Random Jobs That Pay Well

These are the types of jobs that people find out about and say, "Why didn't I know about this?"

by Andrew RanzingerLast updated: 12/02/2020

1. Elevator Mechanic

Chances are you’ve stood in an elevator before and wondered what would happen if a cable snapped on the way to the 15th floor. 

Elevator mechanics are the people who make sure you don’t have to worry about that. They do exactly what their name suggests—maintain and repair elevators. 

Becoming an elevator mechanic requires 4-year paid apprenticeship, so you’re making money while you’re learning instead of potentially racking up debt. 

Like many other trades, it involves an important but often overlooked (and therefore understaffed) function in society. As a result, elevator mechanics make good money, especially considering they don’t need a college degree.

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2. Product Manager

Think of product managers kind of like general contractors for technology products like apps—they don’t do the actual building, but they coordinate everyone else’s work, and they are ultimately responsible for getting the product built.

Once a product is built, they develop and test new features, maintain the product, and measure results.

To become a product manager, you’ll need a four-year degree. Many schools now offer a product management degree, but product managers can also come from backgrounds in software development, project management, or other business disciplines. 

The most important thing you’ll need is experience, so you might start as a product analyst or associate product manager. Senior-level product managers make well over six figures.

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3. Sales Engineer

Sales engineers are nerds with people skills. They combine the technical expertise of an engineer with the communication skills of a salesperson. 

Sales engineers are critical members of the sales team for companies that sell complex products. They’re the go-to experts on the technical aspects of the product, answering questions and helping people understand the benefits at a detailed level. 

Depending on the company, a sales engineering role might lean more towards the sales side or more toward the engineering side, so you’ll want to choose a job that fits what you like doing more. In both cases, sales engineers work with clients to help them understand how the product works and provide support throughout the implementation process. 

As members of the sales team, sales engineers usually have the opportunity to earn commission above and beyond their salary.

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4. Data Scientist

Data scientists organize, clean, and interpret data, then use it to build algorithms that solve interesting problems. They are the innovators behind many of the most exciting developments in technology.

For example, data scientists build the technology Uber uses to determine what car picks you for optimal efficiency. They create the models that decide apartment prices on AirBnB, the algorithms that set odds for sports betting, and the programs that allow artificial intelligence to recognize a human face.

If you love solving complex problems and want to be on the cutting edge of technological innovation, you can’t do better than becoming a data scientist. Data science isn’t an easy career path, however. You’ll need to major in math or computer science in college, and then get a master's degree or even a Ph.D. in data science.

The career outlook for data scientists is fantastic, and they make great money. You’ll spend longer in school, but you’ll start your career making close to six figures, and it only goes up from there.

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5. Enterprise Sales Executive

Enterprise salespeople sell large products to large companies (enterprises). As an enterprise salesperson, your job is to close big deals that make your company (and you) lots of money

Enterprise salespeople work for any company that sells a large product, such as software or big machinery, to big corporations. Enterprise salespeople are experts at finding the right people to talk to at big companies and then convincing them to buy their product or service. 

If you have the personality for sales, working as an enterprise salesperson can be very challenging and rewarding. You’re going after big accounts, talking to important decision makers, and making high-stakes presentations. Your work wins millions of dollars in revenue for your company. 

Becoming an enterprise salesperson is primarily about proving your sales ability. Relevant industry experience is always an advantage as well. You have to get some experience selling to smaller accounts or working in a sales support role before you get a shot at the enterprise level.

Enterprise sales often requires lots of travel, since you will be assigned a large territory you are responsible for. If you like the idea of wearing suits, flying often, and chasing big business deals, enterprise sales could be a great fit. It’s a high pressure environment, but when you’re successful, you’re compensated extremely well. 

Base salary doesn’t vary much my experience level—a substantial portion (if not the majority) of your income will come from commission and bonuses.

What you make will depend on your industry, sales ability, territory size, and compensation structure. In general enterprise salespeople make between $100,000 and $250,000. Top-tier performers can make over $400,000 per year.

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6. Actuary

Actuaries are professional risk management analysts. They use their deep knowledge of math and statistics to determine the price of insurance. 

As an actuary, you will help insurance companies consistently refine the models they use to predict the risk of certain events—a car crashing, a house burning, or a person getting sick—and then use those predictions to set insurance rates.

To become an actuary, you need to really love numbers. You’ll need to major in a relevant field like computer science, math, or statistics, have strong computer skills, and take two actuarial exams before you graduate.

Being an actuary isn’t the sexiest job in the world, but they are paid well. Senior-level actuaries earn close well over six figures.

7. Air Traffic Controller

If you’ve ever wondered how thousands of airplanes can fly in and out of airports every day without crashing into each other, the answer is air traffic controllers. 

Air traffic controllers are highly trained professionals who use a combination of technology and training to monitor and direct the flow of aircraft in the sky and ground traffic at the airport.

Air traffic controllers are one of the highest-paying jobs you can get that don’t require a college degree. To become an air traffic controller, a two- or four-year degree from the Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative school is recommended, but not required.

After that, you’ll need to pass an exam and complete the FAA air traffic control training program, followed by on-the-job training.

The work is stressful— night, weekend, and rotating shifts are common, and you need maximum concentration at all times. However, the pay is good, and the work is rewarding.

8. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)

CRNAs are nurses that specialize in administering anesthesia to patients. They are the nursing equivalent of anesthesiologists, assisting anesthesiologists in the operating room, and in many cases replacing them entirely. 

Their unique specialization gives them more money, prestige, and autonomy than many other healthcare professionals.

To become a CRNA, you first have to get a four-year bachelors of nursing degree (BSN), pass the NCLEX exam, and become a nurse. You’ll then need to work for at least two years in an acute care setting (like an emergency room or ICU).

You’ll then need to get accepted to a CRNA masters program, which takes 2-3 years to complete.

It’s a longer road to become a CRNA, but the job outlook is fantastic, the work is less stressful than regular nursing, you have more autonomy, and you make great money—where a regular nurse makes around $50,000–$70,000, CRNAs make three times that much.

9. Nuclear Reactor Operator

Nuclear reactor operators monitor reactors to detect abnormalities before they pose a danger. They are responsible for the safe operation of a nuclear power plant.

Like any other plant, nuclear power plants require specialists that monitor the day-to-day operation and address issues. Operators do things like keep an eye on the energy generation of a reactor and make necessary adjustments, and manage the startup and shutdown of reactors for refueling or maintenance. 

Operators work with sophisticated software systems, so they need solid computer skills. 

A college degree is not required, but recommended. The most important requirement for becoming an operator is on-the-job training. 

To become an operator, you’ll first need to get a job as an equipment or auxiliary operator, then work your way up. Many plants classes on relevant topics, and you’ll need to work for two to three years in a support role before you’re ready to begin the one-year training required to become a licensed operator. 

Nuclear power plant operator is another career that does not require a college degree but pays well. Entry-level operators often make over $75,000, and senior operators can make over six figures.

10. Drilling Engineer

Drilling engineers oversee a gas and oil company’s drilling operations. They plan and develop projects from designing the preliminary wells through testing, finalization, and site closure. They project costs, schedule work and supervise all drilling processes for gas and oil wells. Safety and regulatory compliance are also big parts of the job. 

To become a drilling engineer, you’ll need a degree. Most people who pursue this career path opt for a specialized degree in petroleum engineering, where you’ll take courses on things like mechanics, thermodynamics, geostatistics, well testing, and ethics.

You might go on to get a master's degree—many drilling engineers have advanced degrees since it is such a highly technical field. 

After school, you’ll need to get work experience under more experienced engineers. After a few years of work, you’ll be eligible to take the exams to become a fully licensed drilling engineer yourself.

Drilling engineering as a career isn’t growing particularly fast, but it isn’t slowing down (yet), although that may change as economies increasingly shift to renewable energy. The pay as a drilling engineer is high, with entry-level salaries over six figures.