5 Unconventional Careers With Strangely Sweet Salaries

Do you know what hops are? Do you laugh in the face of radioactive waste like some kind of superhero? If you’re not into the traditional and don’t like to take the path most traveled, check out these five offbeat and unconventional career options.


Hey, someone has to do it, right? Niagara College’s two-year Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management program—the first of its kind in Canada—fills a real need for qualified brewers in the craft brewing industry.

bar beer taps bartender

The program has proven to be a huge success. Interest in the program exceeds the number of spots available and students enjoy a very high placement rate upon graduation. Superbad fans, be forewarned! If you think making beer sounds like a barrel—or vat—of laughs, consider that the curriculum includes classes in Brewing Chemistry, Mathematics of Finance, Brewhouse Calculations, and Recipe Formulation, proving that beer-making really is a science.

Education or training required: There are only two schools in Canada offering this unique program: Niagara College in Southern Ontario and, through a partnership between the two schools, Olds College in Olds, Alberta, which just began offering the two-year program recently.


scuba diver Golf Ball DiverYes, Virginia, there is such a thing as a Golf Ball Diver! If you’re industrious,
patient and happen to own some scuba gear, there’s money to be made in retrieving all of the golf balls that get lost in a golf course’s water hazards. Golf Ball Divers collect the balls and then sell them to pro shops and distributors to be refurbished and re-sold. A truly devoted and eagle-eyed diver can earn up to six figures a year!

Of course, there are some downsides to the job. The waters are murky and muddy, visibility can be near-zero, water snakes, toads and other critters may fight you for a golf ball, and a mesh bag loaded with 1,000 or more golf balls—a fairly common daily haul—can weigh up to 70 pounds and has to be lugged back up to the surface.

Education or training required: Golf Ball Divers must be certified scuba divers and have health and safety training. Post-secondary students are strongly encouraged to get a degree in Entrepreneurship, Business Administration or Business Management and take basic law courses to better navigate any permission, liability and property-related issues that may arise.


nurse doctor disease Hazmat worker job careersHave you ever seen a TV show or movie where there’s a disaster of some kind and suddenly, faceless, shapeless figures appear out of the fog, dressed like astronauts, after the firefighters and police officers have cleared the path for them? These unsung heroes are Hazmat (or “hazardous materials”) Workers, and there’s good reason for the head-to-toe protective gear. They’re the ones who identify, remove, decontaminate and dispose of the stuff we’d prefer not to think about, like asbestos, radioactive and nuclear waste, corrosive and toxic materials, and arsenic.

Education or training required:
Post-secondary students interested in pursuing a career as a Hazmat Worker should consider enrolling in an Environmental Health, Pure and Applied Science or Health Sciences program before continuing on to the specialized hazmat training required to handle dangerous waste and materials.


Ice Road Truckers transport food, gasoline and other crucial supplies to remote areas that aren’t accessible by any other means. It can be a hazardous profession: tricky roadways, winter storms, isolation, rough terrains, and weeks on end of far-below-freezing temperatures means this isn’t a career for everyone. Driving 25 kilometres an hour for days on end can make boredom an issue as well. All of this may explain why Ice Road Truckers can earn up to $40,000 to $60,000 during a single two- or three-month season.

truck winter Ice road trucker job

Education or training required: You’ll first need to get licensed as a commercial truck driver, followed by additional ice road training that is usually sponsored by trucking and freight companies who are eager to fill vacant positions.


computer keyboard white hat hacker careersIt’s been estimated that cyber attacks account for up to $1 trillion—yes, trillion!—a year in global losses. This doesn’t even take into consideration the incalculable damage done to a company’s reputation that often results from these attacks. It’s no wonder, then, that White Hat Hackers—otherwise known as “Ethical Hackers”—are being hired to use their hacking talents for good rather than evil.

Companies pay these White Hat Hackers to try to break past their security systems and steal personal information, alter code or otherwise wreak havoc. If the hacker succeeds, the right people are alerted of the security breach, so that the weakness the hacker exploited can be fixed. It’s not uncommon for a skilled White Hat Hacker to earn six figures a year—a small price for peace of mind.

Education or training required: A bachelor’s degree in Computer Science or Information Technology is preferred, but a passion and ability for hacking is required above all else. And girls, don’t think this is a career for guys only: Joanna Rutkowska, founder of Invisible Things Lab, and Sherri Sparks, co-founder of Clear Hat Consulting, were two of PC World’s “Top 12 White Hat Hackers You Should Know.”

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