As Halloween approaches and your thoughts turn to ghoulish interests, why not consider a spooky career? Dealing with dead bodies may not be your ideal job, but you may change your mind when you find out how much it pays. Though not for the faint of heart, the following careers offer some great financial rewards.
Do you enjoy physical labor and the great outdoors? Are you physically fit? Do you derive satisfaction from accomplishing small, set goals? Perhaps you should look into being a gravedigger.
Gravediggers usually work 9-5 (no midnight shifts here!) with possible weekend work and are usually responsible for grounds maintenance as well as digging graves. You would need to be physically capable of digging graves and gardening, and you would have to be sensitive to those grieving around you. One warning: it might not be the cheeriest place to work.
The average salary for a gravedigger is $45,000.
Do you have great attention to detail, fashion sense and a strong stomach? Then embalming just might be the career for you.
Embalmer duties vary from distasteful (to most) to downright stomach-turning. The easiest on the stomach is washing and drying the body and applying cosmetics to give them a "life-like" glow. Embalmers also arrange for transfers of the body to other locations for burials. The less appetizing duties include draining blood and using a pump to replace it with embalming fluid, removing other body fluids and wastes, sewing shut lips and putting cotton behind the eyelids so they don't sink down. (For info on finding the right job, check out Trying On Potential Employers.)
If you have an iron stomach, the median expected salary for a typical embalmer is $50,000.
Are you interested by the law and court proceedings? Do you day dream about exchanging witty banter with Gil Grissom or Horatio Kane while standing near a dead body? Your dream job just might be working as a coroner.
Coroners coordinate autopsies and perform them. They organize pathological testing and are called to crime scenes to remove bodies. Coroners testify in court concerning the circumstances surrounding the body when it was found, and the discoveries made through the autopsy and subsequent testing.
The average salary for a coroner is $50,000.
- Funeral Director
Do you have a head for business, great people skills and a knack for managing? Owning a funeral home could be right up your alley.
Funeral directors have to be great organizers. They are in charge of not only coordinating funerals, but also of sending the body to be embalmed, ensuring it arrives for the funeral, and obtaining death certificates and the necessary permits for burial. They have to be salespeople and grief counselors. Not an easy job.
The median expected salary for a typical funeral director is $54,000.
- Cremation Technician
Have you always been good at withstanding the heat? Do you like a clean work space? Then working as a cremation technician might interest you.
Cremation is becoming a more popular post-mortem option because it is less expensive and allows more time for the loved ones to gather before spreading or burying the ashes. Cremation, or crematorium, technicians are responsible for making sure the body is the correct one and for storing the ashes after cremation is complete.
The average salary for a cremation technician is $60,000.
- Forensic Pathologist
Do you like a good medical mystery and have the drive to become a doctor? Forensic pathology may be your calling.
Forensic pathologists examine fluids, tissue and other bodily samples to determine a cause of illness or death. They perform autopsies and may be called in to consult if the cause of death is difficult to ascertain. The position requires a medical degree, so be prepared to invest in this career. In fact, be prepared to spend as many as 15 years studying, being a resident and then doing a fellowship before you can even take the exams! However, the pay reflects the large amount of school and training.
The average salary for a forensic pathologist is $235,000.
Remember, these numbers are national averages. The salaries can vary widely based on location, experience and employer. If you work in a city with a high violent crime death rate, you can expect almost all of these average salaries to be boosted by about $20,000. These careers are challenging and fill vital roles in our society. So if you can't stomach it yourself, be glad there are those who can! (Read more about the spooky side of finance in Haunting Wall Street: The Halloween Terminology Of Investing.)