10 Fun Jobs That Pay Well

A winemaker talks on the phone.
Wine probably tastes even better when you're being paid to make it.
© ColorBlind Images/Corbis

Just about everyone needs to work for a living, unless they're independently wealthy or simply luckier than the rest of us. Some of us go to school to follow a career path, and some of us work our way up the ladder. No matter how we got our jobs or what we do, most people probably agree on two things: We want to make good money, and we want our jobs to be fun.

Many of us have to choose one or the other. Some of us, though, get to have both. Usually the most fun job is one where you get to do what you love. Getting paid well is the cherry on top of the sundae. We found 10 jobs that not only look really fun but also pay pretty well. If you're thinking of changing careers, might we suggest some of these?


10: Animal Groomer

A groomer combs a dog.
Leaving work with pet fur all over your clothes is worth it when you love what you do.
Apple Tree House/Photodisc/Thinkstock

Animal grooming is hard work, but you also get to hang out with pets all day. Shampooing, fluffing, pampering, clipping nails, grooming fur — for many people, taking care of their pets is one of their highest priorities. For self-employed groomers, that can pay off handsomely.

A good way to find out if pet grooming is the job for you is to take a job with another groomer first. The pay may not be as high as if you were self-employed, but it's a good way to find out if you like the profession. The work is fun for animal-loving energetic people but is also physically demanding. Self-employed pet groomers can make upwards of $75,000 a year if they have a steady amount of pets coming in [source: NBC]. Once groomers establish a clientele of regular customers and their pets (or pets and their humans), they can operate out of their homes, a mobile unit or their own shop, depending on their needs.


9: Personal Shopper/Stylist

A woman looks through a clothes rack.
If leaving the mall with more money than you walked in with sounds like a dream come true, personal shopping might be the job for you.
Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock

If you consider yourself a fashionista or shopaholic, a career as a personal shopper can be both fun and financially rewarding. Many people, from celebrities to your well-dressed neighbor, don't pick out their fancy duds on their own. They have people who help them curate a wardrobe — people who understand what their clients like, what flatters them, what styles and colors work for them and what's within their budget. As a personal shopper, you must have a good eye for style, knowledge of current fashion trends and good interpersonal skills.

Experienced stylists can make up to six figures a year, but they have to put in their time [source: Law]. Consider getting a degree in fashion design or merchandising and a job in a department store before expecting to make a lot of money. Start with a few clients and slowly build from there. Once you establish yourself, you can charge by the session, and you'll find yourself spending your days shopping — on someone else's dime.


8: Winemaker

A man drinks wine near a barrel.
If you swirl, sniff and sip every time you pick up a glass of wine, you might enjoy being a winemaker.
© John Fedele/Blend Images/Corbis

Are you interested in oenology? Never heard of it? Maybe you have and just don't know it. Oenology is the study of winemaking. Many people dream of becoming a winemaker, running away from it all, moving to Italy and buying a winery — but the reality seems financially impossible. However, you don't have to own a winery to be a winemaker and make a decent living doing it. Some winemakers make around $90,000 a year [source: Crowe].

Many owners hire someone to oversee day-to-day operations and run the business. You'll need experience, though. Basic requirements include a degree in oenology, technical experience in winemaking (perhaps as an apprentice) and overall knowledge of the different varieties of grapes. It's all worth it, though, if wine is your passion. And the taste testing probably doesn't hurt, either.


7: Chocolatier

A worker makes chocolates in a kitchen.
You can get your chocolate fix by working as a chocolatier, but try not to eat too many of your confections — they keep the dough coming in!
Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock

If you believe you can never have enough of a good thing, the life of a chocolatier might suit you well. A sweet job in every sense of the word, making chocolate for a living pays well if you can Willy Wonka your way to the top. With a starting salary in the low $20,000s, experienced chocolatiers can work their way up to $90,000 or more [source: Crowe]. The higher salaries might mean an executive job at a top company like Godiva.

Chocolatiers typically go to culinary school or apprentice with a master confectioner. You need (obviously) a love and taste for sweets. If chocolate is your passion, then you probably already know what flavors and tastes work well together. You'll work in-depth with flavor and texture combinations, decorate chocolates and learn all about tempering and molding chocolate. And don't forget that during holidays, your entire life will revolve around chocolate.


6: Luxury Car Test Driver

A driver takes a gold-plated Infiniti sports car on a test drive.
While all of the cars you drive may not be as flashy as this gold-plated sports car, your need for speed and lavish autos will definitely be satisfied as a luxury car test driver.
STR/AFP/Getty Images

Do you have the need for speed but want to avoid the dangers of being a race car driver? Consider being a luxury test car driver. Companies such as BMW, Porsche and Ferrari need people to test out their cars before going to market. This means taking the car onto a private course and giving it a workout. Making it to that higher end means you'll be able to afford a luxury car of your own!

Test car drivers have many responsibilities. They must have advanced technical knowledge of automobile mechanics and engineering, since many cars are still prototypes and part of their job is reporting performance from nose to tailpipe. Driving tests measure acceleration, braking, high-speed performance, road performance, comfort, visibility, drivability and overall usability of the vehicle. Look for these types of jobs directly at the car manufacturer. Then sit back, and enjoy the ride.


5: Food Critic

A man eats at a restaurant.
You can turn your after-meal critiques into a profession by writing reviews on the restaurants you visit.
© Aleksander Rubtsov/Blend Images/Corbis

Getting paid to eat may sound like a dream come true, but it's a reality for food critics. They can't earn the big bucks with just a refined palate, though. They also need a flair for writing and attention to detail. Food critics write reviews of restaurants for blogs, newspapers and restaurant and travel guides. Some are freelance, and some work for specific publications

A food critic visits different restaurants and samples their menus, usually with a companion, and never reveals that they're reviewing the restaurant. Remaining anonymous ensures the chef and staff don't give them preferred service. To make your reviews more valuable and up your credibility, they should be detailed and describe the food experience in depth. Sometimes a critic's review can make or break a new restaurant. Give credit where credit's due, and if you don't like a place, make sure your readers understand why.


4: Event Planner

A bride and a wedding planner converse.
If making lists and checking them twice is your thing, you might be good at planning people's big days.

Do you throw the best parties? Are they always organized down to the last detail, with everyone's needs taken care of? And do you love doing it and take satisfaction in seeing everything come together? You might be the perfect event planner. Event planners take on a lot of responsibility to ensure a big day — whether it's a corporate conference, a wedding, a celebration or a product launch — goes off without a hitch. The top 10 percent of event planners in the United States earn in the high $70,000s [source: Duchon].

Event planners, especially corporate event planners, can do a lot of traveling as well. If, for example, you're planning a company's annual conference out in Las Vegas, you go along for the trip. Of course, it's not all fun and games. You'll be working around the clock to ensure everything goes smoothly, from accommodations to audiovisual presentations to luncheons. However, if you're a detail-oriented person who loves checklists and making people happy, this is a fun job.


3: Video Game Designer

A programmer works on a video game.
Designing a video game isn't as easy as hitting a button and making it work, but if you're interested in the magic behind the gameplay, this job may be a perfect fit.

Working in the gaming industry is a longtime dream for many people. You've logged countless hours sitting in front of your screen, racking up points and working your way through different worlds. Perhaps you think, "I might as well get paid for doing this." The good news is, you can do so and make a good living at the same time. Video game designers can start out with a salary in the mid-$40,000s and work their way up to six figures as they advance up the career ladder [source: Bay].

Many schools offer degree paths and certifications in video game development. Courses like programming and 3-D modeling can help you create a portfolio of work to show potential employers. It's important to understand, though, that video game designers don't just start creating their own games. They work in teams to bring a vision to life. But if video games are your lifeblood, helping create your own favorite hobby is a great job.


2: Professional Magician

A young girl watches a magician perform.
Tricks of the eye and sleights of hand may be despised by poker players, but they're beloved by magicians.

A professional magician gets to perform for a living. Not only that, they amaze people and fill their audiences with wonder. Who can say that's not fun? Magicians can work private parties, corporate events, bars and restaurants — we're not talking about street magicians here. Professional magician Mitch Williams told online publication WalletPop that he earned between $400 and $3,000 per gig in 2012 [source: Crowe]. And think of the professionals that hit it big, like Criss Angel or David Copperfield, who are now celebrities and millionaires. Of course, that's a long shot, but you never know.

Magicians are mostly self-taught. You have to be naturally entertaining and have a natural rapport with people. The better you connect with people, the better you'll be at your job. Additionally, many magicians work on a contract or freelance basis, so be prepared for it to be a part-time job at first. Once you establish yourself as a talent, you'll be running your own business in the blink of an eye.


1: Professional Taster

Professional tasters test coffee samples.
You may need your morning cup of joe — but would you want this many? These professional food tasters have no shortage of coffee to energize them throughout the workday.
© Edward Rozzo/Corbis

Imagine being paid to taste food all day and give your opinion on it. The foodie inside of you must be salivating. A food taster does exactly that. Tasters typically work for a specific company on new products, testing variations of ingredients, textures and flavors. Many have degrees in nutrition — it's not just all about the taste. Salaries for food tasters range from $39,000 to $78,000, depending on experience and management level [source: Insley].

A typical day in the life of a food taster might include sampling a few different versions of a product and giving an assessment of each. You'd judge things on taste, mouth feel, appearance and ratio of ingredients (is there enough dried fruit in this fruit oatmeal?). You might wonder how a food taster makes it through their career without gaining a lot of weight. Kirsten Hoskissen, a professional food taster, told The Guardian that this is a real problem. Sometimes she can spit the food out, but there are some taste buds in the back of the throat, so that's not always an option [source: Insley]. So if you do take this job, be ready to exercise during your lunch hour.

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More Great Links

  • Bay, Jason W. "Video Game Designer Salary." Game Industry Career Guide. 2013. (Nov. 22, 2014) http://www.gameindustrycareerguide.com/video-game-designer-salary/
  • Crowe, Aaron. "10 fun jobs that pay well." Today. Apr. 7, 2014. (Nov. 22, 2014)http://www.today.com/id/40029496/ns/today-money/t/fun-jobs-pay-well/#.VG5sp9ZbzKE
  • Chicago Tribune. "Chocolatier." 2014. (Nov. 22, 2014) http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/careers/sns-jobs-cool-jobs-chocolatier-story.html
  • Duchon, Andrea. "Five High-Paying Jobs That Are Fun." University.com. Dec. 18, 2013. (Nov. 22, 2014) http://www.university.com/fun_high_pay_jobs/
  • InsideJobs. "Car Test Driver." 2013. (Nov. 22, 2014)http://www.insidejobs.com/careers/car-test-driver
  • InsideJobs. "Food Critic." 2013. (Nov. 22, 2014)http://www.insidejobs.com/careers/food-critic
  • Insley, Jill. "A working life: The food taster." The Guardian. Jun. 18, 2010. (Nov. 22, 2014) http://www.theguardian.com/money/2010/jun/19/working-life-food-taster
  • Law, Katie. "Dream Jobs: Be a Personal Stylist." Seventeen. 2014. (Nov. 22, 2014) http://www.seventeen.com/college/advice/personal-stylist-vanessa-valiente
  • NBC News. "5 Great Jobs for Pet Lovers." 2012. (Nov. 22, 2014) http://www.nbcnews.com/id/38171680/ns/business-careers/t/great-jobs-pet-lovers/#.VG5-5NZbzKE
  • StateUniversity.com. "Magician Job Description, Career as a Magician, Salary, Employment - Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job." 2014. (Nov. 22, 2014) http://careers.stateuniversity.com/pages/7790/Magician.htm