The 10 coolest jobs in tech

Astronaut Mark C Lee
Astronaut Mark C Lee 130 nautical miles above the earth

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

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.