Light Bending, Iceberg Moving, and Other Industrial Odd Jobs

Glowing light man doing a handstand

Pet food testers, light benders, and face feelers — there is no shortage of offbeat jobs people do today. In this article, we’ll explore eight unusual careers.

For example, have you ever wondered how pet food companies know their turkey and cranberry dinner for cats truly tastes like a turkey and cranberry dinner? Whose job is it to set up oil rigs or make artificial eyes? Below, find out about these and other unusual jobs you may not be familiar with.

Pet Food Tester

How do pet food companies know what their products taste like and if dogs and cats will like them? They hire food technologists who specialize in pet foods. Generally, food technologists taste foods to develop consistent flavors, create new product concept, and check for food quality. The same goes for pet foods.

When it comes to tasting pet foods, different approaches are required for different species. For example, cats have a reputation for being picky, while dogs are far less fussy. As such, for cats, it’s more important for tasters to identify foods that smell and taste similar to human food. Pet food testers also gauge food texture and look for materials that may not be pleasing to pet owners, such as tripe.

Food technologists also address pet food safety and quality, and ensure that foodstuffs follow evolving pet food regulations to help prevent incidents.

Iceberg Mover

Some people can’t stand the heat, but true grit is defined by those who can withstand the cold. For the toughest out there who aren’t afraid of plunging temperatures or breaking the ice, there’s a job for you – professional iceberg mover.

Drifting through the coldest parts of the oceans like dazzling ice sculptures, icebergs present a real danger to ships and oil rigs. In order to combat these beautiful but deadly obstacles, some shipping vessel companies that specialize in harsh environment situations are able to provide icebreaking and iceberg towing services.

Light Bender

Although neon signs aren’t as popular as they used to be, the neon lights aesthetic still has a passionate fan base. Bars, diners, even Las Vegas wouldn’t be the same without bright neon signs. From ordinary "open" signs to fantastic designs like the balloon at the Paris Las Vegas, neon lights don't bend themselves into shapes on their own. That's where light benders step in.

Light benders require precision and electrical know-how to shape and light glass neon tubes. Using flames that burn at 3,000 °F, light benders heat the glass and bend it by hand into the desired shape. Moisture is sucked out of the tube and replaced by neon and mercury, which are activated by an electrical charge. Different gases, such as argon, are used to make different colors.

Certified Ethical Hacker

If you’re good at hacking into computer systems, but aren’t really into the shady end of the spectrum, becoming a professional ethical hacker might be your calling. Ethical hackers, also known as white hat hackers, are cyber security specialists that are hired by companies to break into protected networks with the expressed purpose of exposing security vulnerabilities.

In order to distinguish themselves from their criminal counterparts, ethical hackers train through IT security boot camps and obtain an ethical hacker certification called CEH, which stands for Certified Ethical Hacker. With cybercrime on the rise, this type of security expert is in pretty high demand. Plus, ethical hacking salaries are pretty competitive — one can expect to earn up over $132,000 annually, with the average salary equaling over $71,000 per year

Face Feelers

Health and beauty items are put through a barrage of clinical tests before being released to the market. One of these tests involves a type of sensory scientist called a face feeler. Products such as lotions, cleansers, and serums are applied to test subjects’ skins; the face feelers then touch the subjects’ skin in order to determine the product's effectiveness. 

Sounds easy, right? Think again. Face feeling is actually a very subtle science and art — these trained tactile specialists are expected to be able to differentiate between substances in side by side comparisons, and often have to understand the substances in ways that most people don’t notice or think about. While there is no official level of schooling required in order to feel faces, the art of feeling does require extensive training in order to master it.

Oil Rig Roughneck or Roustabout

Although not the strangest occupations on the list, roughnecks and roustabouts have one of the most physically demanding oil rig jobs in the industry. Tasked with maintaining the rig and drilling equipment, the job is dirty, loud, and requires long hours. Roughneck and roustabout salaries can equal up to $51,500 a year.

Ocularist

After having his eye removed in 2007, filmmaker Rob Spence started working on a design for a video-recording bionic eye. Known as the Eyeborg Project, his idea wouldn’t have gotten very far without an ocularist. 

Ocularists are technicians who fit, shape and paint custom ocular prostheses. They also instruct the patient on how to handle and care for their prosthetic eyes, as well as conduct periodic examinations on the artificial eye. Prosthetic eyes prices can vary wildly, ranging anywhere from $2,500 to $8,300.

Foley Artist

Named after Jack Foley, a sound effects artist known for his usage of realistic and ambient sounds in film, Foley sounds are natural, everyday sound effects, like footsteps or the rustling of clothes. Using many different shoes and props, Foley artists either replace a film’s original sound or augment the existing sounds to create a richer soundtrack.

Creating the sound of footsteps is one of the most important and most difficult sounds to produce. Foley artists must match the sync of the steps, the surface on which the actor is walking, and the feeling the footsteps must convey.

Most of these professions are less than ideal for people looking for a career based solely on salary. But if toiling away in a cubicle is the very last way you'd want to make a living, maybe one of these jobs is for you.

Image Credit: amasterphotographer / Shutterstock.com

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