I Want Your Job: Odds Compiler

'You need to be a reality TV nut and have good intuition'

Helen Jacob, 28, is the country's only female odds compiler. As entertainment manager for Sky Bet, an online, telephone and interactive digital television betting service, she works out the betting odds for non-sporting events such as Big Brother and the Oscars.

What does your job actually involve?

I work out the odds on non-sporting events: everything from whether Britney Spears will get divorced to who will win the Turner Prize. I'm usually in the office from 9am to 6pm, although on Fridays I stay late to cover the Big Brother evictions. Every morning, I read the newspapers - in my job it's very important to keep up with current affairs - and I'll have Sky News or Big Brother on in the background. I check all the bets placed overnight to monitor how much money we've taken and see if the odds need to be altered accordingly. I've always got my computer screen up, showing every profit and loss that we stand to make. I'm constantly reacting to what's going on, and adjusting odds - for example, if someone has had a fight on Big Brother, the odds on them winning may increase.

How did you get into becoming an odds compiler?

It was a complete career change for me. After doing languages at university, I trained to be an accountant, but soon realised it wasn't my bag. I saw an advert for a "reality TV nut"- someone with a passion for popular culture and good numeracy and communication skills. It seemed too good to be true when I got the job.

What skills would someone need to do your job well?

It's handy to have good numerical skills for working out odds and percentages. My job doesn't require as much analysis of statistical information as our racing and football odds compilers need to do, but it is important to be able to do spreadsheets.

I spend a lot of time researching markets, so you need good research skills and an eye for seeing what would make an attractive bet. You also need sound judgement and courage in your convictions in this job. There's a lot of money riding on your decisions, and you have to make them rapidly as the odds change minute by minute. A lot of the skill is intuition and experience.

What advice would you give to someone interested in a career in compiling odds?

If you're compiling odds on sporting events, you need to have an in-depth knowledge of sport, and really know your stuff. A lot of my colleagues would agree that they're pretty obsessed. The job involves working in the evenings, bank holidays and weekends, so you have to be prepared to work unsocial hours. It's hard to switch off and go on holiday, as you miss out on what's happening - so prepare for a lot of arguments with your spouse!

What's best about it?

It's a brilliant feeling when your instincts have been right and you win something, but it's frustrating when you lose. There's so much riding on your judgement and luck; it's really exciting. Although if I'm working out the odds for the Eurovision Song Contest, I have to listen to a lot of silly songs - that can be torture!

What's the salary and career path like?

The salary is competitive and there are opportunities for bonuses. You might start as a junior odds compiler, and work up to being a senior odds compiler or managing a department. We work at the core of the business, because we're constantly monitoring profits and losses, so we can easily move into other areas of the company.

For more information, go to www.skybet.com. People 1st, the Sector Skills Council for hospitality, leisure and tourism, at www.people1st.co.uk; the Association of British Bookmakers, at www.abb.uk.com; and the Racing Post at www.racingpost.co.uk, have more information on betting industry careers.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
peopleMathematician John Nash inspired the film Beautiful Mind
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Ashdown Group: Graduate UI Developer - HTML, CSS, Javascript

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Graduate UI Application Developer - ...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Software Developer - Norfolk - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Software Developer - Norf...

Guru Careers: Graduate Resourcer / Recruitment Account Executive

£18k + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a bright, enthusiastic and internet...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine