Crush Your Career Goals

Cool Jobs: 12 Outstanding Examples and How to Find Yours In 2020

Updated on February 19, 2020 Updated on February 19, 2020
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For better or worse, we are partially defined by our jobs. There’s dignity in having one, but some are assigned a higher status while others are more fun. If you’re interested in how to find the cool jobs, this post will show you how.

What defines cool jobs is open to interpretation, but some jobs are universally cool like sommelier, smoke jumper, and marine biologist. But what matters is that you’re happy in your job and that you can make enough money to reach your financial goals.

To me, those two things make a job cool even if it’s not widely considered to be one of the fun jobs that millions of people fantasize about.

Because if you’re unhappy in your full-time job, you’re unlikely to be happy overall.

Hating your job has major consequences; it affects your physical and mental health, your personal life, your motivation, your confidence, and your self-worth.

I’m sure most of us know this feeling. That Sunday night dread sets in, the constant state of low-level stress, a lack of joy in anything because you hate your job so much. It’s no way to live. So let’s get to it. We present cool jobs: how to find one.

Ask Yourself a Few Key Questions

To figure out what your dream job might be, there are a few things you need to think about.

How Much Do You Want to Work?

Some careers provide more work-life balance than others. If you’re young and single or have a lot of debt to pay off, you might not mind working a lot of nights and weekends. But as you get older and have a family, it might not be ideal any longer.

work-life-balance

Do some research on what kind of hours a career you’re interested in requires. I have a friend who has one of the coolest jobs ever; she’s a dresser on Broadway. But that meant she worked nights, weekends, and holidays. That was fine by her, she was single and childfree, but it wouldn’t be ideal for everyone.

When you land an interview, do some research on the culture of that particular company. Some companies may “encourage” working long hours, even in jobs that don’t traditionally require it.

How Much Schooling is Required?

You may have enough education to get hired at entry or mid-level, but if you want to move up, will you need more? If the answer is yes, you shouldn’t automatically be deterred.

There are many options to go to school part-time and continue to work, and your employer may pay for all or part of your education.

How Much Do You Need to Live On?

Many of us harbor dreams of doing something creative or working at a non-profit for a cause important to us, but we also need to pay our bills. Know the minimum you can earn to cover expenses, pay any debt, and save for the future.

If you’re still determined to take a job for love over money, that’s okay. There are plenty of ways to be frugal and make money on the side.

What Do You Not Want To Do?

This question is more important than asking what you want to do. If you hate dealing with the public, park ranger might be a better choice for you than hairdresser.

If you don’t want to go to college (Nothing wrong with that. There are plenty of well-paying jobs that don’t require a bachelor’s degree), don’t choose a career that requires a degree to get hired or move ahead.

What Do You Want To Do?

I don’t mean what job do you want to do; we’re still figuring that out. I mean things like, do you want to work outside? Do you want to work with children? Do you want to work full-time?

Once you’ve answered these questions, take a look at some cool careers that might fit your dream job criteria.

Cool Jobs for Peter Pans

What is a Peter Pan, you might ask? Take it away Urban Dictionary.

Generally, a Peter Pan is someone who will never grow up.
There is nothing wrong with being a Peter Pan. NYC, where I used to live and New Orleans where I live now, are full of them. We’re a lot of fun. But some job opportunities are better suited to Peter Pan than others.

1. Video Game Designer

What better job for a Peter Pan than designing fantasy worlds? And because you work with other Peter Pans, there aren’t so many “grown-ups” in this career that will find your childlike wonder (and sometimes behavior) annoying.

According to Payscale, the average salary for a video game designer is $64,471, which is not bad money for a person who doesn’t want to grow up.

2. Event Planner

Event planners make the party happen. It’s always good to have a niche, whether you’re a podcaster or an event planner. Having a niche helps to grow your customer base, so choose an event planning niche like same-sex weddings or corporate retreats.

Champagne flutes

The average salary for an event planner is $48,243.

3. Sommelier

A sommelier is a wine professional. They typically work in fine-dining restaurants and specialize in all things wine, including how to pair wines with food and how to properly store wine.

They work in front of house with restaurant customers and back of house managing the restaurant’s wine cellar.

The average salary for a sommelier is $49,792.

4. Freelance Writer

I know this is a good fit for Peter Pans because I am one, and it’s what I do for a living! I can work from home, switch between projects if I get bored, and do it from anywhere, including the beach, which I have done.

It didn’t take experience to become a freelance writer, it was luck, and I detailed how this career happened for me. 

The average hourly pay for a freelance writer is $21.81. 

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Cool Jobs For Helpers

Good career choices for helpers, those who want to devote their lives to helping others, are things like veterinarian, teacher, nurse, and firefighter.

When I was a boy and saw scary things in the news, my mother would say, Look for the helpers. You'll always find people helping.

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And those are selfless careers but not exactly cool jobs. So we took each one and found a slightly cooler variation.

5. Wildlife Conservationist

One of the most critical fields in animal care is wildlife conservation.

A wildlife conservationist protects and manages various environments, such as forests and grasslands, to ensure that they’re safe for the species and plants that live and grow there.

It means keeping the habitats free of disease and destructive insects, as well as fire prevention.

The median salary for a wildlife conservationist is $61,310. 

6. Teach English

English as a second language teachers can work all over the world or from the comfort of their own home! These jobs don’t always pay well, but many programs cover their teacher’s living expenses so you keep more of your earnings.

The average salary for an ESL teacher is $44,413.

7. Traveling Nurse

The concept of traveling nurses came about as a way to deal with the nursing shortage. Traveling nurses work all around the country, usually in hospitals temporarily.

There is also a demand for traveling nurses outside the U.S., so if international travel is something that appeals to you, this is perfect.

The average salary for an R.N. is $71,730, and for a traveling nurse, it’s $88,400.

8. Smokejumper

Smokejumpers are like the Navy Seals of firefighters, and only the elite are chosen for this specialty. A smokejumper parachutes out on airplanes into remote areas to help fight wildfires.

Like traveling nurses, smokejumpers often work internationally because there are not enough of these badasses to go around.

The average pay is less than I imagined.

A smokejumper earns around $16.00 per hour while a smokejumper foreman earns about $24.00 per hour.

Smokejumpers earn nothing extra for making parachute jumps but the hazard pay is equivalent to 25 percent of their base pay in certain circumstances.

This seems odd. Supply and demand are what drives salary; that’s why pro athletes make more than teachers, even though teaching is an essential profession.

There are a lot more people who can become teachers than can become pro athletes. So if you want to be a smokejumper, you’ll probably need a side hustle! 

Cool Jobs For Outdoorsy Types

Some people cannot stand the thought of being stuck behind a desk, cooped up indoors day after day. If you want to get some fresh air as part of your workday, these are cool jobs for you.

9. Park Ranger

Being a park ranger is the ultimate outdoor job.

A park ranger is a professional whose work revolves around the conservation and use of state or national park resources.

The National Park Service employs park rangers for multiple purposes from law enforcement to cultural and interpretive services, while state park agencies organize theirs in a number of ways.

The average salary for a park ranger is $69,395.

10. Cruise Ship Employee

Depending on the job, you might work inside on a cruise ship, but you’re still on the wide-open sea, so it’s definitely not a desk job. There are all kinds of positions available on a cruise ship; fitness trainers, lifeguards, entertainers, chefs, servers, cruise directors.

The pay isn’t great, but most of your expenses, like housing and food, are covered so you can save the majority of your salary. 

The majority of positions are based on an hourly wage and most employment opportunities on a cruise ship earn $1,200-$1,500 a month.

11. Tour Guide

I am the world’s most fabulous New Orleans tour guide because I love the city so much, and I love showing it off to visitors, so this is one of the cool jobs I have considered.

If you love your city or you’re skilled at something like hiking or white water rafting that people come to your area for, you might enjoy being a tour guide too.

cool jobs discount-vacation

Tour guide is also on the cool jobs list because positions vary within the field between full-time, part-time, seasonal, employer-based, and independent jobs. It’s something that offers lots of flexibility.

The average salary for a tour guide is $24,343. 

12. Summer Camp Counselor

Summer camp counselor is a seasonal job so that it won’t be possible for everyone. But if you’re a teacher or a student, it might be an excellent way for you to make some extra money.

Camp counselors supervise camp activities and develop recreational plans. They generally work with children in residential summer camps or day camps.

Other responsibilities include the health and safety of their charges as well as leading campers in emergency procedures.

The average salary for a summer camp counselor is $20,317.

Getting the Interview

Now that you have an idea of what you want to do, here are some ways to get an interview.

Have a Killer Resume

We did a whole episode on this. Unless you have an “in” at the company you are applying to, your resume is your best chance to get the attention of someone in a hiring position.

Clean Up Your Social Media

Anyone considering calling you in for an interview is going to Google your name first. What will they find?

If you’re this guy, you can expect to never get a job, ever. But you probably have some embarrassing Facebook posts and Instagram pictures.

Clean that stuff up and make every account you have private.

Set Up a Killer LinkedIn Profile

Recruiters are using LinkedIn to find candidates, and businesses are using Google to find new employees, so if you don’t have a profile set up yet, that should be your priority.

LinkedIn is pretty easy to use, and they walk you through the entire process. If you need some more help getting started, check out this article for more details.

You can add things to your account, like videos of past presentations. Be sure to fill out your profile completely, and to add a photo; both have proven to get more profile views.

Make as many connections on the site as you can; 50 is the minimum you need for a successful profile.

Use the right keywords in your resume and profile. Carefully read the postings for positions you are interested in and stack your resume and profile with the keywords you find.

Many recruiters search for prestigious university names. Don’t lie about your education, but if you can take a professional development class at such a university in your area and include it in your profile and resume, it can get those eyeballs on your profile.

Upload Your Resume to Multiple Job Networks

The more people who see your resume, the better, so post it in as many places as you can. These are some of the top sites you should have your resume on.

Go to Job Fairs

You can find information about job fairs using sites like LinkedIn or Meetup. Come prepared for these events. Find out what companies will be participating and do some research on the ones you are interested in.

Have your “elevator pitch” down. This is a 30-second speech about what you have to offer a company. The recruiters at these fairs talk to dozens of people, you have to sell yourself fast and efficiently.

Have several copies of your resume and examples of your work, websites you’ve built, articles that you’ve written, etc. Get contact information for anyone you spoke to who has a position you are interested in.

As soon as you have it, duck away and make a few notes regarding what you talked about. By the end of the day, you can’t keep all the conversations straight, so making the notes is essential.

Be sure to follow up within 48 hours with a thank-you e-mail and remind them when and where you spoke.

Volunteer

This is especially important if you are currently out of work. Being unemployed is fun for about a week, and then it gets boring, depressing, lonely, and discouraging.

Volunteering gets you out of the house, gives a sense of happiness and purpose from helping others, and puts you in contact with other humans apart from the guy delivering your Seamless orders.

Volunteering can lead to a new job or even a new career. Treat volunteering like a job. The people around you are watching, and if you blow off shifts, show up late, or slack off, they will notice.

The cause you volunteer for doesn’t have to provide a job directly. Maybe you like to volunteer with animals, but doing so is not what you want to do for your career.

Surely not everyone you meet volunteering works with animals. One of them may work in a job that you are interested in.

If you would like a paid position in the organization you are volunteering with, say so. When something becomes available, you might get lucky or at least get an interview.

Going from a volunteer position to a paid one is no different than your ordinary job.

If you want to get ahead, take on additional responsibilities. Show passion and enthusiasm, learn the culture of the organization and build relationships within it.

Volunteering can help you learn skills that you can add to your resume. If you are helping out at a food pantry, that involves a lot more than packing up sacks of groceries, you may solicit donations, coordinate volunteer schedules, and market the available service.

All of those are skills that you can use in a number of careers.

Network

There are lots of opportunities to network; Meetups, your local Chamber of Commerce, conventions, professional groups, and college alumni groups.

Many of the same rules apply to attending a networking event as attending a job fair; get business cards, make a few notes about the people you met whom might be helpful, follow up with them a day or two after the event.

If you’re nervous talking to strangers, bring a friend, but make sure your friend is more outgoing than you; otherwise, the two of you will huddle in a corner talking only to each other.

If you can see a list of the people who will be attending the event, do some research on them and their companies so you come armed with information to break the ice.

Tell Everyone

Looking for a job is like looking for a partner; tell everyone you know that you’re hunting. Even people you don’t know, tell the guy in line behind you at the grocery, the person on the treadmill next to you at the gym, you never know.

Tell one person at a time, though, don’t send out a mass e-mail. You’ll create the bystander effect; no one will help because they assume someone else will.

When you do tell someone you’re looking, be specific. What kind of position, what companies are you interested in, what area if you’re in a large metro area.

Tell them what you would like them to do; connect you with anyone who may be able to help, let you know of any openings they hear of, give your resume to the person who’ll get your foot in the door.

Try Craigslist

Craigslist has a somewhat deserved reputation for being a sleazy place to job hunt, but it’s not always so. If you’re in a smaller city or town or prefer to work for a small company, it can be a legitimate place to look.

Craigslist can be more direct than other job search sites. Many ads on Craigslist are authored by the person who will be hiring, so your resume doesn’t have to make it through an algorithm or a human resources gatekeeper.

Create Your Own Opportunities

Matt recently read a book by Twitter co-found Biz Stone called Things a Little Bird Told Me.

Biz writes about how he always created his own opportunities. In high school, he started a lacrosse team because he wanted to play lacrosse.

While working as a box loader at a book publisher, he started using the computers to design book jackets.

One day, someone saw one of his designs and pitched it to the author. They liked his design and chose it for the book. After that, he was hired full-time as a designer. He has many other stories like those in the book, so definitely check it out.

If you want a job, do the work first.

Bonus Tip

Once you use your extraordinary skills to land a job, you need to negotiate for an excellent salary and benefits. We have done some great episodes on negotiations, so check them out before you accept an offer.

We taught you how to use the velvet glove rather than the iron fist to make sure both sides walk away happy. In this episode, we interviewed Daniel Green on how to become a master negotiator.

Candice Elliott - Senior Editor
Candice Elliott is a substantial contributor to Listen Money Matters. She has been a personal finance writer since 2013 and has written extensively on student loan debt, investing, and credit. She has successfully navigated these areas in her own life and knows how to help others do the same. Candice has answered thousands of questions from the LMM community and spent countless hours doing research for hundreds of personal finance articles. She happily calls New Orleans, Louisiana home-the most fun city in the world.
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