These careers might have a high “ick” factor, but they make it possible to get out from behind a desk. And in many cases, they offer a high paycheck, too.
There’s no getting around it: some jobs have a high “ick” factor.
In these so-called dirty jobs, you’ve got to deal with stuff that would gross most people out—like disease, waste or even death. But without these positions, society would be a whole lot messier. As the saying goes, “It’s a dirty job, but someone’s gotta do it.”
But here’s the not-so-dirty little secret: these career paths actually come with big benefits.
For starters, you can ditch Desk Job Nation. And avoiding the water cooler may be linked to higher job satisfaction; some studies show that hands-on careers actually make people happier than office jobs.
Best of all, if you’re ready to dig in and get your hands dirty, you can take home a pretty sweet paycheck. Evidence: the jobs below have an average salary of $62,000.
Since one person’s “gross” is another person’s great-paying gig, which of these careers would you pick?
By collecting and controlling stinking methane gas, you help create electricity and keep landfills from bursting into flames. Your “office” may be made of other people’s waste, but your work turns garbage into gold.
Median Salary: $88,000
2. ER Nurse
If you’ve got a weak stomach, you probably want to give this job a pass. When blood, guts and gruesome injuries come through the emergency room door (and a whole lot of broken ankles, too), it’s your responsibility to keep people alive.
Median Salary: $66,000
As a CSI, you gather evidence from even the goriest of crime scenes. You can work in the general field or specialize by interest. For example, Forensic Entomologists deal with the literal creepy crawlies—the bugs—found at crime scenes.
Median Salary: $52,000
Sure, you get to work with cute baby animals—some of the time. But you also deal with the nitty-gritty aspects of sick or injured animals. (Think blood, slime, slobber and worse.)
Median Salary: $83,000
This is the classic dirty job. Scooping out gunk from overflowing toilets and clogged drains can test your tolerance for grossness. The good news is that you probably spend most of your time on cleaner activities, like installing new pipes.
Median Salary: $48,000
In this role, you do get to work in a (hopefully) spotless laboratory, but your daily tasks still have a score high on the gross scale. Basically, you test human matter—like urine, spit, blood and skin—to find clues to what’s making a patient sick.
Median Salary: $37,000
Sticking your hands into someone else’s mouth isn’t for everyone. As a dental hygienist, your goal is to help create a clean, healthy mouth, but you may wade through some major plaque and decay before you get there.
Median Salary: $69,000
It takes a certain disposition to work with dead bodies. Yet if you can get over initial hesitations about preparing the deceased for their last rites, you can find success in this important, meaningful and well-paid job.
Median Salary: $53,000
What icky (but essential) job would you add to the list?
Salary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.