Unconventional Jobs that Pay Well

Unconventional jobs can include careers that are out of the ordinary as well as careers that may involve unusual tasks, schedules or work environments. Explore some of the unconventional jobs to be found within a range of career fields, such as healthcare, science, engineering, personal service and business.

Career Options for Unconventional Jobs that Pay Well

The BLS reported an employment level of over 140 million jobs as of 2016. During this same year, the median annual salary for all occupations was reported to be $37,040 by the BLS. This article focuses on careers that employ a relatively small percentage of the workforce, involve some uncommon duties or unusual work environments, and pay median annual salaries of $50,000 or more.

Job Title Median Salary (2016)* Job Outlook (2014-2024)*
Buyers and Purchasing Agents $60,700 2%
Cartographers and Photogrammetrists $62,750 29%
Epidemiologists $70,820 6%
Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides $56,070 40%
Morticians, Undertakers and Funeral Directors $50,090 7%
Set and Exhibit Designers $50,990 7%
Wind Turbine Technicians $52,260 108%
Hydrologists $80,480 7%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Career Information for Unconventional Jobs that Pay Well

Buyers and Purchasing Agents

Since it's common to interact with retailers, most people think of occupations that involve merchandise as those that involve producing or selling goods; buyers and purchasing agents, however, are professionals who spend money as a part of their regular duties. Buyers and purchasing agents buy supplies or products from wholesalers and then sell those items or use them to make other products to sell. As of 2016, the BLS reported that less than 419,000 people worked as buyers and purchasing agents. It can be possible to enter this occupation with a high school diploma, but many employers expect applicants to have a bachelor's degree.

Cartographers and Photogrammetrists

With only 12,100 people employed as cartographers and photogrammetrists as of 2016, this is not a very typical career. Cartographers and photogrammetrists collect spatial information about the Earth and use it to perform such tasks as creating and updating maps, which is something that not many people do in their work. They have to travel to the areas they're gathering information on, so when they aren't in an office they can be far from home. To become a cartographer or photogrammetrist, it's necessary to earn a bachelor's degree in a related subject area.


Most people try to avoid illnesses, but epidemiologists are life scientists who seek them out so that they can understand what causes people to get sick or injured. Their job duties may involve studying things like blood or urine in order to identify viruses or learn more about how an illness affects the human body. Just 5,690 of all professionals worked as epidemiologists in 2016, according to the BLS. To prepare for this career, it's necessary to study epidemiology, public health or a comparable subject and earn a master's degree.

Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides

The BLS figures indicate that less than 45,000 of all reported employees worked as occupational therapy assistants and aides as of 2016. Occupational therapy assistants must have an associate's degree in occupational therapy assisting, and occupational therapy aides need a high school diploma or GED and on-the-job training. These healthcare professionals help patients who have problems with motor skills due to injuries, illnesses or disabilities, and the tasks they perform can include moving patients to treatment areas and using play therapy to help children with disabilities improve their motor and social skills. Occupational therapy assistants also work with different types of specialized medical equipment that can help patients perform everyday tasks, like eating, which isn't something that a lot of people do as a part of their regular duties.

Morticians, Undertakers and Funeral Directors

Morticians, undertakers and funeral directors do such tasks as embalming bodies or preparing them for cremation. These professionals' day-to-day job duties also require them to handle the administrative and logistical considerations that follow a person's death, which makes this an unconventional career choice. They make up a small percentage of the work force as well, with only 25,850 workers categorized as morticians, undertakers and funeral directors by the BLS in 2016. A license and an associate's degree in this field are normally required to enter the profession.

Set and Exhibit Designers

Set and exhibit designers are artists who use their talents to make materials that will be used in a film, theater or television production. Just over 12,000 people worked in this field as of 2016, according to the BLS. These artists help bring fictional worlds to life for the entertainment of their audiences by selecting the right props and architectural elements for a given scene, tasks that require imagination, creative vision and, in many cases, a bachelor's degree.

Wind Turbine Technicians

Although installing and repairing things are not unique tasks, only 4,580 people did this type of work with wind turbines as of 2016, according to the BLS. In addition to installing and maintaining these devices, wind turbine technicians gather research data as part of their duties, which isn't something that most people who work in repair and installation do. Wind turbine technicians also perform a lot of their duties hundreds of feet in the air, which means they work in an unusual environment. Those interested in this career can prepare by attending a technical school program or earning an associate's degree in this field.


Hydrologists work in the physical sciences field and spend their careers learning about water and how it interacts with the Earth. Out of the more than 140 million jobs the BLS reported on in 2016, just 6,300 people worked as hydrologists, making this an uncommon career option. Hydrologists can spend a lot of time using specialized equipment to get information from bodies of water, and in order to perform their duties they may have to stand in water for periods of time, which is not a common task many professionals perform. A bachelor's degree is required to become a hydrologist, although a master's degree or Ph.D. may be required for some advanced positions.

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