20 Best Jobs You've Never Heard Of

Maryalene LaPonsie

See if these interesting jobs pique your interest.

Everyone knows what it means to be a nurse, plumber or police officer. But what about logisticians, nuclear medicine technologists and industrial psychologists? These are a few of the unique jobs available today, many of which come with good salaries and excellent job growth.

To find the best jobs you've never heard of, U.S. News looked for lesser-known occupations that rank highly in our Best Jobs of 2020 list. These rankings take into account which positions have good incomes, low stress and the chance for a positive work-life balance, among other factors.

Based on our analysis, here are 20 interesting jobs you may want to consider for your next career move. Salary and job growth data comes from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Operations Research Analyst

Median Salary: $83,390
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 25.6%

On the face of it, operations research analysts have a straightforward job. They are given a problem, such as how to reduce costs or improve efficiency, and asked to solve it. To do so, they may need to conduct extensive research, use sophisticated software and run hypothetical models using a variety of scenarios. It can be a challenging job, and operations research analysts are paid well for their problem-solving ability.

Workers in this occupation are expected to have at least a bachelor's degree in a technical field such as engineering, analytics, computer science or mathematics. A few schools have dedicated degrees in operations research.

Learn more about operations research analysts.

Database Administrator

Median Salary: $90,070
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 9%

From customer names to shipping records, databases contain information that is essential for businesses to run smoothly. It's up to database administrators to ensure this information is well-organized and easily accessible by the right people. They perform back-ups, test systems and merge databases as needed. In our Best Jobs ranking, this occupation gets high marks for having an unemployment rate of just 0.5%, which contributes to a bright job market.

Database administrators typically have a bachelor's degree in computer science or a similar field. However, some employers may prefer to hire those with a master's degree. To demonstrate their proficiency with specific programs, database administrators may pursue voluntary certification from software vendors.

Learn more about database administrators.

Respiratory Therapist

Median Salary: $60,280
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 20.8%

If you or a loved one has ever been hospitalized for asthma, pneumonia or another respiratory illness, you've likely come in contact with a respiratory therapist. These health care professionals help patients improve breathing and lung capacity. The vast majority are employed by hospitals, but these workers can also be found in nursing homes and some physician offices.

Both associate and bachelor's degrees are available in respiratory therapy. All states, except Alaska, require therapists to be licensed. National certification is also available through The National Board for Respiratory Care. Eligible applicants who pass a certifying examination can earn a designation as either a Certified Respiratory Therapist or a Registered Respiratory Therapist.

Learn more about respiratory therapists.

Solar Photovoltaic Installer

Median Salary: $42,680
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 63.3%

As far as weird jobs go, this one has an unusual name, but you're probably familiar with the work these professionals do. They install and maintain solar panels. It's an occupation that makes a strong showing in our Best Jobs rankings, thanks in part to the explosive growth it's expected to see.

You won't need to spend long years in college to become a solar photovoltaic installer. Otherwise known as PV installers, many workers learn the trade through on-the-job training or apprenticeships. Some technical schools and community colleges also offer classes in the field.

Learn more about solar photovoltaic installers.

Environmental Engineering Technician

Median Salary: $50,560
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 8.6%

Often working as part of a team, environmental engineering technicians may monitor facilities for compliance with government regulations, analyze samples for pollution and help with the disposal of hazardous materials. They often work in laboratories but also may spend time in the field to collect water, soil and air samples.

An associate degree in environmental engineering technology is the standard education for workers in this occupation. Those who work with hazardous materials may need additional training to meet the requirements of the Occupational Safety & Health Administration. Environmental engineering technicians may be employed by engineering firms, the government or waste management companies, among others.

Learn more about environmental engineering technicians.

Phlebotomist

Median Salary: $34,480
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 23%

Phlebotomists have a unique job in health care. They spend their days drawing blood from patients, labeling the vials and sending them for analysis. This is not a job for those who are squeamish around needles, but if you don't mind the sight of blood, this is a position offering good future growth potential.

The median salary for phlebotomists isn't as high as that of other occupations on this list, but workers in the field don't need an expensive college education either. Typically, they need only a certificate from a phlebotomy program, and these can often be completed in less than a year.

Learn more about phlebotomists.

Industrial Psychologist

Median Salary: $97,260
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 12.8%

Also known as industrial-organizational psychologists, these professionals have interesting jobs. They are called upon to apply psychological principles to the workplace. For instance, they may determine how best to set up an office to increase efficiency, what rewards system will most motivate employees and how training can help improve progress toward business goals. Industrial psychologists may also help screen job candidates and draft company policies.

Industrial psychologists often have a master's degree in a program that includes classes in organizational psychology, research and statistics. While a doctoral degree is not required by many employers, most states require a Ph.D. or Psy.D. and licensure if someone wants to call themselves a psychologist.

Learn more about industrial psychologists.

Cartographer

Median Salary: $64,430
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 14.7%

The job of a cartographer -- also known as a mapmaker -- has evolved in recent years. Paper maps are quickly becoming a thing of the past, and today's Geographic Information System technology has added a technical aspect to the work of collecting data and drawing maps -- so much so that many cartography degree programs include additional courses in computer programming and GIS technology, according to the BLS.

Cartographers generally learn their trade by earning a bachelor's degree. In some states, they may have to be licensed as a surveyor. According to our Best Jobs analysis, these professionals don't just have good prospects for future job growth, they tend to have low-stress positions that allow for a healthy work-life balance.

Learn more about cartographers.

Compliance Officer

Median Salary: $68,860
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 5.8%

Compliance officers ensure people and businesses comply with laws and regulations. Some manufacturers have their own compliance officers who keep current on the latest rules and make sure the company is following them. Others may be employed by the government or another agency to perform inspections.

A bachelor's degree is the most common level of education for a compliance officer. However, these workers can have more or less education or additional certifications, depending on specific job requirements.

Learn more about compliance officers.

Genetic Counselor

Median Salary: $80,370
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 27%

This occupation has been made possible by advances in health care technology. Genetic counselors help assess a person's risk for inherited conditions. They gather information, suggest testing options and provide consultation reports for physicians and other health care providers. Prenatal, cancer and pediatric are three common specialties within the field.

Genetic counselors generally have a master's degree. Some states require they be licensed prior to beginning their practice, and professional certification is available through the American Board of Genetic Counseling. Not only do these workers have unique jobs, but they also get paid well and should have good job prospects going into the next decade.

Learn more about genetic counselors.

Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

Median Salary: $72,510
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 19.5%

You probably know about this job even if its name doesn't sound familiar. Diagnostic medical sonographers are often called ultrasound technicians, although prenatal ultrasounds are only one facet of the work they do. Health care providers rely on sonographers to provide images of various sections of the body, such as the heart and abdomen, to help with diagnosis and treatment of injuries and ailments.

Training options for this field include one-year certificates, two-year associate degrees and four-year bachelor's degrees. However, most students find a one- or two-year program is sufficient. Employers may prefer to hire those with a professional certification from an industry group such as the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonographers.

Learn more about diagnostic medical sonographers.

Logistician

Median Salary: $74,600
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 4.8%

These professionals are experts in supply chains. In other words, they are the people who make sure products move smoothly from suppliers to consumers. They can oversee all aspects of acquiring product materials, storing inventory and transporting it to buyers. Some logisticians may be responsible for moving people as well, such as military personnel.

Some people may become logisticians through work experience or by earning an associate degree. However, a bachelor's degree is a more common entry point into this occupation. Professional certification for logisticians is available through industry groups such as the International Society of Logistics.

Learn more about logisticians.

Nuclear Medicine Technologist

Median Salary: $76,820
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 6.9%

If you haven't heard of a nuclear medicine technologist, you're probably not alone. These specialized health care workers prepare and administer radioactive drugs that are used for imaging and treating conditions such as cancerous tumors. Although not part of their normal duties, nuclear medicine technologists may also be called upon to assist in the event of a radioactive incident.

Many workers in the field have an associate degree, but certificates and bachelor's degrees in nuclear medicine technology are also available from some schools. Professional certification is provided through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists and the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board.

Learn more about nuclear medicine technologists.

Fabricator

Median Salary: $39,290
Expected Job Growth by 2028: -14.6%

Fabricators are the only entry on this list of interesting jobs that are expected to see negative job growth in the coming years. However, it still garners a mention thanks to a low 1.3% unemployment rate and above-average scores in the areas of being a low-stress job and offering good work-life balance, according to U.S. News data.

Fabricators assemble parts and may also be part of designing products. While they don't need a degree, fabricators do need to be able to understand schematics or blueprints and use a variety of hand tools or machines. They are typically employed by manufacturers.

Learn more about fabricators.

Radiologic Technologist

Median Salary: $59,520
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 9%

The health care industry contains many occupations that sound like weird jobs but really aren't all that strange. Radiologic technologists are one example. While their title is unusual, you're probably familiar with their work. They take X-ray images at hospitals, laboratories and physician offices.

Radiologic technologists generally have to be licensed by their state. For many, that means earning an associate degree from an accredited program and passing a certification exam. Once these professionals have a few years of experience, they may move on to take more advanced images as an MRI technologist.

Learn more about radiologic technologists.

Wind Turbine Technician

Median Salary: $54,370
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 56.9%

This is not a job for those who fear heights. Wind turbine technicians are responsible for inspecting, testing and maintaining wind turbines. That means technicians may have to climb turbine towers to access various parts of the structure.

As the use of wind energy expands across the country, there will be a significant need for more wind turbine technicians in the years to come. To land one of these jobs, you'll likely need a certificate or associate degree in wind energy technology from a trade school or community college. However, some employers may be willing to provide on-the-job training.

Learn more about wind turbine technicians.

Computer Network Architect

Median Salary: $109,020
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 5.3%

Computer network architects create the framework upon which computer systems operate. They create network plans and layouts, select hardware to support the network and make upgrades as new technology becomes available. It's a technical occupation that usually requires a bachelor's degree in computer science as well as some work experience.

Not only do computer network architects earn a six-digit median income, but they also have a near zero unemployment rate. Our Best Jobs analysis gives the occupation high marks for its job market, although it can be high-stress at times.

Learn more about computer network architects.

Information Security Analyst

Median Salary: $98,350
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 31.6%

The technology industry is another sector that has many jobs with unfamiliar titles. Information security analysts are specialized workers who design and implement security measures for computer systems and networks. They may monitor for breaches, research the latest security technology and educate system users on security protocols.

Information security analysts often have a bachelor's degree in computer science or a similar field. Some companies may prefer to hire analysts who have a master's degree. Professionals can demonstrate their expertise by earning a voluntary certification such as the Certified Information Systems Security Professional.

Learn more about information security analysts.

Radiation Therapist

Median Salary: $82,330
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 8.5%

Radiation therapists administer radiation treatments to patients with cancer and other illnesses. They are usually part of a larger treatment team that works under the direction of a radiation oncologist. These therapists are responsible for calibrating machines to administer treatments to specific areas, protecting patients from improper exposure to radiation and monitoring patients for unusual reactions.

This is an occupation that ranks high in our Best Jobs analysis for being low-stress and providing a good work-life balance. Most radiation therapists work regular hours, which leaves time for other pursuits. An associate degree or bachelor's degree in radiation therapy is needed to work in this field, and most states require therapists be licensed.

Learn more about radiation therapists.

Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselor

Median Salary: $44,630
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 22.5%

Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors are on the front lines of helping people fight addictions. They may work with individuals or small groups to identify challenging behaviors and map out a strategy to overcome them. Jobs for these workers are found in outpatient facilities, private counseling offices, hospitals, mental health facilities and the government.

This is a job that can offer a good work-life balance, and it's also expected to see strong growth in the coming years. However, to work as a substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselor, you'll need at least a bachelor's degree, and some states have licensure criteria that could require a master's degree.

Learn more about substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors.

Some of the best lesser-known jobs include:

-- Operations research analyst.

-- Database administrator.

-- Solar photovoltaic installer.

-- Cartographer.

-- Genetic counselor.

-- Logistician.

-- Nuclear medicine technologist.

-- Wind turbine technician.

-- Computer network architect.

-- Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselor.