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Jobs that pay you to play all day

Man playing video gamesWho says earning a living has to be hard work? If you’d rather spend your nine-to-five having fun, we’ve found five jobs that will pay you to play.

Do you enjoy having fun with kids and possess endless patience along with a caring attitude? A job as a playworker could be for you. Playworkers devise and take part in fun activities for kids at breakfast clubs, mobile play buses, after school clubs and holiday play schemes. Expect to spend your day gluing pasta shapes to card, making cup cakes and dressing up in costume – and of course, wiping away tears and administering plasters to grazed knees.

While the job doesn’t require specific qualifications, most employers would look for candidates who have some paid or voluntary experience of working with children.

Having an up-to-date first aid certificate and a Level 2 Award or Certificate in Playwork will also put you at an advantage. You will need to pass background checks by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) before starting either voluntary or paid work.

Full-time playworkers can earn between £12,000 and £20,000 a year. Managerial staff can earn between £25,000 and £30,000 a year.

Computer games tester
If your idea of fun is staying in a darkened room to play Call of Duty for six hours straight, why not become a video games tester and get paid to play? Games testers play games many times over to identify mistakes and bugs that require fixing before a title hits the shelves.

Formal qualifications aren’t required for the role but you will need to demonstrate playing skills and knowledge of the games market. Games testers need to be able to work methodically and meet deadlines (which may require unsocial hours nearing a game’s release) and have basic office skills – for example, using databases to keep bug reports.

While not essential, a degree in games design, games development or computing can be helpful, particularly if you would like to move into programming, design or production.

Salaries start from £12,000 – £18,000 a year. Experienced testers can earn £25,000 – £30,000.

Outdoor activities instructor
If you prefer to play in the great outdoors, a job as an activities instructor could prove to be a rewarding career. An outdoor activities instructor leads people on activity trips, like hill walking, climbing, canoeing and abseiling – which could be part of corporate team-building training or a course for youth or probation services.

Activity instructors need to be able to get on with all kinds of people and remain calm under pressure (and deal with accidents or nervous participants) and have a good awareness of safety and risk management. Duties include planning and preparing activities to suit the group’s needs and abilities; demonstrating and instructing activities; ensuring all equipment and facilities are safe; explaining safety procedures and monitoring weather conditions before beginning sessions.

While there are no entry requirements, you will need to demonstrate skill and experience in one or more activities. If you choose to work with children or young people you will need Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) clearance.

Salaries start from around £12,000 a year. With experience, instructors can earn around £18,000 a year, those in senior roles can earn upwards of £25,000.

Toy designer
Product designers use their understanding of technology, materials and manufacturing methods to design a wide variety of items, from cars and industrial machinery to everyday items like mobile phones and children’s toys.

Most product designers work in a particular area – and if you’re lucky enough to be a product designer working on toys, you’ll need to mix creativity with a logical approach and of course, re-connect with what excited you about your favourite toys as a kid.

In addition to using drawings, 3D models and computer-aided designs, product designers carry out research and testing on product prototypes. You’ll need to be able to plan a project through various stages, working out prices and budgets to ensure toys are efficient, cost effective to produce, attractive in appearance – and of course, fun to play with.

Product designers need a relevant degree in product design in most cases, or a more general design qualification that offers product design as an option. Starting salaries for newly-qualified designers are £17,000 – £25,000 a year. Experienced product designers can earn £30,000 – £40,000, while those in senior roles can earn upwards of £50,000.

Play therapist
A job as a play therapist sounds like fun – and it is – but it has a serious purpose. Play therapists work with children (usually aged 3-11) who are suffering emotional stress to help them make sense of difficult life experiences or psychological issues through the activity of play. Children could be suffering with depression, anxiety or aggression caused by things like abuse, neglect, domestic violence, bereavement or brain development problems.

The role requires experience and qualifications related to child learning and development or child psychology, such as a degree and background in social services, psychotherapy, teaching or children’s healthcare.

Many employers ask that you have an approved postgraduate qualification and registration with the British Association of Play Therapists (BAPT) or Play Therapy UK (PTUK). You would also need to pass checks by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

Full time play therapists can earn between £25,000 and £33,000 a year. Experienced professionals can earn up to £38,000.

Salary information for all jobs taken from the National Careers Service

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