what is your secret career alter ego?

Do you have a secret career alter ego?  A fantasy career that you’re wildly happy in somewhere out there in a parallel universe?

I have two: nurse and detective.

Nurse, because I love taking care of sick people. I want to bring them soup and tea, ensure they are securely tucked into bed, procure them ginger ale, find the perfect sick-person programming for them to watch on TV — I love it, love it, love it. (I can totally trace this back to my mother, who was not at all the nurturing type unless someone was sick, at which point she did a Wonder Woman-like conversion into a nurturing caretaker.)  I realize that nursing as a profession is far less cozy than this and far more … disgusting at times, but I harbor secret fantasies of it nonetheless.

And detective, because I could totally crack that case, whatever it is. Seriously, I am like a human lie detector, people. (This is a real thing!) Also, I would like to be partnered with Elliot Stabler.

Interestingly, neither of these relate in the slightest to my original career plan for myself, which — through college, at least — was to teach high school English. Which is a career I would never want now, although I do enjoy scrutinizing other people’s syllabi. Nor do they relate at all to my actual line of work.

Do you have secret career fantasies that have nothing to do with your actual career? I want to know what they are. And don’t tell me baseball legend or Broadway star — it can’t be about fame; it has to be about the day-to-day work.

{ 197 comments… read them below }

  1. Jo*

    Mine is an esthetician, where I can pop zits, but only those of people I know. It grosses me out to think about popping some stranger’s zits :)

    Detective would be great as well, as I can get totally obsessed when I’m ‘investigating’ something and I could get so smart, way beyond my daily life!

    Thought a CSI Investigator would be cool, except that I would pass out at the sight of a drop of blood.

  2. Erica*

    Oh, I’m totally an event planner. Or a retail/restaurant interior designer (is that a thing?) in my head.

    I am NOT an archaeologist or a magazine editor. Both of which I went to school to be. Which is probably good, because a magazine editor would know how to grammatically correct my previous sentence.

  3. Anonymous*

    “Data, Data, Data…I Cannot make bricks without clay!”
    – Sherlock Holmes (The Adventure of the Copper Beeches)

  4. Anonymous*

    Oh this is a fun one!

    Well, I would have loved to do something with my hands – like plumbing or electrical work or some sort of work where I can hammer nails into wood.

    In reality I do donor prospect research for a non-profit. I love it, but I wouldnt mind having a job where I didn’t sit and stare at a screen all day.

    I would also loooooove to be a proofreader. I love to read!

  5. Bethany Moore*

    The peaceful quiet of working as a librarian would be lovely.

    My 2nd choice would be a lawyer.

    I haven’t ruled out my other secret career egos as a real possibility yet, so I’ll continue to keep them to myself. :)

    1. Lauren*

      Unless you work in the back away from patrons, there is nothing peaceful or quiet about being a librarian. That said, I absolutely love it!

      My secret careers – TV critic (like Matt Roush), proofreader/editor in the publishing field, lots of amazing librarian jobs I’ll never get (NPR librarian, British Library librarian, etc.)

      1. Natalie*

        That’s why you have to be an academic librarian in a specialized subject area – the music librarian in a college with a small music program, or the medical librarian that deals with people old enough to at least know how to be quiet in a library.

        1. Liz in a library*

          The people who are old enough to know how to be quiet in the library don’t exist. ;)

          I work in a (relatively noise-friendly) academic library with a high percentage of adult students (I’d say the average age is late 30s), and I still have to deal with complaints about raucous groups in our one quiet area every day.

  6. Jessica*

    I really wish I were a mechanic. I have always loved being in the garage when my dad or uncles were working on cars or other machinery. Just the smell of the oil and grease and gas makes me recall being a little girl and being able to “help” out with fixing things.

    I have other daydreams, too: journalist, minister, bus driver, photographer. I wish I could be all of these things and more!

    (I went to college to be an English teacher, too! I did some teaching for a while after college, but I’m now in a different role in a school.)

  7. fposte*

    Okay, I’m really loving your typo. It makes you sound like Jessica Fletcher, who pretty much was a “human die detector.”

      1. Jessica*

        Baaahahahaahahaa! That made me laugh. “I have a wonderful super power. I can tell when people are completely dead. But only if they’ve been dead for a few days.” (That’s how I imagine that particular super power in my head.)

      2. Chris*

        Speaking of dead people. I had a friend who went through medical school and all that fun stuff to find out she hated live people. She went back to school for some additional classes and now she deals with the dead. The really cool part is she loves it.

        1. dianamh2008*

          Heh. That sounds like the character Butters from Jim Butcher’s Dresden series. He’s squeamish about seeing live people hurt, but finds doing autopsies no big deal.

  8. Bridget*

    I adore these. I call mine “inappropriate career fantasies” said very fast so they’re like one long word.

    For some reason mine is accountant. It seems so logical and peaceful.

    I’ve done a lot of different things in my career, all totally unrelated to accounting–writing for advertising, copyediting for publishers, fundraising for museums. I know accounting sounds terrible to many people but I continue to think of it. I think I’m partly attracted because it seems like it would be easy to get a job anywhere and I could do my job in lots of different industries if I were an accountant.

    1. Jamie*

      I’m not an accountant, but I play one at work sometimes – and it really is an awesome profession.

      The people who think it’s dry and mundane don’t really understand – it’s the language of business and you get to see so much from the numbers.

      For logic based people, it’s so satisfying to know there is a right and wrong answer…I hate shades of gray.

      I work with CPAs every day and I have my moments of jealousy…when I have to go put out some trivial IT fire and they can continue to focus on the spreadsheets.

      You’re right about the opportunities, though – hope the kids out there are paying attention: an accountant can work in any industry, anywhere, for anyone. There is a lot of power in that.

      1. Lacey*

        When I was in 4th grade I wanted to be an accountant when I grew up! (Could still see it…I like budgets, I volunteer to do them at work.)

        My dream career is to open my own pet shop or a bed and breakfast – still might do it. Though at the moment I’m trying to get my ‘current’ career moving in the right direction!

  9. Nichole*

    One of my secret career egos is technical writer. Does that make me the most boring person ever? I’d also like to be a life coach, and I have a (not so secret anymore) secret fantasy of being a talent coach-pageants, modeling, acting, even manners training. I still might do that one someday as a little word-of-mouth side business.

    1. Jessica*

      Not unless I’m super boring. I love technical writing and really hope someday I might be able to do it professionally, too. (I currently make up for that by making manuals for every job I’ve ever had. It’s nice for when you leave a position AND it gets the technical writing bug out.)

      1. Dawn*

        Another vote for technical writing! I could be happy just working away at writing a complete manual all day long. I get to indulge myself occasionally through my current job by writing policies and procedures.

        1. Jamie*

          Cast my lot in with the technical writers – love it.

          An aside – someone with a talent for technical writing will become the most valuable employee in any company undergoing ISO certification.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        My sister used to be a technical writer, and I told her that several commenters were citing it as their dream career, and she just laughed and laughed :)

        1. Talyssa*

          If it helps, I think you’re all nuts. But I’ve known a couple technical writers and there are just certain people who really enjoy it — and those people are also really good at it.

          But its not a very high demand job because companies figure that someone else on the team like a BA or BSA can do a passable job and although I can certainly write up basic instructions with reasonable amounts of white space and grammatically correct sentences I find it tedious as hell and it will never ever look as fantastic as the document of someone who actually enjoys it.

          1. Jessica*

            This is why I would love to do it. I have a degree in English with a minor in Spanish already, but I’m going back for a second bachelor’s in computer information science/computer science. I was told when I registered, “You know, you’ll probably end up doing technical writing, as you’ll be in demand for that.”

            “Great!” I replied. “I love writing manuals and technical information all the time.”

            He just looked at me like I was weird. This was a guy who was into statistical analysis of computer systems, though, which I would find a bit tedious. Statistics and I? We aren’t close friends. Acquaintances, yes, but I never really liked statistics enough to get to know her better.

        2. Julia*

          I’m a technical writer. It can be cool – you get to learn a lot of new stuff and you create something tangible – but there are certainly companies who treat you as the person who just sprinkles the punctuation glitter on someone else’s unreadable text.

          In my next life I want to be an architect.

  10. Melissa*

    Love this! I want to be a high school band director. Love, love, love teaching music and I get along so great with high school-aged children. OR a small-scale event planner (baby showers, wedding showers, small dinner parties). I love going all-out, but I want to do it with someone else’s money. In other words, if I can’t be Sousa, I’d like to be Amy Atlas.

  11. Jillishness*

    I dream of being a costume designer for the “It’s a Small World” ride at Disney World. Imagine all the effort it takes to get those little costumes to work.

  12. Jamie*

    Well, I’ve always wanted to work at the Disney archive… ;_; Sigh, if only.

    But in sillier wishes — I walked an otter once on a leash at Sea World, and I’d LOVE to do that all day long. Give me otters, people.

    1. Anonymous*

      Jamie you just MMD! (made my day)

      Maybe there is an aquarium or zoo where you can volunteer?

      I wish you otters :)

      1. Jamie*

        Awww. ;D I’m glad! I would love to volunteer in an aquarium or zoo… you know, considering I do nothing else all day in my lovely unemployment, I might as well try! <3

        -You- MMD! Thanks. ;)

    2. Stephanie*

      I also walked an otter on leash at Sea World, along with training dolphins and killer whales. It was amazing and fulfilled a dream I have had since I was a little kid growing up in San Diego. I would say that one of my dream jobs would be educating others about wildlife conservation.

  13. Chris*

    Starship captain. However, I don’t think working for Virgin Galatic would be a nice as being the captain of the USS Enterprise. :-)

  14. Anon*

    I sometimes daydream of joining politics, imagining myself as a sort of Bulworth character (without the assassination) – then I think of all the things that would come to light. ;)

    I also daydream of being a textiles artist, making amazing quilts and quilted wall hangings. I cannot sew. However, I enjoy the thought of an unstructured day, really working for money and pleasure.

    Additionally, I dream of opening a bakery (I love to bake) or a plus-size clothing store. :)

    1. Nichole*

      Haha, I always half joke that this year is the year I’m running for mayor. You should link the bakery and plus size store together. The concept can be “you’re going to look great no matter what, so have another scone.”

    2. Jen M.*

      As an artisan, I can tell you those days are not as unstructured as you might think, especially if one is trying to make a living of it! :)

  15. Abby*

    Secretly I want to be Chief of Staff for the President of the United States. This job has the real power and controls everything behind the scene.

    More realistically, I often think about being a psychologist. Much more likely but I really love my current job.

  16. JT*

    Some kind of brilliant professor doing cross-discipline research and writing about really interesting stuff related to communications, society and technology.

    Tenured, and having a reputation as somewhat of a slacker in the last few years….. .

  17. A. Nonymous*


    1. Meteorologist
    I can practically tell you what will happen with the weather just by looking at the clouds. All right, so I need a little more training, but had my college had a meteorology department, I would have either minored or double-majored.

    2. IT
    I have found out I understand computers to some degree. Again would need more training, but you can’t be afraid of computers. I have learned to not panic. I help people at work when it comes to computers.

  18. Betty*

    I have two as well: voice actor and translator (of literature and maybe poetry). Big problem with that one—I only speak English!

  19. Emily*

    Financial planner. People can be weird about money, so I keep it to myself, but my close close friends know…

    When my mind starts to wander in quiet moments, I sometimes make hand-drawn budgets on scrap pieces of paper with all the paydays listed for the next six months and what I’ll do with the checks: running totals of my Roth IRA, savings accounts, weekly spending money, monthly rent, and predicted big expenses. I then fold up the paper and carry it around in my wallet, checking back periodically to see how my predictions aligned with reality. It’s like re-reading a journal entry from six months ago.

    And as soon as friends mention job offers in new cities or begin apartment/house hunting, my fingers itch for a keyboard to google cost of living calculators, interest rate calculators, tax rates, and property values to run different scenarios in the graph paper notebooks I keep around the house.

    It’s more than just the rhythmic comfort of running numbers, though. Money and emotions are so strongly linked; when you help someone sort out their finances, you help them sort out their priorities and values. My last Ambiguous Male Relation had a bunch of debt from his divorce that is just weighing him down, and thinking about it made him remember the whole mess and all the pain that led to his spending. Biking is his zen, and he made comments about wanting to buy an expensive roadbike, but didn’t do anything to make that happen. We never got to the point where I could go there with him, but once I had a ballpark figure for his salary and some of his monthly expenses, I immediately started mapping a payment/savings plan in my head. Can you imagine how empowering it would feel to pay that mess off and buy that bike he’s had his eye on for two years?! How amazing to help people make that happen! In my head, it’s parallel to the role of a personal trainer, only your initial point of contact is personal finance rather than fitness.

      1. ImpassionedPlatypi*

        Wow… yea, I second Alison. I have never thought of the financial planning field that way before.

      2. Susan*

        I agree, what a great description! Emily, if you haven’t opened your own little side business, you should so I can hire you :)

    1. Lynda*

      Aaaauuuugggghhhh! I suck at this. You can trust English – if something’s wrong, it LOOK wrong. Incorrect math stuff looks just as good as the correct stuff.

      I pick either backup singer for James Taylor or professional ice skater.

    2. Liz in a library*

      YES! I think I tend to gravitate to people who like to discuss money though, because my social circle tends to talk about this stuff all the time.

      My boss and I have competing obsessive-compulsive debt-reduction spreadsheets. :)

    3. Lacey*

      I have a friend in Med school and his back up career is Financial Planner. He did his first stock trade when we were in 7th grade. Now, that we are adult(ish) he researches all the funds and helps me allocate my 401k!

  20. lapreghiera*

    A competitive ballroom dancer, and then maybe a counselor/psychiatrist, but the APA be durned, I want to tell people the common sense, shame the devil truth, not ‘go in to your happy place’!

    1. Dawn*

      I’d like to be a counselor/psychiatrist, too. I’d love to tell everyone to “Get over it, suck it up, and deal with it. It’s all in your head and you are your own worst enemy.” I don’t think I’d make much money doing that, though.

        1. Lynda*

          I’d do it for free. But the bad news is I rarely get to tell anyone to suck it up. I did once use a plastic spider as a visual aid, though, so psychology can be an interesting job.

        2. Dawn*

          HA!! Did you ever see the commercial for GEICO with the Sarge? Hysterical! That would be me as a therapist.

    2. Jen M.*

      My original major was psychology, and it is still one of my first loves. I read about it a lot.

      I was originally going to be a psychiatrist, but then when I found out you had to become an MD first, I got totally turned off. I’m more interested in people’s minds than their bodies, and I just could not see myself as a medical doctor.

      I respect the hell out of the field, though! (Psychiatry.)

  21. Anonymous*

    Real estate agent. Ever since I bought my first house I thought the whole process seemed really interesting. There are so many different aspects to the job and you’re always meeting new people. Not to mention you can make great money if you’re good at it. But considering how many people attempt it and fail, it’s probably a lot harder than it seems.

  22. Lisa*

    I’m a librarian at a university now (which I love), but being a librarian for CSIS (Canada’s FBI) would be cool. Or a event volunteer, which I do now anyways but it doesn’t pay the mortgage. Maybe once I retire.

  23. Anon y. mouse*

    Ooh, so many possibilities. Some small part of me is a hard-ass business woman – quite possibly a lawyer – who wears stilettos and negotiates multi-million dollar takeovers. In real life I’m too short, too cute, and way too nice!

    But my real love is building things – handcrafts, or woodworking, or architecture. There’s a kind of magic to starting with raw materials – or only with imagination – and transforming it into something beautiful and valuable. Some day perhaps, if the opportunity presents itself, I’ll do that for a living.

  24. Jennifer*

    1. Psychologist – For a while I thought about being a counselor, at a university or for middle and high school students. I’m a really good listener, and I’m good at asking questions that get to the heart of the issue (but in a sensitive way).

    2. Copy editor – Friends at school used to send me their term papers to proofread, because I catch grammar mistakes like good auditors catch accounting mistakes. Sherlock Holmes finds murderers; I find dangling participles.

  25. Cassie*

    Something where I’d have an entourage – like being an award-winning singer or actor or a best-seller author (wait, do they have entourages?). But not like a D-list celeb or something like that. Would have to be someone glamorous.

    A computer programmer / engineer / inventor.

    But really, I want to have an entourage :) [although I think I’d get tired of having people follow me around and trying to do things for me!]

  26. Lisa*


    Seriously. My dream job is basically doing what Mike Rowe does with dirty jobs, but with all jobs. I want to be everything for a day. That said, my top alter egos are:

    * Detective (me too! I’ll be the Archie Goodwin to Alison’s Nero Wolfe!)
    * Horse Trainer
    * CEO (I hope to actually get to this one in real life)
    * Novelist
    * New York PR agency superstar
    * CIA translator
    * Surgeon
    * Matchmaker
    * Nonprofit Director (want to actually get to this one, too)
    * President!

    But really, seriously, I want to do everything. Except exterminator/anything involving killing anything on purpose. I’m a wuss. But waiter, police officer, cashier, nurse, painter, whatever, sign me up for a day!

  27. Anonymous*

    Secret career fantasy?


    (With plenty of writing, teaching, exploring, and cooking, and no financial concerns.)

    P.S. I’m 28.

    1. Liz in a library*

      God, yes. I’d be totally down with working an 8-10 hour day in my veggie garden, baking bread, or raising ducks.

  28. Anonymous*

    My secret career alter ego: Choreographer/dancer – I have always loved to dance (I actually had a lemonade stand as a child to try to raise enough for lessons) and people are always surprised at how well I move, particularly since they think I must be totally boring and hate anything that involves fun or looking good because I actually work as a domestic violence worker.

  29. ImpassionedPlatypi*

    If we’re talking about careers I think I’d enjoy and be good at, but have pretty much given up any hope of actually ever working in those fields- high school biology teacher, high school art/craft teacher, interior designer.

    I’ve given up hope on the two teaching career paths because they require degrees that I just can’t see myself having the time or money to obtain. The interior design career would also require spending time and money on education, but with that one I’m more concerned about my ability to come up with designs for other people. It seems like all the interior design shows on tv depict individual designers who come up with wildly different designs for the different clients they’re serving based on those clients’ tastes and needs. I’m not sure I could do that.

    Now, if we’re talking about careers that are totally feasible- professional organizer or specialty cake decorator.

    I’m actually kind of hoping to open an organizing business in the next few years. Technically, I could probably do that sooner since it would be a sole proprietorship, but I want to maybe take a class or two and talk to a lawyer and tax professional before I get started so that I understand exactly what I’m getting into. The cake decorating thing is more of a fantasy despite the fact that it would be really easy to get into.

  30. bob*

    Super serious… Air Force ParaRescue Jumper. And if that didn’t work out I guess I could live in permanent retirement fly fishing somewhere, anywhere!

  31. Kelly O*

    My secret ambition as a kid was to be a teacher. I used to make pretend lesson plans for my dolls, line them up in my room, and teach pretend lessons. Mom had all these textbooks my Grandma picked up when she was the lunchroom manager at a local school – she always went to the end of year book sales, and almost always bought one of whatever textbooks were available (provided she didn’t have one already.)

    I actually seriously considered it until my favorite high school teacher gave me this line about how I was “too smart” to be a teacher, and it would be “wasteful” for me to go into it, so I started The Great Wander and am just starting to figure out what I’m really interested in doing.

    The other thing would be interior design. I would love to make a nice living taking someone else’s money and decorating their homes. Sometimes I have opportunity to play The Sims 3, and I spend half my time decorating the homes, customizing the paint schemes, and just generally getting ready to play a game. And by the time I get the house right, the baby’s awake or dinner’s starting to get a little too brown, and I have to stop.

    (Now, if we can make up careers? My ideal career would be teaching cubicle manners or business etiquette while organizing and decorating offices, and possibly writing documentation manuals. And I would get to knock heads when people do stupid things.)

  32. Brandy*

    I am actually pursuing my career alter ego! I have wanted to be a nurse for years but it’s taken forever to get back to school. At 31-years-old I start nursing school on Monday!

  33. dianamh2008*

    Obstetrician. I love watching “The Baby Story” and other shows about bringing home new babies. I’m fascinated by peoples pregnancy and birth stories, but I don’t really want to have another, so delivering others’ kids would be awesome. I’m squeamish about blood though, so it would never work. I couldn’t perform a C-section, and preemies and kids at risk would be heartbreaking.

    Craft store owner. I also love all kinds of crafts (cross stitch, knitting, crochet) and would love to be surrounded by craft patterns and people who love crafting. The biggest problem would be watching for shoplifters. I’m so oblivious to social queues that I’d probably be robbed blind.

    1. Anon y. mouse*

      How about being a midwife? There’d be no c-sections and few high-risk cases, though you’d still have to deal with the normal amount of blood. Competent and kind women are always needed.

      (I know midwives sometimes get bad reputations sometimes – my admittedly limited impression is that there’s a vast spectrum of women calling themselves midwives. Some have training equivalent to a RN and know their business better than the doctors, some have ‘certificates’ from two-week training classes. The good ones are worth their weight in gold.)

      1. Anonymous*

        There are actually two paths now to be a midwife. You can be a lay midwife, which is predominantly on the job training and is not recognized in many states. Most midwives are RNs with their master’s degrees. They have, at minimum six years of higher education. They function more like nurse practioners or physician assistants than anything else.

  34. Robin*

    My secret career alter ego would be a cosmetic dentist to the stars (or just absurdly rich people). I LOVE going to the dentist, and hate when others have poor dental hygiene. Plus I love good celeb gossip, so putting the two together is a win-win!

  35. Anonymous*

    SWAT officer – I’d have no problem shooting a bad guy that took innocent people hostage, although my wife says I’d be a good hostage negotiator because I’m so awesome at using logic in discussions that bad guys would just go ahead and shoot themselves out of sheer frustration…

  36. Cruella*

    I’m sure this will come as a shock to some of you, but my secret career ambition has nothing to do with making fur coats out of puppies.

    I have three.

    Novelist/screen writer/playwright: I’ve wanted to be a writer my whole life. I have story ideas floating around in my head all the time. As a matter of fact, I could write a whole season for “The Office,” thanks solely to the inspiration of my staff ! >insert wicked cackle, accompanied by evil grin<

    Newborn Photographer: The only other thing I've ever wanted to do is be a baby photographer like Anne Geddes. You can't look at one of those images and not get the warm fuzzies.

    Criminal Investigator: Don't they make that job look fun on t.v.? And AAM, you take Elliot's righ, I'll take his left!

    1. Wilton Businessman*

      Yeah, a CSI seems glamorous until you get called at 3am to scrape some guys liver off the gear shifter.

    2. Jen M.*

      I’ve been interested in forensics all my life. Seriously. When I was a little girl, I would watch that show, “Quincy,” without fail! LOL!

      I think it would be a fascinating (but gross and depressing) and challenging career. Rewarding, too, when crimes get solved.

  37. Natalie*

    All of my career alter egos are careers that are functionally dead, which says something about me. Especially since I’m 28 and didn’t really experience these things.

    Investigative reporter, before keeping a newspaper job got crazy cutthroat.

    General store owner, if you can transport me back in time to the frontier and I’ll live in the back of my shop.

    FBI agent in the white collar crime division. This was still on my “maybe” list until recently, but apparently the white collar divisions have been seriously de-staffed since 9/11 and it’s probably going to stay that way for many years.

  38. Anonymous*

    This is a fun question.

    Secretly an astronomer, one who helps sci-fi authors do all the fancy math and such to make their stories more believable. Every year for NaNo I work on developing new worlds that are fairly consistent with the laws of the universe and crafting them to be just so. I just stink at the whole story part of it. This year will be a chemosynthetic set of life forms on an ejected planet!
    More realistically if I could go back in time and re-do college a chemist. Like chemical engineer. Or possibly software developer. I’m not that old but I still got a very clear Girls Don’t Do Science message and sadly I let it sink in because I love science and would have been fantastic in a very hard science field.

    But the career alter ego I’m working to make happen (hopefully) is IT trainer. I do well in front of groups of people and when you put me and a computer and a bunch of people in a room I have infinite patience on showing them how to do something. Plus? A REALLY good reason to buy all the shiny gadgets.

  39. Ask a Manager* Post author

    I’m finding it absolutely fascinating to read all of these. It’s also highlighting how tricky it is that most people are expected to put themselves on a particular career path around 20ish, at a time when we hardly know ourselves, when things might turn out so differently if we didn’t have to do that until, say, 32…

    1. Lora*

      It is refreshing to see that I am not the only one conflicted about my career choices. Since I was a teenager I have tried several different jobs and went back to school a few times. Now I am 33 and my resume looks pathetic. So, I think I gave up on looking for that dream career. According to the personality web sites, I’m an idealist. I’m not exactly sure what that means, all I know is that I can’t keep a boring job, and I’m too impatient to go back to school (unless I’m 100% sure this time), and for some reason my job has to be moraly sound with me?? I have a curse- I cannot lie. It sucks. I got fired from telemarketing for immediately telling the customers up front what the “catch” was. The wierd thing was, was that I was one of the top “sellers”.?? I took nursing, but I hate insurance companies. Yeah, so if I had a magic wand, I guess my dream career would be ………I still don’t know.?? But I would be completely content with being the Little House on the Praire type housewife.

  40. Interviewer*

    I recently started knitting, and gifting handmade knit items to people, and I am completely addicted to it now. If there was a way to knit full-time and pay the mortgage and the daycare, I’d be all over it in a heartbeat.

    1. Anonymous*

      Knitting and some other hobbies I would be loathe to turn into professions because getting to do something and having to do it in order to meet rent are very different. Knitting for me is relaxing for a bunch of reasons but one is because I don’t have to do it, at the end of the day if it isn’t done no one suffers.

      1. Interviewer*

        It’s not a hobby for me – it’s bordering on an obsession at times, shopping at yarn stores and surfing knitting websites and knitting with coworkers. I even look for yarn on Craigslist, garage sales, etc. I get a huge thrill out of making stuff for people, especially gifting it at a baby shower, and having a whole flock of women go nuts for a homemade project, and asking for knitting classes and placing orders. I love seeing what other people are working on, and commiserating about my project’s issues. If someone handed me money to knit, it would be like the icing on the cake for me.

        Since it’s a hobby, my husband thinks it goes on the back burner, behind the usual housework and childcare. But if it was the breadwinner, well, that changes things a bit.

        My work is hosting a craft fair later this year in time for Christmas, and I’m going to spend weekends making stuff to sell. Good chance to figure out if I can have my secret career on the side.

  41. Jen*

    This isn’t so much an “alter ego” as much as a career fantasy. (I have no idea what aspects of my personality would lend themselves to which profession. Jobs for caustic people with tender hearts and problems with authority? The list is short.)

    Anyway, what I do in my daydreams: still photographer on a movie set.

    I *love* movies and I like taking pictures. I can’t act, limited talent for writing, am prickly when it comes to dealing with people. But the on-set photographer gets to work somewhat independently (though they do have to work with someone else’s lighting scheme and stay out of the way of the actors and crew) and their pictures end up in promotional materials. The only part that doesn’t sound cool? The crazy hours.

  42. HRBR*

    My alter career ego would be to run a small farm/bed & breakfast type of place that people could come to for peace, serenity, getting back in touch with nature. I’m thinking earth dirt housing, etc.

    I’ve also thought it might be interesting to be an optometrist (sp?), but not quite an opthamologist (thinking they may deal more with eye surgery–and not sure I could stomach that).

    The closest I am to these two is a) I have a backyard garden, and b) I do require yearly visits to the eye doctor.

  43. Dawn*

    I have several:

    1. Technical writer: I get to indulge myself at my current job by writing policies and procedures, but I don’t get to do it all that often anymore. It was great when the Bank first started out since we didn’t have any policies or procedures written, but, ten years later, everything has been written.

    2. Private eye: This would indulge my urge to snoop. I get to snoop on a limited basis when I visit our branch and do a surprise check to see if any sensitive information is laying around (I’m the Information Security Officer, among many other things).

    3. Professional hacker (working for an IT company): Again, it would indulge my urge to snoop, see if I can “break in” to computers, etc. Sounds like fun to me.

    4. Cat caretaker: I don’t know if this is a real job, but I’d love to go to shelters and foster homes and just play with the cats all day, interact with them, etc. It would be so relaxing and care-free. I recently adopted two cats from the local cat project. They were being housed at the vet’s office since there wasn’t an available foster home (the project doesn’t have a shelter). When I walked in to pet them and play with them, they just lit up like a Christmas tree. It was so gratifying to see how happy they were for human interaction.

        1. Anon y. mouse*

          If you can build a good reputation and client base, there’s work for professional animal sitters. Many people aren’t comfortable with hiring a teenager, and will pay to have a licensed and insured professional stop by a couple of times a day while they’re out of town. If you can handle animals beyond cats and dogs (such as exotic pets or farm animals), there’s even more opportunities.

      1. Jen M.*

        Agreed. Socializing animals is a big, big piece in the puzzle of getting them into homes. This would be a wonderful (volunteer) service to offer to your local shelters/rescues!

        …And yes. As the “hoomin” to 8 kitties, I can tell you that having a licensed, bonded, insured, dependable, trustworthy petsitter is a blessing! We have been very lucky with ours and will continue to use her as long as she is in the field.

  44. Dana*


    Probably wouldn’t work in my 1-bedroom apartment, but that’s why this is my alter ego, right? In that life I have acres of land and hundreds of thousands of bees. And honey. Lots and lots of honey :)

    1. Liz in a library*

      You should totally do it!

      I’ve seen several books about urban/small space beekeeping. Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen are the first that come to mind (I think they have 2 books about sustainable living that include info on beekeeping–their first book has a TON of references in the back to other beekeeping books, if you can find it at your library). They have a blog at: http://www.rootsimple.com/

  45. Nethwen*

    Concierge researcher: I want to do other people’s research and get paid for it. In my fantasy, the process is set up so that I spend my life tramping alone through the woods or traveling and pop into civilization for a month or so to fix others’ information deficit problems, get paid substantial amounts, and then disappear for several months. Somehow in all this, I am completely debt free and make friends with a slew of professional bodyguards who help me out with the weirdos and I also know artisans who custom make my shoes on a barter system.

    Either that, or I want to be a female Strider before he turns into Aragorn.

    Either scenario is completely unrealistic, I know.

  46. Aniau Jade*

    Ever since I was a wee girl, I have always wanted to work in the business of radio. It’s actually been studied and proven (although I can’t find the article, shame on me! :) that radio is the one media that still brings about happy, and good feelings. I’ve always been in touch with music ever since I can remember, and after years and years of study and “finding my place”, I found it in radio. Currently my “dream station” has an opening for an assistant promotions director. Something I desperately want to do. You get to work behind the scenes, work with maintenance of vehicles, interns, and plan the station’s various events, just LOVE IT!! Unfortunately, I’ve applied and heard nothing back yet….darn…
    I LOVE PEOPLE!!!! HIRE ME!!!! :) Hahaha

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Oh, Lynne Rosetto Kasper! What a great job she has (host of NPR’s “The Splendid Table,” one of my favorite podcasts). You know, she used to annoy me somewhat with her out-of-control enthusiasm, but now I so enjoy it.

  47. Jess*

    I think I’d like to be a winemaker – or a at least live on a vineyard in Napa Valley and show tourists around. What a peaceful like that would be!

    When I was younger I always wanted to be in the CIA. I’ve always been told that I’m very investigative (gee no wonder I ended up in the legal profession) but I think being a CIA agent would be the most exciting!

    Who knows – maybe it’s not too late to either of these things – thanks for the inspiration! :)

  48. Joanna Reichert*

    Love love love this post!

    I would be a reporter/photographer for National Geographic, covering endangered species, indigenous tribal people, powerful weather . . . . wherever the beauty and wonder is, there I would be also!

  49. Not That Jennifer*

    My career alter ego is a professor of literature. It’s what I trained to do, but somehow I keep finding myself in tech jobs. (Before, during, and after grad school.) Lecturing, leading discussions, doing research, with a totally irregular schedule and the potential to go haring off in new directions at the slightest provocation…

  50. Vicki*

    When I was a kid I wanted to be a model maker – the person who makes the models and dioramas at a museum. That would be my secret career choice, except these days those models are in the movies. If it’s not Computer Graphics, it can be clay or metal or wood or plastic. I love watching the “behind the scenes videos” of the people making those wonderful miniaturized set pieces.

    1. Anon y. mouse*

      Yes! I would love to do that too. It seems so peaceful, and nicely creative while also appealing to my inner perfectionist. I wonder if WETA is hiring?

  51. TT*


    I have significant reservations in regards to this article. First of all, there is no full disclosure of actual methodology used to determine these “wizards”. Therefore, the data/results cannot be independently reviewed and/or audited by respective peers.

    The most concerning part of this article is that out of 13,000+ interviewees they found 31 “wizards”. If these wizards are found for example by simple true/false “is this person lying or telling the truth” variation type of questioning, it is immensely probable that these “wizards” simply resulted from random chance.

    For example, if you sample the entire population of United States you will find a small group of people who won the mega-millions lottery. You cannot say that those people are found to be significantly more proficient at predicting the lottery than their respective peers, they simply won the lottery by random chance because someone sooner or later has to do it!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Keep in mind that that’s a news article, not a journal article. I bet there’s more out there that talks about methodology if you search.

      1. TT*

        You’re correct, there are apparently ample for and against arguments, after research.

        Not sure about the policy of posting links, but an executive summary and (possible) peer criticism can be found on wikipedia here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wizards_Project
        (out of respect for research and originality I won’t repost what was said but refer readers to original texts, but reasonable criticisms along my concerns have been posed by others)

        A title page abstract outlining my similar concerns can be also found here: http://resources.metapress.com/pdf-preview.axd?code=u3051220n573124w&size=largest

    2. fposte*

      Absent context beyond the question today, I have to think that this is an article about the troubling job market for wizards.

      So I’d say the key is networking, because wizarding is awfully cliquey, and to make sure you have a solid record of technical achievement; I suspect the market is currently inundated by trendy faddists who don’t do anything that doesn’t make a lot of smoke. And don’t bother with the wizarding opportunities posted on Craigslist–they’re just trying to get some free wand action.

  52. Katie*

    Country music singer! I don’t even want to be famous or rich – I just want to sing and play my banjo in a country music band. I think roving all around, lamenting about heartbreak and rural life, and drinking whiskey would be the ideal contrast to my corporate, city persona (which I love too!) Blame my Midwest roots, but country has too much soul to ever give up! It just a shame I’m tone-deaf…

    1. Bob G*

      Cupcake tester…that is absolutely awesome!!! If you need an intern please consider me.

      (and please note to all the secret grammar police only three periods in my ellipsis..I learned that on here yesterday) :)

        1. Lynda*

          I think there’s a glitch that pounces on spelling geeks so their posts look like they don’t check their work. I have a typo in an earlier post of mine. Sigh.

  53. Barbie*

    I would love to be a Shark Biologist or a Veterinarian. Far stretch from the Marketing Coordinator that I am.

  54. Kerry*

    Being a genealogist was always my #1 fantasy job, and now I’m doing that. I don’t regret my time in HR, though, because I wouldn’t have been able to do this if I hadn’t done that.

    I also always wanted someone to pay me to snarkily comment on whatever I wanted. Then they invented Twitter and Facebook and blogs, and I have multiple outlets for my snark. I don’t really get paid for it, but you can’t win ’em all.

  55. Anonymous*

    This may sound dumb, but I had no idea there were actually careers for scientists when I was in high school, and my little experience with high school science made me hate it. It wasn’t until I started working at a biological research facility as an admin did I realize the depth and breadth of the scientific field. I would love to be a chemist or biological researcher.

  56. Liz*

    This is such a dangerous question for me! My absolute, all time favorite, career alter ego is president of my alma mater. I have such grand ideas that I would get to be involved in every aspect of my college’s day to day life – including both the mentoring to students side of things and the completely business aspect. I don’t even know if it’s being president that I’d like – I really just want a job that encompasses absolutely everything at a college or university (of course I have my dreams of those too) – I want to do marketing, editing, mentoring, teaching, hell, I’d even like serving the food in the dining hall. I’m twisted.

    My others include best-selling author, investigative reporter or detective, or FBI agent.

  57. Sinjin Smythe*

    There are 3 things I like to do: read, write, and build or fix things. The building or fixing isn’t just confined to mechanics or carpentry it is much broader than that. I like to play my guitar, building multi-track recordings, just as much as building a creened in porch for my parents. I like to fix the color balance or red eye in a photograph as much as I like to fix the gate on my wife’s garden fence. I like reading this ask a manager post and I like reading Jennifer Michael Hecht. I like writing this comment and wirting what I hope is a novel worth reading some day.

  58. Perfectshinist*

    I’d like to be a mayor of a city, but only for one reason. I LOVE public transportation and I’d authorize the building of an insane amount of subway stations, almost every street corner. One of the subway stations would have a pedestrian tunnel that leads to my basement.I also like skyscrapers and malls that glow at night so there’d be a lot of those as well. I hate nature and bikes so there’d be no more parks or bike lanes. Just a concrete paradise.

  59. Heather*

    My career alter-ego is as a chef: I am fantastic at making good food and being imaginative while doing so.

    I make money on the side doing what I went to undergrad for, so I feel that I can’t pick that one even if it’s not my career… but I am a professional in that none the less. Although my other option from my undergrad path was to be a professor in what I studied, but I just don’t think so. And that’s still potentially in the cards in 30 years, so again, another reason not to pick either professor or artist.

    I think my secret career should be what I won in my high school superlatives: “Most likely to start their own religion.” I’m an atheist but I can definitely see it to some extent.

  60. John*

    Reporter and columnist for The Economist. I am very critical of today’s news media, and I feel that majority of what is written and broadcast by most mainstream media outlets are simply there to sensationalize or to entertain so as to get as large of numbers as they can get, so their advertisers would be pleased. The Economist, along with the PBS Newshour, are two of the very few outlets that actually is geared toward the educated reader/viewer, and it makes no apologizes for not being in the entertainment business. No radical and loud talking heads, no dumb celebrity gossip, no airplane-novel crime stories, just pure and educated analysis.

  61. Rebecca*

    My first fantasy career would be marine biologist that doesn’t get wet or need scuba gear, but still goes into the ocean to research. So in other words, I would like to be a mermaid.

    My second fantasy career would be a forensic accountant because I like figuring out mysteries with numbers.

    My third fantasy career would be professional traveler. I don’t have to blog/write or take photos or video, I just travel around and experience things. And maybe help other travelers that are lost, or need me to take their photos, etc.

  62. Donna*

    I’d be an overnight DJ on a rock and roll radio station. When we were dating my husband referred to me as “The Encyclopedia of Music” because I knew decades worth of music from almost any genre. He could never stump me with a song/singer/band. I love the backstories on music – artist inspirations, etc.

    Professional organizer/declutter – I am constantly (in my head) organizing/decluttering/refurbishing spaces everywhere I go.

    Life Coach – I’ve always been “the great encourager” telling people yes you can – go for it!

    Owner of a bakery that specializes in cookies, glorious cookies.

  63. JC*

    Gemologist, Archaeologist, and Forensic Scientist (with an expertise in serial killers) – weird mix! :0)

    1. Anon y. mouse*

      You could excavate graves of Renaissance murder victims and solve the crimes based on the patterns of gemstones they were buried with. “The killer left pale sapphires in the grave clothes, but that chemical composition only comes from one particular area of Romania – and the only person who’d been to that area and could afford the stones is… Aha! The Baron of Whitecastle!”

      I would watch that TV series. :-)

  64. Dawn*

    I can’t believe I forgot my all-time biggest dream…to be a concert photographer! I get such a rush out of being in the front row and snapping frame-quality pics. :) I am building my wall of fame at the moment.

  65. Leigh*

    In college I was thinking of changing my major from business to nursing, thinking it would be a more family-friendly profession. When I mentioned it to my dad, he said, “Leigh, I have one word for you: catheters.”

    I stuck to business, and have never regretted my choice. But if I could have my absolute dream job, I’d be the drummer for Green Day. Not for the fame; I just think it would be the awesomest thing ever.

  66. Ksenia*

    It’s so fun reading through these & seeing that many of them are real, achievable careers.

    Alison, I’m with you on being Elliot Stabler’s partner. If not, I’d be OK with being Olivia Benson’s partner instead.

    I have a couple alter ego careers: travel writer, high school English teacher, Director of Services at an NGO, highrise window washer.

    Dream jobs (ones that are less realistic) would be: dessert critic, UN interpreter, trapeze performer.

  67. Bob G*

    My secret career alter ego would be philanthropist. I don’t even know if that is a “career” but I can’t imagine how awesome it would feel to be able to go around and change people’s lives for the better.

    I imagine it like a superhero…but without needing to be born on another planet or get bitten by a spider.

  68. JT*

    John – other great outlets off the top-of-my head include the Guardian, the New Yorker, Rolling Stone, New York Review of Books, among big names. And many others. Not much on TV though. And getting to a big name like any of those is obviously super-hard…..

  69. Another Anon*

    Sci fi novelist, but then, I’m still seriously hoping I will be one! Radio announcer is something I’m sure I won’t be but it always seemed like something I’d love to do.

  70. Michelle*

    I want to travel the world, tasting different kinds of chocolate. Kind of like a sommelier, but for chocolate.

    Some days, I day dream of owning a B&B. Other days, I want to be the chiropractor/physiotherapy person for sports teams.

    And like another poster, I often dream of being retired (I’m 29). I started saving for retirement when I was 21, so maybe my alter ego is a financial planner :)

  71. Erica B*

    mine would be a Consultant. in what field you ask? I’d reply, “I’m a generalist.” lol. I Have good ideas. Not crazy complicated, far-fetched, way out there ideas, but I am able to bring common sense and the reality of a situation back to the table. I have a good outside perspective on topics once I know enough of the details. and i have a tons of contacts. A friend recently told me that I should be a consultant because If i didn’t have any personal experience about something I knew someone who did.
    the thing is though, that I’ve had happen on several occasions i suggest something, and other people go, “nah, don’t want to do it.. ./ not interested” then eventually they do, and say, “That was a great idea, I should’ve done that way sooner”. They just need to warm up to the idea that the blonde is smarter than she seems.

    I just love the idea of getting paid a crazy amount of money to give someone my opinion.

  72. JT*

    Really enjoying reading this stuff. I’ll add that when I was in my 20s and early 30s a number times people would assume I was an attorney – I think because of the way I spoke and especially argued. Then for a while a number of people said “You’re at some kind of dot-com start-up, right?” – which I never understood. All this time I worked in a nonprofit organization, first on the programs side and then in communications and outreach. But neither of those would be dreams for me, though I considered law school when in college.

  73. El Jorge*

    What a fun question! I have a few responses of my own.
    First off, professional musician. Mainly for studio work – I’m a creative type, I love making things, and I’m practically inseparable from my guitars when I’m at home. This one really isn’t a secret among people I know.
    I’d also love to write novels or direct films. There’s something magical about the idea of dreaming up a new reality and letting a reader/viewer explore it for a few hours of their life.

  74. Cheryl*

    All my life I wanted to be a social worker/psychologist/counselor and I pursued it as far as a bachelors degree…but life interfered and I had this burning desire to eat on a daily basis. I still would like to do something of that nature, but it would need to be paired with something that pays a bit more.

    In my spare time I pursue contemplative photography and would love to teach workshops on it as it would open up so many possibilities for folks, to see their surroundings in a different light and slow down the rush and feel such peace in their lives. To borrow from the Miksang Institute for Contemplative Photography:

    “Miksang is a Tibetan word that translates as ‘Good Eye’, and is based on the Shambhala and Dharma Art teachings of the late meditation master, artist, and scholar Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche.

    ‘Good’ here doesn’t mean good as we usually use the word, as in good or bad. Good here means that our mind is uncluttered by preoccupation, relaxed and open. Its innate nature is clear, brilliant, and extremely precise. When steady mind, clear vision and soft heart come together in one single moment, ‘Good Eye’ manifests. It is vision that is inherently pure, unobstructed, unblocked, free of depression, free of aggression, free of interpretation. Free altogether. When we synchronize eye and mind, we abandon all concepts and predispositions and become completely present in the moment. The world becomes a magical display of vivid perception. We can develop the ability to experience and express these experiences precisely through the practice of contemplative photography.”

    That is the state I would like others to be able to reach when things are bad in their lives as that sense of peace, freedom, joy etc., would color all other parts of their lives. That is my career fantasy

    Ultimately, that feeds the essence of who I am.

  75. Anonymous*

    I’m a librarian and I love it. But I think I’d also like:
    event planner,
    life coach,
    yoga teacher,
    I did actually work in restaurants for 10 years but not as a cook. I like to do yoga and I’ve taught friends a few moves and techniques, I like planning parties at home and work, and people do tend to come to me for advice about what they should do about problems. So I think I could be reasonably good at these careers.

  76. Kimberlee*

    My secret desire is to own and run a dress shop. Like, fancy dresses like prom dresses and wedding dresses. And there’d be tons of, like, cool and retro stuff, and there’d be tons of options for the financially challenged (as a fairly recent teenage girl, I remember acutely the pain of not getting to have those huge, sparkly $400 dresses for each dance).

    I would probably have, next door, a consignment/cool clothes/accessories store. I’d mostly be stocked with shit from Etsy. I’m super girly at heart. :)

  77. Deirdre*

    Long haul truck driver. I love to drive (14 trips across country courtesy of the US Navy), love photography, and love to travel. Plus I could take my dog to work.

  78. Heidi*

    If I could do it all over again I’d be a meteorologist/storm chaser, and/or a professional musician, and/or professional surfer. Instead of that excitement I opted for the mirage of safety and security in corporate America. What was I thinking?

  79. M*

    I would love to be a wedding planner. The person who makes all the magic happen to pull together the day of someones dreams, and sits back in the shadows and watches it all unfold after a cerfully constructed plan, and security measures, have been put in place. : sigh :

  80. Anonymous*

    Nurse… But everytime I would visit a hospital and see what nurses do and what they actually have to see (all kinds of injuries and illnesses), it made me sick to my stomach. It’s not just about giving someone cup of tea and gingerale while they lay in bed peacefully. It’s much more, and part of me still like the “idea” but would never fully enjoy the actual nursing job.

  81. Jamie*

    LOVE this question – and have been so swamped lately have desperately missed my AAM fix.

    1. Statistical Analyst for a cryptozoologist. I don’t want to look for Bigfoot, since I don’t like to leave my house…but to compile stats, charts, graphs and find patterns in the research…sigh…heaven.

    2. Own a goat farm. About 12 goats – a couple of sheep – and all the cats and dogs who need a good home. I keep trying to talk my husband into learning to make goat cheese so we can do this when we retire. I don’t care about cheese – that would just be the business justification for having the farm, and it would have enough applicable regulations that I could still wear my auditor and accounting hats.

    I would miss IT though – maybe we’d offer both goat cheese and computer service. Often when people buy cheese they want to discuss their database architecture at the same time.

  82. Joe*

    I love my job, and can’t really imagine having a different career, but there have been a few thoughts that cross my mind from time to time:

    1) Lawyer – If not for the painful, insane amounts of research that go into supporting the rest of the work, I would love to do this. I love to debate, can make strong arguments for my viewpoint, can navigate the rules of a game/system well, and could apply those same “Aha!” moments in puzzle solving that make me like my current job to finding ways to win. But I can’t stand library study/research, and would never make it through law school, much less be able to do that all the time.

    2) Politician – This is one I still try to convince myself I can do some time. The problem is, I think I could do well in office, but I’d never get there, because I can’t schmooze, and I can’t get up and tell people what they want to hear even if I don’t believe it. My fantasy is to follow in the mold of Paul Wellstone, to jump straight into a high profile election, build up a real grassroots movement, and win the respect of people for my integrity and principles. It ain’t ever gonna happen, though. *sigh*

    3) Chef – If you’d asked me when I was in college, or even a couple of years ago, I never would’ve even considered this, but in the last couple of years, as I’ve been spending more time cooking, I wish I knew how to _really_ cook, and could see myself enjoying doing it for a living. That delusion probably is fed in part by the fact hat I have no idea what a professional chef’s life is like, and I would probably hate the reality of it, so I’m content to continue to allow this one to be pure fantasy.

    1. Jamie*

      I would LOVE to be able to vote for a politician who can’t schmooze and says doesn’t tailor their ideas to their audience.

      Unfortunately, that runs counter to what brings in the campaign dollars.

  83. CC*

    Clutter Organizer – I’d go through closets, drawers, cabinets and basements sorting things out and putting them in labeled boxes and shelves. I find this strangely calming.

    Gardener or landscape designer/architect – Designing and caring for outdoor spaces sounds magical, but it’s probably more technical than making crappy drawings on graphing paper like I do. I get my landscaping fix by working on my own garden, though.

  84. Anthony*

    Fantastic comments! Read every single one of them, perhaps the first time I have ever done that.

    I dream of any job that gets me out of the office, but pays me like I am in the office. So far that’s proven difficult, but my top choices would be:

    1. Park ranger and/or trail builder
    2. Coast guard
    3. Salmon fisherman
    4. Wilderness guide

  85. Meaghan*

    What a great question! I have a few (which I feel is kind of silly because I really like my actual job, but oh well).

    I’d love to be a wedding photographer. I did the photos for my cousin’s wedding this summer and it was so fun. I was able to get some really nice ones and it was such a great vibe all day. I like photography in general but working with real people, on a day where everyone is happy? That would be sweet.

    Editor for novels. I’m sure it’s not this glamourous, but I always picture just being able to sit and read fiction all day, which I love.

    Chef. I thought seriously about pursuing cooking; what held me back were the horror stories of long hours and only ever eating McDonald’s because you were too exhausted to cook for yourself after a 14-hour shift. But if I could somehow be a chef with a reasonable work-life balance, I’d do it in a heartbeat.

  86. Alicia*

    I have always secretly wanted to be a fireman (I guess “firewoman” in my case). I just love the idea of being in a fire house all day watching TV, working out, reading, sitting outside in the summer months people watching with our cute firehouse dog—I’ve actually seen this. And then the siren goes off and it’s all about business. Putting your life on the line, literally walking through fire to save people…wow. I just think it is an amazing career and I greatly admire those that have committed their lives to this profession. Unfortunately, there is no way that I have the physical ability to even lift the hose!

  87. Domart*

    Wow, I’m surprised so many people listed just one or two dream jobs. I’d love to be a yoga teacher, or a glass blower, or a vacation writer, or a video game designer, or a journalist, or a priest, or a social media specialist (especially for a hotel – imagine an online concierge!), or a baker, or florist… So many options!

    I work in non-profit/politics/online organizing. Sure I can work from anywhere, but that also means working well past an 8-hr day.

    As far as real jobs go, I think I’d love to be a support services for a major corporation. Just make PowerPoint presentations for salespeople, fliers and one-pagers for marketers, reports for analysts…

  88. Shamrocky*

    I am very, very happily married, and the Mom of a small child whom I adore. But if I could have an alternate universe life…I’d love to be a Catholic nun, preferably with a Benedictine or Franciscan order so I could be “of the world” as well. I can only imagine how amazing it would be to have that strong of a relationship with God, but at the same time, still be able to pursue my career as a public interest lawyer (my real job). I would’ve also really enjoyed being an Epsicopal priest in a big, busy parish, if it weren’t for that whole “one true faith” problem. ;)

  89. NicoleW*

    There are so many different paths I could see myself on. I’ve always been interested in a variety of things and get bored when I’m stuck with really repetitive work. Oddly, I do like data entry. I could never do it for more than an hour a day, but I like plugging information into the appropriate slot. On the other hand, I wish I could get away from a desk and computer. Maybe a different job each day of the week would be best for me.
    When I was younger, I thought I would be a teacher, actress or marine biologist. None of the above
    Some options:
    * Tour guide – I love to travel and learn about different places. Despite being socially awkward and shy, I have zero anxiety about public speaking and actually enjoy talking to people when I’m knowledgeable on the topic.
    * Event planner for movie premiers and the like. I am not a go-getter or a person who wants to figure out every logistic detail. But I’d be good at recognizing the details that need arranging and delegating them to my staff. :)
    * Forensic accountant – it’s like being a detective without the dead bodies! Figuring out a numerical issue or making all the numbers work in a budget is so satisfying. I do some forensic accounting and budgeting now. Completing a complicated budget is like a little high. While I’m a numbers geek, I would go nuts if that’s all I did.
    * Historical consultant for movies – history was my favorite subject in school. How awesome to have your job be “that type of dress wasn’t worn until after 1800.”
    * Business owner – I wish I had something I knew how to do or make that I could actually earn a living.
    * Casting director – I’ve assisted with auditions a number of times and think I could actually be good at this.
    * Wedding photographer – I like taking photos but I’m not sure I have the artistic eye or skills.

    I could probably go on and on. There are other paths that interest me that are more likely in reality, these are just in my other life.

  90. Anne*

    Oddly enough, although I work in engineering I’d love to be a farmer. I’d have a little new-england farm; with a CSA crowd to fund it and I’d get to pick all the veggies to plant each year and watch them grow – fix the farm equipment when it breaks or needs maintenance (yay mechanical stuff!) and generally be outside. Maybe we’d have fruit orchards, or chickens, or maybe even goats. And there would be lots of outside time. The only downside would be supervising farm hands, but I think I’d just adore it.

  91. Coral*

    I want to be a marine bird trainer, or at least a marine biologist.

    I’m actually a web services librarian. Which I like OK. (Agree with earlier commenters: librarianship tends more toward the loud and the hectic.) But I don’t get to work with penguins or puffins, and I really wish I did.

  92. Joy*

    I would like to be the President of the United States, mainly because I am bossy and think that if everyone would just listen to me, the world would be perfect…Or I could be a superstar, that might be fun!

  93. Christine*

    You’d be amazed at the string of career fantasies I’ve had over the years….a lot of it for me is just trying to find the right fit. Here are a few. I’m a social worker by training, so these are somewhat feasible if I take the right steps:
    – Librarian (I love reference and text books!)
    – Grant writer
    – Research in a university
    – Work with college students with disabilities
    – Medical transcriptionist (had this one about 10 years ago)

    My biggest “fantasy” (as in, probably never going to happen) is working in a government research/information center, such as with the Department of Education or Dept. of Health & Human Services.

  94. A. Marie*

    My dream job would be the person that picks songs for movies. Music and song are such emotional things that I would be elated to find that perfect song for this one scene.

    Also an executive assistant. I love planning things and researching things online.

    And my last one, which is what I’m working upwards now, is a Medicare and Medicaid fraud investigator. Sounds fun right? To me YES!! I work with older people now and was amazed at how little most know about how to detect fraud. Medicare af Medicaid fraud costs tax payees BILLIONS and it really upsets me that people steal from all of our pockets. Ever since I was little I’ve hated whe. I’ve felt that things were fair and this isnt fair to anyone. I’m currently sending out cover letters and resumes and waiting for an interview to sell myself (thanks to your blog I’m ver confident that I’ll get one).

  95. mouse*

    Freaky late to the party. Sci Fi author who eventually ends up as a sci fi tv show runner. I want to write the kind of television that has people screaming at their TVs each week (Buffy, Farscape, etc.).

  96. anonn*

    I actually do kind of manage to do my secret career for a charity event but I would love to develop it much more.

    I’d like to be a ‘Facilitator’. Not the “remove problem people” type but the “turn a dream into reality” type.

    If any of my friends mutter the phrase “if only we could” I tend to be the one who starts scoping out the possibilities, costs and probable issues that would be involved.

    I also do this with Cosplay costumes and designing really high impact decorations for a once a year themed charity event. Due to having really great friends I can visualize what would like good and we work on how to make that happen for virtually no cost (by scrounging, alternative materials or by using stuff we already have). Its great to see it all come together. Now if only I could do the art side for concept drawings anywhere near as well. :(

    However my friends do know not to say “thats not possible” or you “that wouldn’t work” unless they want me to try to make it work. :)

  97. Kelsey*

    I love this post! My dream/ secret career is Wedding Planner. Not for big fancy weddings though, for small, extremely budgeted affairs. I love scouring thrift and vintage stores for almost anything, but how fun would it be finding the perfect wedding/ bridesmaid dresses?! Finding a way to do pretty and fun things on a budget is like crack to me and I would love to give a little direction to those who need it!

  98. Jen M.*

    Artist and animal rescue. My Ultimate-Super-Cool-Dream job would be to own and run a vegan cafe/gallery. The venue would also have studio space available for artists to rent. The income from the cafe and gallery would fund a no-kill animal rescue/sanctuary.

    Not out of the question, but it would require a LOT of financial support to get it up and running, mainly on the rescue side. The cafe and gallery would need to be started up the way any other business would, and I don’t have the capital to do it.

    Truly, that is what would make me happiest in life: Making a living from my creative pursuits and supporting other artists while helping as many animals as I could and serving kick-ass vegan food!

    The best part would be not having to work for assholes any more.

  99. Kelly*

    I’m loving all of the awesome alter egos! I’ve always been a science geek so I think I would love being a zookeeper and also a medical examiner, even though it’s kind of a morbid career. Finding out how somebody died and helping with police cases sounds super interesting.

  100. Nina*

    My real profession is social work. First alter ego career would be a dancer in Las Vegas (major hotel shows like Cirque du Soleil-not the off-strip ‘gentlemen’ establishments) or a professional gambler. Both careers point to Las Vegas, but I can’t stand the heat.

  101. Mary*

    Probably an interior designer. I absolutely MUST make things and work with my hands. I can’t NOT do it– if I don’t make something on a daily basis, I actually feel physically ill, like I’m coming off of some horribly addictive drug. And I love good design. Unfortunately, I am absolutely forbidden to decorate our house (DH is severely OCD… he’d prefer that I never cook or craft either).

    IRL I’m an attorney. I absolutely hate it, but you don’t really change jobs in this economy. I usually keep a small project in the car and disappear for half-an-hour at lunchtime to get my crafting fix. Otherwise I would go stark raving mad.

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