is high. Duane Cummins, owner of Gumbusters D.C., takes home almost $100,000 a year. Gumbusters D.C. studied and experimented for years to find the best way to clean gum. The company was founded in 2003, originally offering its services to many businesses including swimming pools, hotel chains and amusement parks.

Elevator Installer and Repairer

Have you ever taken an elevator and wondered who maintains it? Thankfully, people who keep elevators safe and efficient exist. An elevator installer and repairer makes sure elevators meet safety requirements. The job is physically demanding because workers must stand for hours and lift heavy objects. Professionals must recognize elevator problems fast to prevent getting injured on the job.

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The job doesn’t require a college degree, may require an apprenticeship. In 35 states, workers need a license to repair and install elevators. This career earns between $58,430 and $90,190 per year.

Glazier

Glaziers are responsible for installing, removing and cutting glass. These glass professionals work with many surfaces such as windows, doors and walls. Glaziers must be able to read blueprints, remove broken glass and install glasses of different colors, sizes and types. While these responsibilities sound simple, they can actually be dangerous. Workers risk being cut by tools and glass.

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The most common track to pursue this occupation is to get four years of training through an apprentice program. In the United States, only Connecticut and Florida require that glaziers have a license. Metropolitan areas offer high salaries to glaziers. For example, in Chicago, a glazier can make up to $77,240 a year. 

Cruise Ship Entertainer

When most people think of cruise ships they think of vacations, not work. But cruise companies have to hire everything from engineers to entertainers to keep the ship running and guests busy. Landing a spot on a cruise ship is difficult because entertainers must compete with many talented performers from around the world. Cruise ships usually select singers, dancers, and musicians who specialize in top 40, jazz, classical or international music. Hiring committees often ask musicians to play a specific piece during an audition.

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Cruise ship musicians earn about $1,800 to $2,700 a month. Some cruise ship workers enjoy traveling as a benefit. A cruise ship worker tells INSIDER, “In 5 years on cruise ships, I literally traveled the world. I went to Europe, Canada, North, South and Central America, including Alaska and Hawaii, (and) Asia, including China, Japan, and India, and Africa.”

Odor Judge

Professional odor judges perform scientific smell tests on soaps, shampoos, skin products, mouthwashes and deodorant. In order for judges to do their research, they need volunteers to apply these personal care products on themselves. Judges rate the effectiveness of hygiene products after sniffing the subject’s armpits, feet or breath.

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Madeline Albrecht, an odor tester, beat the Guinness World Record for the most feet and armpits smelled. According to Guinness World Records, Albrecht “sniffed approximately 5,600 feet and an indeterminate number of armpits,” while working at Hill Top Research Laboratories for 15 years. Odor judges typically earn between $19,000 and $52,000 a year.

Embalmer

Embalmers work in the funeral industry. They’re responsible for preparing the deceased for burials or cremations. The job duties include applying makeup, removing blood and replacing it with embalming fluid, and disguising physical damage on the body. Many embalmers reveal that the experience is fulfilling because they help people during difficult times. "By far the most rewarding part of the job is the gratification that families show for all that you have done for them,” says John "Jack" Mitchell IV, an embalmer.

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To become an embalmer, you need to take mortuary courses and get a certification, which is different in each state. After you fulfill the state’s requirements, you must pass the National Board Exam and apply for a license. The average salary of an embalmer is $45,060, but those with experience earn up to $64,400 a year.

Portable Toilet Route Driver

Portable toilet route drivers transport portable toilets wherever someone might “need to go.” This includes concert venues, sporting events and construction sites. Drivers also respond to emergency calls and provide portable restrooms during forest fires, floods or hurricane recovery. The job requires a lot of physical effort, which includes lifting, climbing and bending.

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According to Indeed, portable toilet drivers earn up to $42,168 a year. Honey Bucket, a company in the sanitation industry, offers its employees paid time off, education reimbursement and career training. Some of the job requirements for route drivers include having excellent customer service skills, the flexibility to work on weekends, and experience with large vehicles. 

Medical Illustrator

Who’s responsible for the detailed pictures in your medical textbook? Much of the detailed work is done by a medical illustrator, which is a professional artist who creates images based on scientific information. These illustrators work with scientists and physicians for education, research or marketing purposes. Each assignment is a learning opportunity for the illustrators. “With every program I developed, I learned about a new topic in a specific field of medicine. At the same time I was improving my illustration skills and adding to my portfolio of work,” says medical illustrator Monique Guildersen.

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To become a medical illustrator, you need specific training and advanced education in medicine and art. According to the Association of Medical Illustrators, many medical illustrators have a master’s degree from an accredited graduate program. There are only three such graduate programs in the United States, making entrance into those schools highly competitive. A medical illustrator’s salary ranges from $40,000 to $62,000 a year.