Work hard, play hard: 10 most fun jobs that pay well

most fun jobs that pay well
Vicky Lau is the only female chef in Asia with a double Michelin star for her work at her restaurant Tate Dining Room. For Lau, she's not just working one of the most fun jobs in the world in her culinary creations that combine French and Chinese cuisine, but also being a role model to young girls aspiring to break into a male-dominated field as well. Source: AFP

If you think the most fun jobs that pay well don’t exist, you’re not alone.

We spend half our life at work — an average of around 90,000 hours over a lifetime — and a lot of us are miserable at it.

We spent years at university learning abstract concepts that don’t seem to be of use in real life then graduate to wake up before dawn, spend hours commuting and go to an office to perform many tasks that only seem to suck the soul out of us.

You feel neither creative nor passionate — and blame yourself for making bad life decisions.

It is no surprise that when it comes to picking a course at university or career, many are drawn to those that pay well.

University was expensive, as seems to be everything else you like, from lattes to that holiday in Europe you’ve always dreamed about.

The thing is, while it is useful, money isn’t everything. In fact, those with business degrees that landed them US$100,000 jobs right after graduating dread going to work (which can be round the clock) every day.

Most fun jobs that pay well understand we are all humans

The earliest humans did not sit at a desk all day crunching numbers — and while things have changed a lot since, that urge to feel excited and fulfilled remains.

The notion of a typical 9-to-5 grind is increasingly undesirable. More are yearning for more than just a paycheck.

This can be seen in Gallup’s survey of 2.2 million workers globally since 2009.

In 2023, workers reported a global high in stress. More than half answered “yes” to the question: “Did you experience the following feelings during A LOT OF THE DAY yesterday? How about stress?”

The are differences between countries. In the US and East Asia, 52% of workers reported stress a lot of the day; the figure in Europe is only 39%.

Young workers reported higher stress as well as those in remote or hybrid roles.

It’s hardly the image of humans feeling alive.

The importance of fun jobs

Another report found about 70% of people who work in offices aren’t happy with what they do.

While older generations have told us to suck it up, there’s growing evidence that it’s important to feel happy and to have fun.

But first, what does “fun” even mean?

We use this word easily but researchers believe “true fun” is when three things happen: you’re playing, you’re connecting and you feel flow.

When you’re doing anything that gives you pleasure, that’s playing. It doesn’t have to be sports and fames.

When you’re sharing an experience with someone, especially if it feels like a special moment, you’re connecting and building stronger ties which help us during stressful times.

And when you feel fully engaged and focused that you lose track of time, that’s when you’re in a state of “flow.”

The combination of all three will lead to different results for each of us. Some may find cooking at a Sikh temple fun, others may find building computers more enjoyable.

The diversity of what the 7.8 billion people in the world find fun is fascinating — and may even inspire us to try them out and add another avenue to feel alive.

Some are even luckier — they have the most fun jobs that pay well in the world today, letting them do what they love while getting paid handsomely.

10 most fun jobs that pay well in 2023

most fun jobs that pay well

Being a video game designer is one of the most fun jobs that pay well. Source: AFP

1. Video game designer

A video game designer creates amazing virtual worlds filled with dragons, alien planets and epic adventures. They design the characters, the landscapes, and even the challenges players face. 

They’re responsible for developing the game’s visual language, including the colour scheme and animation style

Their days are spent sketching out game levels, developing power-ups, or writing storylines that captivate players. 

Then, they get to see their creations come to life, and when players get lost in the worlds they’ve crafted, it’s a truly rewarding feeling. It’s work that can make people laugh, think, and even tear up while fusing creativity, technical skills and storytelling.

Video game designers typically have a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field. Once you secure a job, this role could earn you up to US$94,075 per year.

most fun jobs that pay well

If you are an animal lover, becoming a veterinarian will ensure you have fun while earning well. Source: AFP

2. Veterinarian

Imagine spending your days surrounded by adorable animals, from playful puppies to graceful cats and even some exotic creatures like parrots and turtles. Veterinarians get to do that every day.

They might perform surgery to save a dog’s life or give a kitty a check-up to ensure they’re feeling their best. 

And they get to do all of this knowing this is a job they won’t lose for a while.

The US Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS) projected a 20% steady employment increase in the veterinary industry.

With a reported annual salary of US$123,176, this makes it one of the most fun jobs that pay well today. 

Gravity gym owner and personal trainer Angel wearing a face mask and an acrylic shield trains a client at his gym in Madrid. Source: AFP

3. Personal Trainer

What could be better than helping people transform their lives by getting healthier and fitter every day?

Personal trainers get to work closely with their clients, motivating them to push their limits, whether it’s lifting weights, running faster, or doing those extra crunches.

Not only do they help people reach their physical goals but also become better versions of themselves inside.

What’s more, they get to know clients on a personal level, learning about their lifestyles, preferences, and even their dreams — it’s a special connection.

Pair that with an average salary of US$57,174 per year per year and that makes it one of the most fun jobs that pay well today.

most fun jobs that pay well

Turning your passion for flying into a well-paid journey. Source: AFP

4. Pilot

While it can be stressful, pilots earn a good salary of around US$106,033 per year and often receive benefits such as vacation days and medical insurance. 

Just imagine sitting in the cockpit of an aeroplane, ready to take off and explore the world.

As a pilot, you get to travel to incredible destinations all around the world, from sunny beaches to bustling cities.

As you soar through the clouds, you have a front-row seat to breathtaking views, like flying over mountains, oceans, and even colourful sunsets.

If you love to travel and don’t mind days and weeks away from home, becoming a pilot can be a fun and rewarding job. 

5. Voice Actor

Picture this: you’re in a recording studio, and your voice becomes the character in an animated movie, a video game, or even a TV commercial. You might be a heroic knight battling dragons, a funny cartoon character making kids laugh or the voice behind a catchy advertisement jingle. 

That’s what voice actors do. Many freelance, giving them some flexibility.

They can work from almost anywhere with a microphone and an internet connection, and their voice can reach people all over the world. 

Voice actors also lead a comfortable life, earning around US$66,602 per year.

most fun jobs that pay well

What could be more fun than drinking wine for a living? Source: AFP

6. Sommelier

Sommeliers spend their working hours exploring vineyards and tasting different wines from around the world. What could be better than that?

They explore the flavours and stories behind each bottle and then help people find the perfect wine to pair with their meals. 

A sommelier works in wine stores, wineries and restaurants. Many also get to travel around the world.

But being a sommelier isn’t just about drinking wine; it’s about sharing your passion with others too.

They might work in a fancy restaurant where you suggest the ideal wine to complement a romantic dinner, or they could host wine-tasting events, teaching people about the art of wine appreciation — all while earning a good salary of US$55,855 per year.

most fun jobs that pay well

Chefs get to play with fire, flavours and more in one of the most fun jobs that pay well. Source: AFP

7. Chef

From whipping up creamy pasta dishes to grilling juicy steaks, chefs create masterpieces that make people happy.

They’re playing with fire, liquids, solids, cold, and flavours — all in the name of feeding another person, one of the most ancient human acts of service.

Whether it’s in a fine dining restaurant or from a food truck, it’s a rewarding feeling for all chefs.

The average salary of chefs is US$53,072 per year

most fun jobs that pay well

The career of a brewmaster is one of the most fun jobs that pay well. Source: AFP

8. Brewmaster

For beer fans, a career as a brewmaster is one of the most fun jobs that pay well. Before you get started, you will first need to learn about the beer-making process. 

Brewmasters are responsible for brewing, packaging, and tasting beers to ensure their quality meets industry standards.

You get to experiment with unique ingredients, like adding fruity notes to a pale ale or making a rich, chocolatey stout. It’s like you are a scientist, but instead of chemicals, you’re crafting amazing brews that people love to drink.

With salaries as high as US$$107,954 per year for professionals in renowned breweries, the career of a brewmaster offers both a fun job and a good life.  

9. Food critic

Getting paid around US$75,344 per year to eat delicious meals at fancy restaurants and sharing your thoughts about it — it’s like going on a never-ending food adventure.

Food critics get to taste all sorts of dishes, from sizzling wagyu steaks to the creamiest tiramisu. 

It’s a job that’s best for foodies who love to write as they have to use their creativity with words to tell  people which restaurants serve the best meals.

most fun jobs pay well

Roller coaster engineers have one of the most fun jobs that pay well. Source: AFP

10. Roller coaster engineer

Undoubtedly, being a rollercoaster engineer is one of the most fun jobs out there. You get to design the jaw-dropping roller coasters that make people scream. 

Imagine spending your day sketching out loops that twist and turn and flip riders upside down in the sky. 

And the fun doesn’t stop there. Roller coaster engineers get to test out their creations.

They check if the rides run smoothly while still making people scream. They also get to be the first to ride a roller coaster you designed, zooming through loops and drops.

A mechanical or structural engineering degree is necessary before specialising in this niche area. Though a tedious process, once completed, these engineers can earn around US$81,178 a year