Everyone dreams of having a more exciting job, like the ones we see in movies and on television all the time. But those dreams tend to be quickly crushed by the realization that all the really badass jobs are the ones that require the kind of training that is next to impossible for most of us to accomplish without capturing a wish-granting leprechaun.
Well, as it turns out, some of the most awesomely portrayed jobs in movies require almost no training whatsoever and can be done by almost any old jackass who walks in off the street. Like ...
The Badass Job:
Bounty hunting is a centuries-old, time-honored tradition, where grizzled bastards harder than a coffin nail set out to capture other, possibly even more grizzled bastards, armed with only their wits, guts and whatever trusted weaponry they can carry. One larger-than-life character after another has roamed the modern bounty-hunting circuit, bringing bad guys to justice and looking like real-life versions of action movie heroes in the process.
"These are just my Thursday night bullets. I don't put on the good ones 'til Sunday."
In movies, bounty hunters have been played by everyone from Clint Eastwood (For a Few Dollars More) to Robert DeNiro (Midnight Run) to the Rock (The Rundown), and there's a reason why Star Wars fans love Boba Fett despite the fact that he doesn't do anything. It's because the idea of cruising around, answering to no man as you doggedly pursue your prey is as badass as it gets. It's a job that has all of the action and danger of being a cop, with none of the rules. You're operating beyond the law to bring criminals to justice and collect your reward.
Your reward is years of painful digestion in a sarlacc!
To do it in real life, there must be years of training to be undertaken, possibly even a previous career in law enforcement or some horrible personal tragedy that must be avenged. You don't just wake up one day and decide you're going to start driving around looking for dangerous fugitives who wouldn't hesitate to throw a shotgun blast into your face like confetti at a disco.
But in Reality ...
We have charted the path to becoming a bounty hunter below:
1) Decide to become a bounty hunter.
2) You are now a bounty hunter.
OK, a dinosaur bounty hunter.
Turns out the Taylor v. Taintor Supreme Court case from 1872 -- a ruling that, stripped from its law-talk, basically says that it's OK for people to be bounty hunters -- is used in many states as the be-all and end-all of their bounty-hunting legislation, despite it technically having no binding precedential value whatsoever. While bounty-hunting requirements do vary from state to state, it tends to be more about what color form (if any) you have to fill before getting your badge than what your required training is -- because there are no diplomas nor any training whatsoever that you legally need to practice the profession.
Not even a mullet.
Sure, there are bounty hunting "schools" you can attend, but even they themselves admit that they're pretty much bullshit. Just operate within the laws in your state, grab your favorite pair of leather pants and feather earrings, and find yourself a bail bondsman to work with and you could have your own reality show/Tony Scott movie in no time, provided the first criminal you put your hands on doesn't immediately stab a straight razor into your eye socket.
The Badass Job:
Every single one of us has at some point spent time in front of a mirror, imagination-kicking opponents into oblivion with fierce karate stylings. And every single one of us has wished Mr. Miyagi would walk in at that exact moment, notice our uncanny potential and whisk us away to his dojo to be sculpted into the ultimate fighting machine.
Don't ask how he got in. He has a key. To everything.
Martial arts instructors get to do that exact thing for living, passing their mystical knowledge on to a host of students via bizarre, seemingly unrelated tasks that only become clear once the training is complete.
Their methods are the result of decades of tutelage under great masters of the past. Their art is more of a religion than a form of combat. They rarely speak, choosing their words carefully so that each syllable is laced with ancient wisdom gleaned from a lifetime of intense study and dedication. You can see it everywhere from Morpheus in The Matrix to the old master in Kill Bill Volume 2:
"It takes years of training to not get a wedgie from the high tension wire."
Of course, martial arts instructors exist in the real world, too, and the list of requirements for the job must be mind-boggling. That's why the movies portray these people as being almost magical -- after all, they're turning their students into living weapons. To do that job in reality, at the very least you'd have to have devoted your entire life to the study of your art, passing rigorous tests that would cripple an average man.
But in Reality ...
Nope, not at all. You don't even need a black belt or a trainer's license.
The martial arts industry has zero governmental or centralized regulations or standards, meaning that any dickhead can set up a school if they want.
"Today, young wards, you'll tell the police officers outside that we've been training for the last 48 hours straight."
There's no word on exactly how many fake instructors are out there, but the problem is large enough that the martial arts community is pretty furious about it. Several legit martial artists are hunting down and naming particularly blatant examples of fake instructors on a site called Bullshido. People have also written detailed instructions on how to spot a fake instructor, and apparently the fake martial artists are even unionizing, although someone should probably point out that their make-believe ninja moves are useless against real, actual karate.
Still, they're very well-trained in Taek Ma Do.
This means that you, too, can totally bullshit your way into martial arts instructordom pretty much any time you want. Your options for this are practically unlimited, from inventing your own style to buying a certificate with hard cash to just claiming expertise in an established martial art. Whichever avenue you choose, you can start giving courses right away. Just be careful to avoid sparring with someone who actually knows what the hell they are doing, or your ruse will become apparent almost immediately.
The Badass Job:
You know them best from fiction: Sam Spade. Hercule Poirot. Sherlock Holmes.
"See, if we just remove the rubber mask, then we find the real culprit is -- oh. It's racism."
Different men in the same business -- the business of solving crimes that the police either can't or won't. Their methods may vary, but they all get results. Sure, they may take a bump or two in the process, but hey, that's just part of the job. And it's not just some silly fictional job dreamed up by writers, either: Private investigator is a very real profession, and one that can be pretty diverse and interesting.
"Diverse" here meaning "accelerating lung cancer and studying a child's brick."
The reality of private investigation might not be quite as glamorous as the myth of it (although we have to imagine that the temptation to speak in 1940s gumshoe slang is pretty hard to resist), but that almost makes the people who actually do manage to work in the business seem even more awesome.
But how do they become private eyes? In the movies and on TV, they're usually ex-cops with years on the job. You'd almost have to be; after all, you'd need keen detection skills, dubious yet trustworthy underworld contacts, an intricate knowledge of the back alleys and motorways of the city's seedy underbelly and a perpetually refilling flask of whiskey. No one just develops all the moxie for a job like that overnight.
It takes seven, maybe 12 DUIs.
But in Reality ...
While spending years in the police force before getting booted out unceremoniously is definitely one way to become a private eye, there are alternate routes. For instance, you could just take a short course online, like this one. Or if you don't like that one, try this one.
There are plenty of training centers willing to let you in on all the wonderful secrets of private detection that require basically the same amount of effort from you as a few all-nighters stuck reading obscure Wikipedia articles. At the end of the course, you press the "Print" button and voila! Out comes a diploma that actually enables you to start your new, awesome career as a private eye. It literally couldn't be any easier.
The mood lighting will probably set you back a fortune, though.
Wait, actually -- yes it could. Now that we think about it, there is an even quicker road to your own trench coat and grubby office: You just need to happen to live in the right state.
You see, requirements for private investigators in the USA vary between states. Sure, in some states you need to pass a tedious examination and have a law enforcement background in order to get your license, while many others start throwing licenses at you if you just bother to skim through one of those online courses. And then, of course, there's Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, South Dakota and Mississippi, where you can just set up your office right the hell now, as these states have no requirements for private investigators whatsoever.
"When trouble walked in on 4-inch heels, I thanked God I got my diploma in film noir cliches."