Oct 23

10 Scary ways to make money

You don’t need Halloween to know that there are many scary ways to make money out there.

Some are obvious: bomb disposal expert, steeplejack and any armed forces.

But others are not so clear. Did you know that more people are afraid of public speaking than they are of cancer? And what about being a professional mourner? So long as you’re not spooked by graveyards you’re OK, but it’s not for everyone!

Here’s our round-up of 10 scary ways to make money.


top of the scary ways to make money: Bomb disposal expert

Bomb disposal expert

There’s no denying that bomb defusal makes for great edge-of-the-seat entertainment. I mean, when did you last watch an action film that didn’t have the classic ticking time bomb, red-wire-or-green-wire scenario forming part of its climatic scenes?

However, being a real life bomb disposal expert is hardly as glamorous as Hollywood makes it out to be. Heroic, for sure. But that whole process of choosing the right wire on gut feel? Not by a long shot!

Kim Hughes – a British Warrant Officer who diffused no less than seven Taliban bombs with his bare hands in a single day – recently shared a few truths about his profession with The Telegraph, highlighting the fact that following the Standard Operating Procedure is central to your and everyone else’s safety.

He also said that, while you may have disposed of hundreds of bombs successfully, you never know which will be the one that blows you up. Not a fun KPI to have in your job description.

In the private sector you can earn up to £60,000 a year in the UK and £100,000 outside the UK.


Professional mourner

Someone standing by a coffin holding a rose

Oddly enough, there’s already a market here for professional mourners in the UK. Rent a Mourner, based in Essex, have full-time staff who all attend the funerals of strangers for different reasons. Ian Robertson from Rent a Mourner explains that while the idea might seem unfamiliar to the British, it is an idea that people are willing to consider.

What’s so scary about all of this, though, you may wonder?

Well, it could be terrifying for people who:

  • have social anxiety – a great deal of social skill is required to be a professional mourner, with the role not simply a case of ‘making up the numbers’. It’s essential to be able to engage with fellow mourners and be part of the occasion. If you get anxious making small talk, this is certainly not for you.
  • suffer from necrophobia or thanatophobia – at a funeral you’ll obviously be confronted with mortality – your own and that of others. If you’re afraid of either dead/dying people (necrophobia) or the thought of your own death (thanatophobia), this job will leave you a wreck.
  • suffer from tristophobia aka the fear of sorrow or sadness.

However, if you’re comfortable in your skin and don’t have any particular phobias related to your own or anyone else’s transience or tears, you could expect to earn between £60 and £90 a day.

Find out more by reading our article about making money as a professional mourner.


Armed forces, police, firefighters, paramedic

Police officer

At one point or another, every child dreams about growing up to be the ‘good guy’: a policeman, a firefighter, a paramedic or a soldier normally being the professions that best suit this bill.

And it’s easy to understand why – these are the people who save lives, fight for justice and keep things orderly on a daily basis.

However, each of these jobs also has a serious dark side: long hours, too-close-for-comfort interactions with criminals of all cadres, natural disasters, dark nights, blood, bullets, fire and high expectations from others, just to mention a few.

If all of this sounds more exciting than it does scary, you may be the perfect person for the job. Here’s a round-up of the type of annual salary you can expect from each, according to Prospects:

  • Police officer – between £19,383 and £22,962
  • Firefighter – between £22,017 and £29,345
  • Paramedic – between £26,302 and £35,225
  • Armed forces – you’ll start off with about £25,984


Public speaker


Known as glossophobia, the fear of speaking in public can be a real stumbling block for anyone with hopes of following one of these careers:

  • Teacher
  • Professor
  • News anchor
  • Actor
  • Politician
  • Motivational speaker
  • Advocate
  • Judge
  • Sports referees
  • Auctioneer

But if you’ve got the guts to stand in front of countless people and say what you’ve got to say, one of these could be the career for you!



Steeplejack fixing window on skyscraper

Never heard of the term before? Well, steeplejacks are the brave fellows who scale buildings, chimneys and church spires to carry out repairs and do general maintenance work.

In order to do their jobs, steeplejacks are often required to confidently construct and navigate scaffolding dozens of metres above the ground and dangle precariously from abseil ropes, bosun’s chairs or access cradles.

Daily tasks of steeplejacks may include:

  • painting jobs
  • installing lightning conductors
  • repairing or demolishing old chimneys
  • fitting aircraft warning lights onto skyscrapers
  • repairing roof glass

While all of this may sound thrilling to some, it would be an absolute nightmare for anyone with even an inkling of acrophobia.

If you fall (maybe wrong word choice!) into the former group and want to give steeplejacking a bash, you can expect to earn between £15,000 and £26,000 a year.


Calf of man warden

Lonely figure in northern UK

Does the thought of living on an uninhabited island for a full nine months, with only one other person (with who knows what quirks) and a whole lot of birds keeping you company, scare you?

Well, then, we strongly advise against applying for either of the following roles advertised by the Manx Wildlife Trust for the Calf of Man:

  • Ornithological Warden: the principle responsibility of the bird warden is to maintain the bird observatory operations on the site, including all netting, trapping and ringing, as well as recording and information dissemination.
  • Estate Warden: the principle responsibility of the estate warden is to carry out the habitat and estate management and maintenance of the Calf.

Additionally, both roles need to help one another with their tasks, where necessary.

The appointments stretch over 36 weeks between March and November each year and offer a salary of £15,288 p/a pro-rata per position.

Not too bad if you don’t suffer from ornithophobia, autophobia, insulaphobia or even anthropophobia. Keep an eye on the Wildlife Trusts website to see when the job listing for 2018 will appear!


Crime scene cleaner

Crime scene with bloody sponge and washing up liquid

Just about as grizzly as it gets, crime scene cleaners are routinely called in to deal with the sorts of messes the rest of us don’t even want to think about.

While it may seem as simple as arriving with a mop and bucket to scrub away a few unsightly stains, the job is actually incredibly technical, requiring skills as diverse as the safe removal of bio-hazardous material, assisting in trauma counselling of survivors/family members/witnesses and knowing the rules of police investigations inside out.

If blood, guts, awful smells and being on call at unexpected hours doesn’t scare you – but the thought of wearing a police uniform daily puts you off – this might just be for you. Salaries range from £26,000 to £60,000 a year.


Snake handler

Snake handler

Even though these slithery reptiles are hardly a commonplace occurrence around here, snakes still have the ability to inspire an almost primal fear in many of us. But not all of us.

Although it may seem unbelievable that there are actual people out there who don’t suffer from ophidiophobia, the proof is in the many hundreds of snake handlers and keepers enjoying every moment of their jobs at zoos, parks and reptile shows out there.

Depending on where you work and the type of danger you put yourself in daily, snake handlers can earn a salary of anything between £16,000 and £30,000 a year. Possibly even more.

Curious about being a snake handler? Read ‘A week in the life of a snake keeper‘ on the Chester Zoo blog.



Bee keeper

Apart from the obvious fear of being stung by a hundred buzzing insects all at once, beekeeping could also prove to be a challenge for another surprising reason: trypophobia.

People who suffer from this phobia have an acute aversion to the sight of small holes or bumps all clustered together. Now, can you image what peering into a beehive daily will do to them?

Nonetheless, it could prove to be a rather lucrative pastime, as beekeepers have been known to earn up to £30,000 a year.


Deep sea saturation diver

Deep sea diver

Saturation divers are highly skilled artisans who can work up to 2,000 feet below the surface of the ocean. Their jobs mostly revolve around the intervention, installation and decommissioning of oil tankers.

Before descending into the ocean depths, divers spend up to a month in a pressurised chambers at the surface to prepare their bodies for the shock.

All in all, a pretty uncomfortable profession, but with earnings ranging between £120 and £1,000 a day, we can see why people will put themselves through the trauma.



Sales person struggling to make a sale

Compared to almost all the jobs listed above, being a salesperson hardly seems scary, now does it?

Yet having to convince strangers to buy products can only be a nightmare for anyone with a severe fear of rejection or who suffers from social anxiety.

But maybe after reading about all the other scary jobs, you might just feel more confident to give this one a go – after all, it could be worse!


Now, tell us – what job/s would you add to the list?

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