High Paying Dirty Jobs

Jan 18, 2020

Dirty jobs can come with a nice paycheck if you're willing to do the hard work and handle unconventional working conditions. You'll forget about the sights and smells of your job when you see your bank account.

Career Options for High Paying Dirty Jobs

Some people prefer a desk--a nice clean desk with a spiffy monitor and a rolling chair. Some people don't. They would rather be out in the field, working with their hands and getting dirty! There are plenty of jobs where you are rewarded for getting a little messy or a lot messy while you're at work. So if you'd prefer to wear steel-toed boots to work instead of a suit and tie or pumps and a pencil skirt, take a look at these jobs!

Job Title Median Salary (2018)* Job Growth (2018-2028)*
Water/Wastewater Treatment Plant and System Operators $46,780 -5%
Hazardous Materials Removal Workers $42,030 11%
Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Service Technician $50,320 4%
Funeral Service Workers $57,580 4%
Surgeon $208,000 or higher (for all physicians and surgeons) 1% (for all surgeons)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information for High Paying Dirty Jobs

Water/Wastewater Treatment Plant and System Operators

Working with water or wastewater will get you pretty dirty. The job will have you inside and outside testing sewage samples, checking on equipment, adding chemicals to systems, and a lot of other less than pleasant tasks. Being an operator requires a high school diploma, but some employers also prefer that you have an associate's degree or a postsecondary certificate in a field such as wastewater treatment technology or environmental science. So if you're okay with slime, grit, and getting assaulted by smells look into this career!

Hazardous Materials Removal Workers

Hazardous materials require special handling and disposal. While no degree is required, training must be completed for each type of hazardous material. Asbestos, lead, chemicals, bio waste, and radioactive waste are among a few of the different waste products that hazardous materials workers will need to learn how to dispose of and encounter. Crime scene clean up crews require a lot of the same training but they do not work nine to five either and are often called at odd hours once the police have finished gathering evidence. Regardless of the type of training and waste you work with, there are lots of opportunities to learn new skills and move up in this field. When you're done having the dirty job, you can teach others.

Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Service Technicians

Working on heavy equipment is not an easy or clean job. It requires lifting heavy parts and tools, being in a loud mechanic shop, and living with grease on everything. Contorting your body to whatever position the repair demands is also not easy! But whether you are working on farm equipment, trains, or construction equipment; you will get dirty. Requirements are changing because of increasingly more complicated technologies and employers are looking not only for high school graduates but also those who have completed vocational programs and received certifications. If you are mechanically inclined and don't mind drafty mechanic bays and grime working its way into everything, looking towards a career in heavy equipment maintenance and repair could be an amazing opportunity.

Funeral Service Workers

One of the jobs that falls under funeral service workers makes selling people coffins and helping them pick out flower arrangements look like a piece of cake. Embalmers have the task of preparing bodies for viewings and funerals. They remove blood and replace it with embalming fluid as well as apply makeup to the deceased. Embalmers even have the added responsibility of repairing damage that may have occurred pre or post mortem. An associate's degree in mortuary science as well as some on-the-job training will get you ready for a profession of helping families grieve the loss of their loved ones. The paycheck is nothing to complain about either. Become a sought-after embalmer and you will see that number steadily rise as well.


Surgeons literally cut people open for a living and remove tumors and organs, fix broken bones, and perform exploratory surgery. They spend a lot of time on their feet dealing with blood and all other manner of bodily fluids. It requires a medical degree and an internship or residency and many hours of practice. Being a surgeon is serious work, but you are compensated for the time you spend being on call and abundance of hours you will be tasked with holding someone's life, and sometimes body parts, in your hands. This job definitely isn't for those who are easily made queasy or uncomfortable and it comes with a lot of responsibility.

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