There are a lot of ways to make a buck that you probably never thought of. And, of course, Florida being Florida, we have our share of weird ways to do pretty much everything. Here’s five of the oddest jobs Florida has to offer.
Yes, mermaid is a real job. It’s not just make believe.
There’s at least two places in Florida where you can be a professional mermaid. Weeki Wachee Springs, about an hour north of Tampa, opened its underwater theater back in 1947, becoming famous for its underwater mermaid shows. Their current roster even includes a Miami native. But if uprooting your whole life and leaving Miami doesn’t seem worth it for your budding career as a mermaid, worry not. The Wreck Bar in Fort Lauderdale has its own troop of magical mermaids, with nightly shows every Friday and Saturday.
Dog surfing instructor
Yes, dogs do love to swim and splash, but did you know they can also surf? And some of them are pretty damn good at it. There have been actual Florida dog surfing competitions held in Juno, Jupiter, and Cocoa Beach. Dogs can learn the ins and out of surfing like a pro from dog surfing instructors, with group lessons offered in the summer that quickly sell out.
Do you like hugging giant reptiles with razor sharp teeth and jaws powerful enough to snap you in two? Of course you do. Sounds like you’ve got a long career ahead of in the lucrative field of gator wrestling.
Long before Europeans ever came to Florida, the Seminole and Miccosukee tribes considered handling alligators a normal part of life. Most of the methods now used in gator wrestling actually evolved from the hunting and capturing techniques Native Americans perfected over generations. So becoming a gator wrestler means being part of one of Florida’s oldest traditions. In fact, one of the very earliest tourist attractions in the state was the St. Augustine Alligator Farm, opened way back in 1893. Not sure if you’ve got what it takes? Gatorland will let you step into the ring and try out a wrestling pose under expert supervision for just $10.
Some jobs are unique to Florida simply because we are so unique. Florida’s the only state in the continental U.S. with a coral reef system, and with so many ships traversing our waters, damage is sadly all too common. When that happens, the Reef Injury Prevention and Response (RIPR) coordinator dives in to help. The job involves managing coral reef injury responses through the Southeast Florida Coral Reef Initiative, as well as educating the local boating community about what they can do to protect our coral reefs.
Riding a giant shoe
This Key West tradition is just perfectly weird in all the best Florida ways. Though, really, this seems like more of an honor than a career path — and that honor belongs to a drag queen named Sushi. Every New Year’s Eve on Duval Street, Sushi rides a ginormous high heel that’s slowly dropped from a second story, singing to ring in the new year. This will be Sushi’s 19th year riding that glamorous shoe.