Mike Rowe can teach you everything you want to know about dirty jobs, but some career paths take a turn down alleys so disgusting even he would have a hard time stomaching them. There are jobs that are indeed dirtier than you’d expect, and there are jobs have the unflattering distinction of being gross, low-paying, or even absolute dead-end careers. If you’re on the job hunt, you might want to do your best to avoid them.
Of course, because there are gross or dirty jobs that nobody wants to do, that typically means that the barriers to entry are lower. And when there are fewer people willing to do a job, that means there is upward pressure on wages. So, a job might be gross, but that doesn’t mean that it’s bad — in fact, you can make some big bucks working in a career field that sends your olfactory system into overdrive every day.
If you can handle it, there are gross jobs to be had. There are people who make a perfectly respectable and honest living working jobs that most of us would deem gross or dirty, but somebody’s gotta do it. Here are seven of the grossest jobs you can find.
1. Slaughterhouse worker
If you’ve ever read books like Fast Food Nation, you know just how awful working in a slaughterhouse can be. There are people who literally spend their entire day ankle-deep in blood, guts, and feces — all to keep the food supply churning. It’s stomach-turning work. But if we want cheap meat, it’s what needs to be done.
Not only is it gross, but it’s largely thankless, dangerous, and pays lousy wages. Slaughterhouse workers typically don’t make much more than minimum wage, and usually less than $25,000 annually.
2. Animal husbandry
From the slaughterhouse, to the barn yard. Working with animals isn’t as pretty as it may seem on TV or in the movies, and if you’re involved in animal husbandry — that is, the intricacies in breeding and taking care of animals — it can get really gross. You’ll be doing everything there is to do, including scooping poop, feeding, cutting (all kinds of things), and more. If you love animals, it may be a good fit. Otherwise? You might want to “steer” clear. Though, you can earn a fairly decent salary, starting usually between $32,000 and $48,000.
Let’s be crass: a proctologist is a butt doctor. They specialize in butts, and anything that goes on with, in, or around them. Again, this is a job that requires specialization, but that probably doesn’t have a ton of medical students lined up to get into. But you are a doctor — and that means you earn a doctor’s wage. Once you’re through med school and practicing, proctologists make an average annual income of nearly $390,000.
Butts can be gross, but so can skin. If you remember your teenage years clearly, it’s likely that they didn’t involve clear skin. And if you are brave enough to venture into areas of the internet that specialize in videos and pictures of skin disorders, or even boil lancing techniques, a career in dermatology may be right for you. Like proctology, dermatology is a science, and you need to be a doctor to practice. That means big money, in the neighborhood of $300,000 per year.
People are uncomfortable with the concept of death, yet, someone needs to deal with people when they die. That’s why we have funeral directors, morticians, etc. One of the grossest parts of the process is embalming, where the bodily fluids are drained from a person’s body and replaced with embalming fluid to preserve it. That’s the job of an embalmer, which is a relatively low-wage gig for those who can do it. Typically, embalmers make around $40,000 per year.
6. School janitor
You were probably tough on your school janitor, and if you think back on it, they put up with a lot. Vomit, spit, blood — all of it has to be dealt with by somebody, and on top of it, putting up with armies of thankless kids makes it that much worse. But there are plenty of upstanding men and women who do it; though not for much. Janitors average less than $30,000 per year in earnings.
7. Portable toilet cleaner
Many people have a hard time setting foot in a portable toilet, let alone thinking about being the one to clean it out. If you’ve been to a sporting event or music festival, you know just how disgusting they can be. We’re talking every bodily fluid in the book, somehow all over the place. And someone has to deal with the mess. There isn’t much data on how much these people make, but the other jobs in the same industry typically pull in very little.
If you want to deal with human waste, you’re better off becoming a proctologist.