Dirty Jobs That Pay Well

By Shanon Lyhon of Payscale.com

Dealing with death, bodily fluids, and foot problems may not be the most pleasant experiences, but if your ick tolerance is pretty high, the pay for these jobs can make it worth getting your hands dirty.

  1. Veterinarian – Median annual salary*: $73,621

    Puppies and kittens are cute, but their bodily fluids? Not so much. Veterinarians diagnose and treat the dysfunctions and diseases of animals, but, according to Megan Lantz, registered veterinary technician at Northwest Veterinary Hospital in Seattle, sometimes working with animals can seem like a “flash flood of poop.”

    “A strong stomach is definitely needed in this field,” Lantz says.

  2. Waste Management Engineer – Median annual salary: $67,249

    Waste is a thankfully nondescript way to refer to the materials that waste disposal managers have to think about and deal with every day. Whether it be garbage, hazardous substances or human waste, these brave individuals must devise ways to dispose of that waste or reduce its volume.

  3. Trauma Surgeon – Median annual salary: $273,160

    Trauma surgeons are exposed to plenty of blood and guts, while treating patients who have been critically injured, but Dr. John Morris, professor of surgery at Vanderbilt University, wouldn’t use the word “gross” to describe his job.

    “When I see people who are severely injured, my response isn’t ‘that’s ugly.’ I look at it as a challenge to the skills I’ve developed over the years.”

  4. Coroner – Median annual salary: $52,072

    Death is a fact of life, but for people in this field, it’s also an integral part of every workday. Coroners investigate death to determine cause. They perform autopsies, conduct interviews, conduct pathological and toxicological analyses, and investigate circumstances of death. They may also testify at hearings and trials.

  5. Certified Nurse Midwife – Median annual salary: $81,015

    Babies are beautiful, but birth is another story. The sight of a baby emerging from its mother’s womb is both awe-inspiring and, let’s face it, a little gross. With home births on the rise, midwives, who oversee prenatal care as well as assist mothers with delivery, are in higher demand.

  6. Podiatrist –
    Median annual salary: $118,665

    For podiatrists, dealing with diseases and deformities of the foot is no sweat, but if feet gross you out or if you suffer from podophobia (the fear of feet), this job could give you the heebie jeebies.

  7. Oil Drill Worker –
    Median annual salary: $55,806

    With gas prices on the rise in the U.S., oil is certainly a booming industry. But, working in the oil fields can be a dirty, and sometimes dangerous, job. Drillers set up or operate a variety of drills to remove petroleum products from the earth and to find and remove core samples for testing during oil and gas exploration.

  8. Gastroenterologist –
    Median annual salary: $239,622

    Performing colonoscopies might not be your cup of tea, but for some, it’s a living. When Dr. Michael Kreines, gastroenterologist at the Ohio Gastroenterology & Liver Institute, was exploring specialties in medical school, he steered clear of gastroenterology. “It just seemed really unappealing,” he says.

    But as a resident, Kreines was taken under the wing of a gastroenterologist who showed him just how interesting the field could be. “We help people with a wide variety of intestinal and digestive issues that are actually quite interesting and challenging,” says Kreines.


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