“When I grow up, I want to be a medical waste disposal technician,” said no one ever. Even people who are medical waste disposal technicians probably didn’t know such a thing existed when they were kids. But theirs is a real job; one of many seldom discussed but indispensible occupations in the medical field.

Nuclear pharmacist … sexologist … flight nurse … do those careers really exist?

Absolutely. Here we take a closer look at some of the other kinds of medical specialists.

Wound-Care Specialist

Wound-care specialists remove infected tissue to improve patient healing.

These professionals don’t just work in hospitals and nursing homes. They may travel and treat patients at their homes.

Within the wound-care specialist field there is a relatively new subspecialty dedicated to caring for bedsores. Bedsores cause 60,000 deaths per year and cost $1 billion annually, so effective care of them is integral. Wound care nurses lead the way in ensuring that bedsores don’t cause death.

Skilled Wound Care in Los Angeles, California, in fact, offers a service available to nursing homes across the nation that is aimed at preventing bedsores.

Wound care physicians make about $500 to $700 a day. According to PayScale.com, wound care nurses make anywhere from $42,000 to $81,000 a year.

Cytotechnologist

These professionals prepare and evaluate tissue samples to see if they contain disease, using medical equipment such as microscopes.

According to Salary.com, these professionals make anywhere from $59,000 to $83,000.

Perfusionist

Perfusionists operate heart and lung machines that take over the functions of patients’ organs while they are in surgery.

There is a Certified Clinical Perfusionist (CCP) credential that is required to hold this job. These professionals do not necessarily have to work full-time hours. In some cases they work as needed on an on-call basis.

The median annual cardio-pulmonary perfusionist salary is $117,000 with a range usually between $105,000 and $129,000.

Space Psychologist

Although many people probably think going to space would be fun, they may not be cut out for the journey.

A space psychologist advises selection panels about which astronauts are best suited for a particular team or mission. They also provide counseling to support the crews before, during, and after the flight.

Orthotist

An orthotist is responsible for evaluating patients and assessing the strength of their muscles. Then they can ensure a proper fit on orthotics, devices for people with disabling conditions in their limbs and spines.

Some of these professionals work as either a prosthetist or certified prosthetists orthotists.

According to the National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education, the salary for a board-certified orthotist is between $42,000 and $60,000 annually. 

Hospital Cleaning Crew

Keeping medical facilities clean is central to preventing infection. The staff responsible for ensuring things are spic and span, is among the most vital and unheralded. Somebody has to mop up the emergency room or the operating room after a bloody procedure.

Patients may enjoy fresh linens at the ready, but someone’s got to wash them. The person responsible for handling medical laundry, which can have just about anything on it, can expect to make about $30,000 a year.

Medical Filmmakers and Illustrators

Medical media makers create footage and diagrams of procedures and other aspects that are used to teach others in the field.

The median salary for a medical illustrator or medical animator is $62,000 and tops out at around $100,000. Supervisors in the field can earn anywhere from $85,000 to $175,000. Nearly half of them freelance to supplement their income.

Pedorthist

Pedorthists create custom shoes and other footwear for patients who have special foot needs. Anyone who has flat feet, bunions, hammertoes, diabetes, or arthritis may visit one of these professionals.

Pedorthists study foot anatomy and pathology, biomechanics, shoe construction and modification, footwear fabrication and materials, and footwear fitting, among other things.

According to Indeed.com, they make about $39,000 a year. One survey found that about 39 percent of pedorthists hold bachelor’s degrees.

The Odder the Job, the More Flexibility?

In our search for uncommon medical jobs, we came across plenty of others that were a little off-beat such as sexologist, dance therapist, mastectomy fitter, aromatherapist, patient escort, medical waste biohazard cooker, or stand-in patient.

Some were weird, others were gross, and a lot of them were so specialized we imagine that the professionals must travel to different facilities because of their highly customized, not-so-often-used services.

One thing you may find even weirder than some of these jobs is the fact that many of them offer a lot of flexibility. In fact, medical and health-related jobs are typically the number one job category for flexible work.

“We’ve come to learn that medical jobs can definitely be flexible, and that includes patient-facing roles like nursing and surgery,” said Brie Reynolds, director of online content at FlexJobs.com.

“What's wonderful about the healthcare industry is all the incredible opportunities that professionals have to put their skills to use in a variety of ways and situations,” Reynolds said. “And these unusual roles all play a vital part in providing patients and other healthcare professionals with the expertise and support they need.”