What's in the perfect job? Money, of course, matters, but it isn't the only measure of an awe-inspiring career. Creative opportunities, healthy interaction, a good challenge from time to time, and other intangible rewards all count, too. FastCompany.com brings you ten jobs that have all these qualities in spades.
Appealing to the Senses
What gives your favorite foods their special taste? It's the flavorist's job to figure out the precise combination of chemicals. Flavorists' creations most often mimic naturally occurring flavors while adding sharpness and robustness, though they create novel flavors as well, particularly for new candies and beverages. Whether the flavors are old or new, flavorists must ensure that their creations endure once they go into a particular food or drink. They often face special challenges, like striving for flavors that avoid triggering certain allergies, even if they taste like the allergens.
More From Fast Company:
• Slideshow: Ten Jobs You Didn't Know You Wanted
• Slideshow: Jobs for Your Inner Child
• Slideshow: The Top 8 Jobs of 2008
Creating flavors isn't all chemistry. It also involves a fair share of art, as different chemical combinations can produce the same flavor. Because of this intricacy, flavorists spend seven years in apprenticeship before they gain seniority. Once they have enough experience, they can make subtle manipulations in chemical formulas to produce unique versions of even common flavors such as vanilla.
Additionally, the scientific understanding behind the flavorist's art continues to develop. Chemists still have an incomplete understanding of the factors that separate taste from odor. "It's an exciting area, a challenging and interesting field," says Gary Takeoka, a research chemist at the Western Regional Research Center of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, who has also worked for Nabisco.
Combined with the steady demand for innovation in the food industry, such ambiguities offer exciting possibilities for new flavorists. Those entering the field will also enjoy a comfortable salary. Most flavorists earn $58,000-$76,000 a year, according to estimates from the Occupational Outlook Handbook.
Brewmasters, or head brewers, manage the daily operations of beer breweries, including ordering raw ingredients for brewing and planning the brewing schedule. They participate in the actual beer-making process as well, ensuring that each step transitions smoothly to the next. Doing so requires a combination of management skill and heavy physical labor, including shoveling the raw grain out of containers to prepare beer for fermentation. Even the labor presents opportunity for innovation, however. Brewmasters often play a direct part in the brewing process, in order to test new varieties of beer.
Brewmasters' passion for the job allows them to build strong relationships, even across competing breweries. "There is a very strong sense of camaraderie among brewers in the country," says Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association. "There's very much a sharing of information, a sharing of resources." And brewers can bring home the fruits of their labor to partake and share with their drinking buddies.
According to surveys of head brewers at packaging breweries and brewpubs conducted by the Brewers Association, brewmasters make $41,000-$76,000 a year. The pay level usually increases with the size of the brewery.
As brand strategy has grown increasingly sophisticated, it has expanded well beyond the visual. Using similar skill sets as interior designers and architects, sensory branders help companies incorporate the other underappreciated but powerful senses into their brands. They encourage clients to consider even minute features such as the sound of a car door closing or the grip of a bottle opener.
"Often when you suggest the idea of sensory branding to a company, they look at you like you're crazy sometimes," says Peter Dixon, creative director of Lippincott, a New York branding agency. "But they already have a scent -- they just haven't paid attention to it yet." Sensory branders are steadily curbing this lack of attention, however; in Asia, several agencies solely dedicated to multi-sensory branding can be found.
Sensory branders beauty must understand customers' perceptions. They research how different groups react to particular sensory triggers, such as the combination of scent and color. This research often involves travel for insight into international cultures. For Dixon, however, the biggest perk comes from the innovative nature of the field. "It's a very fun thing to do because it's such a novel idea right now," he says.
Sensory branders make similar salaries to their peers in other areas of marketing management. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, they can expect $51,000-$92,000 a year.
Enhancing Life and the Bottom Line
Reducing contributions to greenhouse gas emissions, or the carbon footprint, is one huge step toward sustainability, but few guidelines exist for how companies gunning to be green should proceed. Carbon coaches offer this essential information. In addition to calculating carbon footprints and offering advice for offsetting them, carbon coaches help companies fit sustainability into their overall mission. Their services range from providing branding strategy for "green" product launches to advising companies on their relationships with NGOs.
Already prevalent in Europe, carbon consulting is steadily catching on stateside. "Getting corporate culture to change is challenging and frustrating, but companies are really starting to change," says Michael Gillenwater, Dean of GHG Management Institute. "It's enormously exciting." The quickly changing nature of the field and the frequent opportunities to compare notes with colleagues worldwide only adds to the excitement.
Most carbon coaches work at consulting firms, where they command salaries ranging from $40,000 to $60,000 for entry-level positions and $60,000 to $100,000 for mid-level positions, according to Gillenwater. Non-profit organization salaries aren't as high; an entry-level carbon coach with a master's degree can expect a salary of $30,000 to $50,000.