10 Cool Jobs That Pay More Than You Think

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Ever wonder how some people make a living? Like the videographer at your friend's wedding or the wine steward at your favorite upscale restaurant -- how much could they be earning? Here are 10 interesting careers that pay more than you think and are guaranteed to put the enjoyment back in employment.

"Don't feel bound by the conventions of the industry and the definition of your occupation," advises Kathleen Green, editor of the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Quarterly online, which highlights employment trends and gives information on various occupations. "A degree is not a life sentence," Green says. Think outside the box and put your traditional degree or experience to use in a non-traditional job.

Many of these opportunities, while they may require specific training, certification or educational requirements, can build on experience you may already have or offer part-time freelance opportunities.


1. Food Stylist -- $150-$850 per day

Working with advertising firms and photographers, these artists can make anywhere from $150 a day for junior stylists, to $850 a day for experienced artists. No specific educational or industry requirements are necessary, just the creative ability to make food look attractive and delicious.


2. Makeup Artist -- $400-$600 per day

If you've always had a gift for glam and were born with cosmetic karma, you may want to consider this artistic avenue. Working with modeling agencies and photographers, make up artists can earn anywhere from $400 to $600 a day and much more if you make it big on the international scene. This could be a good freelance and networking opportunity for a photographer or actor.


3. Sommelier -- $28K - $160K per year

Do you wow your friends at dinner parties with your knowledge of grape varieties and the subtle nuances of different vintages? Then you can put those talents to work as a sommelier. Sommeliers are experts at matching wine with food to enhance the food's flavor. Earning certification is the only requirement to becoming a sommelier, where salaries average at $28K for limited experience, and $80K-160K if you continue your certification to earn the designation of Master Sommelier.


4. Park Naturalist -- $45K - $56K per year

Did your family trip to Yellowstone leave you yearning for the great outdoors? Consider developing and conducting programs that inform the public of historical, natural and scientific features of national, state, or local parks as a park naturalist. You'll need a bachelor's degree and two to four years of experience in the field or in a related area, but you could earn between $45,000 and $56,000 a year.


5. Greeting Card Writer -- $60 - $150 per card

If you're toiling away in the public relations department of your company, you can put those composition skills to work as a greeting card writer. These professionals average $60 a card, but as much as $100 to $150 per card for experienced writers in large card companies. This could make a great freelance opportunity for a writer who wants to show her creative side.


6. Clown -- $40 - $150 per hour

Looking for a weekend outlet to relieve the stresses of the workweek? Consider clowning around for children's parties, corporate events, local fun fairs or children's hospitals. Your knack for silliness can earn you anywhere from $40 to $150 an hour for private shows.


7. Flavorist -- $55k+ per year

Have a chemistry background, but not impressed with the pharmaceutical, environmental or energy industries' offerings of chemical research positions? Maybe you should look to the food industry. Flavorists, or flavor chemists, blend chemicals to create tastes and smells for various foods and can earn $55,000 and up annually.


8. Pilot -- $20K - $100K per year

If you'd like to parlay your flying hobby into a career, there are plenty of options to help your dream take wing. Think agricultural, corporate, charter or ferry pilot. These jobs require a four-year college degree, a pilot's license and some special training. Salaries for pilots vary with the size of the aircraft, but generally start at $20K and go upwards of $100,000 a year, depending on the organization you fly for and the number of hours you put in.


9. Yacht Captain - $45K - $130K per year

Are you a boating enthusiast? Turn your love of the high seas into a lucrative career. Captains of 60- to 100-foot vessels can earn between $45K and $85K. Living large pays, with captains of 100- to 200-foot yachts cruising at around $62,500 to $130,500 a year.


10. Videographer -- $47K - $62K per year

Like looking behind the lens of a camera? A videographer maintains and operates video equipment, edits video footage, and stays current with new technology. You could work for a video production firm, agency or a corporation and make as much as $47,000 to $62,000 annually.


Copyright 2006 CareerBuilder.com.


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