12 Jobs Where You Play All Day
fitAs much as we may dream about it, no job is 100 percent fun and games. There are, however, a number of well-paying, respectable careers out there that have a particular knack for “play” -- literally and figuratively.
While many of the jobs we’ve classified as playful are still demanding and certainly involve elements that are less than entertaining, hands-on fun is an essential part of their job description. We picked jobs across a variety of fields, each with its own unique aspect of play, and all of which provide a decent salary with opportunities for career growth. All salary data was reported by PayScale.
Here are our favorite play-all-day jobs we bet you’ll want to change careers for:
Photo Credit: Jeffery Lo in rehearsal directing the play, "The Drunken City" for the Renegade Theatre Experiment with actors Max Tachis and Hannah Larson (Photo taken by Tasi Alabastro)
- Degree Level: Bachelor's degree (theater, film and media, English)
- Median Annual Salary: $52,381
Jobs in the entertainment industry are sure to entertain. Whether in film or theater, the casting director's job is full of "play" -- literally. For example, the casting director at a theater company often helps to manage the production of plays year-round, in addition to casting and working with the actors. While some of the job typically involves being in front of a computer and working on budgets, there is a good amount of fun to be had when it comes to casting the plays.
"Watching talented people share their creativity and artistry never gets old for me," says Jeffery Lo, Casting Associate and Company Manager at TheaterWorks Silicon Valley. His favorite part of the job is reading the scripts and getting to watch actors bring each role to life in a unique way.
Photo Credit: Alex Spieller at the People's Choice Awards with Bellamy Young from Scandal
- Degree Level: Bachelor's degree (public relations, journalism, communications, English)
- Median Annual Salary: $43,480
Hanging out with celebrities and talking gossip may not be "play" for everyone, but if you're a social butterfly who loves pop culture, this could be right up your alley. Celebrity publicists are responsible for the media and public relations for anyone in the limelight, whether it's a musician, actor, or the crazy girl from the fourth season of "The Bachelor," clients need help to maintain their public image. Publicists tend to be married to their jobs, working long and odd hours, putting out fires left and right. Press junkets, red carpet events, social media account management, press releases, public appearances, coffee dates and general personal assistance all could fall under the responsibility of the publicist.
Photo Credit: Bassist Adam Lowdermilk with his band Kuckaw at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco
- Degree Level: High school diploma or equivalent (BLS recommends a bachelor's degree in music performance or theory)
- Median Annual Salary: $36,283
With the advent of the Internet and other new technologies, it's a very interesting time to be in the music industry. There are so many ways to make a successful career playing music, whether it's starting your own band, writing songs for other people, or working as a studio musician. But, like any skilled trade, being a professional musician takes an incredible amount of ambition, hard work and talent. It also makes a big difference if you know people in the business -- networking is important for any career in the entertainment industry.
Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Mary Tamagno -- @marydangerous
- Degree Level: Postsecondary non-degree award (state license)
- Median Annual Salary: $29,065
If you like to play with hair, this job could be a lot of fun. Hair stylists and barbers provide beauty services for clients, including washing, drying, styling and coloring. They also may be responsible for keeping a clean and sanitary work station, taking inventory, and ordering supplies. While rates for these services tend to vary greatly, cosmetology has the potential to be a high-paying industry if you live in a large metro area, have the right skillset, and can network to build a loyal client base. And those who have a lot of experience or a background in business management could even start their own business.
Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Alejandro Herrera -- @theshakl
- Degree Level: Bachelor's degree (film and media, broadcasting)
- Median Annual Salary: $44,854
Some pretty interesting new jobs have been spawned by the birth of the Internet, from social media analyst to Google expert. Companies may even have entire departments dedicated to browsing the Internet all day. One such career gem can be loosely described as "Media Associate," and is comprised of looking for and creating fun and trendy content to post online.
Alejandro Herrera, a film major and media associate at Sawdust Films, says that his job never feels like work. "I pretty much get paid to watch movies and TV to create two-minute viral content from it over at Sawdust Films," he says. "Everything, from post-production to answering comments after releasing a video, is 'play' to me."
Pediatric Physical Therapist
Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Shadé Shelton and Kristen Brabant
- Degree Level: Doctoral or professional degree (Doctor of Physical Therapy)
- Median Annual Salary: $62,687
Possibly the strongest pick on our list in terms of salary, job growth and piles of educational requirements, pediatric physical therapists get to play with kids all day while making a killer salary. "Pediatric PT (physical therapy) and OT (occupational therapy) is literally play time," says Kristen Brabant, a recent graduate of Chapman University in California. "The goals of therapy are to allow children with mobility dysfunction play in a safer way. It can be a lot of fun at times."
Unlike many of the jobs on this list, a pediatric PT has a clear educational path that requires a doctoral or professional degree and a state license to practice as a medical professional. But with 36 percent job growth from 2012-2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the investment could be well worth it. PTs often work with kids who have disabilities, or help kids rehabilitate from an injury or illness that's affected their mobility and/or motor skills.
Photo Credit: Instructor Ashley Corlis with a yoga class on the beach in Los Angeles -- @ashleycorlisyoga
- Degree Level: High school diploma or equivalent (BLS recommends an associate or bachelor's degree in fitness or kinesiology)
- Median Annual Salary: $34,817
There are many types of fitness instructors, and most tend to lead healthy lifestyles while getting to socialize with people all day. This could be a great recipe for a fun and happy career. Yoga instructors in particular may also specialize as life coaches, helping clients to recover from physical or emotional trauma. Their job responsibilities may include leading classes, planning events, mentoring, and staying involved with the community. Yoga and other fitness instructors are also constantly learning new techniques and improving upon their practice.
Photo Credit: Cartoonist Mike Gray sketching characters for a kid's game -- @pencilforhire
- Degree Level: Bachelor's degree (BLS also recommends earning a Master of Fine Arts)
- Median Annual Salary: $60,301
There are a number of different industries that require an art director, including film, theater, graphic design, video games and more. The art director is usually the head of the art department in a larger company, and typically helps manage large, collaborative projects. The degree of "fun" in this job depends largely on the team you're working with and the project you're working on. Art directors work closely with their team to concept ideas, sketch out storyboards or comps, develop style guides, manage freelance workers, manage clients, plan out the budget, and more.
Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Education.com -- @education_com
- Degree Level: Bachelor's degree (English, journalism, writing)
- Median Annual Salary: $50,000
This is a widespread job title that has a lot of potential for play, depending on what type of content you're editing. To editors who work on magazines, children's books, workbooks or popular websites like BuzzFeed, the job could be largely play time. For example, workbook editors may create everything from coloring pages to critical thinking quizzes, and may spend much of their time testing out cut-and-paste projects or reviewing toys and kid products. And Web editors for pop culture publications may be responsible for anything from browsing Facebook to finding 27 examples of the perfect man-bun.
Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Jesse Chun -- @chunner10
- Degree Level: High school diploma or equivalent (some licensing or certification may be required)
- Median Salary: $12.62 hourly
Part babysitter and part extreme sports professional, snowboard and ski instructors have a very unique set of conditions that allow for endless fun during work hours. But like every job, this one takes a ton of hard work, patience and specialized skills. Instructors need some amount of wilderness and survival skills in case of an emergency, and they're responsible for the safety of their group. It also helps if they know how to work with many different personality types, including fussy kids and fussy adults. But at the end of the day, this job is all about play. Whether out on the bunny slopes helping 4-year-olds figure out skis for the first time, or shredding down black diamonds with more advanced students, the instructors in this field get to do what they love every day.
Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Dan Byers, a dog walker in San Francisco -- @slymongoose
- Degree Level: High school diploma or equivalent
- Median Annual Salary (2014): $32,500
Here's another job that requires a specialized skill set, as well as a ton of patience and experience. Dog walkers will spend lots of time literally playing with the dogs, exercising them, going on hikes, and exploring new parts of the city. And if you work in a big city, where many of the dogs live in cramped apartments, demand and wages will probably be quite high. Dog walkers' experience and ability to work with dogs on behavioral issues will increase the value of their services; many will choose to specialize in certain types of training or types of breeds. They may do private sessions with individual dogs, or take the dogs out for walks in a big group. Once you build a good client base and gain some experience, you could even start your own dog-walking business.
Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Sarah Johnson -- @sarah.mjay
- Degree Level: Bachelor's degree (education, early childhood education)
- Median Annual Salary (2014): $38,650
Many kindergarten teachers will probably laugh at the thought of their job being classified as "play." Teaching in general is one of the most demanding (and probably under-appreciated) professions out there. But because it involves a literal level of play that most jobs don't, it made our list. In particular, kindergarten teachers will use structured playtime as a form of teaching. All the foundations and stepping stones for learning are made to be fun and engaging in many different ways, for example singing songs, pretend play, coloring and more. A kindergarten teacher's job is to make sure the kids go home and not realize they've been learning all day.
"I definitely have a lot of fun teaching but it's rough out there. Like herding cats," says Sarah Johnson, who has taught kindergarten for Cayucos Elementary School in California. "I would say that even though kinder is very fun and we get to play... in my opinion, kindergarten is probably the hardest grade to teach." But like most jobs, it is often the hard work and dedication that makes it so rewarding in the end.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/
- Salary Data & Career Research Center, PayScale, http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Country=United_States/Salary
- Interview with Jeffery Lo, July 29, 2015
- Interview with Alejandro Herrera, July 29, 2015
- Interview with Kristen Brabant, July 29, 2015
- Interview with Sarah Johnson, September 4, 2015