Think your job stinks? Could be worse. You could be knee-deep in food scraps from Las Vegas casinos to cook into gourmet pig slop. Or you could spend your afternoon trying to make a snake regurgitate.
There are oodles of odiferous occupations and gross gigs out there. To choose the most disgusting, we turned to Mike Rowe, who immerses himself in dirty jobs every week as the intrepid host of Dirty Jobs, on the Discovery Channel. As he points out though, even the nastiest seeming job is valuable to society; every job has some meaning. "There would be no civilization without them," he says. "Our lights would go out, our food was disappear, our garbage would pile up and our streets would run with crap."
To find a meaningful job that's right for you, take the free career interest test.
Here's an exclusive look at Mike's top picks for the dirtiest occupations. All happen to involve animals of one sort or another. Annual median salary information is provided by LiveCareer's Free Salary Calculator.
Pig Farmer (Vegas Style). If you're the head hog of a pig farm, it's common to get down and dirty with your animals. One pig farmer in Las Vegas even collects uneaten food from casinos, turns it into a bubbling stew and feeds it to his ravenous swine. "I swear I can still smell it," says Mike. ($40,804)
Geoduck Harveter. Digging for clams is kind of fun. Digging for geoduck (pronounced gooey-duck) clams is kind of creepy. That's because these clams have thick, fleshy siphons that protrude up to a meter long outside of their shells. They bury themselves three feet underground in the primal muck of Puget Sound. You end up with mud and grit everywhere and, if you're lucky, a slimy snaky thing in your hand. ($22,793)
Turkey Inseminator. Turkeys these days are bred to have such large chests (aka white meat) that they can't fertilize eggs naturally, so they get a helping hand. It's not easy recruiting turkey sperm donors or recipients. "There's squawking. There's screaming," says Mike. "Foul, no matter how you spin it." ($33,419)
Snake Researcher. Snake researchers have to be calm to deal with wrangling snakes while not getting bitten. Back in the lab, they examine snakes for things like diseases or to see what they've been eating. They do this by making them regurgitate their lunch. "Dirty, dirty job," says Mike, who was bitten numerous times by angry water snakes when he tried his hand at reptile research. ($55,409)
Monkey Caretaker. Not all monkeys are as gentle or well-intentioned as Curious George. Some are so keen on protecting their territory that they can become like tiny terrorists, says Mike. One relentlessly stalked and attacked Mike and his crew on a visit to South Africa. "There was blood, pain, screams, laughter. This was the dirty job that wasn't supposed to be," he says. "The inmates run the asylum." ($28,819)
Shark Suit Tester. How can you tell if a steel suit made of chain mail can protect you from the bite of a 12-foot reef shark? Simple. Fill the ocean with blood and chum. Wait for the sharks to whip themselves into a feeding frenzy. "Now, put on the suit and jump in," says Mike. ($33,710)
While these jobs might sound disgusting, dirty, or even downright scary, it's quite possible that the people employed in these positions actually love what they do. There are many factors that contribute to job satisfaction. You might be surprised by what factors most contribute to your own level of career satisfaction. A job satisfaction survey can help you to identify what factors are most important to your job satisfaction and give you the tools and tips you need to increase your own satisfaction level and find a career – dirty or not! – that you can truly enjoy.