7 Unusual Career Books

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Anna Gooding-Call

Staff Writer

Anna Gooding-Call is a librarian and writer originally from rural central New York. She got her BA in the city that inspired "The Twilight Zone" and confirms that the hitchhikers really are weird there. Today, she lives in Massachusetts with her wife and two cats.

The pandemic has reshuffled a lot of decks. Jobs that used to seem stable are now less available or appealing. If you’re contemplating a career shift, you’re not alone. While you’re at it, who says you have to be stuck in an office or a driver’s seat for the next 40 years? As long as you’re reassessing, think outside the cubicle. Take a look at these unusual career books and expand those options.

These are by no means the only unusual careers you could corner. There are books on every type of offbeat job out there, from air traffic controllers to wildlife management specialists. However, for this particular list, I’ve specifically chosen books that are available, accessible, and inexpensive. Who needs to go out on a limb for a $60 textbook for a subject you might end up scrapping? Also, I found a lot of scammy stuff while doing the research for this piece. If you go further afield to look for unusual career books, beware of smooth talkers and slick salespeople.

Make Money As A Ghostwriter: How to Level Up Your Freelance Writing Business and Land Clients You Love by Sally Miller and Cruz Santana

Many people want to be authors, but most of them also don’t want to write a book. That’s where Miller and Santana come in! Their book is sharp, funny, and very handy for anyone who can put two words together. If you’ve already done a little freelance work, then this is a good way to enter an eternally interesting business. If not, then it’s still a worthwhile roadmap to a niche that you might find enjoyable. Plus, imagine the secret thrill you’ll get when you see a book you wrote appear on bookstore shelves. Stealth writer!

There’s Money Where Your Mouth Is: A Complete Insider’s Guide to Earning Income and Building a Career in Voice-Overs by Elaine A. Clark

As the multimedia world expands, it requires more voices to narrate it. From audiobooks to video games to commercials, there’s an enormous need for voice-over specialists, and it just so happens that you have a lovely voice! (I assume.) Anyway, this book will guide you in all the mysteries of voice-over work, from getting an agent to controlling your breath to vocal warm-up exercises.

All You Need to Know About the Music Business by Donald S. Passman

Yeah, join a band! Actually, it’s entirely possible to make money as a musician. Like any other creative enterprise, it takes a heckin’ ton of work. There are also a lot of legal pitfalls you’ll have to avoid. Passman is a lawyer who’s been working in the music industry for a long time. He’ll prepare you for contracts, agents, streaming, copyright, unions, and the other stuff that you need to know that doesn’t fall under the category of “practice makes perfect.”

Career Diplomacy: Life and Work in the US Foreign Service by Harry W. Kopp and John K. Naland

Foreign Servicepeople come from somewhere, and that might be your own living room. If you like to travel, enjoy yourself some bilinguality, and don’t mind a little paper-pushing, then there may be an entrance exam with your name on it. This book will explain the whole bureau from soup to nuts, including some of the bigger nuts you’d have to watch out for. My own understanding of this type of career suggests that it’s ideal for people who care about making the world a better place.

Careers in Interior Design by Nancy Asay and Marciann Patton

There are a few different ways that you can make money spiffying up other people’s houses, and the digital age has made that an increasingly valuable skill. (Let’s face it: all those influencers aren’t making their living rooms perfect by themselves.) If you’re looking for an unusual career that lets you spend a lot of time picking out curtains, then this book is a good first stop.

The Ultimate Concept Art Career Guide by 3DTotal Publishing 

Concept art is to art like speculative fiction is to literature: detailed, well-realized worlds crafted entirely from the imagination. If you’re a good artist, it can be a great way to make a living. This book advises you on portfolios and other stuff you’ll need to start out, but also delivers advice from a range of concept art professionals. Just think: the next Magic: the Gathering card you play might be your own design!

Expert to Influences: How To Position Yourself For Meaningful Impact by Divya Parekh

There are resources out there about how to monetize an influencer career. Figuring out the route to money is easy…but the journey is a lot of work! Enter Divya Parekh. This book advises you on how to take something you care and know a lot about and become a trusted source of content on social media. Be warned: this isn’t a fast guide to quick money. Instead, it’s a solid strategy guide to an unusual career that’s harder than it looks on Instagram.

Maybe what you really want is a book person job. Book Riot has a list of those ready for you to peruse! If all this job talk has your blood pressure up, take a minute and do a little self-care reading. You’re worth it!