11 Messy Jobs for the Bravest Among Us
By Lucas Reilly
The grind of a 9-to-5 got you down? You could be doing this today.
1. Armpit Sniffer
A superhuman sniffer can be your ticket to a new career. Odor testing is a big deal to many manufacturers, and a foray into the professional world of smelling can earn you $39,000 a year. Professional smellers may whiff new perfume, wine, or air fresheners. On the downside, if they work for a deodorant company, they may also smell armpits for a living.
2. Porta Potty Cleaner
What goes in must come out. Armed with a tank, vacuum wand, and a nose clip, professional porta john cleaners suck up whatever’s lurking in the blue murk below the toilet lid. They also clean the walls and restock the mobile tinkle station with supplies. The plus? A potential salary of $50,000.
3. Pet Food Taster
You don’t need to love dogs for this gig. You do, however, need to love dog food. A number of companies hire humans to taste-test pet food for quality control. You need to have a nuanced tongue—balancing what animals like to taste and what owners like to smell. If you can stomach it, you can bring home about $40,000 a year.
4. HAZMAT Diver
If the thought of diving in raw sewage doesn’t make you gag, then commercial diving may be for you. HAZMAT divers may swim in sewage, contaminated ponds, vats of oil sludge, and paper pulp tanks to repair pipes, find lost objects, or recover bodies. With good knowledge of chemistry and biology, an experienced diver can make up to $150,000 a year.
5. Crime Scene Cleaner
Police may clean the street of crime, but they don’t ever clean the crime scene. It’s the crime scene cleaner’s job to sweep up any unfortunate gore. Not for the easily queasy, crime scene cleaners also break down meth labs and clean up anthrax scares. If you can handle constantly being around tragedy, you can haul in $600 an hour.
6. Poison Taster
Like the medieval monarchs before them, some VIPs still have professional guinea pigs to taste their food. Everything Vladimir Putin eats is tested by a taster. Even U.S. Presidents—from Reagan to Obama—have tasters. American tasters, though, oversee the whole food-making process whenever the President goes out. Most of them are Secret Service agents.
7. Roadkill Collector
Over 1.5 million deer are smacked by cars each year. Plenty of other animals scurry across the asphalt and never make it too—and it’s a roadkill collector’s job to pick them up. Collectors scan the roads for carcasses, play Frogger with traffic, and dispose of the kill at landfills or compost heaps (depending on state laws). According to a listing from 2000, roadkill collectors make around $25,000 a year.
8. Frog Pickler
Those frogs you dissected in high school biology? That’s a job. Biological suppliers preserve frogs, cats, pigeons, and pigs for high school and college students. Most of the specimens are euthanized on the spot, embalmed, and then injected with colored latex so students can locate the arteries and veins.
9. Fake Astronaut
Beginning in 2010, six people in Moscow locked themselves in a mock spacecraft for 490 days. The goal? To see if it was possible to travel in deep space—specifically Mars—without going insane. They spent 250 days enclosed in the craft, 30 days exploring a model of the Martian landscape, and 240 more days back in the spacecraft. That’s 520 days of solitude. Although they didn’t go crazy, the participants did become more reclusive.
10. Deer Urine Farmer
Deer urine is packed with pheromones that drive big bucks wild, making it a favorite lure among hunters. Some deer farmers collect and sell undiluted whitetail pee, and with 17 million deer hunters in the U.S., they make a pretty penny doing it. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, a single deer can whizz $93,000 to $303,000 worth of urine each year.
11. Professional Patient
For $15 an hour, you can get your prostate examined multiple times by a team of inexperienced doctors. Many med schools hire fake patients to help future physicians hone their bedside manner. In one sitting, your may receive 17 physicals, or, for a higher bill, you may get something a bit more invasive. Although you’re one of their first patients, you’re helping teach the next generation of doctors.