The Dream and Nightmare Jobs of NOLA

Everybody’s working for the weekend. That is, those of us working a 9-5 are. While we stare at pale walls in waiting for the weekend’s activities, New Orleans is full of folks working what most would consider non-traditional jobs. These jobs vary between menial and tedious, to exhilarating and braggable, and often downright disgusting and deplorable.

New Orleans enjoys a relatively low unemployment rate of 5.1%, compared to the national average of 6.3%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While that doesn’t mean we’re in the green when it comes to dealing with the unemployment and even homelessness issues, it does mean there’s a lot of work around here.

Our main industry is tourism, and with that, comes a lot of jobs. Some I’d do, other’s I’d rather not. Let’s take a look at some of the good, the bad, and the ugly employment opportunities out there.

The Dream Jobs

Streetcar Driver

King of the streets.
King of the streets.

Streetcars are arguably one of the most iconic images of New Orleans. The 20 ton hunks of steel adorn postcards, t shirts, and Pulitzer Prize winning plays all depicting New Orleans as a utopian Southern charm. What they don’t depict is the green and red behemoths cruising down St. Charles with a vengeance for hesitant cars and absent minded joggers. I can see myself driving one of these. It doesn’t take much, only stop and go. You get to interact with new people every day and everyone knows you’re near when they hear a loud WHOOPA WHOOPA WHOOPA coming down the avenue.

Roman Candy Man

The bane of braces everywhere.
The bane of braces everywhere.

Most American kids get excited when they hear the jingle of the ice cream man. New Orleans kids get excited when they hear a ring of a bell and the sounds of a mule driven carriage: The Roman Candy Man. Since 1915, the same family has been providing the chewy treats out of the same cart all throughout New Orleans. These days, not much has changed, and providing New Orleanians with a daily dosage of sugary nostalgia would be a great way to make a living.

Mississippi River Pilot

Riverboat captains and life on the mighty Mississip’ are cultural staples in New Orleans and the South in general. Mississippi river pilots are specialized captains who are trained to guide ships, both domestic and international, through the dangerous waters from the Gulf of Mexico through the river. Shifting sandbars and passages at the mouth of the river make this job tough, but the $400,000 salary is worth it. Bonus perk: “sightseeing” while passing The Fly. You know what I mean.

Here, you drive.
Here, you drive.

The Dreadful Jobs


Even the hours suck.
Even the hours suck.

Being a city reliant on tourism, it’s no surprise that a lot of jobs in New Orleans cater to tourists. That’s not a problem, they bring money, and usually don’t bother us. You have to love what you do, though, and any self-respecting local concierge would love to offer great recommendations outside of the normal tourist-centered things. I can’t imagine the feeling of defeat you get when you recommend trying a Ramos Gin Fizz at The Sazerac, but tourists still insist on getting Hand Grenade-hammered on Bourbon.

Taxi Driver

Sir, that's not how this works.
Sir, that’s not how this works.

It’s no secret that taxi drivers are pretty much universally disliked these days. With the ongoing debate over the legalization of ride sharing apps, however, we’re kind of stuck with them for the time being. Whether or not you like them, you really do have to feel sorry for them sometimes. Drunk people are annoying, especially when they A) have to be somewhere and B) are required to pay for it. Top that off with a 50% chance they’ll blow chunks all over a taxi’s back seat, and you’re stuck with a pretty crappy job.  Not to mention the high chance of robbery or assault while on duty. With that in mind, don’t forget to tip next time.

Any Kind of Utilities Employee

Taxi drivers are generally disliked, but no one is as hated as the employees of Cox Cable/AT&T, New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board, and Entergy. It’s not their fault, it’s just their job. But nothing grinds my gears more than having to deal with these people, and I know I’m not alone. It doesn’t help that they’re the only providers of these services in the city, so we’re stuck in this hate/hate relationship. So, for being hated by nearly everyone, these jobs may be the worst in the city.


What do you consider your job a dream job? A dreadful job? Want to voice any concerns about how much you hate Cox? Let us know in the comments!

About Eric

Eric is a New Orleans native and graduate of Loyola. He grew up in Kenner and is embarrassed to tell you that. He lives Uptown and frequents local watering holes to socialize with peers. His hobbies include writing, making bad jokes, and casually observing the day to day life of New Orleans.

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