The 12 weirdest jobs in the world

Bethan McKernan@mck_beth
Tuesday 09 June 2015 14:00

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.

Such were the wise words of the ancient philosopher Confucius, but then, he didn't graduate with a History of Art degree during the middle of a recession and end up scrambling for work that pays the minimum wage.

Next time the rat-race is getting you down, remember that there's more than one way to skin a cat. And judging by the list of bizarre but 100 per cent bonafide ways of making cheddar we've put together below, chances are someone might even pay you to do that.

1. Scoreboarding pig diarrhoea

One user on Quora said that he once took a research job that involved infecting pigs with bacteria to study how nasty foodborne diseases are spread.

Long story short: to monitor the pigs' health the researchers had to note the frequency, consistency and violence of the pig's bowel movements. If that doesn't make you appreciate your 9-5 then nothing will.

2. Odour judging

Not that you've ever thought about it before but smell tests are carried out on armpits, breath, feet, cat litter and nappies to test deodorants and fragrance maskers all the time. The Guardian quotes a woman who says she had to train for a year to do the job and is still tested monthly to measure her nasal acuity.

3. Professional mourning

Long a tradition in parts of North Africa, the Middle East and China, this job is what it says on the tin really: getting paid to look and sound really sad, thus make the departed person seem like they were more popular than they really were. The UK now has its own Rent-A-Mourner company (yes, really) if you're looking for work closer to home.

4. Getting really drunk

More usually done on a volunteer basis, but this is too good not to include: apparently some police stations will liquor you up so that their new recruits have real live test subjects to practice sobriety tests on.

5. Milking snakes

The chemicals in snake venom can be used in medicine to treat all sorts of conditions, but that means getting it out of the snake first.

Spare a thought for the poor souls who have to gently expose the snake's fangs and squeeze out the deadly venom.

6. Pet food tasting

It may seem obvious but since cats and dogs can't give feedback about what they're eating, most companies get people to try the food instead. Surprisingly, it might not taste that bad - a study in the Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition found that on average cat food tasters scored the food at 4.97 out of 9, between the categories of “neither like nor dislike” and “like slightly.” Still, rather them than us.

7. Editing a social-service index

A different Quora user said she once helped to edit a social-service index published by Columbia University Press, which basically meant taking old-school expressions and replacing them with politically correct ones. "Alcoholic" became "substance abuse, alcohol," "junkie" became "substance abuse, heroin." and "retarded" became "developmentally disabled." Quite the eye-opener.

8. Bicycle fishing

Flat and pretty Amsterdam is city famously good for cycling, but many bikes end up in the city's 165 canals. Waternet, Amsterdam’s water agency, employs people to fish out between 12,000 and 15,000 rusty bikes a year.

9. Artificially inseminating animals

Officially known as theriogenologists, artificial inseminators are in demand in farming communities and for vets who work with rarer animals too. The Guardian features one Utah man who manages to visit hundreds of heifers a day during the spring and summer.

10. Train stuffers

In Japan you can be paid to push passengers into subway and train cars during rush hour to make sure they're at capacity. Oshiya, as they are known, wear official uniforms including white gloves and hats.

11. Fountain pen doctor

There's a man in New Hampshire who makes a living fixing people's treasured fountain pens. Richard Binder told Fortune he receives broken pens from all over the world and often has as many as 600 on his waiting list that need their nibs fixing or adjustment for more or less ink flow.

12. License plate blocking

The local authorities in Tehran only let cars with license plates ending in an even number on one day, and odd the next, in an (poor) effort to control traffic. Affluent Iranians hire people to walk/sit/stand behind their car to cover up the last digit on the license plate.

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