In May’s “Risky Business” we examine eight Colorado careers that require a safety manual the size of a Denver phone book. It got us thinking about other off-the-beaten-path occupations, so we tracked down four more Coloradans who’ve strayed from the typical desk job to make a living doing what they love.
Not For The Faint-Of-Heart
Name: Jay Young
Location: Mosca (just north of Alamosa)
Job: General manager at Colorado Gators Reptile Park, where he feeds, medicates, and cleans the cages of a motley crew of rescued beasts, including crocodiles, rattlesnakes, 17-foot-long pythons, and of course, alligators—including the gator that starred in movies such as Happy Gilmore and Interview With the Vampire.
Pay: About $20,000 a year
Coolest part of the job: “The alligators are living dinosaurs,” Young says. “They’re really neat. Even though I’ve worked with them my whole life, they still fascinate me.”
Best Of The West
Names: Lee Michels and David Wright
Job: Old West living history performers (the duo frequently portrays infamous saloon staples Doc Holliday and Laura Bell McDaniel) and producers at Monarch Productions Western Themed Events. Michels and Wright are regulars at Wild West festivals across Colorado and beyond, and often film the events. Up next: Rocky Mountain Rivalry, a statewide reenactment-group competition in Loveland in June.
Pay: Varies by appearance, but usually around $200 per hour with a two-hour minimum
Coolest part of the job: “Becoming that Old West character,” says Wright. “You get to be someone totally different from yourself.”
“Teaching [the public] history,” says Michels. “Not Hollywood’s version, but real history.”
Just Laugh It Off
Name: Enda Junkins
Job: Officially, a psychotherapist. But she’s perhaps better known as the “Laughing Psychotherapist,” a leading authority on laughter therapy who has presented her methods to businesses like Verizon and Fannie Mae, in locales from Germany to Hong Kong. During corporate seminars and private therapy sessions, Junkins uses laughter—and the release of emotions it causes—to tackle whatever’s ailing you, whether it’s depression, chronic pain, communication issues, or stress management.
Pay: $3,500 per presentation
Coolest part of the job: “When I’m speaking, the material never gets old, Junkins says. “Not only do my audiences feel better afterward, but also, I do. It makes me feel good to see people get where they want to go.”
Attention To (Very Small) Detail
Name: Craig Martin
Job: Owner/president of Archetype 3D, a design firm of professional model builders that creates intricate, scale architectural and engineering models of anything from luxury ski-town resorts (Archetype’s portfolio includes Beaver Creek’s Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch and Horizon Pass Lodge) to the American embassy in Moscow.
Pay: About $5,000 for a small, simple model; $20,000 to $40,000 for an elaborate model, like a resort
Coolest part of the job: “The problem-solving,” Martin says. “Every project is different. When you take on a project, you scratch your head and sit down with everyone to figure out what will work.”
—Image courtesy of Shutterstock