Bounty hunters, private investigators, body guards–you’ve seen these jobs on TV, but do you know how they function in reality? Ever wonder what the job’s about, how you get paid, and how much? Here are six strange professions, along with the skinny on pay and duties. Many of these careers are seeing growth in a tough economy–maybe there’s a new strange job in there for you.
1. Bounty Hunter
When someone skips bail or leaves town without reporting to court, the person or company who puts up the bail hires a bounty hunter. The bounty hunter goes to catch the criminal, 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.
2. Debt Collector or Re-possessor
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 re-possessors who tow your car away if you miss too many payments. The good news is that the collection industry is expected to grow by about 19% by 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Pay: Working at a call center will make you $10 an hour and up, usually including benefits. Re-possessors (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 and women 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 more in “America’s Most Dangerous Jobs.”)
Bodyguards are people hired to keep celebrities and VIPs safe. Depending on the client, bodyguard jobs can take anywhere from a few hours to months or years. 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.
4. Private Investigator
Though you probably think of the TV gumshoe when you think of a PI, much of the job is done on the computer, gathering information from databases. But a PI’s job can get pretty dangerous out in the field, so this job is not for the faint of heart. And again, expect long hours in rough conditions. 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 private investigators make $40 an hour and up, depending on skill, experience, and specialty.
Qualifications: A background in law enforcement or intelligence is helpful but not required. Many states require a license, so check with your state before hanging out your shingle.
Headhunters find people for jobs, and often have a specialty like finance or health care. 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 in sales, 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.
Pay: Entry-level pay starts at $11 per hour, with experienced workers earning $30 and up per hour.
Qualifications: A high school diploma suffices, but expect to complete on-the-job training and qualification.