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10 Unexpectedly Well-Paid Jobs from Around the World

6. Fortune cookie writers earn anywhere from $40,000 to $80,000 annually. They are responsible for the quotes stuffed inside the cookies, and they get a handsome salary.

Fortune cookie
Image credits: Robert Couse-Baker/Flickr

Fortune cookie writers are required to be creative, philosophical, and inspiring. After all, we look forward to the message in a fortune cookie, don’t we? Fortune cookie writers have to be an expert when it comes to conveying an important and inspiring message in a concise manner. The job demands that they have strong writing and communication skills.


Salaries for this job vary depending on the experience and associated workload. On average, they earn around $53,000 per year. At the start, the pay can be a bit on the lower side, around $28,000, but it gets better with experience and workload. Most writers make between $38,000 and $75,000.

The cookie companies also rely on freelance writers for fresh ideas. It’s not easy to construct a thought or saying that would make someone save the small piece of paper in their wallet for years to come. It’s difficult to write something that resonates with the majority of the demographics. Hence, freelancers charge between $12 and $50 for each message they write. (source)

7. There are people who take care of private islands. They enjoy the sun, go on adventures, and may get to live alone on an entire island. And to do this, they get paid up to $100,000 per year!

Who wouldn’t want to be paid to enjoy life at its fullest and, that too, on a private island? Sounds like a far-fetched dream job, but surprisingly, such a job exists. It first caught the eye of the world in 2009 when the Queensland tourism started seeking potential candidates to live rent-free for six months on a Great Barrier Reef island. The Wow! factor was that the job paid $150,000 a year!

Thirty-four thousand, six hundred and eighty-four people applied for the job, and the winner was Ben Southall. The candidates were from over 200 countries, but Ben beat them all to become the official caretaker of Hamilton Island in Australia for six months. He would do everything that the tourism board would ask him to, and, in his spare time, he visited over 60 islands along the Great Barrier Reef and went on adventures.

Nowadays, there are also many short-term stints launched by tourism and media companies for social media influencers with handsome pay and a promise for adventure. (1, 2)

8. Court reporters make $35 per hour, and their salary can go up to six figures plus added benefits. The best part is that it doesn’t require any specific college degree.

Court reporter
Image credits: Regalcourtreporting

People are piling up thousands of dollars on student loans. But, there’s a profession that requires only less-expensive training with a high-paying return. The job is for court reporting. According to the National Court Reporters Association, the court reporting industry is expanding, and by 2019, 5,500 more positions will be open.

The job is mostly outside the courtroom where the court reporters are required to make depositions and perform closed captioning. The pay is good and ranges from $35 per hour to a six-figure salary based upon experience. It also comes with benefits. The training for the court reporting costs only $3,000 which is quite low as compared to other educational training.

As of 2018, the average pay for a court reporter is $57,000 per year with the top 10% making more than $100,000. There are also freelance reporters who sell their transcripts on a per-page basis for more profits. (1, 2)

9. American sanitation workers have an average annual salary of more than $40,000, greater than the nationwide average of $30,000 among all high school graduates. As of 2015, an NYC sanitation worker earns $88,616 annually after being on the job for 5.5 years.

Garbage truck driver
Image credits: Jeffrey Beall/Flickr

Sanitation worker might not sound glamorous, but it is an unexpectedly well-paid job. You would be surprised at the number of applications this job gets because of the associated pay. In 2014, there were around 96,000 applications, and only 500 positions are available every year.

The starting salary can sound low at around $30,000, but with overtime, workers can make around $50,000 in the first year. After 5.5 years on the job, sanitation workers earn around $88,000. Moreover, there are numerous perks on the job like extras for night shifts, twice the pay for working on holidays, etc.

In case of longer shifts, such as the ones during harsh winters, sanitation workers make around $95,000 from overtime. One such example is of Noel Molina and Tony Sankar. Tony Sankar, an NYC garbage collector and a school dropout, makes more than a high-school graduate. In 2015, he and his driver partner made more than $100,000 each. (1, 2)


10. Golf-ball divers are people who dive underwater in order to collect used golf balls that have gone into the water. They easily make $100,000 per year with a few expert ones making $630 to $900 per day!

Golf ball divers
Image credits: Golfballdivers

Golf is a popular sport in the United States. It is estimated that around tens of millions of golf balls go missing every year in the US! The majority of occurrences are in golf courses that are located beside bodies of water. This is a hazard for the water but this has also given rise to an occupation that has amazing returns.

There are divers whose job is to dive into the waters and retrieve the drowned golf balls. They then clean them up and sell them again for about six cents in wholesale, or $1 in retail, prices. Surprisingly, this particular business has grown into a $200 million industry. Golf divers are making $100,000 annually.

Although there are other methods of golf-ball recovery, diving is the one that gets you the maximum pay. A well-experienced diver manages to collect around 3,000 golf balls in a day. Forest Rothchild, a golf diver, is known to have collected 9,000 golf balls in a day! He then sells the balls for seven to 10 cents apiece. Plus, he also gets paid by the company that hired him for the job. Basically, he makes around $600 to $900 a day.

Only certified scuba divers can work as a golf-ball diver. Plus, sometimes the conditions are quite tough. Some divers have been attacked by alligators and poisonous snakes in the waters. (source)


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