Unconventional Career Options: Taking the Offbeat Track

By Nidhi Mardi

Edited by Michelle Cherian, Associate Editor, The Indian Economist

We are born in a society with a constricted mindset regarding career preferences. By the time the standard Indian student climbs the rope of the Indian educational circus, he is posed with the age old question that perhaps every average Indian student faces, ‘med ki non-med?’ and that’s that. No further questioning. Before he knows it, he has already entered the mad race for IITs and AIIMs with coaching centers draining the little life that is left in him. Little importance is given to aptitude while courses are decided and mostly college choices are made based on cut-off lists or ranks attained. But haven’t we all, in some part of our lives heard the success stories of those people who chose ‘the road not taken’ and emerged successfully. How many of us actually know that one of the most highly paid jobs is that of an auctioneer!

In 2004 itself the auctioning market grew ten folds in India and expanded to today become a 50 billion dollar market. Talking about a cricket crazy nation, how many of us actually aspire to become a cricket commentator? Seems a little offbeat, but the profession is of paramount importance to give billions of Indians glued to their television sets during an India v/s Pakistan match, their time’s worth. Jim Rome, America’s biggest names in sports commentary, earns an annual income of $30 million! Top earners in India namely Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri earn around a 2000$ per day from broadcasters along with their Rs 1 crore per annum salary from the BCCI. All you need do is to acquire a Bachelor’s degree in mass communication/English/journalism and apply for a contractual internship with BCCI, attain some broadcasting practice and you’re all set to go.

Apart from cricket crazy nation, India also happens to be a food obsessed nation, where a multibillion dollar food industry is thriving solely on star ratings and critic reviews. In this scenario a critical job is that of a food critic, where his sole job is to provide thoughtful, unbiased information to people so they can easily make decisions about which restaurants to opt for. All you need is a Bachelors degree in English, communication or a related liberal arts field and a few years of journalism experience and you can apply to be a food critic in India. However, acclaimed food critics take some basic training in culinary skills abroad. While food critics work with magazines and newspapers, CB Salary predicts the annual salary of food critics in U.S.A to range from $51,295 to $93,846 with $65,873 being the average.

If you’re much of a fitness freak, you’ll be happy to know Forbes Magazine rates the job of a physical therapist as the 10th most highly paid job in the U.S job market with annual earnings of about $76,310. Physical Therapy programs are offered as a master’s or doctoral degree from accredited physical therapy programs. You also need to complete your undergraduate baccalaureate accredited degree. However to professionally work you need to pass a state-administered national exam. There are fitness experts working in popular gyms in metropolitan cities in India earning more than tech-graduates. Celebrity fitness trainers like Vinod Channa today earn in crores in this multi-billion dollar industry.

There is surely no dearth of interesting career options ranging from lavish wedding planners to DJ’s and sound engineers thriving on the big fat Indian wedding industry. There is also an increasing demand for adventure sports instructors and adventure tour operators in tourism industry. Various openings in the pet-grooming industry for animal lovers, is yet another option worth exploring. Another highly paid job in the global job market is that of an image consultant. Image consultants are professional makeover consultants that advise you on the way you can enhance your look. Here, there is an endless list ranging from sommeliers, tea tasters, to fashion choreographers, dance instructors as well as video jockeying.

Conficius once rightly said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”. The need of the hour is to rise over the age-old ‘engineer or doctor’ mindset and explore some unconventional career paths based solely on students’ aptitude. There is also an increasing need to inculcate more offbeat courses in acclaimed Indian educational institutions to target and prepare students for these careers better. Hence, it is of prime importance to develop quality institutes of higher education, with well- designed course structures so that Indian students are attracted towards lucrative career options that seem less attractive presently. Steve Jobs once rightly said, “You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and only way to be truly happy is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do”.

Nidhi is currently pursuing Economics in Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi University. She has a keen interest in global economic affairs. An avid reader, she loves writing on various topical issues in economics, politics and international affairs. She loves travelling and considers herself much of a movie buff.