Dream Jobs

Wall Street is disappointed by unemployment data inflated by census jobs—the Dow dropped over 200 points midday. The Daily Beast ranks the coolest career paths that are actually hiring.

Everett Collection,

Everett Collection

#1, Archaeologist

Education: Master’s degree

Median yearly pay: $53,910

Job growth, 2008-2018: 28%

If donning khaki and digging dirt is your passion, you’re in luck. Opportunities for archaeologists span from contracting for the government to consulting for research firms to working for museums. “Beginning in the mid to late 1970s, a lot of opportunities [outside of consulting or academia] became available because of federal and state mandates,” says Stephen R. Claggett, the state archaeologist for North Carolina. He says what brings most people to the field is “the chance to discover things that have not been seen for a long time, and the thrill of finding artifacts.”

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#2, Curator

Education: Master’s degree

Median Yearly Pay: $47,220

Job Growth, 2008-2018: 23%

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the need for curators will expand rapidly over the next decade, as organizations will need help managing more records in science, art, and history. Most curatorial positions require at least a master's degree. “I love the collaborative spirit and I’ve always loved museums,” says Jan Schall, the Sanders Sosland Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. “It’s a very dynamic process, staying on top of your field, visiting galleries and building relationships with collectors.”

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#3, Ship captain

Education: Work experience

Median Yearly Pay: $61,960

Job Growth, 2008-2018: 17%

Adrenaline junkies, apply here. “No two days have ever been the same,” says Michael S. Sosik, Jr., president of the Northeast Charterboat Captains Association and a lifelong New England fisherman. “I’ve left in tranquil waters and I’ve come in where I hope I can make it. I’ve left in a crystal-clear sky and come back with 40-yard visibility off my bow. You never know what she’s going to throw at you.” But to be fair, the industry isn’t riddled with gruff Ernest Hemingway lookalikes. You can always aspire to become captain of a pleasure cruiser. Then again, where’s the thrill in hanging out with a bunch of guys and gals in pressed white pant suits? “Not one of [my crew] is really interested in being the first to say, ‘I don’t want to do that, that looks a little scary,’” Sosik says.

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#4, Entertainment and sports agent

Education: Bachelor’s degree

Median Yearly Pay: $62,940

Job Growth, 2008-2018: 22%

There’s a reason Ari Gold struts around and says things like, “I always dreamed about ruling the world, but now that I’m getting older I’ll settle for Hollywood.” Although the script of life isn’t as snappy as the script of Entourage, there are parallels. Competition between agents is fierce because the job gives you “the ability to work with people who have become the very, very best at what they do,” says Molly Fletcher, president of client representation at Career Sports and Entertainment, a sports and entertainment agency. “When you can be around people who are that successful, it makes you better.” Entertainers, sadly, usually don’t know how to draw up a legal contract. “There will always be demand for talent, whether in Hollywood or in sports,” Fletcher says.

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#5, Private investigator

Education: Work experience

Median Yearly Pay: $41,760

Job Growth, 2008-2018: 22%

Becoming the next Sam Spade or Magnum, P.I. requires a state license and a clean criminal history. Many enter the field after a career in law enforcement or the military, and more than 20 percent of practicing P.I.s are self-employed. It’s a varied field, as P.I.s are employed to uncover everything from cheating spouses to financial fraud to computer data. “People are relying a lot more on private investigators,” says Bob McKenna, a private investigator for HMS Security Services. “You can do a lot of good stuff and…you can have fun. No one knows who you are.

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#6, Astronomer

Education: Doctoral degree

Median Yearly Pay: $101,300

Job Growth, 2008-2018: 16%

“It’s been a truly fantastic ride, in part because I’ve not just contributed in a small incremental way but in a pretty fundamental way,” says Dr. Alex Filippenko, professor of astronomy at the University of California Berkeley, who was part of the team that in 1998 discovered in that the universe is rapidly expanding. There are only 1,500 astronomers in the U.S.—astronomy has a high bar of entry and astronomers at top universities can work grueling hours—but employment opportunities are expected to improve during this decade. The average postdoc can fall back on technology and engineering jobs if the astronomy thing doesn’t work out, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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#7, Model

Education: Work experience

Median Yearly Pay: $27,410

Job Growth, 2008-2018: 16%

Imagine your face on the cover of Vogue (or on page 17 of a JC Penney catalog) pulling down more coin every year than most Forbes 500 CEOs (or as much as a waiter at Dave & Buster’s) and taking first-class flights to fashion shows in Milan, Paris, and New York (or riding on a bus to a trade show in Albany). That’s the dream (and the reality) of the modeling biz. Acting and public-speaking classes can help land gigs, because in modeling personality is a close second to beauty. Watch for more male modeling jobs to open up in the next decade as male fashions become mainstream, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Evolving media channels will also spur employment. “With the Web and the other multimedia events growing, advertising continues to get more and more diverse,” says model Judy Chen.

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#8, City planner

Education: Master’s degree

Median Yearly Pay: $59,810

Job Growth, 2008-2018: 19%

“Those who can, build. Those who can’t, criticize,” infamous New York City urban planner Robert Moses once said. These days a kinder, gentler city planner is the norm—one who espouses the joys of building community consensus for new projects, rather than abusing eminent domain laws. “What’s really important in making great places is ensuring the people who live in these places believe in what you’re trying to do,” says Cecilia Kushner, a city planner and special assistant to the commissioner of the New York City Department of City Planning. Good communication skills are paramount to the aspiring real-life Sim City player—presenting plans at community meetings and getting immediate feedback is Kushner’s favorite part of the job. More city planners will be needed this decade because of an increasing demand for environmentally sound building plans, Kushner says. “Now you see a shift in America where people are focusing more on issues of sustainability and how the country can decrease its carbon footprint and live in a more green way,” Kushner says. “Land use is going to be key in achieving that.”

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#9, Dancer

Education: Work experience

Median Yearly Pay: Not available

Job Growth, 2008-2018: 6.8%

Dancing veteran Peter Sparling describes dance to The Daily Beast as, “creating an architecture with space, body, and time.” The starting pay is lousy. Dancing is hell on the joints, and dancers can burn out faster that most inside linebackers. But the job market is gradually expanding. The reality-TV dance-show craze is helping to teach millions of people about dance and, Sparling hopes, will help spawn decent paying jobs in new media for dancers. “I’ve pursued a dream and I’ve been supported doing it. I think dancing is a kind of dream realm,” says Sparling, now Thurnau Professor of Dance at the University of Michigan, but who lived hand to mouth for 15 years before landing his university gig.

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#10, Producer and Director

Education: Bachelor’s degree

Median Yearly Pay: $64,430

Job Growth, 2008-2018: 9.8%

Most producing and directing jobs take place on the coasts in New York and Los Angeles. “I really enjoy having control of the creative process and chasing stories that interest me,” says Mara Schiavocampo, digital correspondent for NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. While every day stories come out sounding the death knell of print media, Internet and film are alive and well, and yearning for new stories to tell. “There’s such a demand for content right now. There are more outlets for content than ever before,” says Schiavocampo. For those in the middle of the country and those working in occupations far flung from the media world, the best way to land your dream job as a producer or director is to drop everything and take the plunge. “Jump in, don’t be intimidated and take small steps, and be a voracious consumer of all media,” says Schiavocampo.