Have what it takes to be a chief wombat cuddler, director of cat meme creation or chief birthday officer? No, we didn’t make those up.
The notion of a dream job can differ from person to person. As the adage goes, if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life – but we all love different things.
Even so, we think the 13 positions below will seem like a lucky break to most – at least on the surface. Some of our dream job examples sound too good to be true and, indeed, some would be more challenging than it may first appear.
We could say more, but we really need to get on with updating our CVs.
As you can guess, the role of a video-game tester is to take an as yet unreleased game and play it for hours upon hours. At entry level, these roles require little to no experience.
All of this sounds great until you realise that the point of testing is to find every single flaw in an undeveloped game, which means painstakingly playing the same levels over and over again until it becomes anything but fun – for minimum wage.
For those with software development experience, though, QA (quality assurance) lead testers can earn close to $58,000 (€53,000) after six years, according to the Game Industry Career Guide.
There is also the possibility of getting your foot in the door of a competitive industry by working your way up from entry-level testing.
Royal social media manager
Social media managers can earn some serious salaries, with the responsibility of managing Facebook feeds, devising YouTube strategies and collating minute-by-minute updates of major events largely dependent on the popularity of the company at hand. So, when the British Monarchy goes looking for a ‘head of digital engagement’, you can rest assured this is a lucrative position.
The UK’s royal family. Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Offering up to £50,000, the upsides are obvious – working from Buckingham Palace, employer-paid 15pc pension scheme – all while developing digital communications strategy for people who wear crowns.
However, there can be downsides. For example, it’s fair to expect this job to have no structured operating hours, despite the promise of a 37.5-hour working week – expect late-night drama and an eventual hatred for your work phone.
How would you like to get paid to watch Marco Polo, Orange Is the New Black or the forthcoming Star Trek TV series? Believe it or not, Netflix pays people to stream its vast selection of TV shows and movies in order to add tag words or phrases that describe the content to the company’s database. This actually helps the company categorise its catalogue and make more accurate recommendations to viewers. It also helps by adding a human element to the engine, rather than solely relying on algorithms.
However, before you get your hopes up for landing this splendid position, Netflix only employs part-time taggers, with only 40 official taggers in total employed by the streaming giant. Tough competition!
Taking inspiration from Instagram, Netflix Grammasters – of which there are four – travel throughout Europe snapping images of locations where ‘iconic’ TV and films were set. Public relations interviews and media appearances are also part of the job, with pay rumoured to be around €3,500 for one-month’s work.
Last year saw a trio hired to traverse the US with a similar brief and, given the popularity of the on-demand streaming service, it’s clear the company’s marketing is on point. The bad side of things is just how public the application process is, itself acting as a marketing tool. Also, given that the role only lasts for a month, it won’t really appeal to many people already in regular employment.
Still, getting paid to Interrail sounds like a winner.
Legoland model builder
Legoland parks are found in Denmark, Germany, the UK, the US, the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia, and all of them need to be stocked with grand Lego designs replicating famous sites and scenes, in miniature scale and life-size.
When Merlin Entertainment, owner of Legoland theme parks, started recruitment for a model shop in Florida earlier this year, the job posting sought high school-educated candidates with Lego-building experience who could “design and build sturdy, accurate, complicated, safe and installable Lego models” from prototypes, diagrams or computer-generated instructions.
Other skills required for the position were strong communication, good organisation, patience and a dedication to completion. Successful applicants would then need to pass a physical assessment and impress with timed builds and freestyle modelling, as well as multiple interviews.
“This is definitely very much a dream job,” model builder Max Petrosky assured local news channel Fox 13. “To actually make a living, actually working with Lego, it’s just really incredible.”
The allure of Lego careers is simply too much to resist for some. Take Nathan Sawaya, for example.
Sawaya left behind a successful career as a corporate lawyer to turn his hand to full-time Lego sculpture. His exhibition, The Art of the Brick, exclusively focuses on Lego as an artistic medium and has broken attendance records around the world. The creations within the exhibit were all constructed from standard Lego bricks, with Sawaya’s work on them beginning as far back as 2002.
As a contemporary artist, Sawaya has enjoyed awards and recognition for his work and, in 2014, founded The Art Revolution Foundation to make art a priority in schools and homes. Meanwhile, The Art of the Brick continues its world tour, and hit Dublin in 2014.
Bedrest study participant
In space agencies such as NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), people are actually paid to lie on a bed for hours on end doing next to nothing.
Though it may sound like the easiest job in the universe, these multi-week trials are actually a challenge of not only physical but mental endurance, to see how the body reacts to a sudden halting of all activities. Participants must lie completely still while oftentimes being poked and prodded with instruments to measure their bodies for any major changes.
A participant in the ESA bedrest study. Image via DLR (CC-BY)
While the ESA has not revealed how much participants receive in this test, it has been reported that NASA pays its participants $18,000 for a three-month stay.
The end goal is to see how humans could one day live with such extended rests in future space missions.
The Ipswich hedgehog officer is charged with making Ipswich the most hedgehog-friendly town in the UK. To do so, one must “raise awareness of the needs of hedgehogs and the opportunity to turn around their fortunes in Ipswich”.
The job is a natural fit for conservationists and ecologists, and focuses on “mobilising participants in Ipswich to create a street-by-street network of hedgehog accessible habitat, and monitoring hedgehog activity”.
Sadly, the closing date on this job has recently lapsed, but by the end of the two-year, fixed-term tenure, the successful candidate will have created a safe haven for hedgehogs. Which, naturally enough, leads to a town full of hedgehogs – ie the dream.
The only disadvantage? That the actual work you have to do doesn’t seem to include cuddling hedgehogs.
Chief wombat cuddler
Luckily, if you love cuddly little critters and don’t mind the idea of moving to Tasmania, there’s a job for you.
Derek the wombat shot to international fame when his mother was reportedly run over by a car and the little fellow was raised by Kate Mooney, also known as the Wombat Lady of Flinders Island. Following Derek’s adoption, Tourism Tasmania launched a campaign to find him a chief wombat cuddler. Though unpaid, the position offered rewarding cuddles with Derek the mellow marsupial.
The hotly contested position was only open to Australian citizens and lucky Melbourne man Justin Johnstone proved the successful candidate. Johnstone enjoyed an all-expenses-paid three-day trip to the island for the short-lived role, and is said to have instantly hit it off with his wombat charge.
“Derek took a real shine to him. At one point down at the shed, Justin had seven wombats descend upon him, including Derek, who eagerly pushed to the front for attention,” said Mooney.
Space agency fashion designer
It’s not quite designing T-shirts and shorts for astronauts, but the European Space Agency did launch a Couture in Orbit project earlier this year.
Teaming up with the Science Museum in London, five fashion schools around Europe got involved in a runway show with a space theme. An astronaut, fabric sponsors and technical assistance was given to each team, with the results hitting the catwalk in late May.
“The space and fashion industries often influence each other,” said the organisers, with the influence surprisingly heading in both directions. ESA innovations were recently used in thermal underwear for commercial sale, while a motorcycle-clothing manufacturer, Dainese, tailor-made ESA’s Skinsuit to alleviate astronaut back problems.
This career venture would be quite the inclusion in a fashion portfolio. The downside? Zero space travel.
Director of cat meme creation
I can haz dream job pleeze?
A few years ago, a role came up at educational company Memrise for a fully qualified cat meme generator to work on a freelance basis in London. For a fee of between £200 and £300 a week, the meme creator was tasked with creating cute and funny cat images and was promised three office cats for inspiration.
These memes weren’t just mindless internet fodder, however. The Memrise team studied the data on memory and information retention, and discovered that pictures of cats proved disproportionately effective. Thus, thousands of cat memes were needed for Memrise’s CatAcademy app, which used funny images of cats to illustrate common phrases in Spanish to bolster language-learning.
Chief birthday officer
Birthdays in companies are strange affairs. When you are junior, they are great excuses for cake, champagne and maybe pints later. But, as the mileage creeps up, they tend to be more discreet affairs, best brushed under the carpet to protect people’s fragile dignity. And that’s why we need a professional approach: a chief birthday officer!
While this is yet to be an official title within most companies, the title does exist at a company called Edible Arrangements, which recently sought a CBO to manage “birthday outreach to influential people”. Duties include writing “birthday-themed posts” to the Edible Arrangements blog and planning the company’s corporate birthday celebrations.
At its core, it is a marketing and PR role that requires two years of business experience and a passion for all things birthday-related. He or she had also better be a jolly food fellow! And so say all of us.
Tropical island blogger
Perhaps one of the most famous dream jobs to elicit applications from all over the world was when Australia’s Tourism Queensland offered AUS$150,000 (€100,000) to live on a tropical island for six months. On top of that, the stay was rent-free and the only obligation for the successful applicant was to maintain a blog and photo diary for readers around the world.
The job spec actually asked that the candidate be willing to “swim, snorkel, make friends with locals and generally enjoy the tropical Queensland climate and lifestyle”.The reason a dream job like this exists was in itself a marketing gambit, drawing international media attention that attracted plenty of interest in Hamilton Island and its idyllic location on the famous Great Barrier Reef. And, following the recruitment campaign, ‘island caretaker’ Ben Southall continued to promote tropical trips through the content created during his stay – though he did sustain the odd jellyfish sting.