Nutella Taster, Mermaid and 11 Other Strange (but Real) Jobs

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Job candidates
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Everyone’s dream job is different. Some long to travel, others want nothing more than to work from home. Some thrive on working with large groups of people, others like a one-person show.

Some jobs, by their very nature, are so outrageous they almost seem fictional. Although little kids kicking around in a pool may dream of one day becoming a mermaid, some lucky swimmers actually make an occupation of it. And who wouldn’t want to be paid to snack on creamy Nutella or other treats? Turns out, those are jobs, too.

We’re not saying these jobs are currently hiring. But it’s just good to know they’re out there. Everyone needs a dream job to aspire to. Here are 13 unusual, and absolutely real, occupations.


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Mermaids aren’t real. Or are they? The U.S. has multiple opportunities for wannabe Ariels. At Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park — west of Orlando — mermaids perform multiple underwater shows daily in a submerged 400-seat auditorium, even eating and drinking underwater. Can’t get to Florida? The famed Sip ‘n Dip Lounge in Great Falls, Montana, is a tiki bar with a glass wall between the bar and a swimming pool where mermaids perform. In 2017, Sip ‘n Dip mer-manager Sandra Johnson-Thares told the New York Times, she was hiring. “Do you know anybody? I’m desperate. But they’ve got to be comfortable in a bikini top and a tail.”

Nutella taste tester

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Are you a fan of the hazelnut-cocoa spread known as Nutella? Can you eat a lot of it? Like, really a lot of it? Recently, the makers of the delicious topping were hiring 60 taste-testers to work near their office in Alba, Italy. Sadly, the Ferrero company was hiring Italians only, and at press time, had no plans to expand the offer to other countries. These lucky folks, called “sensory testers” by Ferrero, will begin a three-month training course on Sept. 30, and then 40 of them will be asked to work two days a week on tasting panels. While it’s not exactly clear what they’d be doing — Testing Nutella recipes? Eating it straight out of the jar? Bathing in the stuff? — this is the fantasy job sweet dreams are made of.

Avocado eater

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Now this one isn’t a full-time job, but it’s so a-peeling we had to share. Four U.S. universities, together with the Haas Avocado Board are running something called the Habitual Diet and Avocado Trial. It’s a research project aimed at answering the question of whether eating one avocado daily for six months has an impact on the amount and distribution of fat in the body. Chosen participants will either eat an avocado (provided free, of course) each day for six months, or have to restrain themselves and eat only two avocados per month. After six months, everyone who participated receives $300 each, and those on the limited-avocado diet earn a bonus prize of 24 avocados. Holy guacamole, this sounds like a delicious deal.

Cat caretaker

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Do you believe that not only does every cat have nine lives, but every life should have nine cats? Then it’s a shame you missed this opportunity. In August, the God’s Little People cat sanctuary on the Greek island of Syros was looking for a cat caretaker — for 55 little furballs. “Apart from feeding the cats, the cats will also need heaps of love and attention,” the job posting read. “You will at times be expected to trap or handle a feral or non-sociable cat, so knowing something about a cat’s psychology too is important.” A house with water and electricity was included. The sanctuary was overwhelmed with applicants and isn’t taking any more. Too bad, because it sounds purr-fect.

Nail-polish namer

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If you’ve ever selected a bottle of nail polish, you likely know the names for the different colors are outrageously creative. From OPI’s I’m Not Really a Waitress to Essie’s Ballet Slippers (reportedly the favorite of Queen Elizabeth II), the names are descriptive and divine. But who comes up with the names? It’s different at every company: At Essie, it’s founder Essie Weingarten herself who picks the names, and she likes them to be “witty and fun.” But at cosmetics company Face of Australia, it falls to the brand manager, who recommends that those who want her job get a strong business and marketing background in college before pursuing work in a cosmetics career. Nailed it!

Bridesmaid for hire

Bride and bridemaid
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Why hire a professional bridesmaid? Isn’t that honor supposed to be handed out to the bride’s closest friends and relatives only? You might think so, but Bridesmaid For Hire has a different take on wedding roles. Founder Jen Glantz started the company. After serving as a bridesmaid six times, she saw the need for calm, cool and collected maids who understand wedding trials and tribulations. Glantz works as a wedding planner who focuses on a bride’s emotional needs and, if necessary, she’ll serve as a bridesmaid, too, she tells the New York Post. If you aspire to be a professional bridesmaid, Glantz’s online training course claims to cover “everything you need to know about starting your own local professional bridesmaid or wedding business.”

Netflix watcher

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Interested in work as a professional couch potato? Netflix employs people to do just that. These “originals creative analysts,” also dubbed “taggers,” watch Netflix shows and movies and tag them with metadata — objective (release year, stars) and subjective (dragons, cannibals, forbidden love) terms used to describe and classify the shows. Sherrie Gulmahamad, profiled by Fast Company in March 2018, admits it still “blows my mind” that this is her job. And we don’t want to get your hopes up, but at press time, there seems to be an opening.

Ice cream taster

ice cream cones
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You probably thought you invented this job when you were a kid. Who wouldn’t want to be an ice cream taster? Lucky John Harrison scooped up this great job as the official taste-tester for Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream. According to a this World magazine profile, his talented tongue was insured for $1 million. Harrison had his job licked for 30 years until he retired in 2010. He had a solid background for this dream job: Coming from a multi-generation family of dairy farmers, he’d studied chemistry and food science and was hired to work in flavor development.

Mattress jumper

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Mattresses have to be tested, and so “mattress jumper” is a real job. The San Francisco Chronicle profiled mattress jumper Reuben Reynoso in 2012, and he made it clear his entertaining-looking occupation isn’t a joke. “It’s work,” he said. “There is a right way and a wrong way to do it.” Reynoso described his work in San Francisco’s McRoskey mattress factory as “not for everyone.” He jumps on three mattresses per day, he says, using a complex grid pattern to ensure fair testing.

Gum remover

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If you’ve ever stepped in a big old wad of chewed gum, you know how tough it is to scrape away. So of course, GumBusters exists. The company specializes in exactly what you think it does: Removing gum from virtually any surface. The company’s website notes that over 50 million sticks of gum are chewed every day, and most of that is disposed of improperly. GumBusters brings its special steam machines that mix water and cleaning chemicals and, thanks to a lot of elbow grease, the gum disappears. This may not be so much a dream job as a who’d-have-thunk-it-exists job. But it works. CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, after his stretch of street was cleaned of gum, declared, “I want to eat off my street now.”

World traveler

World map
Jacob Lund /

Here’s a travel junkie’s dream job. In 2017, the New York Times advertised for someone to travel to (and write about) each of 52 destinations on the paper’s list of 52 Places to Go in 2018. More than 13,000 people applied in just nine days. Jada Yuan was chosen, and she has been busily traveling and writing all year. So far, she’s written about such destinations as Tangier, Saskatoon and New Orleans, and is still on the road. Will the Times will hire another writer for a similar dream trip next year? No one knows. Keep your passport up-to-date, just in case.

Water slide tester

A kid on a water slide
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Seb Smith of Somerset, England, made a real splash with his work. In 2013, Smith was chosen from among 2,000 applicants to become a water-slide tester for British vacation company First Choice. The job paid 20,000 British pounds a year — more than $26,000 today. The design-technology student was hired to spend six months traveling to the company’s 20 resorts, located everywhere from Jamaica to Egypt, reviewing the water slides on social media. This job is all wet.

Professional mourner

Jacob Lund /

This job is no joke. Professional mourners are a real thing. Formally, they’re known as “moirologists,” and they’re even mentioned in the Bible (see Amos 5:16, among other verses).

Professional mourners may be more common outside the United States than in, but, as this Cracked profile of a London man explains, they may fill a genuine need. “Maybe the family is worried about embarrassingly low attendance, or they want to make their deceased parent seem more important (or at least, popular),” said professional mourner Owen Vaughan. “The only thing sadder than a funeral is a funeral that nobody shows up to, so the decision (to hire a mourner) is generally coming from a good place.”

Pro mourners have to be good actors, and they may need to study the background and hobbies of the deceased. Vaughan once had to learn how to shoot a bow and arrow to play the student of a late archery teacher.

What’s your dream job? Share your favorite careers — real or imagined — in comments below or on our Facebook page.

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