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18 Careers With Unbelievable Perks

January 25th, 2011

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When you're looking for a job, there's more to think about than just salary. Factors like working conditions and environment, opportunity for advancement, retirement benefits and even free swag should vie for a spot in your evaluation of a job opportunity. Below we've outlined 18 careers with awesome perks, and while there are certainly drawbacks to each occupation, these jobs do pay you back in ways you may not have considered.

  1. Journalist or reporter: If you have a reporting job in media — whether you work for a magazine, newspaper, TV station, blog or online news portal, you may be in for some great perks once you pay your dues. Public relations firms may send you free stuff to review, you'll have access to good seats at events you're supposed to cover — or just consider covering — and possibly the opportunity to meet famous people for interviews. Travel is also often a part of a journalist's job, whether you're headed to Asia to cover a story, New York for Fashion Week, or even the state capital for a press conference.
  2. Movie theater usher: It might seem like the type of summer job a teenager picks up during school vacation, but being an usher at a movie theater, concert hall or other type of theater has some great perks. You get to watch shows for free as you work, and although you might have to settle a dispute or help direct patrons to the restroom, you can always catch up on the story during the next showing.
  3. Flight attendant: The airline industry gets a lot of flack these days, but there are still some worthwhile fringe benefits of working as a flight attendant. Depending on your route (you may have to work your way up out of regional flights at first), you can get free trips to some pretty cool places around the world. And when you're not working, you can use your discount — sometimes up to 90% off — for vacations. Buddy passes are offered by some airlines, letting your friends fly for great rates, too. Serving celebrities and other high profile individuals in first class might even become a daily experience for you.
  4. Personal assistant: It takes a certain type of person to be a personal assistant to a celebrity, CEO or other busy bee. You have to put your life second as you run around booking flights, picking up dry cleaning, making reservations, and even helping with kids' science projects for someone else's family. But if you're patient and enjoy the rush of working around the clock, you'll score awesome fringe benefits. You may often accompany the family on their trips, flying and staying for free, and hopefully getting a free day to enjoy yourself. You'll also gain access to other high-profile individuals, improving your networking opportunities and giving you invaluable experience when it comes to speaking up and making things happen.
  5. Nursing: Nurses are in high demand in the workforce right now, and that means that you may be able to leverage some pretty good perks as you apply for jobs. Some nurses may be able to get school paid for by their employers, while allowing for flexible schedules and sign-on bonuses are becoming more popular in this profession.
  6. Hotel management: People working in hotel management and the hospitality industry do often have to work on nights and weekends, but they get access to unbelievable perks, too. If you have a good job, you may get to work at a beautiful resort or hotel, serve celebrities and famous guests, and get discounts on or even free passes on spa treatments, gourmet restaurant dining, golf, and packages for family and friends. If you work for a hotel that's owned by a larger company, you'll most likely get discounts on other properties they own, too.
  7. Mystery Shopper: Mystery shoppers often get to work on their own time, trolling around stores as they evaluate customer service, store layout, efficiency, and quality of the goods or services. They're also independent contractors, picking up work when they want it, and having the flexibility to say no without being penalized. Plus, you get a lot of free stuff.
  8. Cruise line employee: Working on a cruise means you'll be surrounded by beautiful scenery most of the time you're on the job. You might be stuck in the middle of an ocean somewhere, but you'll also get to port in places like the Mediterranean Sea, Alaska, Mexico, the Caribbean, and other gorgeous places. The living quarters are small, but unless you get sea sick, working on a cruise can also be a great way to escape the real world for a while, and without having to pay for room and board.
  9. Concert usher or worker: Much like working as an usher at a movie theater, being a concert usher means you'll get to see shows for free as you take tickets, sell concessions, direct people to their seats, or even monitor the show for security breaches. You'll most likely be assigned a certain section but can move around as you want to see the stage when you get a break.
  10. Customer service representative: If you don't mind getting yelled at or hung up on, being a customer service rep is actually a pretty decent gig. More companies are starting to hire representatives to work from their own homes and sometimes allow them a flexible work schedule.
  11. Nanny or full-time babysitter: Working as a nanny is a lot like being a personal assistant, except that your primary responsibility is the kid, or kids. You'll probably have to drop off and pick up kids from play dates, school and extracurricular activities, buy groceries and other supplies, and help kids clean up their rooms and play areas. But tagging along on family vacations and even getting free room and board are pluses.
  12. Doctor: Most doctors have extreme schedules, working around the clock even after they're paid their dues as residents or fellows. But doctors are held in very high regard in society, and there's all kinds of opportunity for advancement and exploring new challenges, whether you teach or train new doctors, pursue your own research, write articles for journals, attend or lead conventions and seminars, or even switch specialties. The salary's notoriously pretty good, and most doctors swap free health care services for each other as a favor.
  13. Retail: Some people loathe working in retail, but for others, the career means lots of social interaction and awesome discounts. Besides getting discounts on items in your own store, you'll also most likely qualify for discounts at other stores owned by your parent company or corporate office. And while weekends and holidays are busiest, it's fairly easy to trade shifts with other employees if you need a day off.
  14. Public employee: Working for the government doesn't sound particularly glamorous, but if you want to bank on retirement plans and work on a fairly cushy schedule, becoming a public employee is a smart move. No matter what industry you specialize in, you'll most likely get a full package of benefits, work a straightforward 9-to-5, and get off all official holidays.
  15. Professional taster: If you're a professional taster, that doesn't mean you can sit around all day guzzling wine or shoveling ice cream in your mouth. But you do get to sample some of the most decadent snacks and drinks before they hit the market. You'll learn how to cultivate your ability to look for certain flavors and notes, writing detailed records of each tasting. But how lovely would it be to eat Godiva every day, for free?
  16. Teacher: Teachers may only work until 3p.m., but they bring work home with them, depending on their field. They also give up lots of their own time tutoring kids, sprucing up their classrooms and volunteering on weekends to help with school projects and initiatives. But like doctors, teachers also enjoy a respectable place in society, and get more paid vacation time than any other career we can think of: the summers. They also get decent breaks for Easter, Thanksgiving, Spring Break, Winter Break, and many other holidays. Retirement and other benefits are standard, and the pay is also decent, at least for most public school districts. In private schools, it can go either way.
  17. Personal trainer: Personal trainers get paid to have awesome bodies. Some work for gyms, while others are independent contractors and can make their own hours and set their own rates. They can work one-on-one with a client instead of leading whole rooms of clumsy gym-goers, and have creative freedom to customize work out routines and even set up their own business.
  18. Bartending: You'll have to give up some of your nights and weekends with friends, but other than that, this career has lots of unbelievable perks. Socializing and flirting with attractive party-goers, absolutely banking in tips — especially if you work at a popular spot — and getting to make up drinks as you please are just some of the benefits. Having full reign and control of the bar can also give you a bit of a power trip or ego boost, and some bars encourage bartenders and cocktail waitresses to take free shots or drinks if a patron is buying.

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