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

We 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 [3]. 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 [4] 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 [5] 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 [6])