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Jobs you wish you had?

August 20, 2007 12:56 IST

At a dinner party, you've got to go around the table and ask the obligatory questions: What's your name? What do you do?

Accountant--boring. Broker--typical. Professional videogame player--this guy has got to be kidding me. How cool! Why can't I do that?

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Yes, there are those jobs out there in the workforce that many people would rather be doing, especially if it involves games, sports or lingerie models. Most of us would settle for anything that doesn't include gray walls and a cube.

However, nothing is what it seems. Take a professional gamer or videogame designer for example. While the compensation is outstanding considering the nature of the job, it's all-consuming, and there are no guaranteed checks every two weeks.

As a professional gamer, if you're not the best, you don't get paid. It's all about competition and endorsement deals. Typically, this profession (who would've ever expected it to be a real job?) is reserved for a younger demographic.

For one, it's the younger generation that grew up playing Nintendo, unlike their parents, who were just excited to get a color TV in their house as a kid. Excluding prize money from major events, a pro gamer could earn as much $70,000 to $100,000 a year. According to PayScale.com, a games designer earns an estimated $70,000, settling for a more consistent job than the guy who just plays them for a living.

Ready to quit your day job yet?

Picture this: It's hurricane season, and a cruise ship gets bombarded by a storm on the Atlantic Ocean. There are 1,200 crew members, who hail from 47 different countries, trying to corral and communicate with the 3,600 vacationers aboard this rocky vessel.

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With every modern instrument and decades of experience at the captain's disposal, the ship braves the storm without incident. Sure, a dozen passengers complain, but about nothing of consequence.

Just another day at the office for Captain Salvatore Rassello.

"When you are a leader, the higher you are, the more wind you get," Rassello said, recalling the words of a mentor, and by which he now commands. "It's true. When it comes to a decision that involves the risk of human lives, then it's important for me to be right."

Rassello--who was born on the island of Procida off the shore of Naples, Italy--talked to Forbes.com via phone while midway through skippering a seven-day Caribbean Cruise.

He explained that being the captain of a ship is as much a science as it is a test in communication. Rassello, 52, has been a captain for Carnival Cruise Lines since 1996, moving up the ranks since joining the sea-faring staff in 1983. He had ventured all around the world at sea as a cargo-ship captain, but now serves as master of the 110,000-ton Carnival Glory out of Port Canaveral, Florida, one of 22 ships in the Carnival fleet.

As one might expect, the job pays well. Carnival wouldn't share specific salary information, but did explain that the captains operate on contracts that include four months at sea and two months off on a rotating basis.

Joe Cox, president of the Chamber of Shipping of America, a lobbying group for commercial shipping, said these cruise-liner captains could earn an estimated $250,000 a year. That, of course, varies by company and contract.

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But he said that number isn't so unusual considering the amount of responsibility involved, including the constant safe passage of thousands of human beings. "These guys are not only well educated, but to get up there, they spent a considerable amount of time at sea," Cox said. "Think about it. They're the managers of a considerable asset for a company."

Then there's the guy who stares at models through a camera lens half the day and gets paid about $2,000. That's J. Edward Hall, a Chicago-based fashion and glamour photographer. Hall has been in the business 10 years, capturing still images of some of the most beautiful women on the planet on location throughout the world. Easy, right? Hardly.

Hall said it's an arduous and super-stressful process, and definitely a labor of love. A decade in, he's fully immersed in the business, with great connections and endless opportunities. It's not exactly a cake walk though. Every shoot is like planning a major motion picture, from location to stylist, equipment to permits.

He said if you don't love it, get out.

So you see, it's not that simple--not for a gamer, a photographer, a greeting card writer, a weatherman, a cruise-ship captain or for the road crew of a major rock band. These are the types of jobs that, as cool as they sound, have their drawbacks, too. Whether it's an issue of pay or having to sacrifice a personal life to succeed, it makes the desk job not seem so bad.

Just love what you do. Now get back to work.

Matthew Kirdahy, Forbes