The Strangest Jobs In America?
Inspired from a thread on the question-and-answer website Quora, AOL Jobs has compiled a list of obscure but very real professions. Rest assured: We did fact-check the Quora list and eliminated those that weren't actual, existing positions. At least in New York City, for example, scraping gum off the sidewalk is not actually a position, according to a kindly city operator (who kept telling this reporter that she could file a complaint for a "dirty sidewalk" if she wished). And when AOL Jobs asked Dannon's PR person whether "putting the fruit in the yogurt" was a job, he dashed dreams: "There are no Oompa Loompas that do that job. ... The fruit is added in an automated process."
The list below was put together using strict criteria: People were specifically hired to do the tasks -- these weren't just some weird chores that people might do in the course of a day's work. So here they are, some of the world's weirdest and most obscure jobs. May career-changers and children everywhere be inspired.
Baby Name Consultant
There are indeed "experts" out there whom anxious parents can hire specifically to assist in the naming of their children. (These experts likely have other jobs too though, like writing books about baby names.) The Wall Street Journal reported on the trend back in 2007, suggesting that as the use of family or religious names has declined, baby-naming has become more of an exercise in branding. Turns out, trying to market your baby for a successful life can be pretty stressful. (And it isn't all baloney. Girls with more feminine names, for example, are more likely to pursue the humanities, while girls with more androgynous names are more like to study science).
Standing in line is one of the great human equalizers. Some of us may be richer than others, or more powerful, or smarter, or prettier, but when there's an event to go to or a tourist site to see, we all have to stand in one line together, first come first served.
How Much You'll Get Paid: Probably more than working at McDonald's. One of Winslow's line standers costs $36 an hour, with a two-hour minimum. For really big events -- like the Supreme Court hearing on Obamacare -- Winslow says that he had 20 to 30 standers (mostly students and retirees) out there each day. Some people paid folks to wait in line for 48 hours, which adds up to $1,728 of waiting time.
Japan has an intimacy deficit. Marriage rates have plummeted, and "parasite singles" -- young people who live with their parents -- and "hikikomori" -- young people who rarely leave their rooms and spend most of the time on the Internet -- have become national concerns. But where there's crisis, there's usually a business opportunity.
Maid cafes have been all the rage in Tokyo for years, where customers can pay girls in cartoonish maid outfits to sing and play games with them as they eat their noodles. And last year, Japan's first "cuddle cafe" opened. New York residents in need of a good snuggle are in luck too. A grad student in Penfield, N.Y., also charges for fully clothed cuddle sessions in her apartment, dubbed "The Snuggery."
How Much You'll Get Paid: At the Japanese cafe Soineya (literally "sleep together shop"), customers can pay the servers to let them sleep in their arms, to pat them on the back, to sleep with their heads on the girls' laps, and to stare into each other's eyes, reports Japan Today, all for just 1,000 yen ($11) per three minutes. The New York grad student is more of a bargain -- $1 a minute -- which reportedly adds up to $260 in daily earnings.
Nameberry.com, told AOL Jobs over email that she's turned down several offers to "consult" parents on name choices, and that while a few people do it, it's pretty rare in the expert baby-naming world.
Boy and girl chicks are indistinguishable to the casual eye. That's why commercial hatcheries employ professional chicken sexers, who squeeze a little poop out of each chick, note whether there is a little bump (it's a boy), and then kill them.
OK, they don't always kill the boy chicks. Sometimes they let them fatten up into chickens and kill them later on for their meat. But when it comes to egg farms, those boy birds are just a waste of feed.
How Much You'll Get Paid: In Japan, where this technique was invented, chicken sexers could earn as much as $15,000 a month, Reuters reported. However new breeds of chicken allow for lower-skill (and lower-paid) sexing based on feather length. The traditional anal vent method is becoming a dying art.
There are plenty of people out there paid to watch porn. From managers of porn sites, who have to curate content and take down anything illegal, to one former Google worker, whose job was watching and flagging repulsive photos and videos from across the company's platforms.
he told Buzzfeed, the anonymous ex-Googler explained that his day-to-day job of scouting out illegal content, which was primarily child pornography (he estimates that he saw maybe 15,000 images a day in this genre), as well as beheadings, necrophilia, bestiality and suicides. Being paid to watch porn might seem like a dream for some, but it drove this particular guy to a "dark place."
What You'll Get Paid: The former Google employee didn't reveal his salary, but he also doesn't feel like he was well treated by the tech giant. He claimed that he was employed as a independent contractor, and let go after a year. "If you're a contractor, you're just a name and a department," he said.
Snake venom is an elixir of mother nature, packed full of special powers that can be turned into drugs to treat all kinds of conditions (including a poisonous snake bite). But someone needs to collect that venom by hand, gently exposing the fangs and squeezing out the juices of some of the earth's most deadly creatures.
"The only difference between me and any other company in the world that produces something," Alabama snake milker Ken Darnell told NPR, "is that the means of production here can kill you ... and wants to."
What You'll Get Paid: According to JobMonkey.com, the average salary is $2,500 a month.
If your body gets possessed, you need to call a priest. But if your house gets possessed, a house clearer will do. A house clearance session, as one clearer explains on the website Spiritual Networks, involves asking the home dweller about the house, their emotions towards it, and unusual experiences there. The clearer will then work his or her way methodically through all the rooms, determine the presence of any negative spirits, and help the inhabitant connect with them to bring closure.
What You'll Get Paid: Prices vary, but one professional house clearer offers services starting at $300 per house.
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Claire Gordon has contributed to Slate's DoubleX, the Huffington Post, and the book Prisons: Current Controversies. While an undergraduate at Yale University and a research fellow at Yale graduate school, she spoke on panels at Yale and Cornell, and reported from Cairo, Tokyo, and Berlin.
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