When it comes to job preferences, many people seek clean, comfortable environments. But there's a group of hardworking individuals who tackle some of the dirtiest, toughest, and most challenging jobs out there.
These jobs might not always be glamorous, but they often come with surprisingly high paychecks that can rival or even surpass those of white-collar professions.
In this article, we'll explore the world of the highest-paying dirty jobs that most people shy away from.
Editor's note: Salaries for these professions can vary greatly by geography.
Get paid up to $225 a month while watching viral videos
It sounds crazy. And maybe you’re not even sure if it’s worth your time. But come on … you’re at least a little curious. Getting paid while watching viral videos is a real way to earn cash, and you can do it with a company called InboxDollars.
No … it’s not going to get you rich. Yes ... it’s probably one of the lowest-effort side hustles. But it’s totally worth it if you’re just sitting on the couch scrolling anyway. Instead of just watching viral videos on YouTube, you could be getting paid actual cash while watching those videos and taking surveys instead. Every little bit of extra money counts.
It's simple. You sign up here and confirm your email. Then you watch videos and take surveys. Then you earn cash (yes, actual cash … not "points"). Whenever you’re just chilling on the couch, log in and see how you can earn up to an extra $225 every month.
Oil rig operator
These brave individuals endure the harsh conditions of offshore drilling platforms or remote land-based rigs to extract oil and natural gas. The pay is substantial but comes at a price.
Workers face long shifts, isolation from loved ones, and constant exposure to the elements. There's also the risk of accidents, fires, and equipment malfunctions.
The average oil rig operator salary in the U.S. is about $103,200.
Working deep beneath the earth's surface, coal miners extract one of the world's most important sources of energy. Despite the physically demanding, dangerous, and often dirty conditions, coal miners can earn substantial incomes.
The allure of these earnings is balanced by the inherent risks, including cave-ins, respiratory issues from coal dust, and long hours in confined spaces.
However, the role is integral to our energy infrastructure. The average coal miner salary in the U.S. is $58,147.
Wastewater treatment operator
The unsung heroes of environmental protection, wastewater treatment operators are responsible for ensuring that our sewage and wastewater are cleaned and purified before returning to the environment.
This job involves handling raw sewage, working with complex machinery, and maintaining treatment systems that can be quite grimy. It's a high-paying dirty job that offers a sense of fulfillment in knowing you're contributing to a cleaner, healthier world.
The average wastewater treatment operator salary in the U.S. is about $55,288. Treatment operators on the higher end of the pay scale make close to $70,000.
Resolve $10,000 or more of your debt
Credit card debt is suffocating. It constantly weighs on your mind and controls every choice you make. You can end up emotionally and even physically drained from it. And even though you make regular payments, it feels like you can never make any progress because of the interest.
National Debt Relief could help you resolve your credit card debt with an affordable plan that works for you. Just tell them your situation, then find out your debt relief options.
How to get National Debt Relief to help you resolve your debt: Sign up for a free debt assessment here. (Do not skip this step!) By signing up for a free assessment, National Debt Relief can assist you in settling your debt, but only if you schedule the assessment.
Plumbers might not be elbow-deep in literal dirt, but their work often leads to messy, grimy situations. Dealing with clogged drains, sewage backups, and burst pipes is their daily reality.
Still, their skills are vital and will earn them a pretty penny. The job isn't just dirty; it can also be physically demanding and challenging.
Plumbers need to diagnose problems, work in tight spaces, and handle toxic materials. The average plumber salary in the U.S. is about $43,087, but top plumbers can make over $50,000.
These brave souls venture into some of the world's most treacherous waters to haul in valuable catches of crab. Battling icy, tumultuous seas, they endure sleepless nights and backbreaking labor.
The job is as grueling as it is rewarding, with a high average pay, but it can fluctuate significantly based on the crab season's success.
These workers often endure extreme isolation and dangerous conditions, all while working long hours in harsh weather. The average crab fisherman's salary in the U.S. is about $59,934.
Septic tank cleaner
Septic tank cleaners tackle one of the dirtiest jobs imaginable. They maintain and clean septic systems, which are responsible for treating and disposing of human waste.
This job requires handling toxic waste materials and involves entering cramped, odorous spaces. It's physically demanding and often requires working in unpleasant weather conditions.
However, septic tank cleaners play a crucial role in public health by ensuring these systems function properly. This is one of the higher-paying dirty jobs. The average septic tank cleaner salary in the U.S. is about $43,666, while some make a little over $55,000.
Hazmat workers deal with hazardous materials and substances that pose severe risks to human health and the environment.
They are responsible for containment, cleanup, and disposal of dangerous materials such as chemicals, radioactive substances, or biological hazards.
This job requires wearing protective gear, including suits, masks, and gloves, to minimize exposure. The average hazmat worker salary in the U.S. is about $40,321.
Landscapers sculpt and maintain outdoor spaces, but it's not all about picturesque gardens and vibrant lawns. These professionals often grapple with dirt, mud, pesticides, and heavy machinery. Their hands-on work under the sun or in harsh weather conditions can be physically demanding and dirty.
Some seasoned landscapers have very high earning potential. While the job is far from glamorous, landscapers play a crucial role in beautifying our surroundings and ensuring that green spaces thrive.
The average landscaper salary in the U.S. is about $32,521, but top landscapers can earn about $80,000.
Exterminators are professionals trained to eliminate pests like insects, rodents, and other unwanted creatures from homes, businesses, and public spaces.
They often work in less-than-ideal conditions, crawling into tight spaces, handling toxic chemicals, and facing creepy crawlies on a daily basis.
While it's a dirty job, it can pay pretty well. The demand for pest control services ensures job stability, making this profession attractive to those willing to tackle the less glamorous side of pest management.
The average exterminator salary in the U.S. is about $48,611.
Earn up to $75/hour working from home
Bookkeeping is a basic (but powerful) way to earn money online.
And while $75/hour might sound like a lot of money, the data backs it up: Thanks to its high profit, low cost nature, Foundr Magazine has described it as one of the most profitable businesses you can start …
Plus, data from a 2021 survey by Intuit shows that the average hourly rate for this in-demand skill jumped from $69/hour to $75/hour! This unique skill can help you supplement your existing income … or even replace your current job.
Start learning how to launch a bookkeeping business by taking this free 3-class intro from Bookkeepers.com. The classes cover:
- How you can own a virtual bookkeeping business.
- What it takes to run a profitable virtual bookkeeping business.
- How to land high paying clients … even if you've never done bookkeeping!
BTW: You don’t need to be a math savant or even have an accounting degree. Like anything, it does take work, but you can be successful even if you’re busy with kids, family, or a regular 9-5 job.
Oil field service technician
If you're not afraid of hard work, harsh weather, and getting your hands dirty, a career as an oil field service technician might be for you. These technicians play a crucial role in maintaining and repairing the equipment used in oil drilling operations.
This job involves exposure to extreme weather conditions, heavy machinery, and often working in remote areas far from city comforts. Although, the compensation can be attractive.
The average oil field service technician's salary in the U.S. is about $47,590, with some making as much as $75,560.
For those with a sense of adventure and a love for the deep, a career as a commercial diver can be incredibly lucrative.
These professionals work underwater, performing tasks like underwater welding, inspecting underwater structures, and salvaging items from the depths.
The job requires specialized training and equipment, and it often means working in dark, cold, and sometimes hazardous conditions. However, the payoff can be substantial. The average commercial diver's salary in the U.S. is about $47,926.
Construction workers are the backbone of the building industry, and their jobs are among the dirtiest and most physically demanding. They toil in all weather conditions, performing tasks like digging trenches, laying foundations, and erecting structures. Dust, debris, and heavy machinery are constant companions.
However, the potential for good pay is one of the main attractions. Skilled construction workers, especially those in specialized fields like welding or concrete work, can earn solid salaries.
The average construction worker's salary in the U.S. is about $40,460, and welders can make over $50,000.
Sewer inspectors delve into the depths of underground sewer systems to ensure they function smoothly. Their job involves navigating through tight and often unpleasant spaces, inspecting pipes for damage, blockages, or leaks, and conducting repairs when necessary.
However, sewer inspectors play a vital role in maintaining urban infrastructure and preventing health hazards. This dirty job rewards workers for their dedication to keeping our cities clean and safe. The average sewer inspector salary in the U.S. is about $47,769.
Dirty jobs may not be everyone's first choice, but they provide essential services and can boost your bank account.
For those willing to embrace the challenges and physical demands, these careers can provide financial stability and even the opportunity for advancement.
Are you considering a high-paying job or career? If so, consider the dirty jobs above for high earning potential.