If you land a job you really love, it will never feel like work. But love won't necessarily pay the bills. So how do you find a job that's a blast and provides a good salary?
The median salaries come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the sources of other pay information are as noted.
We were very surprised by No. 1. See if you agree.
41. Fire chief
Average salary: $76,814
Firefighters put their lives at risk to save people and property, and a fire chief has a tremendous responsibility, supervising fire crews and firefighting operations. The work is gratifying — and can be fun. Wouldn't you love to ride a fire truck?
The average pay for a fire chief is close to $77,000 per year, according to PayScale. In some states, like New Jersey, a fire chief can make way more than average: upwards of $175,000 a year.
Median salary: $73,000+
Engineers come in many varieties, but the one thing they all have in common is that they work to solve complex problems in their respective industries.
Salaries vary, too. The median annual pay for an agricultural engineer is $77,110, a civil engineer makes $86,640, and a typical aerospace engineer — who helps test rockets and satellites — earns $115,220.
39. Romance novelist
Median salary: $62,170
Writing over-the-top romance novels can seem like a fun and lucrative way to earn a living — especially considering that Fifty Shades of Grey author E.L. James is worth a reported $150 million.
But incomes for writers can vary drastically. Many emerging romance novelists have opted to self-publish e-books rather than finding a traditional publisher. On Amazon, e-book authors earn anywhere from $10,000 up to more than $1 million a year.
38. Cruise ship entertainer
Average pay (dancers): $18.17 an hour
Working on a cruise ship sounds like a never-ending vacation. Entertainers get to go ashore when the ship is in port, so they enjoy a unique travel experience — along with free room and board.
Dancers, magicians, comedians, musicians and other cruise performers attend rehearsals during the day, and perform for a few hours at night. Contracts usually last for three to six months and pay up to $2,000 or more per week.
37. Food scientist
Median salary: $64,020
These taste creators have fun brainstorming about new food products and conducting flavor tests on the way to creating potato chips that taste like mac 'n cheese, or sandwich cookies flavored like birthday cake.
But it also can be serious work. The majority of jobs in this field involve experimenting with crops and testing chemical additives in food.
36. Art therapist
Median salary: $47,860
Mix art and psychology together, and you get art therapy. After earning a master’s degree, an art therapist can work in schools, psychiatric hospitals and veterans associations helping people express their emotions through art.
Unfortunately, there are not many job opportunities in this field, especially since many states don’t recognize art therapy as a licensed practice.
35. Music therapist
Median salary: $47,860
Similar to an art therapist, a music therapist usually works in schools, retirement centers and mental health facilities to help kids and adults express themselves through music.
Salaries start at $20,000 a year and climb to $135,000 for music therapists with private practices.
34. Lighting designer
Average salary: $53,982
Have you ever admired the fancy light show at a concert and wondered how you could get that job?
Lighting designers usually need stage-lighting experience at schools or in community theater before they can move up to careers with higher-paying opportunities. The pay averages about $54,000 per year, though senior lighting designers typically earn $64,005, says Glassdoor.
33. Audio engineer
Median salary: $52,390
Mic check, test 1, 2! These are the experts who work to get things sounding right in sports arenas, theaters, recording studios and movie and video productions.
The skills needed for these jobs can be self-taught or picked up through on-the-job training. As with most jobs related to the entertainment industry, opportunities are far more common in major cities.
Average pay: Up to $500 an hour
Few magicians achieve celebrity status and conjure up a huge salary (you won't believe what David Copperfield is worth), but it’s still possible to make a decent living performing street magic and booking private parties.
The pay for a magician doing private events ranges from $100 to $500 per hour, according to CostHelper.
31. Lego master builder
Average salary: $37,500
Who wouldn’t want to get paid to play with Legos all day? Master Lego builders create larger-than life statues and art installations.
According to multiple media reports, professional Lego builders make $37,500 a year working at one of the Legoland parks, or they can earn thousands of dollars doing privately commissioned Lego art projects.
Average salary: Up to $43,000
Becoming a zookeeper may be the closest you’ll ever get to exotic animals like lions, tigers and elephants.
Zoo animals require care 24 hours a day, seven days a week, which means zookeepers work nights, weekends and holidays. Pay ranges from about $21,000 a year to around $43,000, according to Glassdoor.
29. Personal trainer
Median salary: $39,820
If you love fitness and love the idea of pushing people around (for their own good!), becoming a personal trainer can be a great career.
Obviously, personal trainers to the stars earn a lot more than the median. The top 10% of trainers earn $76,000 a year on up, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
28. Stunt performer
Pay: At least $933 per day
Behind every action movie star is a fearless stunt double.
Rather than getting paid by the hour, stunt performers receive a flat fee for the days when they are needed on set. A stuntman or stuntwoman earns at least $933 per day, while a stunt coordinator is paid $1,100 per day, according to the Screen Actors Guild.
Average salary: $47,883
Brewmasters make beer for a living, but don't think they get sloshed every day. Their job responsibilities include cleaning the equipment, testing new recipes and traveling to events on weekends.
The average pay is around $48,000, and top earners can make $74,000, says PayScale.
26. Fashion designer
Median salary: $72,720
Designing clothes, meeting high-pressure deadlines and fixing a hem on a model about to walk the runway are just a few things that fashion designers do routinely.
The field is highly competitive, and most opportunities are in big cities. Or on "Project Runway."
25. Homicide detective
Median salary: $81,920
If you’re a crime junkie and hate the idea of anyone literally getting away with murder, you might dream of cracking cases as a homicide detective.
The pay for a criminal investigator varies dramatically, depending on the location. Salaries can range from $43,800 a year in the lowest-paying places all the way up to close to $140,000 at the top.
Average salary: 59,661
Making great-tasting wine can be complicated and requires a great deal of knowledge in food science and chemistry. Some winemakers work for large wineries, while others decide to buy a vineyard and venture out on their own.
While the average salary for a winemaker is around $60,000 a year, those at the high end earn in the neighborhood of $102,000, according to Glassdoor. Salut!
23. Concert promoter
Median salary: $109,480
A concert promoter works with band managers to book concert venues and advertise upcoming shows.
Major perks of the job include scoring free concert tickets — and being able to boast, "I'm with the band!"
22. Airline pilot
Median salary: $115,670
Being a pilot looks so cool and glamorous in the movies, doesn't it?
Learning how to fly a commercial airplane takes a lot of time and expensive training, and the jobs are high-pressure and can mean lots of nights away from home. But the high salaries can make it all worthwhile.
21. Dog walker
Pay: Up to $45 per dog per day
If you really love dogs, walking them could be a dream job, though probably a part-time one.
Dog walkers typically charge anywhere from $15 to walk one dog for 20 minutes on up to $45 for two walks per day, according to Angie's List. If the owner has additional dogs, those cost up to $10 each per walk.
20. Landscape architect
Median salary: $68,230
Landscape architects use trees, lawns, flowers and other vegetation to create stunning natural surroundings.
They design outdoor spaces for parks, businesses and private homes. Some of the work is done indoors, creating designs, preparing models and meeting with clients.
19. Event planner
Median salary: $49,370
Event planners are the highly organized types who put together corporate meetings, conventions and more — and make sure that everything runs smoothly.
The jobs can involve travel, and occasional long nights. But the reward is that feeling of satisfaction when, despite all the people involved and the many moving parts, an event goes off glitch-free.
18. Park ranger
Median salary: $61,340
Park rangers serve and protect what are often called "the pride of America": its national parks.
Conservation scientists and foresters working for the federal government earn a median salary of between $66,000 and $76,000. The highest earners make close to $100,000 per year.
Salary: Up to $100,701
How's this for an out-of-this-world career path? The money can be astronomical, too.
According to NASA, the starting salary for an astronaut is $65,140. The pay can go up to $100,701 a year with time and experience.
16. Graphic designer
Median salary: $50,370
Graphic designers use their artistic talents, computer technology and more traditional media (like painting and drawing) to create illustrations for advertising, book covers, websites and more.
Most graphic designers work for corporations, though 1 out of every 5 is self-employed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
15. Video game designer
Median salary: $72,520
If you love playing video games, you’ve probably imagined how incredibly awesome it would be to design them for a living.
It takes more than passion to land one of these jobs. Often you need a degree in game design, game development or computer science.
14. Toy creator
Average salary: $58,068
Want to be one of Santa's elves? Inventing new toys is a job where you can make kids happy and will keep feeling like a kid yourself.
While the average pay is just over $58,000, more experienced toy designers can earn as much as $86,000, says PayScale.
13. Cruise director
Average salary: $57,767
Volleyball tournaments, trivia contests, cooking classes, bingo, storytime for the kids, happy hours for the adults — cruise-ship schedules are jammed with activities. A strong leader is needed to organize and oversee all of the events.
A cruise director makes anywhere from around $41,000 a year on up to $99,000, according to PayScale.
12. Professional athlete
Median salary: $50,650
Remember, that salary figure is only the median. Celebrity athletes are among the richest people in the world, thanks to multimillion-dollar contracts and hefty endorsement deals with big-name brands like Nike and Adidas.
At the other end of the scale are Olympic athletes, who earn less than $15,000 a year, according to Forbes.
11. Ethical computer hacker
Median salary: $98,350
Hackers have a reputation for being the bad guys, but computer programmers can put their powers to good use — as ethical hackers.
Companies hire these information security analysts to reveal weak points in website security, to keep out the other kind of hacker.
10. Wardrobe stylist
Salary: Up to $75,000
Choosing the perfect outfit for someone could be a dream job for fashion lovers. Stylists who work for retail stores dress mannequins and create window displays, while self-employed personal stylists hustle to find new clients in big cities.
It takes experience to make the really big money as a celebrity stylist, but everyone’s gotta start somewhere. Typical pay ranges from around $20,000 to $75,000 per year, reports Job Monkey.
9. Personal shopper
Salary: Up to $100,000
In the high-pressure corporate world, or in celebrity circles, people can be so busy they have no time to do their own shopping. So, they hire a personal shopper, or a "corporate concierge," to do it for them.
This is a great job if you love to shop — and love the idea of spending someone else's money. Personal shoppers typically make between $30,000 and $60,000 a year, though the best ones earn six figures, says Job Monkey.
8. Marine biologist
Median salary: $63,420
Do you love snorkeling? Do you go to the beach not to sit in the sun but in hopes you'll spot a dolphin? Studying and caring for marine mammals and other aquatic creatures on a daily basis makes this job the perfect catch for many.
To become a marine biologist, you'll need at least a bachelor's degree. A master's may be needed to move up to investigative or scientific work.
7. Mystery shopper
Average salary: $42,634
Like personal shoppers, mystery shoppers go on buying trips with other people's money — though in this case, the goal is to rate the store's customer service, cleanliness and more.
Often, these gigs are only part time. The average full-time salary is around $43,000, but some mystery shoppers earn as much as $127,000 a year, says ZipRecruiter.
6. Interior designer
Median salary: $53,370
If you’re a fan of those home makeover shows on HGTV, you've probably spent some time draydreaming about what life would be like as an interior designer.
The job isn't just about choosing fabulous window treatments and furnishings. It also involves understanding building codes and inspection regulations.
Average salary: $40,487
Working with chocolate for a living? Where can I sign up? A chocolatier is a professional chef who specializes in making amazing chocolates.
Though the typical salary for a confectioner may not seem as sweet as what some other fun jobs pay, the field's top earners make in the neighborhood of $50,000, says the Economic Research Institute.
4. Supercar driving instructor
Salary: Up to $120,000
If you love an adrenaline rush, you can’t get much better than a career as a driving instructor for "supercars” like Ferraris. Owners pay experts to teach them how to drive their luxury, high-performance cars in the best (and baddest) way possible.
Pay information is difficult to track, though a former NASCAR driver turned Ferrari instructor once indicated he earned up to $120,000 per year.
3. Food critic
Average salary: $79,108
This job gets five stars if you love to eat (who doesn't?), love to write and love to share your opinions.
While the average salary is around $79,000 a year, senior food critics with at least eight years' experience average about $98,000, says the Economic Research Institute.
2. Professional video gamer
Pay: Up to $15,000 an hour
Yes, it is possible to play video games for a living. Professional gamers play in front of audiences on video platforms including YouTube and Twitch.tv, plus they participate in eSports competitions.
If you've got the chops, the money can be insane. Top gamers earn as much as $15,000 per hour, reports The Hollywood Reporter.
1. Voice actor
Average salary: $91,196
Voiceover artists bring cartoon characters to life, narrate audio books and record voice tracks for commercials. Many voice actors do the work from the comfort of their own home studios.
As with all acting careers, you must audition for gigs, and higher pay comes with experience. The pay can be very, very good, averaging around $91,000 per year, with top salaries reaching $223,500, says ZipRecruiter.
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