41. Fire chief

Salary: $77,050

Firefighters put their lives at risk to save people and property, and a fire chief has a tremendous responsibility, supervising fire crews and firefighting operations. The work is gratifying — and can be fun. Wouldn't you love to ride a fire truck?

In some states, like New Jersey, a fire chief can make way more than average: upwards of $175,000 a year.

Being a fire chief is a fun job that pays well
Tyler Olson / Shutterstock
A fire chief supervises fire crews and firefighting operations.

40. Engineer

Salary: $73,000+

Engineers come in many varieties, but the one thing they all have in common is that they work to solve problems in their respective industries.

Salaries vary, too. The median annual pay for an agricultural engineer is $73,640, a civil engineer makes $83,540, and a typical aerospace engineer (who helps test rockets and satellites) earns $109,650.

Asian women worker and engineer electrician work safety control at power plant energy industry , Thailand.  Engineer Concept.
Freebird7977 / Shutterstock
Electrical engineers and other engineers work to solve industrial problems.

39. Romance novelist

Salary: $61,240

Writing over-the-top romance novels can seem like a fun and lucrative way to earn a living — especially considering that Fifty Shades of Grey author E.L. James is worth $80 million.

But incomes for writers can vary drastically. Many emerging romance novelists have opted self-publish e-books rather than finding a traditional publisher. On Amazon, e-book authors earn anywhere from $10,000 up to more than $1 million a year.


38. Cruise ship entertainer

Pay (dancers): $13.74 an hour (median)

Working on a cruise ship sounds like a never-ending vacation. Entertainers get to go ashore when the ship is in port, so they enjoy a unique travel experience — along with free room and board.

Dancers, magicians, comedians, musicians and other cruise performers attend rehearsals during the day, and perform for a few hours at night. Contracts usually last for three to six months and pay up to $2,000 or more per week.

Female singer, performing her vocal sound. With lens flare and spotlight.
Bright097 / Shutterstock
Musicians and other cruise performers entertain for a few hours each night.

37. Food scientist

Salary: $62,920

In a series of films co-produced by Disney Consumer Products called "A Day in the Life of a Food Scientist," these taste creators are shown having fun brainstorming about new food products and conducting flavor tests.

But it can also be serious work. The majority of jobs in this field involve experimenting with crops and testing chemical additives in food.

Female chemist injecting ripe tomato
Dragon Images / Shutterstock
Food scientists conduct tests to make foods taste better and last longer.

36. Art therapist

Salary: Up to $80,000

Mix art and psychology together, and you get art therapy. After earning a master’s degree, an art therapist can work in schools, psychiatric hospitals and veterans associations helping people express their emotions through art.

Unfortunately, there are not many job opportunities in this field, especially since many states don’t recognize art therapy as a licensed practice.

Mother and child draw a picture paints, art lesson
Oleksandr Nagaiets / Shutterstock
Art therapy helps people express their emotions through art.

35. Music therapist

Salary: Up to $135,000

Similar to an art therapist, a music therapist usually works in schools, retirement centers and mental health facilities to help kids and adults express themselves through music.

Salaries start at $20,000 a year and climb to $135,000 for music therapists with private practices.

Two women make a music therapy and having fun
Miriam Doerr Martin Frommherz / Shutterstock
Music therapists work in various types of facilities to help kids and adults express themselves through music.

34. Lighting designer

Salary: $50,918

Have you ever admired the fancy light show at a concert and wondered how you could get that job?

Lighting designers usually need stage-lighting experience at schools and or in community theater before they can move up to careers in cities with higher-paying job opportunities. Pay for senior lighting designers averages $65,000, says Glassdoor.

The stage worker sets up the lights
Oleksandr Nagaiets / Shutterstock
Lighting designers are the pros behind the fancy light shows you see at concerts.

33. Audio engineer

Salary: $65,240

Mic check, test 1, 2! These are the experts who work to get things sounding right in sports arenas, theaters, recording studios and movie and video productions.

The skills needed for these jobs can be self-taught or picked up through on-the-job training. As with most jobs related to the entertainment industry, opportunities are far more common in major cities.

Man using a sound mixing desk in a recording studio.
antb / Shutterstock
Sound engineers work in recording studio, theaters and sports arenas.

32. Magician

Pay: Up to $350 an hour

Few magicians achieve celebrity status and conjure up a huge salary (you won't believe what David Copperfield is worth), but it’s still possible to make a decent living performing street magic and booking private parties.

The pay for a magician doing private events ranges from $175 to $350 per hour, according to CostHelper.


31. Lego master builder

Salary: $37,500

Who wouldn’t want to get paid to play with Legos all day? Master Lego builders create larger-than life statues and art installations.

Professional lego builders make $37,500 a year working at one of the Legoland parks, or they can earn thousands of dollars doing privately commissioned Lego art projects.

hand building up a wall by stacking up lego.
graja / Shutterstock
Some people make a good living building stuff out of Legos.
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30. Zookeeper

Salary: Up to $42,178

Becoming a zookeeper may be the closest you’ll ever get to exotic animals like lions, tigers and elephants.

Zoo animals require care 24 hours a day, seven days a week, which means zookeepers work nights, weekends and holidays. Pay ranges from about $19,000 a year to more than $42,000, according to PayScale.com.

Elephant trainer instructs African elephant to sit.  Open pen outdoors.  Woman trainer in uniform.
Bonita R. Cheshier / Shutterstock
Zookeepers work nights, weekends and holidays caring for the animals.

29. Personal trainer

Salary: $38,160

If you love fitness and love the idea of pushing people around (for their own good!), becoming a personal trainer can be a great career.

Obviously, personal trainers to the stars earn a lot more than the median. The top 10% of trainers earn $73,000 a year on up, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

woman exercise and  working out with fitness personal trainer in gym
dotshock / Shutterstock
Personal trainer can be a great career if you love pushing people to their limits.

28. Stunt performer

Pay: $933 per day (minimum)

Behind every action movie star is a fearless stunt double.

Rather than getting paid by the hour, stunt performers receive a flat fee for the days when they are needed on set. A stuntman or stuntwoman earns at least $933 per day, while a stunt coordinator is paid $1,100 per day, according to the Screen Actors Guild.

Hero on motorbike escapes explosion with blurred background, comic style edit
Ben Heys / Shutterstock
Stunt performers take risks on behalf of stars.

27. Brewmaster

Salary: Up to $50,000

Brewmasters make beer for a living, but don't think they get sloshed every day. Their job responsibilities include cleaning the equipment, testing new recipes and traveling to events on weekends.

The average pay starts at $40,000 and can climb to $50,000, according to JobShadow.

a brewmaster expert checks the quality of the freshly tapped beer from wooden barrels formerly used for flavour the wine or beer.
HQuality / Shutterstock
Brewmasters make a living making beer.

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26. Fashion designer

Salary: $65,170

Designing clothes, meeting high-pressure deadlines and fixing a hem on a model about to walk the runway are just a few things that fashion designers do routinely.

The field is highly competitive, and most opportunities are in big cities. Or on "Project Runway."


25. Homicide detective

Salary: Up to $131,200

If you’re a crime junkie and hate the idea of anyone literally getting away with murder, you might dream of cracking cases as a homicide detective.

The pay for a criminal investigator varies dramatically, depending on the location. The median salary can range from $42,000 a year in the lowest-paying places all the way up to more than $130,000 at the top.

Caution tape and broken sun glasses rest near a chalk line from an auto accident.
Joe Belanger / Shutterstock
You might dream of cracking murder cases as a homicide detective.

24. Winemaker

**Salary: $85,601

Making great-tasting wine can be complicated and requires a lot of knowledge in food science and chemistry. Some winemakers work for a large winery, while others decide to buy a vineyard and venture out on their own.

While the average salary for a winemaker is around $86,000 a year, those at the high end earn in the neighborhood of $132,000, according to Glassdoor. Salut!

Winemaker tasting his harvest in vine cellar
tomasworks / Shutterstock
Some winemakers own their own vineyard.

23. Concert promoter

Salary: $100,000

A concert promoter works with band managers to book concert venues and advertise upcoming shows.

Major perks of the job include scoring free concert tickets — and being able to boast, "I'm with the band!"

Crowd at concert
Goran Djukanovic / Shutterstock
Concert promoters help organize and advertise rock shows.

22. Airline pilot

Salary: $105,720

Being a pilot looks so cool and glamorous in the movies, doesn't it?

Learning how to fly a commercial airplane takes a lot of time and expensive training, and the jobs are high-pressure and can mean a lot of nights away from home. But the high salaries can make it all worth it!

The cockpit of modern jet airplane. Aircraft flies above the city landscape and river. Pilots at work.
Skycolors / Shutterstock
Flying a commercial airplane is a stressful job that requires years of training.

21. Dog walker

Pay: Up to $45 per dog per day

If you really love dogs, walking them could be a dream job, though probably a part-time one.

Dog walkers typically charge anywhere from $15 to walk one dog for 20 minutes on up to $45 for two walks per day, according to Angie's List. If the owner has additional dogs, those cost up to $10 each per walk.


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20. Landscape architect

Salary: $63,480

Landscape architects use trees, lawns, flowers and other vegetation to create stunning natural surroundings.

These outdoorsy types design outdoor spaces for parks, businesses and private homes.

Landscape architect design backyard plan for villa
Toa55 / Shutterstock
Landscape architects use trees, lawns, flowers and other vegetation to create stunning natural surroundings.

19. Event planner

Salary: $47,350

Event planners are the highly organized types who put together corporate meetings, conventions and more — and make sure that everything runs smoothly.

The jobs can involve travel, and occasional long nights. But the reward is that feeling of satisfaction when, despite all the people involved and the many moving parts, the event goes off glitch-free.

close-up of registration desk in front of conference center with Businessman Writing on the Table
panuwat phimpha / Shutterstock
Event planners make sure that conferences, conventions and meetings runs smoothly.

18. Park ranger

Salary: $55,000

Park rangers serve and protect what are often called "the pride of America": the national parks.

Part-time rangers typically make around $15 per hour, and full-time ranger pay averages between $53,300 and $56,666, according to Glassdoor. A supervisor can earn up to $80,000 a year.

Shenandoah National Park in Autumn foliage, Virginia USA
Orhan Cam / Shutterstock
Rangers serve and protect America's national parks.

17. Astronaut

Salary: Up to $144,566

How's this for an out-of-this-world career path? The money can seem astronomical, too!

According to NASA, the starting salary for an astronaut is $66,026. The pay can go up to $144,566 a year with time and experience.


16. Graphic designer

Salary: $47,640

Graphic designers use their artistic talents, computer technology and more traditional media (like painting and drawing) to create illustrations for advertising, book covers, websites and more.

Most graphic designers work for corporations, though 1 out of every 5 is self-employed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

High angle view of an artist drawing something on graphic tablet at the office
ESB Professional / Shutterstock
Graphic designers use a variety of media to create illustrations for advertising, book covers, websites and more.

15. Video game designer

Salary: $68,000

If you love playing video games, you’ve probably imagined how incredibly awesome it would be to design them for a living.

It takes more than passion to land one of these jobs. Often you need a degree in game design, game development or computer science.

Studio Portrait Of Video Game Designer Wearing VR Headset
Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock
Imagine how incredibly awesome it would be to design video games for a living.

14. Toy creator

Salary: $79,953

Want to be one of Santa's elves? Inventing new toys is a job where you can make kids happy and keep feeling like a kid yourself.

While the average pay is close to $80,000, senior toy designers earn nearly $100,000, says the Economic Research Institute.

Cute little robot testing in a lab
Dmytro Zinkevych / Shutterstock
Inventing new toys lets you make kids happy and feel like a kid yourself.

13. Cruise director

Salary: Up to $120,401

Volleyball tournaments, trivia contests, cooking classes, bingo, storytime for the kids, happy hours for the adults — cruise-ship schedules are jammed with activities! A strong leader is needed to organize and oversee all of the events.

A cruise director makes anywhere from around $38,000 a year on up to more than $120,000, according to Payscale.com.

Passengers partying on board a cruise ship
By photostock77 / Shutterstock
A cruise director keeps the partying going on board.

12. Professional athlete

Salary: $47,710

Remember, that salary figure is only the median. Celebrity athletes are among the richest people in the world, thanks to multimillion-dollar contracts and hefty endorsement deals with big-name brands like Nike and Adidas.

At the other end of the scale are Olympic athletes, who earn less than $15,000 a year, according to Forbes.

Multi sports proud players collage on grand arena
Eugene Onischenko / Shutterstock
Some pro athletes make all-star salaries, but the typical income is modest.

11. Ethical computer hacker

Salary: $92,600

Hackers have a reputation for being the bad guys, but computer programmers can actually use their powers for good — as ethical hackers.

Companies hire these information security analysts to reveal weak points in website security, to keep out the other kind of hacker.

It consultant working with servers
Kjetil Kolbjornsrud / Shutterstock
Information security analysts help protect companies from hackers.
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10. Wardrobe stylist

Salary: Up to $109,665

Choosing the perfect outfit for someone could be a dream job for fashion lovers. Retail stores hire stylists to dress mannequins and create window displays, while self-employed personal stylists hustle to find new clients in big cities.

It takes experience to make six figures working as a celebrity stylist, but everyone’s gotta start somewhere. Pay ranges from around $23,000 to nearly $110,000 a year, reports PayScale.com.

girl with stylist choosing her fashion outfit. Women deciding what to wear. Analysis of the client's wardrobe. Fashion stylist consultation. Master class about how to stylishly clothing
Alter-ego / Shutterstock
Personal stylists help clients dr

9. Personal shopper

Salary: Up to $100,000

In the high-pressure corporate world, or in celebrity circles, people can be so busy they have no time to do their own shopping. So, they hire a personal shopper, or a "corporate concierge," to do it for them.

This is a great job if you love to shop — and love the idea of spending someone else's money. Personal shoppers typically make between $30,000 and $60,000 a year, though the best ones earn six figures, says JobMonkey.

Personal shopper picking out dress shirts for a male client
By GaudiLab/Shutterstock
Personal shopper is a great job if you love to shop — and love the idea of spending someone else's money.

8. Marine biologist

**Salary: $60,520 **

Do you love snorkeling? Do you go to the beach not to sit in the sun but in hopes you'll spot a dolphin? Studying and caring for marine mammals and other aquatic creatures on a daily basis makes this job the perfect catch for many.

To become a marine biologist, you'll need at least a bachelor's degree. A master's may be needed to move up to investigative or scientific work.

Scuba Diver and Lionfish (Pterois miles)
Rich Carey / Shutterstock
A marine biologist studies and cares for aquatic creatures.

7. Mystery shopper

Salary: Up to $75,000

Like personal shoppers, mystery shoppers go on buying trips with other people's money — though in this case, the goal is to rate the store's customer service, cleanliness and more.

Often, these gigs are only part time. But JobMonkey says salaried professional mystery shoppers can earn anywhere from $40,000 to $70,000 per year.

Shopping with Big Sunglasses Woman Keeping a Secret - Cool mysterious girl with shopping bags undercover
Nicoleta Ionescu / Shutterstock
Mystery shoppers rate the store's customer service, cleanliness and more..

6. Interior designer

Salary: $49,810

If you’re a fan of those home makeover shows on HGTV, you've probably spent some time draydreaming about what life would be like as an interior designer.

The job isn't just about choosing fabulous window treatments and furnishings. It also involves understanding building codes and inspection regulations.

designer choice  wooden material sample for  modern house
RomanR / Shutterstock
An interior designer chooses wall colors and furnishings — and must understand building codes.

5. Chocolatier

Salary: $29,040

Working with chocolate for a living? Where can I sign up? A chocolatier is a professional chef who specializes in making amazing chocolates.

While the median salary for a confectioner may not seem all that sweet, chocolatiers working for Godiva reportedly earn up to $100,000 a year.

young chocolatier decorating egg chocolate
ALPA PROD / Shutterstock
A chocolatier is a professional chef who specializes in making amazing chocolate concoctions.

4. Supercar driving instructor

Salary: Up to $120,000

If you love an adrenaline rush, you can’t get much better than a career as a driving instructor for "supercars” like Ferraris. Owners pay experts to teach them how to drive their luxury, high-performance cars in the best (and baddest) way possible.

Pay information is difficult to track, though a former NASCAR driver turned Ferrari instructor once indicated he earned up to $120,000 per year.


3. Food critic

Salary: $76,612

This job gets five stars if you love to eat (who doesn't?), love to write and love to share your opinions.

The Economic Research Institute says that while the average salary is around $77,000 a year, senior food critics with at least eight years experience average about $95,000.

restaurant, people, technology and holiday concept - smiling man with tablet pc eating main course at restaurant
Syda Productions / Shutterstock
Restaurant critics dine out a lot, and get to share their opinions.

2. Professional video gamer

Pay: At least $100,000 a year

Yes, it is possible to play video games for a living! Professional gamers play in front of audiences on video platforms including YouTube and Twitch.tv, and they participate in eSport competitions.

According to Business Insider, over 100 gamers earned $100,000 or more in prize money in 2014.

Professional video gamer in eSport tournament
Professional gamers participate in eSport competitions.

1. Voice actor

Pay: Up to $500 an hour

Voiceover artists bring cartoon characters to life, narrate audio books and record voice tracks for commercials. Many voice actors do the work from the comfort of their own home studios.

As with all acting careers, you must audition for gigs, and higher pay comes with experience. Voice actors can earn anywhere from $300 to $500 per hour.

Woman Recording Audiobook. Audio Recording Studio Theme. Caucasian Voice Talent.
welcomia / Shutterstock
Many voice actors do the work from the comfort of their own home studios.
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About the Author

Shannon Quinn

Shannon Quinn

Freelance Contributor

Shannon Quinn is an entrepreneur and writer from the Philadelphia area.

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