Surprisingly High Paying Jobs

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? An athlete? A veterinarian? A Ghostbuster? How about a portable toilet route driver? Yeah, didn’t think so. There are hundreds of jobs out there that nobody dreams about doing. But you’d be pretty shocked at how high paying some of them are. So, in the spirit of financial curiosity, I decided to take a look at some surprising high paying jobs.

16. Airplane Repo Man

In this modern world of layaway, bankruptcy and monthly repayments, sometimes things have to be repossessed.  Normally it’s cars or houses – but if you happen to be a millionaire gone bust, it might well be your private jet.

©J. Emilio Flores

Armed only with a pilot’s licence and a thirst for excitement – and cash – airplane repo men can earn $500-$1,700 per day working for a company like Sage-Popovich, who specialise in airline repossession. This is the owner, Nick Popovich, who doesn’t look like someone to be messed with.


According to, repossessed planes can be delivered back to the bank for a 6-10% commission of the resale price, which means anywhere between $10,000 – $900,000 per plane. In an economic downturn, companies like Nick’s can turn huge profits employing out-of-work pilots. The business even spawned a hilariously unrealistic show on the Discovery Channel called Airplane Repo.

15. Chicken Sexer

As weird as this job sounds… who am I kidding, it’s weird however you look at it. Chicken sexers are the people whose job it is to figure out whether chicks are male or female, since male chicks are useless to egg companies.


Japanese chick sexers are prized around the world for their ability to determine chick genders through a process called venting, in which the chick is squeezed so that it defecates. That allows the sexer to see up where the sun don’t shine. If there are little bumps there, the chick is male, but if the surface is flat, it’s female.

It sounds simple, but experienced chicken sexers – and I can’t believe I just used that phrase – can earn upwards of $60,000, according to Job Monkey. The UK even has a shortage of chicken sexer jobs that start at £40,000 per year – that’s $50k per year from the get-go. Would that amount of money entice you to look up chicken butts all day?

14. Golf Ball Diver

©Stina Sieg – KJZZ

If you enjoy swimming around in scum-ridden ponds and getting tangled up in slimy underwater weeds, this could be the high paying job for you. Golf ball diving is pretty self-explanatory – an estimated 300 million golf balls are lost in the US alone each year, and a good golf ball diver can find around 5000 balls in just one lake.


The balls, known to divers as “white gold”, are then sold secondhand for 75 cents a piece, which means a potential $3,750 for a single lake dive. These divers have to brave broken bottles, water snakes, crocodiles, leeches, limited visibility and sub-zero temperatures, but they can earn over $150,000 per year. Is it worth it? In 2014, a South African diver was killed by a crocodile while retrieving balls, so I’ll just leave that for you to judge.

13. Bounty Hunter

©A&E Television Networks

Fans of Dog the Bounty Hunter are well aware of the excitement that comes with pursuing someone who’s skipped their bail – but did you know just how high paying this job can be? According to, Bounty Hunters in the United States earn on average almost $86,000 per year, and this figure can go as high as $106k in cities with high crime rates. The problem is: you have to live in a city with a high crime rate. Also you might end up working up to 100 hours a week because of all the stakeouts and insurance paperwork involved in selling bail bonds.

According to bounty hunter Bob Burton, however, the real reward of the job is adrenaline: Bob says that for every buck he makes arresting someone, he makes 1000 adrenadollars.


I don’t know what exactly you can buy with adrenadollars, but this guy definitely has a lot of them.

12. Flavorists

©Alexander Raths

Food chemistry is a big industry, and if you’ve got the smarts to be able to design and test amazing new flavours, this high paying job could earn you a lot. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage in 2014 for flavour chemists was $67,000 per year. This could get as high as $89,000 per year. So if you fancy earning big and getting creative with your food, all you need is a Chemistry degree and some lab experience – sorry if I made getting that sound easy: it’s not.

11. Submarine Cooks

For a lot of people, working in the high-stress environment of a kitchen is just too much. Now imagine doing this 1,500ft below sea level.


In some Navies, submarine cooks are the highest paid non-officers. They are employed in a category known as ‘individuals critical to the navy.’ In Australia, sub-sea chefs with six years of experience can earn up to AU$200,000, the equivalent of almost $140,000 US. This guy looks pretty happy about that.


Navies often have a difficult time finding the staff, however, since most people can’t deal with spending weeks at time cooking inside a submerged steel tube. Talk about a high-pressure work environment.

10. Portable Toilet Route Driver

©Peter Gudella

Portable toilets are a pretty essential service, but no one wants to be near them for very long. Because of this, Portable Toilet Route Drivers can actually earn a decent buck. One job on offers a Route Driver job at $65-70k per year, along with paid driver training; and according to Payscale, the average salary for the Portable Toilet Industry is $51k. Problem is, you’re not just a driver – 70% of your time would be spent cleaning and servicing toilets, and we know how those can look at the end of a party. Still, if you’ve got the stomach for it, there’s money to be made in toilets.

9. Private Butler


You don’t have to change your name to Jeeves or Jeffery to become a butler – but it does help to be British, apparently. ‘New money’ clients believe that butlers with classy British protocol help them to be seen as rich and important. In places like Dubai, a new British-trained butler can earn a starting salary of £100,000, or $126,000. According to, the average butler’s salary in the US is $62,000 dollars. This can rise as high as $99,000 per year, and the highest paid butler in world – on $2.2m per year – is based in the US. The job involves long hours, strange requests, and not much holiday, but if the Downton Abbey lifestyle attracts you, perhaps you’d better start practicing your British accent, old chum.

8. Penetration Tester

Get your mind out of the gutter! Also known as a white hat hacker, a “penetration tester” is a certified ethical hacker who specialises in legally testing the security of a company’s computer system.

©Michael Treu

Payscale calculates that the average salary for ethical hackers is around $90,000. With experience, this can reach as high as $142k for penetration testers. Not so funny now is it? Working conditions vary – you could even work from home – and I guess if you don’t mind sitting in front of a computer all day, this job looks pretty desirable. Now all you need to do is learn how to code… good luck with that.

7. Elevator Mechanic


Most jobs have their ups and downs, but this one takes things to a whole other level… literally. Elevator mechanics are heroes, in my opinion, since there’s nothing more terrifying to me than being trapped inside a metal box with the potential to plummet. So I think it’s deserving that the average pay for an elevator mechanic in the US is $78,000 per year, rising to $117k with experience. These technicians need strong problem-solving skills and excellent technical knowledge, but may also have to be on-call 24/7 and spend a lot of time working in tight, dangerous spaces.

©Patrick Harrower

Remember kids – have respect for elevator mechanics, and don’t be like this guy, who got stuck in one after peeing on the buttons.

6. Underwater Welder

Given that welding involves a lot of electricity and heat, underwater welding sounds extremely dangerous, and kind of like it shouldn’t be possible – but it is.

via Imgur

Usually welds are performed in a temporary hyperbaric chamber so that they’re dry, but wet welding can be done in an emergency. One of the most prominent dangers to underwater welders isn’t electricity, but what’s known as a Delta P hazard. This occurs when two bodies of water intersect to create a pressure difference. This extreme pressure can trap, crush, and drown divers, so proper safety procedures must always be enforced.

If you’re willing to look past the various dangers of the job, you could be looking at an average salary of $65k per year, which could rise to $145k. So, if the money was that good, could you handle the pressure?

5. Prosthetist

Ever thought you might be able to build a bionic hand? Well, if you were a certified Prosthetist, that’s how you’d make your living.

©Linda Hosek

Prosthetists must determine the needs of their patient and design custom functional prosthetic devices for them. According to Payscale, Prosthetists earn an average salary of $65k – the same as a dive welder, but with far less danger involved. Late career salaries do only reach up to $92k, but considering that you might only need to work 37-40 hours a week, and you’d be helping people with their mobility, the pay difference seems more than worth it.

4. Medical Illustrator


This profession takes its roots in Gray’s Anatomy – the medical book, not the TV show – and is a great example of a job where art and science converge. A good medical illustrator needs to have an excellent understanding of anatomy and the ability to draw using a variety of graphical media. Medical illustrators make over $56k on average – up to $10k more than their non-medical illustrator counterparts. At entry-level, they make almost $20k more. So if you’re an artist that doesn’t get sick at the sight of blood and guts, this might just be your perfect job.

3. Crime Scene Cleaner

Speaking of blood and guts, this next job requires a pretty hands-on approach. Crime scene cleaners are the last on the scene after something terrible has occurred, and their job is to deal with the mess.


Blood, maggots, so much skin that it looks like toilet paper– you name it, they’ve seen it. While the average pay is actually not that high at $35k, those brave few that stick it out can earn as much as $84k per year. This hygiene technician from Cardiff in the UK says that he actually feels proud to offer a helping hand to grieving families.

©Daisy Wyatt

Well, as the old saying goes: somebody’s got to do it.

2. Underground Mine Operator

©David Goldman/AP

Mining underground has always been dangerous and scary – but did you know that it’s a lot safer than it used to be? Before 2001, mining was listed as the world’s most dangerous industry, but it’s since been overtaken by fishing, roofing and aircraft-related occupations. The dangers of mining still include explosions, cave-ins, equipment accidents, and long-term chronic diseases contracted from toxic work conditions – but do the wages make up for that? If you worked in Australia as an Underground Loading Machine Operator, your average wage would be AU$107,000, which is about $75k US.

According to, there are at least 10 different international mining industry jobs that would earn you at least US$150,000 per year. Also there are a couple of top tier jobs that net up to $350-$400k per year. So once again, if you look past the dangers and claustrophobia, you could be sitting on a gold mine – or at least working in one.


1. Garbage Collector

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and in the case of garbage collector Noel Molina of New York City, that treasure is a salary of $112,000 per year.

©Patrick Gillespie 

Payscale puts the average garbage collector’s hourly pay at $43,000 P.A. However, in many cases this can grow to exceed $100,000. Garbage men work strange hours –Molina and his $100k earning colleague Tony Sankar work 7PM – 3AM most nights. They clock between 60-80 hours a week. But in most cases they’re greatly out-earning college graduates, which is pretty good for two high-school dropouts.


Garbage collectors’ wages are growing 4% faster than the average. Moreover, it’s often quite easy to land waste management industry jobs because of the unglamorous stigma attached. As one of the few blue collar jobs that can’t be outsourced overseas, waste management also provides long-term job security for working class people – so next time you hear your trash collectors whistling while they work, you’ll know exactly why.

So as you’ve seen, there are many high paying jobs out there you can fill without many qualifications. What would be your favourite job on the list? And which one would you hate the most? Let me know your answers in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

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