6 Unconventional Career Paths

There are careers and then there are dream careers. There are things you always wanted to do in life, and then there’s the cubicle!

Spending a day in the ocean, sampling fine wine, gun-toting in a far-away land, thinking about the next big TV show are just some of the things people call ‘work’.

Without much ado, here are some of the best unconventional career paths that hundreds of people have followed. Think you want to join them?

Professional Scuba Diver:  Imagine the vast open sea is your workplace, and an open-plan office, hundreds of meters under water, lets you explore your surroundings to your heart’s content.

You’ve heard of Scuba Diving Instructors teaching in places like Hawaii and as far as Phuket in Thailand, and you always thought of it as a crazy yet exciting idea. But it’s not all that impossible, if you are serious about an underwater professional life, you can make it happen with training and certification from institutes like the Professional Association of Dive Instructors (PADI) or the National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI).

It’s a lot of hard work if it’s just a whim, but if it has been a lifelong dream then you’re sure to enjoy it. Typically, Scuba Diving instructors need at least 20 dive skills to qualify, and have to go through a battery of tests, including facedown swim for hundreds of meters and written exams. The average salary is over $30,000, but could be much higher based on your location and specialisation. 

TV Writer: Jerry Seinfeld and David Crane (of the ‘Friends’ fame) made it look like a load of laughs. While Mathew Weiner with his smouldering 60s show based on a bunch of Madison Avenue Ad Execs, Mad Men and David Chase of the Sopranos fame brought sexy back. A professional Television writing career can be anything you want it to be, sexy, fun, creative and well-paying, the sky, as the cliché goes, is the limit.
Many writers spend years breaking into the field for just a junior position, but the glory is worth the wait, even just the promise of it. You’ll need to be located in either New York or LA, and create ‘spec’ scripts that you can do the rounds of the Studios with. Once you’re in, you’ll work on fleshing out the senior writer’s or the creator’s ideas, but who knows, with time, perseverance and talent, you could be a Mathew Weiner too!

Mercenary: Literally meaning one who works for money, Mercenaries work for private armies. These armies are bought by factions to work in their countries or are deployed by the government in conflict areas. Usually military training and experience are required and at least a basic college education. Increasingly, mercenaries are being hired around the world, the Iraq war, for instance, employs at least 50,000 mercenaries. Sure, it is a tough and challenging career, but it is for those who thrive on danger and love the adrenalin rush of working in conflict areas, the money is also very good. The salary can range anywhere from $6,000 to $25,000 and beyond.

Professional Hacker: A great alternative for those in IT or stuck in software jobs they hate, or simply whiz kids who enjoy hacking. Professional hacking is an ethical way to put your skills to good use. A wide range of organisations need the expertise of professional hackers, government organisations like the FBI, CIA and other bodies. Almost all industries that secure data and money, like banks, financial institutions and military establishments need professional hackers to keep their systems safe. The job comes with a high sense of responsibility and needs a self-motivated, dedicated person with exceptional ethics. Certification courses are offered byorganizations like the EC Council and SANS.

Criminal investigator: A job as a criminal investigator sounds exciting, but it is challenging and often requires your dedication, time and energy 24/7.  The job can be dangerous and usually, a criminal investigator, especially working for government organisations is not highly paid. The salary ranges from $20000 to $50000. Although, there are various perks like insurance, bonds and security. Usually, military experience, or degrees in fields like psychology, forensics and Criminology are required.
A professional qualification or prior experience with a Federal organisation can get you a job as a Private Criminal Investigator. Depending on the agency you work for, or the number of years of experience in the field, your salary could be much higher.

Sommelier: A Sommelier is far more than just the guy serving you wine in a restaurant; the job involves adventure, as sommeliers travel around the world to source wine, business management, as they manage costs and staff, and sophisticated people skills, as Sommeliers recommend fine wines to patrons at high-end joints.

The Sommelier’s salary varies depending on the place they work for, years of experience and skill, but the average over the last few years has been about $50,000.