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5 Glamorous Jobs that Aren’t as Cool as You Think

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FBI agent enteringWe have this idea that certain jobs are very glamorous. They’re cool. They’re sexy. You make a lot of money or you experience a ton of excitement. What if you learned taht someone were a spy or work in show biz, you probably think their lives are just so much more exciting than yours. The reality is that it might not be the case. Being in show business might look like a lot of fun, with all the red carpet award shows and the bags and bags of swag, but is it really all that great?

There are a number of jobs that just aren’t as cool as you think they are. Sometimes, we forget that the reality isn’t the same as what you see on TV or read in books.

1. CIA Agent

One of my favorite shows is Burn Notice. Watching that show makes it seem as though the life of a CIA agent is glamorous and exciting. Exotic locales. Fancy clothes. And, of course, plenty of derring-do. However, I know a couple people who work for the CIA. Even when they go overseas, the job isn’t that glamorous.

For most CIA agents, the job is about paperwork. There are different aspects of CIA work, and that includes many “normal” jobs, such as those performed by data analysts, scientists, engineers, linguists, and even PR specialists. While there are definitely spies that are in dangerous situations, many CIA employees don’t do anything terribly exciting.

2. FBI Agent

Once again, TV shows tend to exaggerate the work that most people working for the FBI do. Yes, FBI agents are involved in questioning others, and work to solve crimes. However, not everyone working for the FBI is doing the work of Mulder and Scully from The X-Files, tracking down vast conspiracies. And the amazing situations in Fringe are definitely not realistic. Even what you see in White Collar is largely glamorized. White collar crime just isn’t that exciting all the time. Chances are, if you work for the FBI, you will have plenty of desk work, and you will have to follow procedure more often than not.

3. Investigative Journalist

Ah, the scrappy investigative journalist. In movies and TV shows, these journalists rub shoulders with those in high places, and find themselves in dangerous situations. I learned the truth related to investigative journalism while working on my M.A. in Magazine, Newspaper and Online Journalism. The truth is that most media outlets — including newspapers — are slashing their budgets. So investigative journalists don’t usually have the resources that it takes to really disguise themselves in the upper echelons of society. In a lot of cases, it’s more about tracking down documents and verifying the credibility of sources than it is about chasing a corrupt politician through exotic settings.

4. Working Actor

When many of us think of actors, we think of the big stars. However, what about the working actors that we see in TV shows and commercials. Most of these actors don’t live a glamorous life. Many of them spend long hours on the set, doing take after take. Even movie actors don’t always have glamorous jobs. Consider John Rhys-Davies, who spent hours in makeup each time he had to play Gimli in Lord of the Rings — and who complained at how itchy it was, and how he refused a part in The Hobbit because he didn’t want to go through it again.

5. Movie Extra

Another show biz related job that seems like it would be cool is working as a movie extra. What you actually end up with is many of the inconveniences of being an actor, but without any of the glory or occasional star treatment (or money!). Growing up, I had a friend whose dad was an extra movies. He made $50 to $100 a day, but most of it was standing around eating bland food. And a lot of the time, after spending 10 to 12 hours on the set to be in a scene for five minutes, even that was cut. It’s a fun gig if you’re retired with nothing but time on your hands but it’s definitely not the excitement you think you might be experiencing.

Can you think of other jobs that just aren’t that glamorous?

(Photo: qwrrty)

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7 Responses to “5 Glamorous Jobs that Aren’t as Cool as You Think”

  1. Glenn Lasher says:

    Two thoughts . . .

    I have a great deal of respect for a good investigative journalist. I understand and agree that they are a dying breed because the resources are drying up, but there are still a few of them left and they are worth supporting.

    On working Actors, it seems like theatre is much like any other line of work: you have your superstars, and you have your majority. As an example in my own field, I am your typical IT worker, versus, for instance, Linus Torvalds or Steve Wozniak, who have designed great things and gained great fame for doing so. The working actors are much like me and my colleagues, just doing a job and getting a paycheck, doing something that someone deems necessary, but not something that makes us famous.

  2. I didn’t think movie extras were still at a rate of $100 per day. That’s not much for 10 to 12 hours a day.

  3. And although some of these jobs are no glamorous, I respect those who have choosen to dedicate their lives to some of these careers. Working as a financial professional, I’m sure there are people who don’t find this job glamorous.

  4. DMoney says:

    I think there are so many glamorized industries out there. Pretty much anything entertainment or media-related.

    Voice-over artists, for example. Yea it sounds cool to have your voice on a cartoon or in a video game or commercial, but it’s long hours and most times it’s recorded remotely, so if you’re in a scene with other voice actors, you have to “pretend” they’re there, which makes it even harder. And course, the money kinda sucks, and the jobs aren’t always consistent.

    Another notoriously crappy-yet-people-think-it’s-cool job is an audio engineer. Again, yea it’s cool if you’re Geoff Emerick who was talented/lucky enough to record the Beatles’ legendary catalog, but most engineers spend sleepless nights recording artists/projects you’ve never heard of. Not to mention that many “rookie” engineers are glorified custodians/go-fors. And again, the pay really sucks. But hey! they’re in a studio all day! Big whoop.

    Another crappy music job is a record label A&R – they get to listen to bands/artists all day and draft record deals for the “next big thing”! In reality, their jobs are always on the line and if they can’t produce or develop a track record of finding potential “star
    artists, they’re cut on a whim. And the pay is horrible. Plus they wade through mountains of really crappy music, hoping to find one gem.

    I think people are so disillusioned by the entertainment industry that they forget that 95% of the industry is regular working people.

  5. Jim M says:

    You shattered my illusions – I always thought being a CIA or FBI agent was way cool.

  6. Joy says:

    Try ballet costume designer! I play with pretty sparkly things all day long. And then I dress them onto rank, sweaty dancers who are fresh from rehearsal.

    Even the prettiest, sparkliest costume stops being fun after the 14th copy of it is finished. lol


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