15 Weird and Surprising Government Jobs You Didn’t Know Existed

Government employees aren’t just paper-pushing bureaucrats. The 22 million Americans who work for federal, state, and local governments do all kinds of jobs, including repairing our roads and bridges, fighting fires, and teaching our kids. But that’s just the tip of the government jobs iceberg. We’ve rounded up 15 unusual or surprising jobs that federal, state, and local governments are paying people to do across the country. Do you think the government should be paying people to do this work?

1. Planetary protection officer

E.T.

NASA’s planetary protection officers keep Earth safe from alien life forms. | Universal Pictures

Planetary protection officer sounds like a job straight out of a science fiction film. But it’s a real gig at NASA (and it pays six figures). The Office of Planetary Protection is charged with protecting other planets — as well as moons, comets, and asteroids — from contamination by “Earth life.” It’s also responsible for keeping our planet safe from any alien life forms that might hitch a ride back to Earth. So basically it’s keeping us all safe from E.T.

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