People settle into careers in all different ways. Some decide early what they want to do and go after it with gusto. Others experiment with different careers until they find the one that fits best. Whichever path you take, your career is ideally one that you enjoy and also gives you benefits and perks that make your life easier and maybe even a little bit more fun.
Benefits can include health insurance, job security, perks, bonuses, housing or even free meals. Some companies are famous for their unique benefits. Google, for example, offers free breakfast, lunch and dinner to its employees — which is helpful, considering Googlers are at the office pretty much all the time. Workers can even bring their pets to the office for cuddlefests as needed. Johnson & Johnson is one of a small but growing number of employers offering its employees a free concierge service so workers don't have to run errands during the day [source: Stanger]. The Facebook campus keeps free bikes around to help workers to get from meeting to meeting. Having a bad hair day? They have an on-site barbershop too.
We've chosen six interesting careers with some great side benefits. Maybe there's something in there to spark your interest. Let's go!
If you like to travel and don't mind putting up with demanding — or even downright aggressive — people for hours at a time, a flight attendant job might be right for you. Typical flight attendant jobs offer health insurance and 401(k)s on top of a median salary of $48,500 [source: BLS]. Some airlines even offer tuition assistance. As you might imagine, travel benefits are generous. You can usually travel free during your time off, and your friends and family can accompany you on a buddy pass at a discounted rate (but buyer beware: That pass means your buddy's flying standby).
And some airlines have reciprocal agreements, meaning you can hitch a flight on a different airline than the one that signs your paycheck. For instance, United Airlines' reciprocal agreement with Frontier Airlines means United flight attendants can hop a Frontier flight — space permitting, of course — without paying for a ticket [source: United AFA].
A flight attendant doesn't work a typical 9-to-5 day, meaning you may fly constantly for a few days but then have several days off in a row. During your layovers in a new city or country, the airline pays for your lodging and meals. You can take this time to decompress, adjust to a new time zone and enjoy the sights. Of course, you have to be a people person to work as a flight attendant — and be able to lift heavy bags, handle harassment and deal with jet lag — but if the benefits of traveling around the country or the world outweigh the negatives, this can be a great career for those with the travel bug.
The category of circus arts comprises a list of unique jobs for unique people. We're not talking about clowns or ringmasters, though. Circus artists include trapeze artists, acrobats, aerialists or dancers. Think Cirque Du Soleil. Performers of this caliber spend most of their time on tour but usually receive benefits like health and life insurance, vacation and performance bonuses. And circus artists can make a lot of money: Depending on the troupe, some performers earn in the six figures [source: Folger]. Many companies provide their performers with free transportation back home for vacation time as well.
Other perks include free meals and lodging on tour, free tickets to performances and the opportunity to travel the world. Of course, the job of an acrobat is not without danger. In May 2014, several acrobats with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus were seriously injured when an apparatus that holds performers by their hair failed [source: CNN]. However, if you have the talent, soul and flexibility of a performer and the desire to travel, mingle with other cultures and gain a second "tour family," the one-of-a-kind circus artist field is one to consider.
Ignore the warnings about print media dying. The world of journalism is still thriving. If writing and a fast-paced environment are your passions, the industry can provide a rewarding career with a host of side benefits. Whether you're on staff with a publication or work for yourself as a freelancer, as an established journalist you can chase stories — sometimes all over the world. You get to be on the front lines of whatever's happening, whether it's a protest, a pope visit or a political debate.
It's not the highest paying job in the world, meaning any possible perks are a big deal. A Bureau of Labor Statistics look into reporter, correspondent and broadcast news analyst jobs found the median pay in 2016 was $38,870 — although that drops a few thousand bucks when you take TV news broadcasters out of the equation.
Benefits for journalists include free, behind-the-scenes access to events, and that can pay off if you're covering a concert, debate or theater event or if you're interviewing a public figure. Seasoned journalists can do a lot of traveling, which can be exciting (and sometimes dangerous) work. Your job can take you all over the world and put you right in the middle of history. And if you have a specific passion — like politics or the environment — you just might be able to make money writing about what you love.
Are you someone with a meticulously curated collection of tunes? Are you always up on current music trends and seem to know exactly who's going to be the next big thing? How about a melodious voice and a talent for filling dead air? Radio DJs have a love of music and the gift of gab. The salary of a disc jockey may not be on the high end — salaries for U.S. DJs run between $27,000 and $40,000 — but if you're a music fan, you might not mind much [source: Amoia]. The Bureau of Labor Statistics groups DJs in the category of radio and television announcers, and relays that the 2016 median pay was $30,830.
Although it's notoriously difficult to break into the industry, once you do, radio DJs can work for small, local stations or end up on a syndicated show with millions of listeners. DJs don't work typical hours, which can give flexible night owls or early birds a lot of freedom. Perks and bonuses include tickets to concerts and shows, previews of new music, lots of record company swag, and interviews with local celebrities and musicians. And you'll finally have someone (or, ideally, thousands of someones) to listen to you talk about that amazing new band coming to town.
Being a personal assistant is certainly not the easiest job in the world. Many assistants are on call 24/7 — some even live with their bosses — and have to put the needs of the boss above their own. They also make a median hourly wage of $14.74 — not terrible, but not great when you consider how demanding the role can be [source: PayScale]. This job requires patience and the ability to jump into service at any time. However, if your boss is a high-powered executive or even a celebrity, the side perks of the job can be pretty sweet — while you last.
Personal assistants have incredible opportunities to network and move up the ladder, as they communicate with other important people on a daily basis. You can develop invaluable communication skills and, in terms of finding a silver lining underneath all the demands, learn how to work with difficult people. You may get access to perks "regular" people don't, like fancy restaurants, red carpet events, film festivals and executive benefits like car services. Many assistants also travel with their bosses on business trips or vacations. These may be working trips for you, but if you're lucky you might get some time to yourself to take a breather and enjoy your surroundings. You'll seldom have to pay for your travel expenses on these trips, either.
Do you love wine? We mean really love it. Serious wine lovers can taste the distinction between different varietals and types of wines and are willing to go through the grueling certification process of becoming a sommelier. A master sommelier can make up to $160,000 a year, although there are very few masters in the United States [source: Smith].
Even if you're not a master sommelier, a regular sommelier position comes with some interesting benefits. You get to taste some of the rarest and most expensive wines in the world, pairing them with gourmet food from the finest chefs. Some sommeliers stick with one restaurant; some move from place to place; and some travel internationally to visit popular wine-growing regions and vineyards.
If you work at a restaurant, you'll have input on the menu as you pair wines with featured dishes on the menu. You also craft the wine list and arrange tastings for the public. A seasoned sommelier may even meet with celebrities to personally choose wine for their collections. The hours may be long, and you may sometimes have to deal with know-it-all customers, but if wine is your passion, the perks of being a sommelier aren't too hard to swallow.
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Author's note: 6 Careers with Great Benefits
Careers with great benefits tend to come with lower salaries, with a few exceptions. But because of the benefits and perks, the salary might not matter. As I found out during my research, most of these jobs require hard work and long hours, which is probably why they offer so many great benefits — sort of a "reward" for keeping you on the job late at night or for days at a time. But when you're doing something you love, the trade-off can be completely worth it.
- Amoia, Steve. "Job Description of a Radio DJ." Houston Chronicle. 2014. (Nov. 14, 2014) http://work.chron.com/job-description-radio-dj-15023.html
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. "Occupational Outlook Handbook: Announcers." Dec. 17, 2015. (Aug. 10, 2017) https://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/announcers.htm
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. "Occupational Outlook Handbook: Flight Attendants." 2014-2015. (Aug. 10, 2017) http://www.bls.gov/ooh/transportation-and-material-moving/flight-attendants.htm
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. "Occupational Outlook Handbook: Reporters, Correspondents and Broadcast News Analysts." Dec. 7, 2015. (Aug. 10, 2017) http://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/reporters-correspondents-and-broadcast-news-analysts.htm
- Career Overview. "18 Careers with Unbelievable Perks." Jan. 25, 2011. (Nov. 14, 2014) http://www.careeroverview.com/blog/2011/18-careers-with-unbelievable-perks/
- Folger, Jean. "5 Unconventional Jobs With Great Benefits." Investopedia. Aug. 8, 2011. (Nov. 14, 2014) http://www.investopedia.com/financial-edge/0811/5-unconventional-jobs-with-great-benefits.aspx
- Gupta, Shalene. "9 Best Companies for Dog and Cat Lovers." Fortune magazine. March 12, 2015. (Oct. 1, 2015) http://fortune.com/2015/03/12/best-companies-for-pet-lovers/
- McQuerrey, Lisa. "Flight Attendant Job Benefits." Houston Chronicle. 2014. (Nov. 14, 2014) http://work.chron.com/flight-attendant-job-benefits-15015.html
- PayScale. "Personal Assistant Salary (United States)." (Oct. 1, 2015) http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Personal_Assistant/Hourly_Rate
- Seligson, Hannah. "My Personal To-do List? The Concierge Has It." The New York Times. March 17, 2012. (Oct. 1, 2015) http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/18/business/corporate-concierges-for-your-personal-to-do-list.html
- Stanger, Melissa and Melia Robinson. "The 11 Assistants Who Run Hollywood." Business Insider. April 8, 2014. (Oct. 1, 2015) http://www.businessinsider.com/powerful-celebrity-personal-assistants-2014-3?op=1
- Stanger, Melissa. "18 of the Best Perks at Top Employers." Business Insider. Feb. 11, 2013. (Oct. 1, 2015) http://www.businessinsider.com/companies-with-awesome-perks-payscale-2013-1?op=1
- United Association of Flight Attendants. "General Guidelines for Reciprocal Cabin Seat Agreement." 2015. (Oct. 1, 2015) http://unitedafa.org/benefits/travel/reciprocal/docs/guidelines/Frontier.pdf