You Get Paid For That?!

By Michael Deane | June 14, 2010 AAA

When you take a break at work today, think of ways you would've rather spent your morning; perhaps you wanted to get out of bed and just play video games all day, eat ice cream or lounge around on a beach in a tropical paradise. Maybe you weren't looking for a job that is so seemingly laid-back, and instead would've preferred to have expressed your opinions for cash.
Well, you could do any of these things - and get paid for them. That's right, you can get paid to watch TV, play video games and eat junk food - it's like a 12-year old's dream job. That being said, the pay for these jobs usually fits the expertise needed to perform them - except in one case. We'll look at some of these jobs and find out how you get them, and what they pay once you've gotten there. (Half of Americans lose their nest eggs when they switch careers. Learn why you should avoid this trap, in Transfer Retirement Savings When You Change Jobs.)

In Pictures: 7 Interview Don'ts

  • Professional TV Watcher
    Yes, this is a job where you get paid to watch television, just like it says in the description. However, there's a lot more work involved than just passively watching your favorite show. Pro TV watchers usually scan through different shows and news clips, and find the right clips that can be used on a television show or news program. Television shows like "The Daily Show" and "Jimmy Kimmel Live" have these positions where people get entertaining or important TV clips to be used throughout the show.

    When Jimmy Kimmel was looking for a TV watcher in 2005, his show was offering $500-600 per week. More recently, Gawker.com put up an ad looking for pro TV watchers, and advertised that the watcher would be getting paid "less than minimal." A recent online job posting on entertainmentcareers.com claims that the starting pay is $8 part time, listing "close attention to details" as one of the necessary skills, along with being familiar with the technology of TIVO and DVD players. (The glitz and glam of Hollywood could help put some more glitz in your pocket. Read more, in Analyzing Show Biz Stocks.)

  • Professional Video Game Tester
    When we talk about professional video game testers, we don't mean that you get paid to sit there and play a game until you've completed it. For this job, you are the one that is required to go through the game and look for errors, which can sometimes involve playing the same section of a game over and over and reporting on the exact properties of the error.

    Game testers usually get paid hourly, and the pay increases for how much experience you have testing (not just playing). As well, there can be bonuses related to how many bugs you find in the game you're testing. A starting hourly wage for this job is between $8-15. (Level up your winnings by investing in this fast-paced, highly skilled industry. Read more, in Power Up Your Portfolio With Video Game Stocks.)

  • Professional Blogger
    Do you have something to say? Can you say it in a way that's entertaining and that people will actually want to read? Well, you can get paid to do it. To start you'll need to do some light research: What do you know most about? Are there other blogs already like that? Is it going to draw people into the site? Once you've figured this out, you're free to make your writing available for all to read.

    You can make money by putting up ads via Google Adwords or Adsense, and when you gain popularity, other publications may want to hire you to write for them. Once you've established your presence, you can make anywhere from $25-200 writing for newspaper and magazine blogs. (With thousands of blogs on the web, it's hard to sort the good from the bad. Read 4 Traits Of A Top Financial Blog to find out more.)

  • Professional Taste Tester
    Professional taste testing can run the gamut from food scientist, who would be involved in the preparation of the food and have a degree, to someone who serves as part of a food focus group. For the taste-testing job, you could be just eating ice cream all day, describing how different samples compare to one another, and characterizing the overall taste of the ice cream.

    John D. Harrison is a professional ice cream taster for Dryers and The Salt Lake Tribune reported that the ice cream company has insured Harrison's taste buds for $1 million. So, when you get good at tasting, it can mean a lot to a company. However, if you're just getting started, we've found a job opening in Barrington, IL, that offers $9.50/hr for four months of training, followed by $12.50 afterwards. You may not always be taste-testing ice cream, though; it could be a new chocolate bar or it could be a microwave meatloaf. (Trim the fat from your grocery bill to reduce the impact of food cost on your budget. Learn how, in 22 Ways To Fight Rising Food Prices.)

  • Island Caretaker
    In 2009, the Australian government had a brilliant tourism marketing idea: offer one lucky candidate a chance at the world's best job. This best job is being an island caretaker on Hamilton Island, which is in the Great Barrier Reef, exploring the island and blogging about it. Ben Southall of England won the $111,000 (!) six-month contract. This job has the added perks of living in a three-bedroom seaside house with a private swimming pool. It may only be a temporary job, but you really can't beat it. (Tax loopholes are shrinking, but there are still plenty of viable prospects. Get the big picture, in Pros And Cons Of Offshore Investing.)

Bottom Line
So, now when you're day dreaming about what you could be doing instead of your normal job, you should realize that they're not all as good as they first appear. Aside from the Island Caretaker gig, there are downsides, whether in job duties or pay, of all of the other jobs. And hey, maybe it's not your ideal job to be out in the tropical sun all day. Check out your "dream job" in its totality before you decide that it's what you want to do.

Catch up on the latest financial news in Water Cooler Finance: The iPhone Launch, Buffett's Lunch And BP's Lashing.

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