According to CareerCast.com’s annual list of best and worst jobs, the rise of “Big Data” has led to jobs related to the field becoming highly lucrative and in demand.
Actuaries, mathematicians, statisticians, and data scientists all crack the the group’s listing of top jobs in 2015, while medical health professionals maintain their status as “best career option”.
“The ‘hype’ surrounding what has been labeled as Big Data has made this career more appealing to math majors than such fields as marketing, sales, technology, or any sector in which predicative models can be applied to project consumers’ behavior,” the group said.
“As a result, data scientist is ranked among the best jobs of 2015 with a favorable hiring outlook, which is one of the five core metrics used to determine our rankings.”
The CareerCast ranking is based on a range of factors such as salary, stress levels, outlook, physical demands, and environmental factors.
On the other side of the spectrum, manual labour jobs, such as lumberjacks, cooks, fire fighters, and military personnel ranked as some of the worst jobs of 2015 – as did media jobs, such as reporters, broadcasters, and photojournalists.
Best and worst jobs in 2015
|#||Best Jobs in 2015||Worst Jobs in 2015|
|3||Mathematician||Enlisted Military Personnel|
|7||Dental Hygienist||Corrections Officer|
|8||Software Engineer||Taxi Driver|
|9||Occupational Therapist||Fire Fighter|
|10||Computer Systems Analyst||Mail Carrier|
But the “best” jobs aren’t necessarily just about the money, they may also involve getting paid to do nothing, have a lot of fun, enjoy a high-quality lifestyle, or even drink gallons of beer.
Here are some of the coolest and best jobs in the world.
Private Island caretaker
- What you get paid: R1.45 million for six months.
- What you get to do: Relax, swim, avoid dangerous Australian sea creatures.
In 2010, one man beat over 35,000 applicants to score a $120,000 (R1.45 million) job that involved six months of “work” as a caretaker and “unofficial ambassador of a tropical Australian island”.
The campaign to find the perfect person for the job was headlined under “The Best Job In The World”.
Candidates needed to be able to snorkel, take spa treatments, and enjoy a braai on the beach as part of the interview process.
The actual job involved blogging and promoting tourism in the region, while relaxing, swimming, and exploring the island.
Medical marijuana reviewer
- What you get paid: Freelance rates. Possibly in chicken nuggets.
- What you get to do: Smoke copious amounts of marijuana. Legally.
While video game reviewers and movie critics are sought-after career options for those looking to give a “yea or nay” on products they’re often handed for free, there are some reviewer jobs that are far more interesting.
With the advent of legal medical marijuana in the USA, a number of outlets have cropped up to ensure that the cannabis consuming public know what they’re in for.
One site, The Cannibist, has gone out on at least two occasions to hire a competent marijuana reviewer on a freelance basis (they are currently not hiring).
All you need to qualify is to be legally able to smoke the green herb (via prescription); know how to read and write under ‘duress’, and most importantly, “authoritatively” know about the plant – strains, benefits, genetics, terminology, history, and geography.
Video game, water slide, and luxury bed testers
- What you get paid: Averages R20,000 for a month to R760,000 p.a.
- What you get to do: Test products. Awesome, fun, and luxurious products.
Some fun and luxurious tester jobs have popped up in recent years, and they’re possibly the best jobs in the world – if you can get them.
In 2013, UK company SplashWorld resorts was looking for a lucky hire to test out their water slides. The job involved travelling to various countries and getting paid £20,000 to test out the water park experience.
In 2009, college student Roisin Madigan scored the $1,600 (R20,000) job of testing luxury beds. All she had to do was sleep in beds which retail for $8,000 – $43,500 for a month.
For those into video games, video game testers take on quality assurance roles, repeatedly playing video games (or specific parts of video games) over and over again, making sure the game meets necessary standards.
Getting paid in the quality assurance industry also nets a decent salary – on average, $49,000 (R590,000) per annum. Female testers get paid more, up to $62,500 (R760,000) per annum.
Beer and chocolate tasters
- What you get paid: Averages R540,000 – R940,000 p.a.
- What you get to do: Eat chocolate or drink loads of beer.
It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it. It’s entirely possible to get paid to partake in some of your favourite vices as a career option.
Beer tasters and chocolate tasters are legitimate positions that are vital to their respective industries, and carry more weight as professions than meets the eye.
Beer tasters have become known as beer sommeliers, and are professional and knowledgeable aficionados when it comes to their chosen drink.
In the UK, a professional beer tasted can rake in £200 (R3,600) a day or £52,000 (R940,000) a year to drink in pubs across Britain.
If chocolate is more your thing, tasters in big food groups can earn £60 (R1,000) a day tasting components of well-known chocolate brands.
With the right skills and qualifications, keen choc-fans can head up to R&D (with 20% of time dedicated to eating chocolate), earning £30,000 (R540,000) a year.
- What you get paid: R1,700 – R3,000 per day.
- What you get to do: Lie down very still, breathe very lightly, and take home some money.
For some, there’s nothing better than vegetating in front of the TV enjoying a binge session of series over a weekend. But how about doing exactly that, but on TV, as a career?
According to a Wall Street Journal report, it can cost as much as $7,800 to get a fake corpse made for use in TV shows. With crime drama shows like CSI and Law & Order upping the death count regularly, it makes sense to rather pay people to lie very, very still.
While no extensive experience is needed for the part, you do need to be able to play a convincing corpse, and actors are reportedly asked to demonstrate short breathing.
Corpse actors can earn anywhere between $140 (R1,700) and $250 (R3,000) for the part.
Guinea pig for science
- What you get paid: R220,000 for 3 months.
- What you get to do: Lie down for 70 days, and never get up.
Similar to playing a corpse on TV, scientific researchers are willing to fork over big cash to use you has a human guinea pig in some interesting experiments.
NASA is willing to pay as much as $18,000 (R220,000) for a 3-month experiment where you spend 70 days in bed to simulate the weightlessness of space flight.
Participants spend 10 weeks lying on a bed with their bodies tilted backwards slightly, their heads down and feet up. Physical activity is limited, and showering and bathroom breaks happen in bed.
After the 70-day period there’s a two week rehabilitation programme, because, as per the experiments focus, participants’ bodies take a massive knock.
Food, travel, and motoring journalist
- What you get paid: Averages R120,000 p.a.
- What you get to do: Industry dependent, but a lot of awesome life experiences.
While no one will tell you that being a journalist is an easy job, there are certain fields within the profession which open the way to some truly unique, once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
Travel journalists, food journalists, and motoring journalists, in particular, often get to pad their meagre pay and always-on office hours with trips to fantastic locations across the world, free meals at some of the best restaurants on offer, and a spin behind the wheel of millionaire’s toy.
Journalists in South Africa earn a median salary of R120,000, according to PayScale – though this is influenced by experience and technical skill.
- What you get paid: R400,000 p.a.
- What you get to do: As much as you want to, really.
While most of the careers listed above are not available in South Africa, citizens looking for ‘flexible’ careers need only look to politics – specifically local government.
Despite the mandate to serve their constituents, it was reported in 2014 that 27 of 50 ward councillors in the Buffalo City Metro in the Eastern Cape had not once convened public meetings to report on service delivery issues.
They did, however, continue to draw a salary which at the time was R392,546 p.a. and R462,644 p.a. for those who also served on the mayoral committee of the metro.
We’re not saying that this is what Ward councillor’s should be doing (the Councillors in question were caught and dismissed), but with billions being lost to wasteful and irregular expenditure by the government, someone is definitely “winning”.