6 Unusual Ways To Make A Living

By Claire Bradley | February 24, 2010 AAA

Bounty hunters, repo men, private investigators, bodyguards - you've seen these jobs on TV, but do you know how these jobs function in reality? Ever wonder what the job's about, how you get paid and how much? Here are six strange professions, and the skinny on pay and duties.

  1. Bounty Hunter
    When someone skips bail, leaves town without reporting to court, the bondsman who put up the bail hires a bounty hunter. The bounty hunter goes to catch the bad guy, just like in the old Wild West. The hours are long and irregular, and as you can imagine, the job comes with its share of dangers.

    Pay: Bounty hunters make anywhere from 10 to 45 % of the bail amount, so if bail was set at $100,000, a bounty hunter would take home $10,000 to $45,000. Experienced bounty hunters typically take home $50,000 to $100,000 a year, but it can vary depending on the number of fugitives caught and bail amounts.

    Qualifications: None, though a background in law enforcement comes in handy. For more information, visit The National Association of Bail Enforcement Agents (http://www.nabea.org/).

  2. Debt Collector (a.k.a. Repo Man, Skip Tracer)
    In today's tough economy debt is big business, which is good news for debt collectors. Debt collectors work in many different jobs, from collectors at call centers to the repo men who tow your car away if you don't pay. The good news is that the collection industry is expected to grow by about 19% by 2018 according to the U.S. Department of Labor and Statistics (www.bls.gov).

    Pay: Working at a call center will make you $10 an hour and up, usually including benefits. Repo men (or skip tracers, as they're also called) make about $100 per repossession if they work for a company; if you own your own business, expect to make $300 and up for each repo.

    Qualifications: Call center jobs usually require a high school diploma; many companies have training programs for their collectors. Repo men need no qualifications other than a willingness to work long hours and deal with angry people. (Jobs can be much more uncomfortable than dealing with angry people. Learn about it in America's 10 Most Dangerous Jobs.)

  3. Bodyguard
    Bodyguards are the guys (and girls, too) hired to keep celebrities and V.I.Ps safe. Depending on the client, bodyguard jobs can take anywhere from a few hours to months or years, for regular assignments. bodyguards are often required to travel with their clients, so expect long hours and lots of time away from home.

    Pay: Pay varies widely in the bodyguard business. The average bodyguard earns $300 to $700 a day, but some high-profile jobs can land your pay well into the six figures, plus bonuses.

    Qualifications: A background in the military or law enforcement is helpful in this career. For more information on bodyguard careers and training, go to Bodyguard Careers (http://www.bodyguardcareers.com/).

  4. Private Investigator
    Though you probably think of the TV gumshoe when you think of a P.I., much of a private investigator's job is done on the computer, gathering information from databases. A P.I.'s job can get pretty dangerous when out in the field though, so this job is not for the faint of heart. And again, expect long hours in rough conditions. For some good news: this career group is expected to grow 22% by 2018.

    Pay: Pay varies wildly depending on location, employer and specialty, with salaried pay at $24,000 to $76,000. Self-employed P.I.'s make $40 an hour and up, depending on skill, experience and specialty.

    Qualifications: A background in law enforcement or intelligence is helpful, though not required. Many states require a license, so check with your state before hanging out your shingle.

  5. Headhunter
    Headhunters find people for jobs, and often have a specialty like finance or healthcare. Also called recruiters or staffing coordinators, headhunters hold salaried positions and/or work on commission, meaning they get paid when they fill a position. Since headhunters are essentially sales people, expect long hours and high stress in this career field.

    Pay: Depending on experience and specialty, headhunter salaries start at $25,000 to $40,000. Successful headhunters earning commissions can expect to earn well into the six figures.

    Qualifications: A bachelor's degree is often required; for entry-level positions a high school diploma is sometimes sufficient. Sales skills are crucial to make it as a headhunter.

  6. Hazardous Waste Remover
    Asbestos, mold nuclear waste, lead, mercury - ever wonder who cleans it all up? Hazardous waste removers show up with respirators, protective suits and gloves to take care of business - it's a dirty job, but someone's gotta do it. Jobs are expected to grow 15% by 2018, so roll up your sleeves. (Learn more in 10 Highest-Paying Blue-Collar Jobs.)

    Pay: Entry-level pay starts at $11 hourly, with experienced workers earning $30+ per hour.

    Qualifications: A high school diploma suffices, but expect to complete on-the-job training and qualification.

As you've probably noticed, many of these careers are seeing growth in a tough economy. Maybe there's a new strange job in there for you? (For more on job-hunting and careers, read Job Hunting: Higher Pay Vs. Better Benefits and Is Your High-Profile Job Worth The Price?)

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