A Career in Leech Farming: Really Odd Jobs

Looking for a Career in Roach Wrangling?


June 13, 2006 —   Tired of your job? Fresh out of college and looking for direction? If you're looking for odd jobs, you've come to the right place.

The economy might be tight and opportunities may be hard to come by, but new jobs are always springing up. In recent years, corporate recruter Linda Haneborg of Express Personnel Services even found the perfect job for slackers: Some delivery companies actually pay $11 an hour to have someone sit in their trucks, just so they can ride in the express lanes.

But Haneborg says the job market is actually improving, especially for kids out of college. "You won't see as many youngsters forced to take unpaid internships," she says. "You have a much better chance of starting your career with an entry level job that comes with a paycheck."

Of course, thinking creatively always helps, and if you need some help, you may want to check out Nancy Rica Schiff's "Odder Jobs" (Ten Speed), her second picturebook of America's most unusual occupations, including dog food testers (and, yes, they do it dog food), horse dentists, and jellyfish farmers.

Several of the strangest jobs are actually in burgeoning industry. And in the years to come, they might not be so strange. Here's a look at a few:

Leech Purveyor — Think you work with some bloodsuckers? Rudy Rosenberg actually does. As a purveyor of hirudo medicinalis (medicinal leeches), this entrepreneur from Garden City, N.Y., sells these carnivorous little critters for $8 a piece. Bloodletting was long ago dismissed as the quackery of medieval barbers. But in recent years, doctors have used leeches on patients for removal of engorged blood. They've even been used to reduce knee pain from osteoarthritis. Some researchers believe that the saliva from leeches has an anti-inflammatory effect.

Pollen Collector — Being a pollen collector is nothing to sneeze at. Anne Schrempp of Spokane spends a good part of her day on a 16-foot ladder, vacuuming pollen from trees. Once gathered, her employer, Hollister Stier Laboratories, harvests pure pollen extracts, useful in developing medicines for allergy sufferers. Pollen collectors are also useful at times when the bees can't do their job.