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Being a superhero without being state-sponsored or independently wealthy is kind of a massive pain. You're essentially working two jobs, one of which is highly dangerous and doesn't even pay. So naturally, a lot of them would have a great deal of motivation to make their dayjob as high-pay, low-stress, and low-hours as they can make it, so they can put more of their energy into their herowork without running themselves ragged.

One option they have is to use the cards they've been dealt to their advantage and try to use their superpowers to get a job they can do way better, and way more easily, than any ordinary human. Let's say we're working with pretty basic, cookie-cutter superpowers here: someone who is significantly stronger, faster and tougher than any normal human could be. But the problem is that they still need to keep their powers a secret, so they can't, say, be seen on a construction site casually lifting a massive I-beam over one shoulder. At first blush, this seems like that dashes their options of using their superpowers to their advantage to make their dayjob easier and more lucrative. But does it?

What sort of job could a superhuman be more productive than a human at, with less effort, without having to reveal to anyone that they are in fact a superhuman?

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    $\begingroup$ When you say "job" - do you just mean a way of making money, or are you talking about more of a 9-5 waged affaire? $\endgroup$ Apr 25 at 14:22
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    $\begingroup$ @EveninginGethsemane Closer to the former, as long as what they do for a living is something they can actually explain to people who ask and put on their tax forms. $\endgroup$ Apr 25 at 14:30
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    $\begingroup$ @mgh42 And as an added bonus, they can start shilling Raid: Shadow Legends in the middle of a fight, and all the criminals will shoot themselves! $\endgroup$ Apr 26 at 9:03
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    $\begingroup$ just pocket the money of the drug rings you are busting. $\endgroup$
    – ths
    Apr 26 at 11:31
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    $\begingroup$ If they do get found out this is the likely result: smbc-comics.com/comic/2011-07-13 $\endgroup$
    – studog
    Apr 26 at 19:09

27 Answers 27

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Prep Cook Service

à la

Some food establishments use prepackaged meals and are essentially microwave services. Others are high end joints where each tiny piece of radish is painstakingly carved. Many are somewhere in-between. They might employ a prep chef to cut fresh vegetables, herbs, etc. They might just wrap that into one or two cooks' duties. They might use frozen, pre-cut vegetables. Or non-frozen.

A lot of factors will influence this choice: What is the restaurant's price point (vs overhead)? How much space do they have—is it a hotdog stand, a hole-in-the-wall, a mall food court joint, a downtown restaurant, or a food truck?

This is where your cape comes in.

They run a local restaurant services business that offers pre-diced onions, pre-grated wasabi, pre-julienned cucumbers with a guarantee of freshness (not like the supermarket stuff that was cut five days ago in a processing facility) and an emphasis on quality.

Maybe they do deliveries, maybe they have a distributor, maybe they have a small storefront—I don't know—but they only devote 1-2 hours in the early morning to that part (say, 9 A.M. to 11 A.M.).

The chefs they supply imagine them getting up at 3 A.M. to start prep so that their veg is ready by 9. Nah. They rolled downstairs at 8:05 and the kitchen was a flurry of knifework. They use a mandoline faster than what is humanly possible or safe.

Maybe they even have a superhuman connection for their produce supply—people probably wouldn't notice.

This job would take only a few hours a day, provide an okay-to-good living, and be very low profile.

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    $\begingroup$ Oh, this is an excellent one. Keeps things simple, 15-21 hour work week, perfect for the Peter Parkers of the world. $\endgroup$ Apr 25 at 15:49
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    $\begingroup$ Can’t wait for the villain thought bubble as they’re being punched: “why do his hands always smell like onions?” $\endgroup$
    – DukeSilver
    Apr 26 at 22:28
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    $\begingroup$ It's time for a beetdown! $\endgroup$
    – flibwib
    Apr 27 at 2:52
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    $\begingroup$ I'd imagine this would be more fitting for super speed than super strength. $\endgroup$
    – Drake P
    Apr 27 at 19:07
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Professional Athlete

Pay should be very good if they are an elite competitor, which they'll have no trouble with. Hours should be quite low - they only need to turn up to the competitions and win them, or maybe come second from time to time to keep things believable. The rest of the time they can claim to be training in a super secret sports performance center. As long as their coach is in on it it should work well.

One problem is, they will be easily recognized so will need a good disguise to do their superhero stuff. A cape and a mask probably won't cut it.

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    $\begingroup$ Imagine if his archnemesis never put two and two together that he's never around to fight crime during his games... because his archnenesis is a huge fan of him/his team and never schedules his crimes during game time. $\endgroup$ Apr 25 at 14:52
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    $\begingroup$ @CyrusDrake "But the bank's vault can only be broken into during the big game! It's not a game, it's the game!" $\endgroup$
    – John O
    Apr 25 at 16:07
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    $\begingroup$ The obvious drawback is putting themself in the spotlight, advertising their super-skill. Like if Peter Parker's day job was "famous free-climber". $\endgroup$ Apr 25 at 22:48
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    $\begingroup$ The Incredibles made sure their son only got second-place on his races... $\endgroup$ Apr 25 at 23:48
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    $\begingroup$ @KevinKostlan As far as money making goes, I think the other Dash's initial proposal was better: "To be the best by just a teensy tiny bit." $\endgroup$
    – DKNguyen
    Apr 25 at 23:53
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You have received several great answers, but I will propose an answer that is somewhat unusual and controversial but could turn out interesting if done right.

The answer is:

Become a career criminal

yes, I know that it seems to be antithesis of a "superhero", but firstly you mentioned the word "superhero" only once ( ;) )and secundo it wouldn't be that much of a stretch as we see similar things happening in the real world. Both active and retired (spec-ops) soldiers and coppers are (quite often) found to be a part of crime organizations.

You protagonist could start doing some small-time crime, the lesser evil, in order to keep him fed and justify it to himself by saying "I am stealing 100 PLN this week but I will save infrastructure costing billions and billions". And, as we all know, the appetite comes with eating, so occasional small crime turns into regular small crime which turns into something more serious and ends with criminal empire.

Now, you could approach it from two sides, either he have come to the understanding that he cannot get rid of the crime, the best he can do is to control it, or that he have fallen into darkness. Or maybe, he is a hypocrite and he lies to himself that he is doing it because he wants to control the crime while the underlying motivation is more narcistic and egocentric?

But back to the question and money:

This career path is basically what the superhero will do while "superheroing", that is beat up people and hide his identity, but for money.

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    $\begingroup$ ...A supervillain mafioso who believes that the role he has taken is the most effective way to minimize and civilize crime, and has a superhero secret identity for when crime truly gets out of hand? Christ, the writing prompts for this question write themselves. $\endgroup$ Apr 26 at 8:44
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    $\begingroup$ @CyrusDrake I'd read it! $\endgroup$
    – Ruadhan
    Apr 26 at 10:37
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    $\begingroup$ Also: Just raid the villas etc of known white-collar criminals that got away with it. Like, is stealing from a Purdue-owned vault actually morally wrong? $\endgroup$
    – Hobbamok
    Apr 26 at 11:34
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    $\begingroup$ So, Worm basically? $\endgroup$ Apr 26 at 17:57
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    $\begingroup$ @BoomChuck Yeah, you can, and the IRS (at least) has rules that say you must. No reason to commit tax fraud on top of whatever else you're doing. You just say "self-employment" and as long as you pay the right amount of taxes they don't care. $\endgroup$ Apr 27 at 18:52
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Second Rate Professional Golfer (or other sport)

enter image description here

They MIGHT be professional golfers. Who can tell?

If you ask me who won the PGA tour this year, I will say Padraig Harrington. If that is wrong I will say Tiger Woods. I do not know a third golfer.

The top ten golfers in the world are household names. But the top hundred? Well those guys have loads of cash AND privacy. Only enthusiasts know their names or where they live.

The prizes at international events look like this:

Northern Trust

enter image description here

or this

Phoenix Open

enter image description here

A golf contest takes a few days. With superhuman senses and coordination you can easily earn a five figure sum by scoring in the top sixty. Do a few contests every year and you are sorted.

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    $\begingroup$ Even the top 3 names on any of these lists don't ring a bell at all for me. Golf is just kinda out-of-fashion* at the moment, so picking a not-popular sport would be another boost (then maybe a low top-10 does it as well). * or at least it's not actively popular right now $\endgroup$
    – Hobbamok
    Apr 26 at 11:33
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    $\begingroup$ I misread the title as "Professional Second-Rate Golfer", which is ironically kinda more accurate, since the second-rate part is deliberate. $\endgroup$ Apr 26 at 13:04
  • $\begingroup$ OP's question only mentions super-strength. I don't think that a strong torso could ever compensate for the technique and attention required to play golf. I don't think your answer should focus on golf at all as it, specifically, is a huge time sink and skills would quickly deteriorate. $\endgroup$
    – MonkeyZeus
    Apr 26 at 18:00
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    $\begingroup$ @MonkeyZeus Yes Spiderman is a good golfer because he has super senses and coordination. Superman not so much. He can hit the ball super hard but is no better at hitting the little hole at the end of the course. Maybe there is a better sport for Superman to be 65th best at, and the prizes are similar. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Apr 26 at 20:14
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    $\begingroup$ @nasch Speed + required secondary powers might be enough. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Apr 28 at 20:53
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Professional Model

Assuming comics haven't wildly misled me, Superheroes are often absolutely drop-dead gorgeous.

We're talking sculpted physiques that would take a real human literally every day of their lives to achieve and may well actually be impossible.

But your superhero doesn't really need to work at it, this is just how they are. So put them in a pair of tight pants and put them in front of a camera.

Nice thing is, if you're only doing the photo-shoots and not having to spend all your time maintaining your physique, you could conceivably have most of your time free to super-hero around, spend an afternoon once or twice a week photoshooting and take home a hefty paycheck each time.

Of course.. having your face and body plastered on billboards might make keeping your secret identity somewhat more challenging.

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    $\begingroup$ This one also explains where the costume came from. That's always bothered me about spiderman - a skin tight suit is pretty hard to tailor, and peter parker was nether wealthy nor a sewing enthusiast. $\endgroup$
    – Clumsy cat
    Apr 26 at 14:04
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    $\begingroup$ The combination of fame and a societal stigma of models being unintelligent could also give access to high profile and influential persons (both "good guys" and "bad guys") and allow the hero to gather information and intelligence with people assuming they aren't smart enough to be doing so. $\endgroup$ Apr 26 at 17:29
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    $\begingroup$ @LoganKitchen So Bruce Wayne's schtick without having to be obscenely rich? $\endgroup$ Apr 26 at 17:35
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    $\begingroup$ I'm imagining a great superhero story where the support-team are all part of the modelling studio.. Making the best costume ever, ensuring the superhero is perfectly glammed up.. Sort of like a less malevolent version of the team behind Mysterio in the newer spiderman films. I demand a character like Edna Mode.. $\endgroup$
    – Ruadhan
    Apr 27 at 8:46
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    $\begingroup$ So why male models? youtube.com/watch?v=ecW16rLCgiI $\endgroup$
    – erfink
    Apr 27 at 23:48
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There are types of logging where rare, exotic, and often endangered of hardwood trees grow deep in the forest and are sparsely and distantly distributed from each other and basically must be individually brought out of the forest. A person with superhuman strength could do this alone without equipment or labour costs. Things like ebony, rosewood, and pernambucco, among others. They could also process it themselves for a value-added product which would hugely increase the selling value.

I having a mining engineer friend who told me story he heard about a pair of brothers who own a marble mine. Once a week they cut out a slab of marble to sell and then they spend the rest of the week drinking beer. How big a slab of marble? I never did get that detail but I guess you could find a quarry that's super difficult to get to and do that since you could just walk in and out.

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    $\begingroup$ To be fair, if there's a job that provides a decent living with minimal effort for someone with no superpowers, then of course it will also work for someone who has them ;-) $\endgroup$ Apr 26 at 2:28
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    $\begingroup$ The problem with exotic woods is that there is a lot of regulation on that now due to deforestation. For example, ipe trees are so spread out that illegal logging companies will destroy an entire acer of rainforest make a path to, and harvest a single tree. So, a lot of the practices for harvesting wild exotic trees are now illegal and they must be farmed. While your hero may be able to get these trees without destroying the whole forest, he will have a very hard time getting his wood past inspection without going through the cartels... being a "hero", that posses a big problem. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Apr 26 at 14:44
  • $\begingroup$ @Nosajimiki: If the cartels become a problem then he just defaults back to his other identity, doesn't he? $\endgroup$
    – Trevortni
    Apr 28 at 21:54
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    $\begingroup$ @Trevortni Lol, I meant an ethical problem, not a safety one. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Apr 28 at 22:08
  • $\begingroup$ @SteveJessop heh Work smart, not hard. $\endgroup$
    – DKNguyen
    Apr 28 at 22:43
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Interior home renovations. More specifically, a subcontractor who specializes in demolitions.

Home renos generally have less view to the public because much of the work is happening inside. Because they're usually carried out by contractors who are paid by the job, not the hour, there's less focus on timekeeping, and it's not unusual for them not be there at any given time, or even a given day, or working late, or whatever.

If you have the place to yourself, you can go to town: you don't have to work taking down framing if you can simply pull the joints apart instead of having to use tools to pry them, so what might take someone else the whole day you might get done in a few hours. Pull whole cabinets off walls, move stuff around that might require two or three people, and do it faster than a normal human could. A job that might normally take three days, you can do in two; at least that's what you tell the contractor. In reality it might have taken you only half a day.

Just as an example of what I mean, consider taking out an interior, non-load bearing wall that, oh, let's say 12 feet long. The wall will consist of 16 studs, ceiling and floor plates. If I'm taking it down, once any drywall or whatnot is removed, I can take a Sawzall to cut each stud out top and bottom, then get a pry to take out the plates. Or I can take a wrecking tool, twist or knock each stud out, then again with the prying. Either way, probably 10-15 minutes, at best, for an individual, and then there's a load of scrap material that will take a few trips to move out of the way.

If I have super strength, I can twist out two studs at a time, one in each hand, put them down, and move on to the next two, which takes a few seconds. Ceiling and floor plates? Grip the wood and rip them out. Another few seconds. It might take me less than a minute, and then I could carry the whole lot out back to drop into a dumpster or scrap wood pile all at once. All in all, 20 or so minutes of work done in less than 5.

You do that, you become known as the person to call when they need a demolition done quickly. Because you're a subcontractor, the property owner doesn't deal with you, and you're doing a job that has to be done before all the other trades come in, so less risk of someone else being there.

ADDENDUM

It occurred to me that the problem of other people involved in the same job site finding out the secret is if the other people on the job site are already in on the secret.

All of the superheroes who don't fall into the unsponsored/independently wealthy groups are going to face similar problems, so the solution is obvious: team up. Lady Superior, with her superstrength, doesn't have to worry about the main contractor walking into the place where she's doing interior demolition because the main contractor, Jim, is far better known as the flying Skymaster. Jim also employs Alan as an electrician (Alan being the superhero Electostun), and so on. In fact, this is one of the secret benefits of joining a superhero team: they provide support and training for the whole crime-fighting thing, but also skills training and job opportunities for civilian life through the various businesses the team runs under the table.

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    $\begingroup$ I was trying to think of a solution like this-- something that normally takes a team of people that you can do by yourself. Tell the property owner that because of your "big team" you can get the job done in half the normal time. Of course, you have to charge a bit extra for all those "extra people" and the fast turnaround. Then you come in alone, knock it all out yourself in short order, and pocket all the money for yourself. Great answer. $\endgroup$ Apr 26 at 18:13
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    $\begingroup$ Won't work in the long run. The general contractor will start to wonder how you are doing it so quick and will sooner or later be making a surprise visit to a building site to "see you in action". Additionally it is very normal for framers and plumbers to come in when demo is partway done to get an early start in areas already demoed. Someone is going to catch on if they never see "your crew" on any building site. $\endgroup$
    – Tonny
    Apr 28 at 14:22
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    $\begingroup$ The advantage a sub has is that they can pick their jobs. If a contractor starts getting nosy, don't accept work from them any more. Pick the jobs where you know other subs aren't coming in. Or, better yet, use your abilities to make some coin, then start your own business as a contractor so you control when people arrive at site. You handle the demolitions, and then let other people come in and do their work. The abilities won't really help in that case anyway. $\endgroup$ Apr 28 at 15:47
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    $\begingroup$ For that matter, cleaning up repossessed houses would be a perfect fit for someone who is completely invulnerable and can just toss out the entire fridge without needing to discover what's inside it. $\endgroup$
    – Trevortni
    Apr 28 at 21:56
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Actually they could work in construction.

The trick is they don't use their strength to its full potential. Just because they could effortlessly carry an I-beam doesn't mean they do so. They do the same work at the same pace as everyone else, advantage being they don't get tired, or face a short career from back/joint failures.

You could write-in a couple instances where they broke cover, say to catch a falling object or stop a swinging beam. Something nearly superhuman that would leave coworkers highly surprised but not suspicious (except for maybe one who'd work into the plot...?).

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    $\begingroup$ I guess this qualifies with the way the question is worded. I don't see how you would monetarily benefit over a regular construction worker though. No real way to discretely squeeze out more pay or free hours based on your abilities. $\endgroup$
    – DKNguyen
    Apr 25 at 23:48
  • $\begingroup$ @DKNguyen: it's marginal, but I guess any time you're out of sight you could do something super-fast, take some time to do something else, and pretend it took longer. Trouble is for obvious safety reasons as well as employee-supervision, I reckon construction workers aren't often left completely alone for long. Plasterer, maybe? They tend to roll in and throw everyone out of the room for the day so they can work in peace. Question says "stronger, faster, tougher", so if we can take "faster" to mean "so dextrous they can put up a perfect flat surface in seconds", not just "runs quick"? $\endgroup$ Apr 26 at 2:41
  • $\begingroup$ And you can be reasonably confident your plasterer is not trapped under a fallen heavy object, so I think maybe you don't need to check in with them very often? You can probably tell I'm not a builder. But IIRC that really is what happened when my kitchen was replastered: there was one day when everyone else literally didn't show up because the plasterer was in, so there just was nothing else to do that day on my job. If that's your working life, and you can do a day's job in minutes, you're sorted. $\endgroup$ Apr 26 at 2:45
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    $\begingroup$ Realistically, construction is a 50-hour-per-week job, starting at dark o'clock, and every hour (if not minute) on site is recorded. If you want the pay, you better be there when the supervisor comes to check (and they will). $\endgroup$
    – Nij
    Apr 26 at 10:07
  • $\begingroup$ I think this and other very physically tiring jobs works perfectly well for people with moderate superstrength and no other superpowers. There are ways to make more money in less time, but I imagine someone with superstrength would have on average the same ideas as OP, and OP had to ask a question here to get the best ideas (no offense OP! I'm just praising the collective knowledge of WB SE). If 2% of the population had moderate superstrength I'd expect many people to work these kinds of jobs. Btw, OP, did you ask this question because you have superstrength? $\endgroup$
    – Blueriver
    Apr 26 at 12:41
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Scab worker.

This could work in a number of different jobs, but I'll use the situation at an aluminum smelter I used to work at as an example.

The key role at an aluminum smelter is the potline worker. A potline is a row of electrolytic reduction pots used to refine the metal. Basically it's a big pot with ~1600 degree (F) aluminum in it.

Due to the high-intensity nature of job (and the risk of significant injury), potline workers are typically paid very well. Unfortunately the hours are long, so your hero won't be free to fight crime.

However, there is a loophole here: potline workers are unionized and a contract re-negotiation occurs every 5 years (at least where I worked). During this time there is always a period (2 weeks at least), when the union workers stop working and the potlines are kept running by scab workers.

Scabs aren't popular, but they get paid a ton of money. I know men who have rotated through jobs at different plants/smelters/factories for 4-8 weeks at a time and made enough money to quit working and live off the money they made for the same amount of time or longer.

This still requires your hero to pause their crime-fighting for significant periods of time. However, with their super-stamina, they could work an insane amount of hours during scab jobs. They wouldn't even stand out, as honestly many scabs work dangerously long shifts anyway. Perhaps they need only to find 2 weeks worth of round-the-clock-work to then support 8 weeks of crime fighting.

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    $\begingroup$ Imagine the profound irony of a superhero getting yelled at and told how he's a traitor to the common people. Honestly that would be fascinating. $\endgroup$ Apr 26 at 1:46
  • $\begingroup$ @CyrusDrake That might also be a good cover. $\endgroup$ Apr 28 at 16:09
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Salvage

Particularly in out of the way places. Where other people have to bring in cranes, you can just sling stuff around to get what is valuable. Important to have only people you can trust with your secret on the job site, of course.

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    $\begingroup$ My first thought was an auto junkyard. A lot of parts are valuable and useful, but not economically feasible due to the amount of labor required to extract them. If you can completely dismantle a vehicle in a short time and with only your bare hands, there's a killing to be made in recovered parts. $\endgroup$
    – bta
    Apr 27 at 21:29
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    $\begingroup$ @bta - Any low profile Gadgeteer Genius (that is, not Tony Stark) would go nuts for taking apart vehicles and what-not, and getting paid for it. $\endgroup$ Apr 28 at 16:11
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, but that's not the power-set given $\endgroup$
    – Mary
    Apr 28 at 22:33
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It's the little things that make the difference.

The superhero doesn't get tired from what would be hard work for anyone else.
The superhero can work dangerous jobs that would be life-threatening for anyone else.
They don't suffer from the build-up of minor and major injuries that a lot of more physical jobs incur.

No physical labour is likely to be particularly stressful for your superhero, but the demand for low hours is a problem. Construction and industrial work tends to be quite long hours and you're always accountable for where you are because of the hazards and risks of the job.

What you need is a job which is generally hard work, but typically accomplished in private, possibly with one or two other people to help (who may or may not actually be present)

Perhaps bespoke carpentry. Making high-quality furniture or fittings for wealthy clients.
Set your own hours, never get tired from the physical side of the job, get paid well for good quality products which you can make substantially faster than any competitors.

This relies on you being highly skilled as a carpenter and artist, but hey, if you're getting the Paragon Package of superpowers, the ability to learn really fast often comes with that.

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    $\begingroup$ I was going to suggest blacksmithing, but this answer is similar enough. Jewelling, general metalworking, or other workshop jobs are all good choices, as there won't be anyone keeping time in a single person workshop. And the extra strength/endurance is great for jobs like these. If you have a workshop anyway, you could choose multiple of these jobs. $\endgroup$
    – vinzzz001
    Apr 26 at 9:36
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    $\begingroup$ Many of these jobs, however, have components that can't be rushed. A carpenter still has to wait for the glue to dry, and a blacksmith for the metal to heat up and be reheated. And to be honest, for a lot of these jobs the majority of the time will be taken up by the fine details where greater strength isn't actually a benefit, but skill will be. Speed may or may not be. $\endgroup$ Apr 26 at 17:07
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    $\begingroup$ Woodworking is highly skill oriented job, if he has fast learning, thinking and designing abilities, he could better be a software developer. $\endgroup$ Apr 27 at 17:06
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Your hero will encounter a major systemic barrier in their search for more-efficient earning: modern economies generally only pay for a person's time, without regard for their productivity. That's how this chart is possible:

Productivity & Real Incomes Are Still Drifting Further Apart

This works to the advantage of wealthy capitalists and creditors, and to the disadvantage of all other people. It is not an accident. I mention this because this means your hero must very deliberately choose something that exists in one of the increasingly rare pockets of the economy that has not been permanently captured by profiteers.

Unfortunately for your hero, most of those pockets are centered on either personal celebrity (which often boils down to sexual appeal), or some form of artistic creation. You don't mention your hero being an unusually creative artist, so that leaves sexual appeal. Unfortunately, there are millions of people standing in line to get "found" in this way, and it's not something your hero can force by their own effort.

But here's one exception:

Fitness guru

Fitness gurus get paid by the unit sold, not by the hour. Perhaps it takes five sixteen-hour days of shooting to produce a one-hour workout special, but your hero gets the lion's share of every sale for as long as the thing is on the market, which could be a decade. Also, the economic gatekeeping in the fitness market cannot possibly be as thorough as the gatekeeping in the regular media, and raw performance can probably break through that ceiling even if the industry leaders are hostile because they aren't getting their beaks wet.

Your hero, being supernaturally strong and tough, essentially has an unlimited supply of counterfeit goods to sell. They presumably have an enviable physique that requires zero effort to maintain, and can perform feats of strength that no competitor can better.

A standard disclaimer will allow them to imply that customers who stick to the program might someday be able to bend bars and lift (partial) I-beams.

Of course, this is sort of a con. Since your hero's physical fitness is not the product of dedicated effort, they will not have a good-faith reason to believe that the workout is excellent in any way. Some might not be comfortable perpetrating a massive swindle. And a determined opponent could attempt to prove that the workout could never achieve the suggested results. (That could be something a nemesis tries.)

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    $\begingroup$ Intriguingly the "gig economy" (or "piecework" as it was called before cool tech-driven companies with $billion valuations started doing it) flips this around by paying for productivity without regard for time, and yet still manages to work to the benefit of capitalists because it's only used in cases where paying for time risks paying for idle time. Horses for courses. And using your superpowers to ride your Deliveroo cycle faster still means you're on Deliveroo money. I'm not sure how suspiciously fast you'd have to ride to achieve "high pay, low stress, low hours" as requested. $\endgroup$ Apr 26 at 2:33
  • $\begingroup$ Doesn't sound all that different from any other fitness "guru" or celebrity selling "health" products. All you really need there is to be in at least decent shape and have low moral standards. Beyond that it's all marketing, which super strength doesn't give you any advantage in. Superhuman strength might give a slight edge in terms of improving your sales pitch, but it should be minor, and it doesn't really apply if you're specifically trying to hide it. $\endgroup$
    – NotThatGuy
    Apr 26 at 7:59
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    $\begingroup$ Fitness guru suffers from a much more significant problem as what you mentioned in the beginning of your answer. You're not going to make any money without popularity, and competence(/productivity/time) isn't as much of a indicator of popularity as luck and how much people like you. $\endgroup$
    – NotThatGuy
    Apr 26 at 8:55
  • $\begingroup$ @NotThatGuy however a couple of newsworthy barely-humanly-plausible events could be used to boost popularity and get an edge. High-profile baby- or animal- rescues should do the trick, the sort that are trivial with superpowers, but really impressive without. And they could potentially run multiple identities because they could do it all without breaking a sweat $\endgroup$
    – Chris H
    Apr 27 at 14:14
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Bodyguard, Bounty Hunter, Safari Tour Guide, Stunt Man

Anything where a little extra strength and a LOT of extra durability would make an overwhelming difference.

Courier

If he's super-fast, then he could change clothing between the fast and slow parts of it.

Artist

Especially if the form is metal working, the super could be hyper-competitive with construction of large art works.

Undersea salvage

Stock superpowers of flight and durability could make recovery of sunken ships fairly easy. Just provide decent scuba gear. With super strength, he could make a living off of pulling parts from sunken cargo ships.

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    $\begingroup$ +1 for stuntman because I never thought of that one. The superhero will be on the screen, just not with their own face visible. $\endgroup$ Apr 26 at 23:25
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    $\begingroup$ Problem with the bodyguard and tour guide in particular are that you can't set your own hours. The first time you abandon close cover on your principal to save the world will be the permanent end of a bodyguarding career, regardless of whether the principal survives or not. Ditto if you abandon your tour group, whether they get eaten by lions or not. Undersea salvage is probably the best option in this set, especially if super toughness somehow makes them immune to the bends. $\endgroup$ Apr 27 at 11:35
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    $\begingroup$ Stuntman is brilliant because unless they also choose to go into acting most are relatively unknown outside the industry. You can "luckily" avoid major injury, although faking a few minor pains is probably worth it, you don't need to take time off to recover between gigs, you can do stunts that require precise timing because your faster speed (and presumably reflexes) allows you to be just that tiny touch faster and thus avoid situations where someone else would inevitably be injured. $\endgroup$ Apr 29 at 3:19
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There are some very interesting answers here but I think I've got it. A racing driver.

Not necessarily F1, that might be too high profile, but there's plenty of money in Formula E, rally racing or nascar. Even street racing can be lucrative if Fast and Furious is anything to go by.

Racing drivers need to withstand high G acceleration, have good stamina and quick reactions. Any superhero worth their salt should be able to manage that.

As for anonymity, can anyone prove that The Stig isn't a superhero?

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    $\begingroup$ Stig is not a normal human, that part is not questionable and yet nobody accuses him of being a super hero. $\endgroup$ Apr 27 at 17:09
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Sex Worker

Super strength usually comes with super stamina. It also means you can exert more pressure with certain muscle groups.

If a client gets violent, you can effortlessly defenestrate them.

And the biggest financial advantage, you don't have to subject yourself to a pimp. If they try to enforce their rules on you because you are on their turf, you take the turf by force.

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    $\begingroup$ Hopefully the superpowers include immunity to disease also, just in case any STDs slip through normal prophylactic measures. Upvoted, but unfortunately the main advantages are where prostitution is illegal, which means that this still doesn't solve the problem of what to put on a tax return. $\endgroup$ Apr 27 at 11:30
  • $\begingroup$ @KerrAvon2055 There are places where prostitution is legal. $\endgroup$ Apr 27 at 17:08
  • $\begingroup$ @CemKalyoncu yes, but where prostitution is legal then being able to physically take on a pimp is unnecessary and there are legal avenues to deal with violent clients, as in any other legal business. If prostitution is legal, the only real advantage a superhuman has is the stamina and muscle group control, which (I understand) are not the prime determinants of how much a prostitute can charge. $\endgroup$ Apr 28 at 3:37
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Homeless Pauper.

This isn't a job, but seems like an interesting angle even so. Instead of super powers boosting her income, this hero uses them to reduce her expenditure instead. Rent? Nah, her super toughness negates the need for housing. At least as long as she works alone.

This could be narratively interesting because of the social dynamics between her and those she saves,

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I think that with super-human strength you could make some pretty impressive art. For example by bending and twisting long, thick metal bars in all kind of interesting shapes. Mayby there are some rich dudes/dudettes out there willing to shell out for this kind of art.

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Get sponsorship for superhero activities

Imagine rushing into a bank mid-heist, rounding up a gang of crims and handing them over the police live on TV then turning to the camera and nonchalantly exlaiming that "This superhero activity was brought to you today by Walmart, bringing you the best prices around"

No need for a day job, advertisers would be lining up to offer you cash!

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  • $\begingroup$ Kicjstarter to buy a Fortress of Solitude? Top-level sponsors all get a private tour. There have been some supervillains who got into the hero’s base in the comics by killing and replacing the winner of a contest like that. $\endgroup$
    – Davislor
    Apr 28 at 18:16
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Auto Mechanic

Just kinda piling on at this point but really any job that requires tools that amplify your strength -- switching between tools and setting them up takes time, which a superstrength hero won't have to do. Take off lug nuts? Uses his fingers. Lift out the engine? No problem. He can jack a car up just by lifting it and sliding something under it. (His hydraulic lift never worked. He just lifts it and slides a bolt into place.)

He has all the tools and uses them if people are watching (he jokes that he will charge you extra for watching him work) but really you leave the car overnight for a 5 hour job but he's done in 20 minutes. But charges you for 5 hours of labor anyway. ("It's a competitive bid!")

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Journalist

Given that the superhero will always be solving the worlds largest problems, catching the world's worst criminals, etc, the superhero will find it easy to write articles on these events.

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    $\begingroup$ Yes, but journalists are famously paid very poorly, except for the handful that are promoted as brands by their companies. The industry gatekeeping for that is extremely intense, and it's really only for the people who look attractive in front of a a camera and read from a teleprompter. $\endgroup$
    – Tom
    Apr 27 at 5:16
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Reverse Engineering

Apply the same skillset she uses on mad scientists’ gear to civilian products.

She takes apart products, figures out exactly how they are put together and what they are made from, and sells the information to their competitors. Done in secrecy, and especially suitable for an inventor or gadgeteer. But even someone who’s no genius can do it quickly and precisely without as much expensive tools or personal protective equipment.

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First off, it depends on the powers of your super. No matter what, your super hero will need at least 4-5 hours of sleep to not go insane. Unless, of course, their power is that they don't need sleep. Regardless, super heroes should choose jobs that echo their power or where their power is an asset but should also take minimal time to do with your ability.

Can you fly or travel very quickly? Then get a job that requires you to get to remote, hard to reach areas (archeologist, collect gemstones or rare-earth minerals, etc.).

Are you super strong? Become an eccentric metal sculptor or semi-pro boxer (throw enough fights to become full pro). Indestructible? Defuse bombs.

X-ray vision? Search and rescue, or private investigator.

Breathe under water? Underwater demolitions or welding. Underwater photographer.

Man on fire? Fire fighter. Lightning? Line worker.

The list goes on.

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  • $\begingroup$ I'm pretty sure "search and rescue" and "private investigator" are both things that would get folded into "superhero" $\endgroup$
    – No Name
    Apr 26 at 20:05
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Profesional gambler

X-ray vision, super speed, mind reading - I can think of lots of ways to tilt games of chance in their favour without others noticing immediately. And at the end of the day when the casino boss's heavys decide to evict them from the premises for winning too much, superpowers would also be useful. Casinos in the same town might share a watchlist, but jump to the other side of the world and that's not a problem. Plus it could even be seen as doing good in itself if they see house-always-wins gambling as an exploitation of the poor & vulnerable, and commonly associated with other criminal activities they can gather intelligence on at the same time.

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    $\begingroup$ "Let's say we're working with pretty basic, cookie-cutter superpowers here: someone who is significantly stronger, faster and tougher than any normal human could be" $\endgroup$
    – NotThatGuy
    Apr 26 at 12:34
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Everybody's going into very specific careers, but I don't really think that's necessary. All we need to do is define a few broad conditions, and he could do any job that fits under that umbrella.

Namely, any job where:

  1. Extra strength means he could do work that would take others much longer to do, thus saving time.
  2. Nobody sees how he gets the work done so quickly. Ideally, rumors could be started about him having access to expensive tech or the ability to subcontract when necessary, so that nobody is able to do the math linking his work and time to the end product.
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    $\begingroup$ Yes! This. I was about to answer the very same -- be unseen. Most other answers are actually more visible, but that leads to more questions. Another answer mentioned being a one-person mining corporation, that's good. Deep sea fishing, international courier service, solo Alaskan gold prospecting, forestry/land trust management, tunnel digging company, lumber yard, gravel company, grain/livestock farm, oil rig, wind farm, manufacturing plant, anything from Dirty Jobs (sewage, etc). Just go where no one is looking. $\endgroup$
    – BoomChuck
    Apr 26 at 20:38
  • $\begingroup$ The problem with just defining a few broad conditions is that it raises the obvious question: which jobs would fit under that umbrella? $\endgroup$
    – NotThatGuy
    Apr 28 at 12:24
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I don't know if the job still exists: wilderness power line inspector. Hike/backpack along the right of way of a power line, looking for anything that needs attention. Your superhero can use their abilities with little chance of being seen and their ability to carry more means less time spent on resupply.

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  • $\begingroup$ You’re nor supposed to be repairing the lines yourself, though, are you? $\endgroup$
    – Davislor
    Apr 28 at 18:18
  • $\begingroup$ @Davislor No. It's just inspection. I know it used to be a real job, but I don't know if it's been replaced by helicopters. I've told a utility about finding one of the insulators on the ground and they were definitely interested in the location of the damage. $\endgroup$ Apr 29 at 3:34
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Mining for Gold and Diamonds

He can dig out an entire mountain in no time. Stonemason would be like clay for them. miner. If it collapses on him, he walks out. Opals, gold, diamonds. luggage handler at airport/hotel. Building log houses, lumberjack.

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    $\begingroup$ gold mining in alaska is done by pumping silt out of fast-flowing mountain streams. seems like the perfect gig. you could work alone in remote wilderness. carry the heavy pumping equipment down the valley in no time. simply jump out of the water if things go south. add in a power like flight or the ability to breath underwater and you could mine gold at 100x the speed of a normal crew. $\endgroup$ Apr 28 at 21:14
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Sell/report autobiographical stories

Clark Kent was a reporter for "The Daily Planet" newspaper. He had a knack for reporting the latest news concerning Superman.

And Peter Parker was often able to sell exclusive photographs of Spider-Man.

And both Clark Kent and Peter Parker were able to use their powers not only to reveal scoops about themselves, but to get stories/photos of other events that were not humanly possible for others to do.

(Did you really think that J.K. Rowling wrote the "Harry Potter" books herself? Everyone knows that she hired a ghostwriter named Harvey Porter, who wrote about his own experience of attending a secret school of magic. Although he doesn't make nearly as much money as J.K. Rowling, Harvey was paid off handsomely to allow J.K. Rowling to put her name on his written works.)

So if the person with superpowers has a gift for telling stories, have them write and publish the stories -- as a ghostwriter if necessary.

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