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Dirty Jobs

Dirty, Stinky, Messy, Gross Jobs
You know what they say, it’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it. There are hundreds of dirty jobs out there – dirty, stinky, smelly, messy, sloppy, gross, grueling, get-up-in-there jobs that most of us can’t imagine doing once, never mind every day. There are so many, that an entire is dedicated to dirty jobs.These jobs are essential to making our society run cleanly and efficiently, and the men and women who do these jobs are the unsung heroes of the American workforce. They make the jobs
Photo: Bryan Peterson |Taxi | Getty Images

You know what they say, it’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it.

There are hundreds of dirty jobs out there – dirty, stinky, smelly, messy, sloppy, gross, grueling, get-up-in-there jobs that most of us can’t imagine doing once, never mind every day. There are so many, that an entire TV showis dedicated to dirty jobs.

These jobs are essential to making our society run cleanly and efficiently, and the men and women who do these jobs are the unsung heroes of the American workforce. They make the jobs the rest of us complain about look like a walk in the park on a sunny day.

Here are 10 of the dirtiest jobs and what they entail.

By Cindy Perman
18 March 2011

Oil Rig Worker
Oil is a lucrative business but for the workers who are tasked with getting it out of the ground, it’s a dirty, messy, smelly, grueling job.You have to live away from your family and work 12 hours a day under cramped, dangerous conditions.But, the pay is good: Entry-level maintenance roustabouts, who basically clean and paint the rig, make around $47,000, while rig safety and training coordinators can make $80,000 or more, according to a site started by a group of offshore workers and former off
Photo: Dan Bannister | Tetra images | Getty Images

Oil is a lucrative business but for the workers who are tasked with getting it out of the ground, it’s a dirty, messy, smelly, grueling job.

You have to live away from your family and work 12 hours a day under cramped, dangerous conditions.

But, the pay is good: Entry-level maintenance roustabouts, who basically clean and paint the rig, make around $47,000, while rig safety and training coordinators can make $80,000 or more, according to Rigworker.com,a site started by a group of offshore workers and former offshore workers.

Whale Carcass Remover
When whales wash ashore, it’s a spectacle for most of us that we might see and forget about. But for someone else, it’s a dirty, stinky, massive job to break it down and remove it. Plus, it can be dangerous, as a giant carcass will attract sharks.Towing the carcass out to sea isn’t generally a good option, because it would likely come apart and attract more sharks and other predators, putting beachgoers at risk. When a 10-ton humpback whale recently washed ashore in Hawaii, Randy Cates of Cates
Photo: Alexandro Auler | Getty Images

When whales wash ashore, it’s a spectacle for most of us that we might see and forget about. But for someone else, it’s a dirty, stinky, massive job to break it down and remove it. Plus, it can be dangerous, as a giant carcass will attract sharks.

Towing the carcass out to sea isn’t generally a good option, because it would likely come apart and attract more sharks and other predators, putting beachgoers at risk. When a 10-ton humpback whale recently washed ashore in Hawaii, Randy Cates of Cates International Marine Salvage was contracted to get rid of it, according to HawaiiNewsNow.com.

Cates’ business isn’t limited to whales, he clears out whatever washes in. He’s been hired to remove boats, yachts, whales and other giant, messy stuff, for about $6,000 to $8,000 for each “project,” which is paid for by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Leather Tanner
We all know that leather comes from animal skin but most of us have a thick layer of civilization between ourselves and the tanning process.Leather tanners have to separate the skin of the animal, which isn’t easy, and remove hair, nails and other parts you generally don’t see hanging off a leather jacket. Then, they have to treat it with tannin, an acidic compound, so it doesn’t decompose. It requires soaking, scraping and stretching the skin until it dries out. They make about $25,000 to $50,0
Photo: Romano Cagnoni | Getty Images

We all know that leather comes from animal skin but most of us have a thick layer of civilization between ourselves and the tanning process.

Leather tanners have to separate the skin of the animal, which isn’t easy, and remove hair, nails and other parts you generally don’t see hanging off a leather jacket. Then, they have to treat it with tannin, an acidic compound, so it doesn’t decompose. It requires soaking, scraping and stretching the skin until it dries out.

They make about $25,000 to $50,000 per year, according to the Labor Department.

Crime Scene Cleaner
For most people, stumbling on a crime scene is about all they can stomach. But for other people, crime scenes are where they report for duty.Once the police are done collecting evidence and remove the body or whatever else, a private company specializing in crime-scene cleanup might be hired to move in to bag up and scrub down the rest. The common misperception is that the city or police department is responsible for paying for the services of crime-scene cleaners, but that’s not true. If the cr
Photo: Thinkstock Images | Comstock Images | Getty Images

For most people, stumbling on a crime scene is about all they can stomach. But for other people, crime scenes are where they report for duty.

Once the police are done collecting evidence and remove the body or whatever else, a private company specializing in crime-scene cleanup might be hired to move in to bag up and scrub down the rest.

The common misperception is that the city or police department is responsible for paying for the services of crime-scene cleaners, but that’s not true. If the crime scene is in a public place, the city will generally call the fire department in to hose it down, said Juan R. Osteguin III, the owner of Crime Scene Cleanersin San Antonio, Texas. If it’s on private property, it’s the homeowner or property manager’s responsibility to pay for it, Osteguin said, adding that some insurance companies will pay for it, though there are stipulations such as the person hiring the company has to be a victim of the crime.

Crime-scene cleaners start around $35,000 to $50,000 a year, according to BadEconomyJobs.com,but can make six figures in big markets with a lot of violent crime — and that’s without a college degree. BadEconomy also reports that with the tough economy, these jobs saw an uptick in demand.

Alligator Farmer
Alligator farmers are a special breed — they embark on the dangerous task of collecting alligator eggs from swampy, mucky places, then bring them back to their farms, where they raise thousands of alligators at a time that they will then sell for meat, leather goods and other products.Some alligator farmers also offer airboat tours, where tourists are whisked across the tops of alligator-infested swampy waters to catch a glimpse of these dangerous creatures.It used to be that alligator farmers c
Photo: Tony Anderson | Getty Images

Alligator farmers are a special breed — they embark on the dangerous task of collecting alligator eggs from swampy, mucky places, then bring them back to their farms, where they raise thousands of alligators at a time that they will then sell for meat, leather goods and other products.

Some alligator farmers also offer airboat tours, where tourists are whisked across the tops of alligator-infested swampy waters to catch a glimpse of these dangerous creatures.

It used to be that alligator farmers could make $200 or more for an alligator hide, but the recession, and drop in demand for luxury goods, dried up the business and some alligator farmers went out of business. The industry is most prevalent in the southern states of Louisiana, Georgia and Florida.

Sewer Inspector
The sewer is where most of us send our waste, to get it out of our homes, but someone has to get down there and make sure everything is running smoothly. Yes, there are rats, cockroaches and other unspeakable things inspectors encounter as they’re checking for clogs, cracks and other problems. You might think wading through raw sewage is bad enough but some actually have to dive into a pool of excrement to clear a clog, according to HowStuffWorks.com.Sewer inspectors usually make around $30,000
Photo: Siqui Sanchez | Stone | Getty Images

The sewer is where most of us send our waste, to get it out of our homes, but someone has to get down there and make sure everything is running smoothly.

Yes, there are rats, cockroaches and other unspeakable things inspectors encounter as they’re checking for clogs, cracks and other problems. You might think wading through raw sewage is bad enough but some actually have to dive into a pool of excrement to clear a clog, according to HowStuffWorks.com.

Sewer inspectors usually make around $30,000 to $50,000, according to Indeed.com,but a few can make closer to $100,000.

Funeral Parlor Cosmetologist
When you think of make-up artists, you think of the glamour of models and celebrities. You don’t readily think of corpses.But, this is an essential service — to make up a deceased person so their loved ones can say one last goodbye. Death isn’t attractive under the best of circumstances, but accidents and serious injuries can make the job even more challenging. These cosmetologists to the deceased usually make between $35,000 and $45,000, according to It’s a grim job but on the bright side, the
Photo: Cindy Funk

When you think of make-up artists, you think of the glamour of models and celebrities. You don’t readily think of corpses.

But, this is an essential service — to make up a deceased person so their loved ones can say one last goodbye. Death isn’t attractive under the best of circumstances, but accidents and serious injuries can make the job even more challenging. These cosmetologists to the deceased usually make between $35,000 and $45,000, according to SalaryExpert.com.

It’s a grim job but on the bright side, there is always demand for funeral-parlor cosmetologists and with the size of the aging Baby Boomer population, demand is expected to rise.

Elephant Trainer
Elephant trainers at zoos have a super cool job — they get to work with elephants, who are smart, talented, majestic creatures, but the job can be dangerous and very messy.First of all, the job is outdoors, so you’re going out in all kinds of weather. Then consider that elephants like to splash dirt and mud on themselves to stay cool, plus, it’s the trainer’s job to hose them down. And remember that elephants don’t have thumbs, so when they eat grass, leaves and fruit, they may leave a bit of a
Photo: Joerg Koch | AFP | Getty Images

Elephant trainers at zoos have a super cool job — they get to work with elephants, who are smart, talented, majestic creatures, but the job can be dangerous and very messy.

First of all, the job is outdoors, so you’re going out in all kinds of weather. Then consider that elephants like to splash dirt and mud on themselves to stay cool, plus, it’s the trainer’s job to hose them down. And remember that elephants don’t have thumbs, so when they eat grass, leaves and fruit, they may leave a bit of a mess.

At the Buffalo Zoo,the “girls” (elephants) all do tricks, which can make for more creative messes. One paints (like real paintings on canvas) and another who used to work in the circus does a “Bath Time with Buki” show. All three play musical instruments and do fun challenges like having a watermelon-eating contest.

The average salary for an elephant trainer is $25,000, according to SimplyHired.com.

Swamp Logger
Swamp Loggers have such fascinating, dirty jobs, there’s a whole on the Discovery Channel devoted to one swamp-logging company in Jacksonville, NC.If you’ve ever tried to drive your car through a slightly muddy area, you know how challenging and mud-splattering it can be. These guys slog their heavy equipment through the swampy, muddy terrain to move timber, sometimes waterlogged, from remote areas. The company featured on the show, moves an average of 92 truckloads per week to local mills, wher
Photo: Heidi Coppock-Beard | The Image Bank | Getty Images

Swamp Loggers have such fascinating, dirty jobs, there’s a whole TV showon the Discovery Channel devoted to one swamp-logging company in Jacksonville, NC.

If you’ve ever tried to drive your car through a slightly muddy area, you know how challenging and mud-splattering it can be. These guys slog their heavy equipment through the swampy, muddy terrain to move timber, sometimes waterlogged, from remote areas. The company featured on the show, Goodson's All Terrain Logging,moves an average of 92 truckloads per week to local mills, where it’s turned into everything from paper products to construction-grade lumber.

Logging tractor operators make around $30,000 to $35,000, according to SalaryExpert.com.

Sandhogs
Sandhogs, aka urban miners, are the guys who dig tunnels, foundations and other underground construction in New York City.The hogs have built everything from subway, sewer and water tunnels to the foundation for the Brooklyn Bridge. If you’ve ever lived in or been to New York, you know that construction projects take years, so these jobs are often passed down from generation to generation.The sandhogs are and, while they work dirty, hardly glorious conditions, they take pride in what they’ve don
Photo: sandhogs147.org

Sandhogs, aka urban miners, are the guys who dig tunnels, foundations and other underground construction in New York City.

The hogs have built everything from subway, sewer and water tunnels to the foundation for the Brooklyn Bridge. If you’ve ever lived in or been to New York, you know that construction projects take years, so these jobs are often passed down from generation to generation.

The sandhogs are unionizedand, while they work dirty, hardly glorious conditions, they take pride in what they’ve done for the city of New York. Currently, they’re working on a new water tunnel for the city and extending the No. 7 train to the far west side of Manhattan and into Long Island on the east side.

Sandhogs can make $120,000 or more a year, according to ConstructionEquipmentGuide.com.