Friday, August 8, 2014

Unusual Jobs – Opportunities Outside the Mainstream

Not all work is in a factory, an office, a retail store, or some other typical place.  There is a surprising number of jobs, doing tasks that must be completed by live people, that are often overlooked, as they are advertised poorly if at all, are at seasonal or irregular times, or are just plain seldom considered by those who want employment.  The book Odd Jobs:  How to Have Fun and Make Money in a Bad Economy, written by Abigail R. Gehring and issued by Skyhorse Publishing in 2012, is a compendium of such possibilities.  What are some of the most promising ones?

If you are in or near a city, and enjoy riding a bicycle in traffic, you could become a bike messenger.  They are still in demand in densely populated places – you will see many if you live in or visit New York City – and pay about $5 to $15 per delivery. 

With the aging population, there is a lot of demand for elderly care.  Many people need someone not necessarily medically trained to help them with cooking, bathing, going to the store, or just companionship.  It usually pays from $9 to $25 per hour.

As the highest paying work is concentrated into fewer and fewer people, the call for personal shoppers is up.  These people handle the process of buying things – going to stores (or searching online), choosing what is needed, and bringing it back.  This job can involve getting anything from flooring to preschooler’s birthday presents, and, with experience and reputation, can pay as much as $100 per hour. 

Renaissance fairs are common around the country, and are often very labor-intensive, with people needed to serve food, take tickets, run or supervise carnival rides, and so on.  Often these positions are overlooked, since they only run for a week or two, but can offer a lot of paid hours in a short time.  The same general idea applies to a variety of other outdoor events.

On the subject of long hours in short times, one of the best, if you are there or willing to travel there and are in fine physical condition, is being a deckhand in an Alaskan commercial fishing crew.  The seasons are short and pay remarkably high.  The smell of all that fish is offset by, often, lodging being provided.

Another opportunity often including a free room is resort receptionist.  Such jobs, if foreign, often pay less than the American minimum wage, but can come with perks such as being able to use the resort’s amenities, and even meals.  Other positions at relatively isolated vacation spots often include the same.     

If you love skiing, you could consider being a ski lift operator.  It pays, usually, $7 to $9 per hour, and gives you easy access to skiing yourself during off hours.  However, the largest disadvantages, as Gehring names them, are “cold,” “cold,” and “sometimes very cold.”

Another opportunity requiring temporary relocation is FEMA reservist.  Such people work for the government’s disaster relief agency and must be able to go to the site where they are needed on short notice.  There they may be paid anywhere from $9 to $35 per hour, depending on work specialty, and are usually put up in the best rooms available with money allowed for food as well.  The downside is that reservists are required to be on call, for at least parts of the year, and will not be paid if there is no work.

Although regular positions at elementary and high schools, with high entry requirements, are in great demand nationwide, there is an ongoing need for substitute teachers.  As with FEMA reservists, the calls may be on short notice.  It usually pays $50 to $75 per day, and requires some training from the local school district. 

The holiday season, now only a few months away, offers a variety of opportunities even more irregular than short-term cashiers or shelf-stockers.  Some are Christmas tree decorator, gift wrapper, and playing Santa or Mrs. Claus.  Temporary help agencies have some of them, and others are arranged through stores, malls, or through calling prospects. 

These are just a few of the less ordinary possibilities for bringing in money.  Odd Jobs has many more, including numerous business opportunities, and the book is an entertaining read, especially if you might consider a wide range of offbeat engagements.  Even with globalization, automation, and efficiency cutting the need for workers, there are still a lot of things that need to be done here by humans – and that won’t change for a while yet.

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