The 10 coolest jobs in tech

They may not have high wages or great career prospects, but there are some jobs so desirable that you'd pay to do them. [via techradar]

At parties you can mumble modestly about your occupation in the sure and certain knowledge that acquaintances will want to bask in your reflected glory.

Some require long periods of arduous study and training. Others are really an extension of hobbies and pastimes. Either way, we've picked our top 10 coolest jobs in tech:

1. Astronaut

It's been the coolest job in technology since 1961 when Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space. Okay, so he was actually a Russian cosmonaut, but you get the idea. Despite the increased opportunities created by the International Space Station this is not an easy gig to get. Basically, you need to be fit and a brilliant scientist or highly-experienced pilot, preferably both.

NASA does accept applications but unfortunately for most TechRadar readers you generally need to be a US citizen. There are opportunities in the European Space Agency.

Upside: the view and unstoppable bragging rights.

Downside: have you seen the toilet facilities?

2. Computer games tester

What could be better than being paid to spend your time playing the latest video games? There are thousands of people doing just that in order for companies to put out multi-million pound titles with the minimum of bugs.

"Quality assurance testers", to give them their proper name, earn their money trying to break games as well as looking for those niggling faults such as spelling mistakes and walls you can walk through. It's a job that requires a combination of expert play and an obsessive eye for detail.

Upside: you get paid to play games before anybody else gets their hands on them.

Downside: the pay's generally not great and do you really want to repeat the same level over and over and over again?

3. Secret service R&D

We'd have to kill you if we told you about this job. Seriously, MI5 has been advertising for a "Chief Scientific Advisor". The only definite qualifications are you have to be over 18 with British citizenship although we suspect and hope you need more than a physics GCSE to lead the scientific fight against covert threats.

Upside: getting to make like James Bond's Q and try the world's best spook technology.

Downside: you can't tell anybody about it.

4. Gadget reviewer

Every day brings couriers to the door bearing toys for the reviewer in return for a few gilded words for a website, magazine or newspaper. Actually it really isn't always that easy to find something different to say about 10 almost identical budget cameras, netbooks or phones. But who'd give it up?

Upside: being able to flash the latest toys in the pub.

Downside: those gadgets have to be returned.

5. Inferno artist

Techies are the real stars of many Hollywood blockbusters creating the CGI effects often using Autodesk's powerful Inferno software. That name makes the job sound so much cooler than the official title of "visual effects artist". Either way the word "artist" is key, because this work really does bring together art and technology.

Upside: you get to retouch Angelina Joli's bottom.

Downside: that retouching is only virtual.

6. Pro computer gamer

With three million people tuning into 2008's streamed sessions from Major League Gaming this is big-time sport, complete with heroes, villains and groupies. Sadly for those who wear their calloused thumbs with pride, professional computer gaming's been hit hard as so many sponsors have been fragged by the recession.

Upside: you get to spend hours in darkened rooms living off junk food.

Downside: see upside.

GAME ON: The glamour of a pro gaming tournament

7. Entrepreneur

Arguably, this is the job which has made it possible to be both cool and a nerd. Perhaps it shows that money talks. Either way Google's Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Skype co-founders Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis along, of course, with Bill Gates have coded their way to multi-billionaire status.

Upside: money might not be able to buy you love, but it does provide a better class of misery.

Downside: most new businesses fail. There's no fail-safe algorithm for successful technology entrepreneurs.

8. Formula One Control Systems Engineer

The most glamorous and high-tech of sports, Grand Prix racing employs hundreds of extremely well-qualified geeks. Travelling the world with the racing circus it's the control systems engineer who arguably has most responsibility for ensuring that driver and machine work as one unit.

Upside: globe-trotting as a key member of the team.

Downside: your view of the race is on a computer monitor.

9. Sex toy designer

Not so long ago this wasn't a job you'd admit to, well not in polite company anyway. Now, thanks to Sex and the City it's cool for geeks and attracting really highly qualified applicants. Take Ethan Imboden, founder, chairman and chief creative officer of Jimmyjane, purveyors of upmarket pleasure devices. He helped develop an ultra high speed DNA sequencer as well as carrying out design consultancy for the likes of Ford, Motorola and Dell before starting his sensual business.

Upside: bringing pleasure to the world.

Downside: you can't help feeling there's a danger you'll make the male half of the population redundant where it matters.

10. Technology evangelist

We've all got gadgets and services we love. A professional evangelist gets paid to share this enthusiasm with just about anybody who'll listen or read their blog. Arguably the first of the breed was Mike Boich who led the Macintosh software evangelism team responsible, he claims, for the enduring relationship with Microsoft.

Upside: earning a living just spreading the love.

Downside: the heartbreak if something better comes along.

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