The moment of truth: There is no such thing as a dream job. Some gigs might seem idyllic, but actually involve a helter-skelter work-life balance, a boss who micromanages, a commute that's 20 minutes longer than you'd like or the occasional Saturday shift when you hate working weekends. If you've recently been grumbling because one of these scenarios rings true for you, then ... snap out of it.
It could always be worse. For some people, the compromise they make for a job they love — or a job they just tolerate — involves awful sights and smells, plus plenty of mud and muck, excrement, pests and hazardous materials.
The difference between a good or bad job often lies in the preferences of the worker, but these six jobs, whether they're good or not, are undeniably disgusting. Gird your stomach, but don't shield your eyes, and let's slog through the most foul careers:
Oil Rig Worker: This is a generic term for workers who drill for and extract oil from wells, either on land or offshore. Oil rig workers also maintain the surrounding area for future drilling. Their workdays come with noxious smells and abundant grease, and often involve drilling or pumping oil outside on the hottest of days, rainy seasons, cold weather and more. Oil rig workers drilling offshore could spend extended time sequestered away from family and friends while working on a petroleum-scented vessel. There isn't an education requirement to enter this field, but inexperienced workers can expect a rigorous training period before advancing to the more manual, technically complex job duties on an oil rig. Average salaries depend on specific job function, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The rotary drill operators who remove the oil earned an average salary of $56,640 in 2012, the derrick operators who operate the pumps made an average salary of $48,740, the service unit operators who facilitate more oil flow made $47,540 and the roustabouts who maintain equipment earned about $35,800.
Slaughterhouse Worker: Many think eating meat is delicious. But preparing meat to be eaten is mostly gross. Slaughterers and meatpackers kill the animals, drain and clean them and cut the carcasses into smaller sections before further chopping and grinding the meat to pack and ship. While toiling away in an environment of blood splatter and animal waste, slaughterers and meatpackers must also contend with their own discomfort - the BLS website reports that many processing facilities aren't climate-controlled and may become very hot in summer and frigid in winter. To add to insult, the job isn't well-paid: In 2012, the average salary for both meatpackers and slaughterers was less than $30,000. There isn't an education barrier to start work in a slaughterhouse, but trainees will receive extensive guidance in operating equipment, plus safety and hygienic standards, reports the BLS.
Crime Scene Cleanup Technician: Speaking of blood splatter, wiping up guts and goo are the norm for a crime scene cleanup technician. The gorier job requirements might involve scrubbing brain matter off walls, sifting through carpets for skull fragments and disposing the loose remains of a chopped-up murder victim. (Still reading?) Sometimes the messes these workers find are more emotional than physical, since they make house calls and encounter grieving, shell-shocked family members. The website HowStuffWorks.com reports that many who enter this line of work have had experience working as first responders or hospital emergency room staff. Crime scene cleanup technicians are reportedly paid well for their strong wills and stomachs. Although SimplyHired.com reports the average salary is about $39,000, the pay can vary greatly. In 2005, CNN.com reported these Hazmat suit-wearing workers could pull in as much as six figures.
Dairy Farmer: Squeezing teets, mopping up waste and inseminating heifers (which, in case you're interested, involves rooting around inside and around a cow's hind parts with both hands) are regular tasks for a dairy farmer, but he or she doesn't always earn the stellar pay that a crime scene cleaner might prize. SimplyHired.com reports an average salary of $31,000 and notes that the pay scale varies depending on location and experience. There isn't a formal training requirement to work in farming, but the industry has become more complex and technical, and the BLS reports that many farmers and ranchers now pursue bachelor's degrees in agriculture and also study veterinary science.
Plumber: Mopping up animal waste as a farmer is pretty terrible, but contending with human waste as a plumber is also no picnic. Many of the pipes that plumbers install, connect and solder carry wet waste from our appliances (dishwashers and garbage disposals) and our persons (use your imagination), so a busy technician could easily end the workday smelling like whatever he or she released from a clogged drain, and covered in whatever he or she sat on while troubleshooting a septic problem. Fortunately, plumbers make good salaries for their willingness to deal with gunk: Their average salary in 2012 was $52,950, the BLS reports, with the top-paid earning nearly $85,000 annually. Those at the top of the field most likely underwent a four- or five-year apprenticeship as well as nearly 300 hours of technical education in safety and regulations, applied physics, chemistry and math. According to the BLS, most plumbers must also receive a state license to work independently.
Gastroenterologist: These doctors are also like plumbers, but for the human body. Gastroenterologists diagnose and treat disorders that affect the alimentary canal organs (those along the route of your digestive tract, from your mouth to your anus). They Roto Rooter intestines, colons, anuses and more to discover squirm-worthy problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, peptic ulcers, colitis, colon polyps, rectal bleeding and diarrhea. The description might be less than savory, but the pay is good: Gastroenterologists have an average salary of nearly $200,000, SimplyHired.com reports. Like other physicians, a gastroenterologist earns his or her M.D. after receiving a bachelor's degree and completing four years of medical school. He or she must then endure three years in a residency program and another three to four years of fellowship training. Board certification isn't a prerequisite to practice, but many gastroenterologists still obtain it through the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American College of Gastroenterology.
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