Careers for people who hate routine

Jobs That Aren't Routine

These jobs require adaptability, flexibility, and the ability to think and react quickly.

By Terri Williams

While some people like predictability and certainty, others prefer a life less ordinary. They hate work that is so monotonous it could be performed while blindfolded with one hand tied behind the back.

If you count yourself in this crowd, you might be the kind of adventurous soul who needs new challenges every day and who finds the thrill of the unexpected is what wakes you up in the morning. You probably adapt quickly to changing environments and actually thrive in chaos and ambiguity. So how do you find yourself a job?

According to Clarissa Kenty, a career expert in Birmingham, AL, "People who hate routine jobs need a variety of duties as well as the opportunity to formulate creative solutions to problems."

Many of these individuals work in emergency roles, which is a good thing because, let's face it, there's nothing routine about a life-and-death situation, and people who can think quickly can save countless lives.

However, quick thinkers are also needed in other roles where job duties can change in the blink of an eye. Keep reading to learn about seven good career choices for people who hate routine.

Career #1: Police Officer

There's no such thing as a routine day for police officers. Even a "routine" traffic stop can quickly morph into a high-speed chase or a dangerous shootout. That's why it's great for those who love unpredictability.

Why It's Unpredictable: "Each day, police officers are presented with different challenges. There are different crimes, different levels of crimes, and different perpetrators," says Kenty. "In the course of a single day, they may respond to a domestic dispute, a robbery in progress, a hostage situation, or they may provide testimony in a court case." However, keep in mind that according to the U.S. Department of Labor, police officers may also have less exciting responsibilities such as writing reports and filling out forms.

And police work also offers a variety of career choices, as according to the Department of Labor, there are different types of police officers, including state troopers, transit and railroad police, and fish and game wardens. Opportunities at the federal level might include working for the FBI, U.S. Border Patrol, and the U.S. Secret Service.

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Educational Options: Usually candidates must have a high school diploma or GED, says the Department. However, many agencies require college coursework or a college degree. In addition, applicants must graduate from their agency's training academy, be U.S. citizens at least 21 years of age, and pass physical and personal qualifying tests.

Career #2: Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners

Coordinating every aspect of a major meeting, convention, or event allows planners to go from manager to negotiator, from organizer to problem-solver - and frequently shifting gears keeps the job exciting.

Why It's Unpredictable: "Each client has a different style, different needs, and a different budget amount," explains Kenty. "And based on these factors, it may be a small, medium, or large event. It may be held indoors or outdoors and may be a strictly formal or a casual event."

Kelly Peacy, senior vice president of education and meetings for the Professional Convention Management Association agrees the work is never routine because of the various types of events they produce. "We may organize black tie events and fundraising galas, manage exhibit halls or trade shows, plan educational sessions, and handle off-site excursions, she says.

"And the variety of duties we perform include food and beverage arrangements, event site selection, audio visual arrangements, hotel and venue contracting, budget and financial management, speaker and entertainment management, decorating and design, and also transportation management."

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Education Options: According to the U.S. Department of Labor, many employers prefer those with related work experience in hotels or planning and a bachelor's degree. Event planners come from a variety of different backgrounds. Related bachelor's degrees might include hospitality management, marketing, business, communications, and public relations.

Career #3: Firefighters

Most people think firefighters spend all day, well, fighting fires. However, they do much more than this. And even the firefighting aspect is unpredictable.

Why It's Unpredictable: "Firefighters may respond to a house fire, a car fire, or a commercial building fire, and it may be a small fire or a three-alarm blaze," says Kenty. "Each situation presents different challenges based on the type and level of fire."

And according to Battalion Chief Raymond Williams of the Birmingham Fire Department in Birmingham, AL, firefighters actually respond to more medical emergencies than fires. "We handle all types of life-threatening medical situations such as strokes, heart attacks, and injuries resulting from car wrecks, violence, or accidents in the home," he says.

Williams says that firefighters also respond to hazardous spills, floods, forest fires, and explosions. In addition, he says they educate the public on fire safety by "conducting fire drills and teaching classes on how to use fire extinguishers."

Education Options: While in many jurisdictions the entry-level education requirement is a high school diploma, the U.S. Department of Labor says that most firefighters enter the job with postsecondary education, usually a postsecondary non-degree award in fire science or a related subject. The Department of Labor notes that associate's degree programs are available as well.

Career #4: Emergency Room Nurses

The phrase "emergency room" is a not-so-subtle hint that this is an ideal job for those who like the excitement of handling random medical emergencies.

Why It's Unpredictable: "Different patients will present different medical challenges, and there may be fast periods and slow periods. So emergency room nurses constantly multitask, and they quickly shift gears," says Kenty.

JoAnn Lazarus, president of the Emergency Nurses Association board of directors, echoes Kenty's sentiment. "In one day, you may help a mother birth a child into the world, and also hold the hand of someone in the last stages of their life," says Lazarus. "One minute you're taking care of a child who placed a foreign object in his nose, and a few minutes later, you're treating someone who had a heart attack."

And Lazarus says that there are a variety of settings in which emergency nurses may work. "Besides the emergency room department, emergency nurses may be flight nurses, a part of the transport unit in an ambulance, or they may work in an urgent care center.

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Education Options: There are three paths to a career as a registered nurse, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Students can obtain a bachelor's or associate's degree in nursing or a diploma from an approved nursing program. They must also be licensed.

Career #5: Public Relations Specialists/Managers

As Warren Buffet once said, "It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it." And the delicate balance act required to manage a company's reputation is anything but routine.

Why It's Unpredictable: "Not only do these professionals handle communication with an organization's clients, but they also craft the information that is shared with investors and the public," says Kenty.

Sonya Grigoruk, director of public relations at Paramount Farms in Los Angeles, confirms that this career is never routine. "Public relations specialists and managers are involved with everything from developing PR campaigns and handling media training for executives to staffing media events, writing press releases, and pitching possible stories to the media," she says.

Grigoruk says job responsibilities may vary by organization, but says, "In my career, I've done everything from holding ribbon cutting ceremonies at solar farm openings and conducting pistachio harvest media tours to managing PR agencies around the world, including China, India, and South America."

Next step: Click to Find the Right Communications Program.

Education Options: Public relations specialists typically need a bachelor's degree. Employers usually want a candidate who has studied public relations, journalism, business, English, or communications, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Career #6: Police, Fire, and Ambulance Dispatchers

These dispatchers serve as the link that connects people in distressing and urgent situations with the help they need, which is never boring or mundane.

Why It's Unpredictable: "Each call is different and many of the callers are frantic," says Kenty. "Emergency dispatchers decipher what the caller is saying, while trying to calm them down."

And according to Jamie Zeller, president of the California Emergency Dispatcher Association, dispatchers work at various times of the day, "from the day shift to the graveyard shift." The calls can vary widely, too. "We take calls for immediate emergency assistance, as well as calls from people who need advice in non-emergency-type situations."

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Education Options: The U.S. Department of Labor reports that most dispatchers have a high school diploma, although there may be additional requirements that vary by state. The Department of Labor adds that some employers may prefer to hire those who have an associate's or bachelor's degree in a related subject, such as criminal justice, communications, or computer science. Many states require dispatchers to obtain certification.

Career #7: Medical and Health Services Managers

If there's an element of routine in the day-to-day duties of medical and health service managers, it's that they routinely wear more than one hat.

Why It's Unpredictable: "These managers are dealing with patients, staff, doctors, and vendors, and all of these relations must be handled differently," says Kenty.

For example, "We hire and fire staff, keep up with human resource laws, and are responsible for accounts payable and accounts receivable," says Pam Lewis, a certified medical manager and chair of the Professional Association of Health Care Office Management.

Dorothy Thompson, a certified medical manager and the practice administrator at Carolina Medical Consultants in Rock Hill, SC, agrees that the job is far from routine. "You're also the liaison between the staff and the physicians and also between the patients and the staff," she says. "Sometimes, you're also a disciplinarian, and at times, a comforter." Thompson says she's never bored and is constantly learning new things.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Health Care Administration Program.

Education Options: "Prospective medical and health services managers have a bachelor's degree in health administration," says the U.S. Department of Labor. Master's degrees are also common, according to the Department of Labor, in fields such as health services, public administration, long-term care administration, public health, and business administration.

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