According to a 2010 survey by Expedia.com, Americans receive just 14 days off on average per year [source: Expedia]. But what if you had a job at which every day seemed like a vacation? Some people are lucky enough to work in professions that can be both enjoyable during work hours and lucrative come payday. For example, video game designers may earn $50,000 or more per year right out of college, while astronauts can make $65,000 to $100,000 annually during their careers [sources: Krantz and NASA].
But many of those employed in fun occupations are lucky to bring in the federal minimum wage. If you're looking for a line of work that's more about the experience than the paycheck, click through our list of five fun jobs if money is no object.
There's something incredibly thrilling about the lights and crowds of an upscale casino. At the center of this excitement are the dealers, who, with one flip of a card, can send a table into lucky celebration or penniless defeat. Their responsibilities include operating table games, dispensing cards, distributing winnings, and collecting players' money or chips.
While gaming dealers have the ability to put a great deal of money into other people's pockets, they're unlikely to put much into their own. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 85,430 Americans were employed in this capacity in 2010, earning an average annual salary of just $21,820. In Nevada, the state most associated with gambling, wages are even lower -- just $17,010 on average per year [source: BLS].
As the saying goes, "the house always wins." But if you're a dealer, you may not win by much.
For many people, photography is a relaxing hobby that's often done while on vacation. But some people actually make a living taking pictures. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 54,550 Americans worked in the field in 2010, either as portrait photographers, commercial and industrial photographers, scientific photographers, news photographers, fine arts photographers or freelance photographers.
Photographers make an average of $35,980 per year, but that figure is skewed upward by salaried workers, many of whom work full time [source: BLS]. Self-employed freelance photographers tend to have lower and more unpredictable annual earnings, in part because they have to cover their own expenses, including travel and the purchase and maintenance of equipment. So if money is no object, snap away!
Ski resorts are a popular vacation destination, but what if skiing was actually your job? All major winter recreation areas employ a ski patrol whose members get to break fresh powder while monitoring activity on the mountain and assisting guests who become lost or injured. It's hard to say exactly how many people work this job each winter, because the Bureau of Labor Statistics lumps ski patrol in with lifeguards and other recreational protective service workers. However, the bureau lists 6,530 people employed under this category in the ski-friendly states of Colorado, Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.
While ski patrollers get to live and work in some of the most beautiful country that the United States has to offer, they don't get rich doing it. The average annual salary for such workers in the four states mentioned above is just $20,010 [source: BLS]. There is usually one major perk to this job, however: all the skiing you want, free of charge.
While serving alcohol isn't quite the same as drinking it, bartending can be fun if the atmosphere is festive and the patrons are amusing. In addition to taking drink orders and showing off your flashy pouring skills, you can be a friend to your customers in times of celebration and despair. If this line of work sounds appealing, there are plenty of jobs out there to be had; the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 495,350 Americans work as bartenders.
The worst part about serving booze may be the paycheck. Bartenders bring in an average annual wage of just $21,310, an amount so low it'll make you want to drink [source: BLS].
Many people look back fondly on their college years. The mix of lifelong friends, wild parties and thought-provoking classes is so enjoyable, in fact, that some people never want leave, choosing instead to drag out their coursework or go back for advanced degrees. The down economy has bolstered this trend as workers who get laid off from their jobs often choose to go back to school over remaining in the dismal job market.
Despite its appeal, being a permanent student is perhaps the worst paying job on this list because it actually costs money. In 2009, the average cost of tuition, room and board for a four-year degree was $20,154, and in 2010, college seniors graduated with an average of $24,000 in student loan debt [source: NCES, Ellis]. With expenses like these, the job market may soon look much more appealing.
HowStuffWorks Now looks at a new twist in the sharing economy: renting your home for office space.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Occupational Employment Statistics." June 2011. (July 24, 2011) http://www.bls.gov/oes/home.htm
- CBS News. "Survey: More Americans Unhappy at Work." Jan. 5, 2010. (July 24, 2011) http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/01/05/national/main6056611.shtml
- Crowe, Aaron. "10 Fun Jobs That Pay Well." Careers on MSNBC.com. Nov. 12, 2010. (July 24, 2011) http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40029496/
- Ellis, Blake. "College Grads: $24,000 in Debt." CNN Money. Oct. 22, 2010. (July 24, 2011) http://money.cnn.com/2010/10/22/pf/college/student_loan_debt/index.htm
- Krantz, Matt. "Video Game College is 'Boot Camp' for Designers." USA Today. Dec. 3, 2002. (July 24, 2011) http://www.usatoday.com/money/media/2002-12-03-video_x.htm
- Maidment, Paul. "America's Best- and Worst-paying Jobs." Forbes.com. June 4, 2007. (July 24, 2011) http://www.forbes.com/2007/06/04/jobs-careers-compensation-lead-careers-cx_pm_0604jobs.html
- NASA. "Frequently Asked Questions." Kennedy Space Center. Feb. 28, 2008. (July 24, 2011) http://www.nasa.gov/centers/kennedy/about/information/astronaut_faq.html#5
- PRNewswire-FirstCall. "Expedia.com Survey Reveals Vacation Deprivation Among American Workers is at an All Time High." Expedia, Inc. May 23, 2010. (July 24, 2011) http://press.expediainc.com/index.php?s=43&item=79
- U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. "Fast Facts." 2010. (July 24, 2011) http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=76