Mythical-beast sleuth Loren Coleman, 52, has a job worth envying—the hunter of Bigfoot and the Himalayan yeti treks the backcountry and interviews eyewitnesses. "So many flakes used to contact me about strange sightings," he says, "I had to get an unlisted address."
Tramping through French and Italian forests on the prowl for these underground delicacies can be lonely work—just you, your shovel, and your hypersensitive-snouted pig, to sniff out the fragrant fungi. "It's every man for himself," says Rick Benito, an Atlantan who imports white and black truffles for www.freshcaviar.com. "But first you have to train the hog."
Be like University of California wave scientist Bill O'Reilly, 39, whose offshore duties include planting undersea sensors along the southern California coast. Back in his lab, he crunches data to create a surfer's road map to the biggest breakers. Next stop: Hawaii.
Poling through canals is the easy part. It's landing the job that's a grind: "They pass it down from family to family," says Carlo Santoro of the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce. Those determined to buck centuries of Old World tradition should enroll at Venice's famed Academy of Gondoliering (011-39-041-529-871).
Get paid to ignore evacuation orders! That's what Lt. Karl Newman does when he straps himself into a turboprop research plane and flies straight into the eye of the storm, bringing first-hand wind and weather data back to the University of Miami meteorological center.
In this have-a-nice-day world, you've got to love a place where they answer the phone, "Naval Special Warfare Center, this is a nonsecure line!" Consider it a job for hard-core, hard-body adventurers who are partial to mapping coastal shallows, trekking jungles—and blowing up enemy bridges.
Tap into a soaring market for high-end, high-up forts. Take your cue from Pete Nelson, who runs Seattle's Treehouse Workshop (www.treehouseworkshop.com) and nets $2,000-$20,000 for each treehouse he builds.
Wildlife conservation meets international diplomacy: Enlist in the Butterfly Sanctuary Foundation, brainchild of University of Minnesota ecologist Karen Oberhauser, and lobby Mexican officials and villagers to preserve the winter turf of 200 million migrating monarchs.