In 2002, photographer Nancy Rica Schiff published a brilliant book of black-and-white images captured during her decades-long fascination with the strangest jobs in America. The cover of the book, appropriately titled "Odd Jobs," features a photograph of a middle-aged woman in a white lab coat scientifically and methodically sniffing the armpit of a shirtless man.
The brave woman was Betty Lyons, professional odor judge at Hill Top Research in Cincinnati, Ohio. A 35-year veteran of the company, which conducts scientific odor testing of soaps, shampoos, skin products, and yes, deodorants, Lyons was trained to classify odors on a stink scale of 1 to 10. Among the unenviable tasks of an odor judge is to test the before and after effects of breath-freshening mouthwash and the stench-squashing power of scented cat litters [source: The Guardian].
How do you get started in such a profession? Lyons was introduced to the research lab as a subject and leapt into the pit-sniffing gig after a year of specialized training. Salary estimates for an odor judge range between $19,000 and $52,000, but the benefits stink [source: Mason]. Yes, that was a joke.