The best careers you've never heard of
Thinking through your job options and want some inspiration? Here's our pick of the best off-the-beaten-path career choices.
When researching careers, it's natural to feel more comfortable with jobs that sound familiar such as 'lawyer', 'journalist' and 'teacher' rather than ones that don't like 'consultant', 'actuary' and 'Civil Service'.
If you don't chase up some unfamiliar choices, you might be missing out on exciting career options. You dream job could be out there without you knowing.
We've compiled a selection of ten great careers that most people have either never heard of or don't know what they entail, so you can easily expand your career-searching horizons.
Something scientific: Acoustic consultant – provide a wide variety of sound services including surveys and assessments
Acoustic consultants provide a wide variety of sound services which include surveys and assessments as well acoustic design and building advice. You could be involved in advising architects on the sound design of a new opera house or music venue, aiding phone company with the manipulation of digital signals or even in the use of ultrasound. The nature of an acoustic consultant is a varied one and could be applied to multiple disciplines including science, engineering and many others.
It is possible to enter this field through various degrees including maths, science, engineering, music technology and environmental science.
Something creative: Makeup artist – turn men and women into monsters
Make-up artists create the make-up and hairstyles of models, performers, presenters and others appearing in front of the camera or an audience. They work in a variety of settings, including photographic shoots for magazines and newspapers, film, television, theatre and live music. They may work alone, as assistants to a more senior colleague or as part of a make-up design team.
They use make-up to ensure that programme presenters or guests look natural on the television screen, create special effects such as wounds and ageing and create the correct appearance for actors depending on the desired effect. A makeup artist can play important roles in the creative industries as well as get intimately involved in important and exciting events, from weddings to the Academy Awards.
Something satisfying: UX designer – fix annoying platforms
Ever been annoyed at a difficult-to-use website or a badly designed app? The job of a UX designer (short for 'User Experience' designer) is to make platforms, websites and apps easier and more pleasant to use, requiring a combination of art skills, computer skills and a dash of psychology knowledge (so you can understand what customers want from their applications). You'll need to be able to draw and use design software.
Engineering, computing, design and media backgrounds are all useful, and there are specialist masters degrees available in UX design (or similar). Experience and familiarity with relevant software will significantly help your chances of getting work.
Something exciting: Fire investigator – find out who or what started the fire
Firefighters fight fires; fire investigators track down why they started in the first place by examining the building, the pattern of fire activity and the remaining structures and appliances. Fire investigators usually start out as paid or volunteer firefighters, then complete a fire investigator training programme (there are several different kinds of course available, including short courses and an MSc). Median salary stands in the €52,000-58,000 range
Something technical: Machine learning engineer– push boundaries and shape the future
As a machine learning engineer you will work across the boundaries of engineering, science and technology to deliver solutions based on the ever-evolving capabilities of artificial intelligence.
Machine learning engineering is a branch of artificial intelligence which involves designing algorithms and programmes that enables machines to perform actions without being directly asked to do so. The most relevant example of this would be the programmes that are used within self-driving cars.
Something varied: oceanographer – move between the lab and the sea
Oceanographers study the oceans, unsurprisingly, but that can entail anything from programming ocean simulations on a computer to analysing pollutants in seawater. Whether you're on the more academic side of things or the more industrial side of things, you're likely to be moving between a lab and the sea itself: going out yourself on a boat and using diving equipment is an integral part of most oceanography jobs. There may even be the occasional research cruise, although most of the time you'll be working with a much smaller boat.
Most oceanographers have a postgraduate qualification in oceanography after a STEM undergraduate degree. Physics, computer sciences, mathematics and biology are all useful degrees for various forms of oceanography.
Something plugged-in: Political lobbyist– help shape the political landscape
Political lobbyists Initiate changes to law and policy at all levels of the political world and use their knowledge of current affairs to advise clients on how to promote and protect their interests.
They typically work as public affairs consultants on behalf of private companies, charitable organisations or governments, and use their knowledge of current affairs to advise their clients on how to promote and protect their interests.
They act as intermediaries by assisting clients in advancing their interests with politicians and administration at all levels, EU, national, regional and local.
This career will ensure that you are always in the know and up-to-date with the latest happenings in politics.
Lobbyists in Ireland can work as ‘public affairs’ specialists in the big public relations companies.
Something helpful: art therapist – healing through art
Art therapists aim to help patients to overcome emotional, mental and behavioural difficulties by expressing themselves through art. The therapy aims to channel patients' energies into painting, sculpture and other forms of expression and help them to understand and address their inner conflicts.
A pre-entry postgraduate qualification is now normally expected. Your first degree should ideally be art-based, but those with healthcare, teaching and social work degrees may also be accepted onto the programme.
Entry requirements for training courses vary. Recognition of courses for the purposes of professional accreditation is determined by the Registration Committee of IACAT. Details of IACAT Approved Training in Ireland and Northern Ireland can be found here.
To practice in the UK courses must be recognised by the Health Professions Council (HPC), which regulates the Allied Health Professions.
Work experience can be difficult to get due to the sensitive nature of the work, so finding shadowing placements and experience where possible is crucial.
Something unusual: glass blowing – shape beautiful creations
Glass blowers design, create and finish creations made of glass, taking them from conception to completion. They'll work on everything from speciality artistic pieces to more functional pieces (mirrors, windows, laboratory equipment). Glass blowers melt glass in a furnace, blow it into shape using a blowing iron, solder, repair and decorate pieces and keep up with the industry through conferences, research and live demonstrations. It's a job that's both very artistic and very manual.
Being a glass blower often means working freelance, so salary varies depending on contacts and experience. To get into the industry, there are relevant postgraduate degrees, NVQs and other courses available, but you can also train on the job in a glass factory.
Something lifesaving: explosive ordnance disposal expert – defuse bombs
Explosive ordnance disposal experts, or EODs, work to identify, find and defuse/destroy bombs or other dangerous explosive devices. These may include improvised explosive devices (IEDs), landmines and other unexploded military bombs (such as shells and grenades). EODs also help to make sure civilians in the area have been evacuated and use bomb-disposal machines and robots to disable devices remotely. They may have other duties as well, such as working with ammunition storages to make sure that explosive devices are stored safely.
EODs usually train via Army, the Naval Service, the Air Corps or the Reserve Defence Forces. Army EODs will initially train as a soldier or officer, then specialise as an EOD; Navy EODs may work as mine warfare specialists (controlling machines into the water to disable mines) or mine clearance divers (diving to disable mines yourself); Air Corps members can begin as weapons technicians, then volunteer for bomb disposal training. Once trained, you might work in a war zone or in a civilian setting.
Alternatively, you could work as an EOD for the HALO trust, a non-political and non-religious charity which focuses on removing debris left behind by war, particularly landmines in highly affected countries such as Afghanistan, Cambodia and Angola.
See anything you like?
If you haven't spotted anything that takes your fancy here, there are plenty of other strangely-named jobs that can lead to fulfilling careers, from social engineers (who try to trick employees into giving out sensitive information so that they can advise on security measures for staff, somewhat like ethical hackers) to food scientists (who develop good-tasting and safe foods, as well as helping our food industry adapt to an increasing population and increasing sustainability demands).
So, don't be scared off by strange and unfamiliar job titles – if you read the description, you might find yourself drawn to a new career path.
To see our full list of job descriptions, click here!