Pest Control Exterminator Services Spraying Insecticide
AndreyPopov/istockphoto

What Really Gross, Dangerous, and Grueling Jobs Pay

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Pest Control Exterminator Services Spraying Insecticide
AndreyPopov/istockphoto

Getting Down and Dirty

Job requirements outline the education, training, and experience needed from potential employees, but there are some occupations that require a special kind of worker — not just undervalued jobs, but those extra dirty and dangerous ones most of us couldn’t even fathom signing up for. Cheapism compiled a list of the most disgusting and risky work out there, pulling data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to get a closer look at how their brave workers are compensated.


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One man's trash...
PeopleImages/istockphoto

Garbage Collectors

Annual Median Wage: $39,100

Where They Make the Most: New York ($61,450)

Whether they’re picking up and emptying garbage cans by hand or using the truck’s hydraulic components to lift cans into the truck, the job of a garbage collector is dirty and a little dangerous. Between the smells, having to work outside regardless of the weather, and hanging onto the back of a moving vehicle, this job is grueling in more ways than one. 


Related: Well-Paying Jobs for People Who Want to Work Outdoors

Sewage industrial cleaning truck clean blockage in a sewer line.
photovs/istockphoto

Septic and Sewer Pipe Cleaners

Annual Median Wage: $41,120

Where They Make the Most: North Dakota ($108,050)

Septic and sewer pipe cleaners deal with routine maintenance and respond to urgent situations for homeowners with backed-up septic systems — usually meaning there’s actual sewage beginning to cover the floors in their home. From dirty laundry and dishwater to toilet waste, these workers are faced head-on with rancid smells and substances.

Strong female farmer working on her ranch
stockstudioX/istockphoto

Farmers

Annual Median Wage: $68,090

Where They Make the Most: Hawaii ($135,880)

Farmers have some of the most demanding jobs. Whether they grow crops, raise animals, or do both, tending to chores on a farm is never-ending. Farmers who raise livestock including pigs and cows must navigate mud and plenty of animal feces. Not to mention the graphic experiences of castrating animals or helping a mother animal deliver a baby.

Preparations for autopsy, medical background
sudok1/istockphoto

Embalmers

Annual Median Wage: $47,630

Where They Make the Most: Connecticut ($77,140)

It takes a special kind of person to stomach working with dead bodies. Embalmers are responsible for preparing bodies of the deceased for funeral services and cremation, including draining the body of blood, disinfecting and cleansing it, and injecting chemicals for preservation.


Related:Great Jobs for Retirees

HAZMAT team
firemanYU/istockphoto

Hazardous Materials Removal Workers

Annual Median Wage: $45,270

Where They Make the Most: Tennessee ($64,670)

The full-body yellow suits and helmets are not an over-the-top uniform for hazardous materials removal workers, who encounter harmful substances including lead, mold, asbestos, and radioactive wastes and dispose of them safely. They also clean up toxic, flammable, and corrosive materials.

House pest control
Group4 Studio/istockphoto

Pest Control Workers

Annual Median Wage: $37,820

Where They Make the Most: Washington ($54,060)

When is the last time you encountered a rat, cockroach, or tick without shuddering? Pest control workers are charged with removing these unwanted pests along with ants, mosquitos, termites, bedbugs, and others.


Related:Cheap, Natural Ways to Rid Your Home of Pests

Butcher
muratsenel/istockphoto

Slaughterers and Meat Processors

Annual Median Wage: $30,170

Where They Make the Most: Colorado ($38,210)

There is no shortage of guts and gore when it comes to slaughterers and meat processors. From the beginning stages of the slaughtering and cleaning process to packaging cuts of meat, these workers encounter a lot of blood and strong smells. They are also exposed to dangerous equipment, chemical and biological hazards, loud noises, and other risks.


Related:These Are the Best Places to Order Steak, Pork, and Other Meat Online

Petroleum engineer controlling work of oil well pump jack.
anatoliy_gleb/istockphoto

Oil and Gas Derrick Operators

Annual Median Wage: $47,920

Where They Make the Most: Alaska ($69,690)

Not only do oil and gas derrick operators maintain and operate derrick equipment, they drill holes in the ground and operate pumps that circulate fluid and mud through drill holes.

Positive farmer with goatlings on his hands
JackF/istockphoto

Animal Breeders

Annual Median Wage: $40,770

Where They Make the Most: Pennsylvania ($57,900)

From breeding dogs to horses, the job of an animal breeder is pretty gross in more ways than one. Not only do they work with animals in an intimate, graphic setting, but they track when animals go into heat, care for them during pregnancy, and handle all that comes with the birthing process.


Related:Unexpected Jobs for Animal Lovers

Plumber installing new toilet in bathroom
Lana2011/istockphoto

Plumbers

Annual Median Wage: $56,330

Where They Make the Most: Alaska ($88,150)

It goes without saying that plumbers have a pretty filthy job. Although some of their responsibilities include tolerable tasks such as installing pipes and fixtures, they are also called upon during plumbing emergencies that, more often than not, involve working hands on with the toilets and corresponding bodily fluids of others.


Related:Lies That Plumbers Tell to Drain Your Wallet

The Lumberjack harvesting timber in a forest.
abadonian/istockphoto

Logging Workers

Annual Median Wage: $42,350

Where They Make the Most: Idaho ($54,050)

There is no shortage of risk and danger here. Cutting down trees is not as simple as firing up a chainsaw and taking it to the trunk of a tree; a lot of care and thought goes into ensuring a tree falls properly and safely. These workers also operate heavy machinery to drag logs, fasten cables around logs to move them effectively, and often work at impressive heights.

Crew Installing New Shingles on Roof on a Rainy Day
Cindy Shebley/istockphoto

Roofers

Annual Median Wage: $43,580

Where They Make the Most: New York ($66,400)
Roofs are high up and aren’t always the safest surface to work on, so the job of a roofer is inherently dangerous. These laborers are charged with repairing, replacing, and installing roofs on buildings and houses.

Steel Frame Construction
kozmoat98/istockphoto

Ironworkers

Annual Median Wage: $53,210

Where They Make the Most: New Jersey ($87,030)

Responsible for installing and reinforcing structural steel and iron to build and support roads, bridges, and other structures, ironworkers collaborate with crane operators who lift and position the iron and steel to align the material according to blueprints and instructions. Typically focused on industrial work, ironworkers connect steel and iron with welds, wire, and bolts.


Related:Most Satisfying Jobs That Also Pay Well

Firefighters extinguishing an industrial fire
THEGIFT777/istockphoto

Firefighters

Annual Median Wage: $52,500

Where They Make the Most: New Jersey ($86,880)

There is an obvious element of danger when it comes to firefighting. These noble professionals respond to fire-related emergencies, using fire hoses with extreme water pressure to control and put out fires. Not only do they focus on securing the safety of buildings, they work to get people out of danger and treat injuries as needed.


Related:Historic Firehouses Across America

Electricians repairing wire of the power line with bucket hydraulic
Airubon/istockphoto

Electrical Power Line Workers

Annual Median Wage: $75,030

Where They Make the Most: Oregon ($99,040)

Electrical power line workers respond to urgent situations and handle routine tasks during inclement weather and at all hours of the day and night to maintain electrical safety and restore electrical power after outages. The workers are no stranger to scaling incredible heights, whether working on standard power lines or dealing with electrical towers.

Construction worker wearing safety harness belt during working at high place.
Oranat Taesuwan/istockphoto

Construction Workers

Annual Median Wage: $37,080

Where They Make the Most: Hawaii ($62,690)

Construction can be fatiguing. Construction workers’ job responsibilities require intense physical labor across a variety of dangerous settings, from trenches all the way up to skyscrapers. 


Related: 22 Jobs That Make the Gym Redundant

Highway Freeway Construction
PHIDUONG/istockphoto

Highway Maintenance Workers

Annual Median Wage: $41,660

Where They Make the Most: Alaska ($58.370)

Highways aren’t the safest spot to hang out, so the job of highway maintenance workers is riddled with risk. They maintain highways, airport runways, and municipal roads, patching broken pavement, repairing guard rails and highway markers, and they even mow grass and clear brush from roadways — all just feet away from thousands of vehicles driving upward of 55 miles per hour?


Related:Best and Worst Cities in America for Driving

Police officers in bulletproof vests behind cordon tape
kali9/istockphoto

Police Officers

Annual Median Wage: $67,290

Where They Make the Most: California ($107,440)

Police officers have one of the most notoriously dangerous jobs. They protect lives and property, investigate crimes, face violence, respond to emergencies, and conduct traffic stops, sometimes involving driving at high speeds.


Related: How Much Does Your State Spend on Law Enforcement?

Underground mining site
aeduard/istockphoto

Underground Mining Machine Operators

Annual Median Wage: $52,400

Where They Make the Most: Washington ($69,840)

There are two types of job settings you can almost always count on to involve more risk: anything at an extreme height or underground. Underground mining machine operators provide maintenance in underground mines, loading materials onto mine cars and conveyors and routing them aboveground.


Related: Jobs That'll Soon Be Lost to Automation

Female scientist looking at the scientific sample in the laboratory.
Eugeneonline/istockphoto

Epidemiologists

Annual Median Wage: $74,560

Where They Make the Most: Washington ($113,900)

One thing we can all take away from the pandemic we’re in is that the people who study causes of disease to reduce risk are vital. Epidemiologists investigate patterns and causes, collect blood and other bodily functions, and focus on in-depth research to protect and educate communities and reduce the risk and rate of infections.


Related: 25 Undervalued Jobs That We Appreciate Now More Than Ever

Horizontal View of a Girl Cleaning the Clog of a Horse before Riding
daniele russo/istockphoto

Animal Care Workers

Annual Median Wage: $26,370

Where They Make the Most: Washington D.C. ($38,610)

Anyone who works with animals can tell you there are many things that make you say “eww” with a grimace. Duties of animal care workers such as groomers and zookeepers include feeding and watering animals, cleaning their living spaces, and bathing them.

Closeup shot of an unrecognisable worker in a protective suit cleaning a doorknob in a cordoned off area
Hiraman/istockphoto

Crime Scene Cleaners

Annual Median Wage: $60,590

Where They Make the Most: California ($88,090)

If you’ve ever watched “CSI,” “The Blacklist,” or other crime shows, you’ve probably seen how much gore and grime there can be at a crime scene — and you might have even seen when someone has to clean that mess up. Enter crime scene cleaners. These professionals use a variety of chemicals and equipment to get their job done, leaving no trace of blood behind.


Related:Famous Crimes Scenes You Can Visit Across America

Podiatrist using special grinding equipment
Lyashik/istockphoto

Podiatrists

Annual Median Wage: $134,300

Where They Make the Most: Maine ($214,960)

While many patients who visit a podiatrist do so for general foot, ankle, or lower leg issues, there are definitely some more disgusting situations involving foul smells and graphic injuries.

Professional cosmetology. Beautician doing blackhead treatment using mechanical steel tool. Close up of face. Concept of cleansing acne procedure
Ildar Abulkhanov/istockphoto

Skin Care Specialists

Annual Median Wage: $36,510

Where They Make the Most: Colorado ($58,480)

Sure, these specialists focus on enhancing the appearance of skin through a variety of more routine treatments, but there is another side of their job that not every professional can handle: dealing with pus, blood, and hair removal.


Related:The Best Beauty-Tech Gifts for Every Budget

Lab researchers looking at species of insects on dish, doing laboratory tests
Motortion/istockphoto

Entomologist

Annual Median Wage: $66,350

Where They Make the Most: Washington D.C. ($113,310)

If insects and beetles give you the heebie-jeebies, this is not the job for you. Entomologists collect these specimens and study their behaviors for research purposes, examining them in an up-close-and-personal way that not just anyone is brave enough to do.


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Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you're ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.