Used to be choosing a career was like picking wallpaper for your living room. Once you got it up you were expected live with it, whether you liked it or not. Since it was such a hassle to take it down it was just easier to endure it.

But that not’s necessarily the case anymore. Unlike our parents’ generation people are not expected to stay in the same career for 40 years. Which is good, because it means we get to reinvent ourselves more than once throughout our lifetimes. And if that’s the case, why not consider jobs that are not only lucrative, but also fun to do? After all, if you’re going to spend one third of your life working, you might as well enjoy it.

Taking into consideration salary, job duties, benefits, lifestyle, required education, and job security, four careers rise to the top. These are not necessarily the highest paying jobs, but rather the best paying jobs given that you’re paid to do fun stuff. Of course, it depends on your interests, so I’ve whittled them down to four broad job types: athletic, technical, tactile, and artistic. You decide which category in which you fall.

  1. Athletic: Park Ranger

  2. If you like exercising and a steady stream of fresh air, then sitting in an office all day is akin to being in prison. In which case, you need a career that allows you to move around in the great outdoors. Granted, there are plenty of jobs that get you outside, however, they typically require either a lot of college education resulting in high pay (i.e., environmental engineer, marine biologist, zoologist) or little education resulting in low pay (i.e., river guide, ski instructor, farmer).

    The one career that strikes a nice balance is park ranger. Typically, park rangers work for the state or federal government, so the benefits are good, the salaries are competitive, and their jobs are fairly secure. And even though a college degree is not required, it does give you a leg up.

    Salary range:

    $42K starting; up to $60K for supervisors

    Education that helps:

  3. Technical: Video Game Designer

  4. What could be more fun than sitting around with like-minded propeller heads thinking up new ways for people to kill time? A video game designer is the ultimate dream job for any left-brained computer enthusiast who has a knack for storytelling. Yes, you heard that right. Video game companies don’t want people who just write software, they’re also on the hunt for folks who can create a quest in which a player can lose him- or herself.

    And even though your basic IT geek stands to make more money, a video game programmer has way more fun on the job. Benefits are decent (depending on who you work for) and job security is moderate (there are a lot of gaming companies looking for new people). Plus, your chances of getting in on the ground level of a successful start-up are pretty good.

    Starting pay:

    $35K; average pay: $46K,

    top pay

    (after at least five years experience): $70K

    Education that helps:

  5. Sensory (or Tactile): Chocolatier

  6. Actually, any gourmet candy maker does pretty well, but the people in this industry who are kings are the chocolatiers. Traditionally respected in Europe, the fine art of creating good chocolate is now being more widely appreciated in North America. Why? Because in a down economy little luxuries such as chocolates (even expensive ones) are still affordable and therefore do well economically.

    Like any form of culinary art the chocolatier has to have a fine sense of taste, vision, smell, and touch to make to make the perfect candy (in other words, it has to look just as good as it tastes). Spin-off careers for a chocolatier include being a dessert chef at a fancy restaurant, or working for a high-end caterer. And of course, you can always start your own business, which has plenty of earning potential.

    Pay range

    : $80K to $100K if you get hired on at a company like Godiva or Ghiradelli.

    Starting salary in your own business:

    About $25K the first year.

    Education that helps:

  7. Artistic: Graphic Designer

  8. As I’ve touted in some of my other career advice blogs, a career in graphic design is quite popular right now. Combining both sides of the brain a graphic designer has to be both technical and artistic in order to be successful. As an artist it’s the most lucrative and productive way to make a living. You just have to learn to create your art with a light pen or mouse instead of a traditional writing utensil.

    Average salary:

    $50K;

    starting pay:

    around $32K

    Education that helps:

Because technology changes so fast, new businesses are constantly emerging, dying, or evolving. The ripple effect technology has on just about every industry makes it hard for anyone to have the same job for 40 years. But that’s a good thing, because variety is the spice of life – even when it comes to your career.

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