A recent college graduate came to me to figure out what career to pursue, but she yes-butted every career I suggested as too difficult or too much work. Finally, I asked her whether she'd like a job as a Flower Watcher: a person who stares at flowers all day to be sure they're all right. Not realizing I was joking, she lit up.
That reminded me that not everyone is interested in a challenging career. Some would like nothing better than Lil' Abner's profession: mattress tester. Alas, mattresses are tested by machine, but here's a list of real-life slacker careers.
Academic Advisor. Helping college students plan which courses to take isn't exactly taxing. Overtime is rarely required and colleges are only in session 35 weeks out of the year, with plenty of holidays in between. Bonus: Your job is on a college campus, one of the most pleasant work environments. Next step: Visit the National Academic Advisors Association site: www.nacada.ksu.edu
Perfumer. Yes, employers require perfumers to know some chemistry but admit that much of the job is simply trial and error: trying out different combinations of fragrance to create the most pleasing massage oil, soda, perfume, etc. Next step: Visit the American Society of Perfumers site: www.perfumers.org.
Winemaker. Test the grapes in the vineyard. Ferment. Blend. Let the wine sit a spell in some oak or steel. Taste again. Not a bad life. Next step: Read the book, Home Winemaking, Step-by-Step by Jon Iverson.
Inspector. It's much easier to tell people what's wrong than to make sure something's right. I think of those food inspectors who swoop into restaurants and point: "That's not clean enough." Easy for him to say. I can't even keep my home kitchen clean. I can't imagine what it would look like if, seven days a week, I had to cook for 100 at lunch followed by 100 for dinner. Next step: Read the Occupational Outlook Handbook profile of inspector careers: www.bls.gov/search/ooh.asp?qu=inspectors&ct=OOH.
Matchmaker. "Well, Mary, let me ask you a few questions about yourself and your desired mate… Okay, I think I'll set you up with John, Tim, and Richard. Oh, that will be $3,000." Next step: Read the book, Matchbook : The Diary of a Modern-Day Matchmaker by Samantha Daniels.
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Government employee. Of course, many government employees work hard, but it's not impossible to find a job in government in which laziness is tolerated. Next step: Visit www.resume-place.com, a leading advice site on federal employment.
Driver. Sit down, turn the key, drive, maintain attention, turn on the radio when bored, turn off the key. Day is done. Next step: The Occupational Outlook Handbook profiles of driving careers: www.bls.gov/search/ooh.asp?qu=driver&ct=OOH
Toll Collector. Self-explanatory. Next step: Read Toll Collector by Jack Rudman.
Piano tuner. You don't even have to have a good ear. A tuning machine makes it easy.. Plus you're usually working in a peaceful environment and without time pressure. Cush. Next step: Play around at the Piano Technician's Guild site: www.ptg.org.
Food Taster. Coffee might buzz me too much but ice cream manufacturers employ testers. Not bad. Chocolate taster, even better. Next step: Read this article: www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,108182,00.html.
Some people actually make a decent living in the above careers. That's less likely in this next group of jobs, but they might appeal to the hard-core slacker, especially if they can mooch additional money off parents, spouse, or trust fund.
Self-Serve Gas Station Attendant. Mainly, you just sit there and take money. Your greatest challenge may be to try to get the license plate of thiefs who drive away without paying. Next step: Read this article: http://www.afb.org/CareerConnect/users/dot_detail.asp?soc=53-6031.00
Order Taker. When I call to place an order at places like Park Seed, Lands End, or Jet Blue, the order takers tell me they really like their jobs and say it's usually easy and relaxing. I mean, it can't be too taxing to say, "What's your next item number?" or answer, "Does it come in blue?" About as stressful as it gets is, "Can I change my reservation?" "Not without a $50 fee." Next step: Go to simplyhired.com and indeed.com and search on "order taker" or "customer service."
Mystery Shopper. You buy stuff and fill out a checklist on how nicely you were treated. Can you handle it? Next step: Read an article or two from this portal: http://jobsearch.about.com/od/mysteryshopper/
Personal Shopper. You traipse malls to buy things with other people's money. Next step: Read this article: http://www.startupjournal.com/columnists/startuplifestyle/20041215-lifestyle.html.
Store Security Guard. Your job is to stand there. I know, I know, there's always the chance of danger, but in my 55 years, I've been in a zillion stores, most with security guards, and 99 percent of time, they're just standing there, maybe chatting. And I've never seen a store security guard have to do anything more dangerous than walk a shoplifter into the back room. Next step: Read the security guard profile in the Occupational Outlook Handbook: www.bls.gov/oco/ocos159.htm.
House Sitter. Water the plants, feed the cat, keep the lights on so the robbers think someone's home, all usually in a nice house in a nice neighborhood. Next step: Search www.indeed.com and www.simplyhired.com for house sitter jobs.
Flower Arranger. "I think I'll put that lily in there. Okay, now a rose. Here, a bit of fern." Life doesn't get much easier than this. Next step: Read an article or two from this portal on floral design: www.save-on-crafts.com/flowartec.html.