Let's face it, your basic superhero simply can't do without a day job these days. They may be strong enough to punch an Eldritch Abomination in the face, but they've still got to pay the bills. And unless they're a Rich Idiot With No Day Job or the opportunistic sort, they're probably not going to be paid for their trouble. So, they have to do something else in order get by.
But why stop there? If you're a superhero, your day job should cater specifically to someone of your... unique position. You should be able to disappear at a moment's notice, without being held up, and without people wondering. Not only that, but you should have access to the news, so you can know when you're needed.
So here's a handy list of jobs your typical superhero should consider when planning a career in heroics (if you somehow don't need a job... lucky you):
This is a superhero's goldmine. As a reporter, your whereabouts don't have to be accounted for during work hours, you'll hear about crises as soon as word gets out, and you'll have an always applicable excuse to rush to the scene without people getting curious. Plus, you can get paid for writing stories of your adventures. It's like getting paid for doing what you would be doing anyway! note Notable heroes in this field include:
- Ur-Example, Clark Kent/Kal-El (Superman)
- Peter Parker (Spider-Man). Well, news photographer, but same position in the grand scheme of thing.
- Victor Sage (The Question)
- Billy Batson (Captain Marvel/Shazam). A radio announcer in the Golden Age, a blog writer in the Modern Age.
- Britt Reid (The Green Hornet). Newspaper publisher and, in the TV series, also general manager of a television station.
- Jack Ryder (The Creeper). A talk show host specifically, but he does his own research.
- Asa Martin (Samaritan). Actually a fact-checker rather than a reporter, but still for a newspaper.
- Two out of three VR Troopers.
- Shinji Kidou, sort of.
- Charles Hampton Indigo
- Philip Urich (Hobgoblin)
- Splendid, an Expy/parody of Superman.
- Robert Reynolds is a reporter for an encyclopedia, at least in Age of the Sentry.
- Burton Slade.
- Kara Zor-El/Linda Danvers (Supergirl). Cub photographer for San Francisco nes channel KSF-TV Station in the early 70's, freelance journalist in the TV series.
- Parodied by Larry in LarryBoy: The Cartoon Adventures. He works at a newspaper office...as the janitor, it was the only job he was qualified for.
If you happen to run a Fiction 500 Company, then you've got a great position for a future in superheroics. You won't ever have to worry about money, and, as a busy socialite with few tedious day-to-day obligations, it's expected that you'd be out and about, enjoying life. If no one ever sees you, then they'll figure you just spend all your time out on the town, never suspecting that you really spend your time beating the crap out of criminals. Plus, if you act like a moron, everyone will think you're too incompetent to be a hero, and if you're seen bolting the scene (to get in uniform, of course), everyone will just think you're a snobbish coward. It's the perfect cover—just don't expect to have a sparkling reputation. You'd be following such masters of social deception as:
- Bruce Wayne (Batman)
- Ted Kord (Blue Beetle), although he prefers to be credited as a scientist.
- Oliver Queen (Green Arrow)
- Tony Stark (Iron Man). Although in most continuities, he does have legitimate credit as a scientist
- Don Diego de la Vega (Zorro)
- Sir Percy Blakeney (The Scarlet Pimpernel)
- Henry Cabot Henhouse III (Super-Chicken)
- Justin Sinclair (Manticore)
- Lamont Cranston (in the radio adaptation and film)
- Ashley Crawford (Big Bertha)
- Dan Dreiberg is something of a subversion: he's wealthy but reclusive and lives as a harmless intellectual.
- Kate Kane (Batwoman)
- August Fenwick. Another advantage of this kind of cover identity: being able to employ his sidekick as his "trusty chauffeur".
- Ace Egan. Before becoming the Ace of Space, Ace spent his days doing various recreational sports. He maintains this facade to keep his Secret Identity.
- Barbara Gordon (Batgirl) in Post-Flashpoint-continuity and Batman: Thrillkiller.
- Chet Fairchild (The Masked Marvel)
- Baman. It isn't clear what his job exactly is, but it has to do with shipping.
- Karen Starr (Power Girl) (businesswoman)
Forensic Scientist Wally West: It's one way.
Why not burn the crimefighting candle at both ends? Join the force and protect and serve 24/7. You'll know about every criminal related thing that happens in the town, as well as people in need of rescue or strange occurrences. It's especially good if you're also a confirmed Chronic Hero Syndrome case as people in peril are just a callout away. When things get a bit too hairy, zip off (just don't let your partners see you "abandoning" them), get into the spandex suit and solve the problem with superpowers. The main problem here would be that you can't always just "zip off"; the environment's pretty restrictive, so you'd better be good at making incredibly good excuses or get used to waiting until you get home to get your superheroing on. And you should avoid getting a partner at all costs, unless it's someone you trust. Can overlap with 'Career Superhero' below, The Real Heroes, and Super Cop. Good examples of this would be:
- Most of the Flashes have been affiliated with the police in some way or another, usually as CSI, but none as a full fledged officer.
- Dick Grayson (Nightwing)
- John Jones (Martian Manhunter). Usually a plain clothes detective, and occasionally a U.S. Marshal.
- The Savage Dragon.
- Hollis Mason
- Matt Parkman
- Blue Steel, and Statesman in his early days.
- The Mighty Thor spent some time as a paramedic.
- Not quite a hero, but Dexter fits this perfectly
- Top 10, all the main characters.
- Jim Powell from No Ordinary Family is a sketch artist for the police
- Karrin Murphy. Notable in that the conflicting requirements (e.g. the police really don't like the lead investigator disappearing partway through their case and being unable to explain why) led to her being first demoted, then "retired".
- Ryu Terui
- Super Sentai / Power Rangers:
- Possible Ur-Example: The Spectre. Jim Corrigan and Crispus Allen are both big-city detectives. In between was Hal Jordan, previously a member of a galactic police force.
- In both Grant Morrison's run on Action Comics and Batman Beyond comics, Superman creates a new identity as a fire-fighter.
- In one episode of Lois & Clark, he does one job disguised as a police officer or security guard.
- Jim Harper (the first Guardian) was a police officer.
- Mon-El's temporary identity of Jon Kent
- Johnny Storm (The Human Torch) was a firefighter for a time, ironic considering his powers.
- Katar Hol (Hawkman)
- Minako Aino is shown having worked with Scotland Yard for a time in the anime and outright becoming a part-time cop in the Codename: Sailor V manga, meaning she's a cop and a student for the entire run of the Sailor Moon manga. In a variant, Minako dislikes cops.
- Light Yagami joins the police force as a detective, giving him access to police records. Of course, he and his supporters are the only ones who think he's a superhero.
- Dan Garret (Blue Beetle), when he's not an Adventure Archaeologist.
- The Woman In Red, an early superhero who is considered to be the first female masked crimefighter. In a case of an Unbuilt Trope, her boss is also her Secret Keeper, and she reports her costumed exploits to him.
- Gary Kennedy (The Wraith)
- In the Ultra Series, most of the Ultras' human hosts are officers in the series' kaiju-fighting paramilitary organization.
Here's a job with most of the perks of being a Policeman with much less restriction. Here, you don't have to worry about hours, tricking partners, or being accused of negligence. Your hours are yours to dictate, meaning that, as soon as you get a case, you can pretty much investigate as your hero identity any time you want. However, you've lost the ability to be in the know; unless you work closely with the police (or are willing to break the law in the name of good by snooping at their files), the only info you'll get will come from people who walk into your office, meaning that you'll probably only get a few cases a month. Of course, these will probably be incredibly interesting, especially once you make a name for yourself as a detective who can solve even the strangest cases. You'll start off as a gumshoe, but you'll have such role models as:
- The Martian Manhunter, sometimes.
- Just about any of the protagonists of the many Vampire Detective Series.
- Ralph Dibny (Elongated Man)
- Jim Corrigan (The Spectre)
- Harry Dresden is a legitimate private eye, he just works in weird conditions.
- Shotaro Hidari and Phillip (and their mentor Sokichi Narumi)
- Zig-zagged with Jessica Jones, who became a private eye after a very failed attempt at super-heroing, but finds herself all too frequently (for her liking) pulled into super-hero related crimes.
- Jessica Drew, the original Spider-Woman (who was the inspiration for Jessica Jones).
- Kate Bishop, the second Hawkeye, goes into business as a private eye in her 2016 series, following in Jessica Jones' footsteps.
- Angel, though it's something of a Running Gag that he and his team lack the skills to do any real detective work (mostly they just track down and fight demons and monsters). In one episode, when the gang questions how he tracked down a normal human person, he explains that he hired a real private detective to do it for him.
- Renee Montoya (The Question) who used to be a cop, and now is more or less a self employed sleuther.
Here, we have a sort of mix between the reporter and the private eye, at least in practice. Here, you'll take the case of your client as your Secret Identity, and find the evidence to clear him as your hero identity, putting away the real bad guys at the same time. On the opposite track, you can prosecute a known criminal as your citizen identity, and attack them at the same time as a hero, putting two times the pressure on the villain. It's the perfect way to connect your two identities and help people as both a hero and a regular person. Here, it's probably best to pretend to be an associate of yourself (unless you don't have a Secret Identity), so that people won't get suspicious that a superhero is always giving you information. Also, beware the vengeful crook: here, they'll know you put them away, even if they don't know your dual identity. Oh, and as a lawyer you have to keep track of the copious amounts of time you're supposed to spend working, so be prepared to lie a lot or not get much sleep even by superhero standards. People in this field include:
- Matt Murdock (Daredevil)
- Jennifer Walters (She-Hulk)
- Kate Spencer (Manhunter)
- Mitchell "Mitch" Shelley (Resurrection Man)
- Ralph Nelson (The Black Spider)
- Grant Richmond (The Mad Hatter)
- Charles Bullock (Blackwing)
- Helena Wayne (Huntress of Earth-Two)
- Richard M. Grayson (Robin of Earth-Two)
- Janice Lincoln (The Beetle), is a villainous example, as she uses her knowledge of the law to exploit legal loopholes.
If you're anywhere from a Kid Hero to a college student, you're going to have to deal with being a student. This isn't the easiest thing: not only do you have to deal with villains and superhero stuff, but you have to go to class, pass tests, and keep up your grades. Expect one or the other to suffer, people to constantly wonder where you are, to have to deal with suspicious classmates, and to pine for a beautiful girl while your powers keep any serious relationship from ever happening. But it's not that bad... at least you don't have to worry about money! Unless, of course, your folks are broke... then you might need a second job... Anyway, there's a huge amount of these, but a few notables:
- Peter Parker again.
- Virgil Hawkins (Static)
- The Robins, particularly Tim Drake before he dropped out of High School.
- The original Batgirl in most TV and film adaptationsnote , and Stephanie Brown in her own series.
- Terry McGinnis (Batman), of Batman Beyond.
- Buffy Summers
- Bubbles, Blossom and Buttercup
- Jaime Reyes (Blue Beetle)
- Most of the X-Men were this in the beginning. Several of them have lasted long enough to grow up and become teachers. Whether the institute is a full-blown Superhero School or a mutant school where only some of them are superheroes depends on the writer.
- The Sailor Senshi — not that some of them were very good student to begin with.
- Doreen Green (Squirrel Girl)
- The Shonen heroes who have school and just about all magical girl warriors.
- In Ultimate Marvel, Spider-Man and the X-Men are teenagers. So is the Human Torch, but he doesn't go to school until the post-Ultimatum Retool; prior to that, he's a Career Superhero.
- Power Rangers:
- The Mighty Morphin and Zeo rangers were students, as were any replacements in that period, before graduating at the start of Power Rangers Turbo. By that season's midway point, the entire team of former students had been replaced with more teenagers. Since the end of Power Rangers in Space, the show has used new Rangers with each season, so every so often the Rangers are once again students.
- Power Rangers Dino Thunder revisited the trend, even bringing back Tommy as a teacher. After that, it wasn't used until the anniversary season Power Rangers Megaforce.
- This also pops up in Sentai series such as Kousoku Sentai Turboranger, and Denji Sentai Megaranger.
- Kisaragi Gentarou may be considered this, even though just about everyone in the school knows who Fourze is.
- Danny Fenton
- The Silver Age Superboy, though Clark was also shown working part-time in the Kents' general store.
- Captain Crandall, Skate Lad, and Rope Girl of Teamo Supremo, overlapping with Career Superhero (on a part-time basis), as they formally work with the governor, plus the state provides their super-equipment.
- Kamala Khan (Ms. Marvel)
- Ladybug and Chat Noir
- Janie Jackson
- Hiro, which is believable for someone his age, regardless of his vast intellect.
- Kara Zor-El again. In Pre-Crisis continuity she started out as a high-school student, but she grew up and graduated in the universe. In Post-Crisis continuities she remained a high-schooler.
Moderately common, but because writers generally don't want to put the research into real world science, also commonly glossed over or left behind for one reason or another. As for how this job is relevant to a superhero's life... well, it depends. Usually, if you decide to go the route of the scientist, it means that your superpowers will probably be either the result or a byproduct of your experiments. It also means that, lucky you, you most likely won't have to worry about money, since your inventions will support you. In fact, most people in this field are usually career superheroes. If you don't feel you have what it takes to be a Science Hero or Gadgeteer Genius, never fret! Many a scientist superhero are not, or only ease into the role later on in their career (though you may still want to keep an eye out for symptoms of a developing case of Science Related Memetic Disorder). You'll be joining such luminaries as:
- Bruce Banner (Hulk), when he's employed, is employed as one of these.
- Henry Pym (Ant-Man)
- Jay Garrick and Barry Allen (The Flash)
- Ted Kord (Blue Beetle)
- Reed Richards' (Mister Fantastic) main source of income, besides Career Superheroing (q.v. below)
- Peter Parker again.
- Ray Palmer and Ryan Choi (The Atom)
- Raymond Keyes (Positron)
- Michael Morbius worked as a hemato(patho)logist during one of his stable periods.
- Dr. Manhattan. That doctorate's not for show, folks.
- Alec Holland (Swamp Thing)
- Fred Carson (Wonder Man)
- Tom Wade (Invisible Terror)
- Keith Spencer (Captain Flash)
- Don-Vin (Hyper the Phenomenal)
If there's a Superhero School around, then this can overlap with the "Career Superhero" below, but if it doesn't work out that way, you can't just skip out on class to fight crime when you're the teacher. On the other hand, if you started your hero career as a student, you'd have already figured out how to work around school schedules, so teaching is a fairly simple job to transition into when you grow up. Besides, working at a school means you'll have a mountain of useful information right at your fingertips. And who knows? You might even find a Kid Sidekick in your class. A common form of Badass Teacher. Other heroes who followed this path include:
- Most of the X-Men have been teachers at one time or another, since they have a Superhero School.
- Susan Storm (Invisible Woman), during the "Wolf at the Door" arc.
- Peter Parker yet again!
- Not an actual teacher, but Buffy Summers becomes a school counselor when she grows up. Her Watcher Rupert Giles was the school librarian when she was a student, and other heroic school staff members have also appeared in the series.
- Jefferson Pierce (Black Lightning) is a high school principal.
- Helena Bertinelli (Huntress) is an English teacher.
- Red Tornado's human guise John Smith is a college professor.
- All five Hoshiwaka siblings of Chikyuu Sentai Fiveman.
- Tommy Oliver. Spent most of his early Ranger years as a high school student, then graduated and stepped down, and eventually returned in Power Rangers Dino Thunder as both teammate and science teacher to the newest group of Rangers.
- Michiru Kaiou is an art teacher in at least one continuity. Her teammate Setsuna Meiou works as a school nurse.
- There was a short-lived Archie Comics series called Faculty Funnies where four of the regular teachers became a superhero team.
- Robert Blake
- Ultraman 80's human identity Takeshi Yamato is a middle school science teacher, though he has to juggle it with his part-time job as a UGM officer.
- Victoria Dallon (Antares) began working as schoolteacher until she was outed as a parahuman and got fired.
- Kara Zor-El was a student advisor in the 70's.
The Holy Grail of super day jobs: being paid to be a full time superhero! Like all things that seem too good to be true, this isn't exactly easy to get. First off, it usually requires you to give up your secret identity, then you'll either need some government agency or corporation to sponsor you, or be brilliant enough that your grants will pay for everything. Then, be prepared to have absolutely no downtime: you'll be expected to leap into action for anything, which, if you find having a normal life as well as a super one important, might be a turn off. Not to mention that your employers may not be as benevolent as you are. But, if everything goes well, you'll be living like a king doing what you would be doing anyway; you'll have ton of respect, groupies, a cool house and a ludicrous bank account that probably won't ever empty. Of course, one crisis later and you might lose it all, but, don't worry, you'll get it back... eventually. You'll be joining such luminaries as:
- All the Avengers, particularly after Civil War.
- Fantastic Four.
- Edward Blake, Adrian Veidt and Dr. Manhattan
- The Middleman
- The X-Men
- Tiger & Bunny is built on the premise of "salaryman superheroes" who are effectively part law enforcement, part reality television stars.
- Conner Kent (Superboy), especially in the Hawaiian years.
- Wally West (The Flash)
- The average D&D party.
- Stormwatch was originally a team funded by the United Nations, the New 52 team is funded by a mysterious organization.
- The Authority more or less funds itself full time, while blackmailing the planet into rewarding them.
- John Reese, basically.
- Darkwing Duck was eventually revealed to be funded by S.H.U.S.H. in the comics.
- The world of My Hero Academia has had so many superheroes for so long that they effectively serve as government-sanctioned agents.
- Jake Jordan the Manhattan Guardian, became a sponsored hero as his full time job.
- The Incredibles and friends, at least before superheroing was outlawed. Played straighter in the sequel.
So... maybe things didn't work out so well. It could be that your superhero career just didn't exactly pay the bills. It could be that your powers or superhero identity cause you to be unable to have a place of your own. Maybe you're a fugitive of some kind, and can't afford to have a long-term home. In any case, you're out on the street and have hit rock bottom. Well, chin up, at least you can still be a hero (as long as you don't need money to do it). As a man of the streets, you'll probably find out about disasters relatively soon, and, the best part, you'll have complete anonymity. There's nothing more dangerous than someone with nothing to lose. You'll survive... somehow... maybe you can take some food from the crooks you put away! In any case, you'll be joining the ranks of such successful heroes as:
- Walter Kovacs (Rorschach)
- Eddie Brock (Venom), when he's not a villain
- Bruce Banner (Hulk), most of the time.
- The Tick, sorta. He lives with Arthur but doesn't seem to contribute anything financially.
- Donatello, Raphael, Michaelangelo and Leonardo
- Frank Castle (The Punisher). He's got no permanent home, but plenty of safehouses and hidden weapons caches. And a boatload of cash from all the mobsters he kills.
- Len/Kamen Rider Wing Knight from Kamen Rider Dragon Knight.
- Hancock. Being immortal, he doesn't need a job at all.
- The Runaways, since they don't go to school and are constantly...on the run.
- Hei in the second season of Darker Than Black, which combined with his general hygiene and alcoholism earned him the Fan Nickname "Hobo Hei".
- Spawn. It's easier to stay off the grid when you're undead.
- Paperinik is a way; since his alter ego is Donald Duck, he retains Donald's habit of being unemployed, unemployable, or stuck in temporary low-paying menial jobs most of the time. While this is explained by Donald's general bad habits, bad luck and less than stellar personality in regular Disney comics, in these stories the fact that Donald has to run off all the time, spends all nights patrolling, and constantly lies about his whereabouts gets him fired again and again.
- Superhero Girl
- Bowen from Dragonheart between being a knight and meeting Draco.
- The Maxx
- Captain America's friend D-Man.
- Hercules and Xena, possibly. It's never really explained how they make a living. Herc is shown turning down money and even food constantly. Xena plays it straighter, since she and Gabrielle seem to be permanently on the road whereas Hercules comes back to his mom's house every so often and Ioalus has a home of his own, but no apparent job.
- Willy Burns
- The Batman: Thrillkiller version of Bruce Wayne.
- Ultraman Orb's human identity Gai Kurenai is a vagabond Walking the Earth.
- Big Hero 6: Hiro's teammates are graduate students, but also fall into the latter category. Wasabi works as a sushi chef, Honey Lemon is a part-time barista, and GoGo is a bike courier. And despite being mistaken for a comic-book fanboy who looks like he lives under a filthy bridge, Fred actually comes from an extremely wealthy family that owns an enormous mansion and a personal vacation island to boot.