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The 10 Oddest Jobs in the Country | Photographed by Nancy Rica Schiff

By Hanssie on January 8th 2014

Most little kids, when asked what they want to be when they grow up, typically list professions such as: firefighter, ballerina, rockstar, superhero or astronaut. Sometimes, you get the overachieving child that might say, doctor or lawyer. When I was a little girl, I wanted to be the CEO of a major corporation or Shamu’s trainer at Sea World. Most of us grow out of our childhood fantasies and into more realistic occupations, or whatever we happen to fall into after college.

[REWIND: Portraits of Rural Children Dressed for Their Dream Job]

Not many will list potato chip crisp inspector (though, if actually eating the chip was involved, that just became my dream job), horse chiropractor,  or dog food tester. Yet, somewhere out there, around the world, people do these actual jobs. Photographer, Nancy Rica Schiff, has made it her job to photograph these people. In her first book, Odd Jobs: Portraits of Unusual Occupations and the subsequent followup book, Odder Jobs, she documents the professions of the people who have odd jobs, such as duck walker or a doll doctor.

Or Odor Judge:


In 1989, Schiff was photographing at the Hollywood Race Track, when she noticed a person standing on the track at the end of every race. “I discovered that his job was to time the races and I thought to myself, not too many people set out to become race timers!’’ Schiff says in an article for Slate. And so began her quest to travel the country to find the people behind the scenes, doing the jobs we haven’t even thought of.

She documents 130 various professions in her two books, and a sample of the oddest ones are below:


Dog Food Tester


Men’s Underwear Designer


Crack Filler


Dinosaur Duster


Artificial Inseminator


Sperm Collector


Bra Designer


Condom Tester


Foot Model

Among some of the other people whom Schiff has photographed for this series are: seat fillers, a leech purveyor, a professional mermaid, a coin polisher and a fish counter. Schiff is fascinated by creative and unusual people and this project “reflects [her] continuing interest in people who march to the tune of a different drummer.”

To see more of the odd jobs, check out her two books available on Amazon.

What do you think is the oddest job on this list?

CREDIT:  All photographs shared by Nancy Rica Schiff are copyrighted and have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist. Any use of these photographs without permission is strictly prohibited and a penalty will be charged for illegal usage.

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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. wjp

    I’m not sure if it is a local thing, but where I come from the expression is “march to the beat of a different drummer”. Probably because there are very few melodies played on the drums, and generally speaking the beat of the drum makes keeping the marching cadence easier to coordinate. I am a transplant to southern California so I hear a lot of expressions used differently here. Some people don’t get out of a car; they get off of it. They say they are going to do something “right now”, but they actually mean that they will do it when they finish what they are doing right now. I probably sound as weird to them as they sound to me. Your use of a different version of the expression makes me think of the NY Times Dialect Quiz. They say they can (within a margin of error) determine where you are from in the US just by asking you 25 questions.

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