While some people are quick to argue that there are certain jobs you couldn’t pay them enough to tackle, others are happiest getting down and dirty to get the job done—quite literally.
Not everybody wants to spend their workday in the confines of a cubicle or office setting, in fact, some of the most unsanitary jobs across the country come with the biggest rewards, and that doesn’t necessarily mean the high salary that can come along with them.
In parallel to the heightened awareness of sanitation and cleanliness that has come by way of the COVID-19 pandemic, a recent Business Insider report ranked the most unsanitary, yet highest paying jobs in America. These jobs all involve some form of risk, ranging from minor burns and cus all the way down to working in hazardous conditions that include exposure to radiation and other calculated risks.
Without further ado, here’s a non-exhaustive list of the most unsanitary but high paying jobs across the U.S.—from emergency medical technicians to plumbers and everything in between.
47. Metal pourers and casters
With a median annual salary of around $38,620, metal pourers and casters operate hand-controlled machines to regulate the amount of molten that flows into castings and ingots.
46. Morticians, undertakers, and funeral directors
It takes a special breed to be able to work as a mortician or undertaker, and with the risk of disease exposure taken into account, these jobs have a median salary of $54,150.
45. Mine shuttle car operators
Mine shuttle car operators earn an annual salary of $54,210 for operating the cars that transport miners into the face of the mine.
Plumbers take home a median annual salary of around $55,160—the top three health risks include exposure to contaminants, risk of minor cuts, and exposure to disease and infections.
43. Locomotive firers
With an annual salary of $60,260, locomotive firers monitor locomotive instruments while watching for any obstacles and train signals along the tracks.
42. Forest firefighters
Forest firefighters take care of fires in forests or in wild public land—with an overall unhealthiness score of 52.5 they take home a median annual salary of $50,850.
41. Sheriffs and deputy sheriffs
Both sheriffs and deputy sheriffs run the risk of exposure to contaminants, disease, and infections, and also spend a lot of time sitting—which is not healthy. That said, the median annual salary is $63,150.
40. Animal control workers
Handling mistreated or abandoned animals includes risk of exposure to disease as well as risk of cuts and bites—the annual salary for an animal control worker is $37,590.
Preparing bodies for burial is not an easy profession—with a median annual salary of $47,760, embalmers risk exposure to disease and infections as well as other contaminants.
38. Elevator installers and repairers
Surprisingly elevator installers and repairers risk exposure to hazardous conditions and contaminants. That said, their median annual salary is $84,990.
Radiologists experience a great deal of exposure to radiation and diseases, as such their median annual salary is over $206,500.
36. Nuclear medicine technologists
Prepare radioactive isotopes for use in diagnostic medical procedures. Median annual salary: $77,950 Overall unhealthiness score: 53.0
With a median annual salary of $55,560, millwrights install and move heavy machinery and equipment in accordance with blueprints and engineering drawings.
34. Critical care nurses
Critical care nurses go through a lot—with exposure to disease, infections, contaminants, and radiation being the most noteworthy. Their median annual salary is $73,300.
33. Municipal firefighting and prevention supervisors
Municipal firefighters risk their lives to extinguish fires and conduct rescue efforts. As such, their median annual salary is around $77,800.
32. Oil, gas, and mining service unit operators
Oil, gas, and mining service unit operators pull in $46,740 per year for operating equipment to increase oil flow from producing wells, of course this line of work includes risking exposure to contaminants.
31. Chemical plant and system operators
Chemical plant and system operators risk exposure to hazardous conditions while controlling chemical systems of machines—they make an annual salary of $62,550.
30. Metal-refining furnace operators and tenders
With a median annual salary of $42,250, metal-refining furnace operators and tenders risk exposure to contaminants as well as minor burns and cuts.
29. Emergency medical technicians and paramedics
Paramedics and EMTs are an integral part of our healthcare system, and with a median annual salary of $35,400 their greatest risk includes exposure to disease and infections.
28. Wellhead pumpers
With a median annual salary of $55,040, wellhead pumpers risk exposure to contaminants while they operate power pumps in oil fields.
27. Refractory materials repairers (except brickmasons)
Refractory materials repairers risk exposure to contaminants while building and repairing furnaces, kilns, boilers, and more. Their annual salary is $53,990.
26. Refuse and recyclable material collectors
Refuse and recyclable material collectors collect and dump waste into trucks, which runs the risk of being exposed to contaminants. Their median annual salary is $37,840.
25. Medical equipment preparers
Preparing, sterilizing, installing and cleaning laboratory and healthcare equipment runs the risk of being exposed to contaminants, diseases, and infections. As such, their median annual salary is $37,440.
24. Airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers
Surprisingly, airline pilots run the risk of exposure to contaminants—but the most dangerous part of the job is the sheer amount of time spent sitting down. As such, their median annual salary is $147,220.
23. Derrick operators (oil and gas)
With a median annual salary of $46,990, rig derrick operators for oil and gas risk exposure to contaminants, minor cuts and burns, and hazardous conditions.
22. Municipal firefighters
Municipal firefighters have an annual salary of about $50,850 which includes the risk of contaminants and hazardous conditions while extinguishing fires and conducting rescue missions.
21. Veterinary technologists and technicians
Veterinary technologists and technicians perform tests in a laboratory environment and prepare vaccines for disease prevention which comes with a median annual salary of $35,320.
20. Fire investigators
Unlike firefighters, fire investigators conduct investigations to determine the cause of fires, that said, they still risk exposure to contaminants and as such have a median annual salary of $61,660.
19. Medical and clinical laboratory technologists
With a median annual salary of $53,120, medical and clinical laboratory technologists risk exposure to disease and infections while running medical laboratory tests for diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease.
18. Nuclear equipment operation technicians
Nuclear equipment operation technicians risk exposure to radiation while operating equipment used to assist scientists in laboratories. Their annual salary is about $82,080.
17. Surgical technologists
With a median annual salary of $48,300, surgical technologists assist in operations under the supervision of surgeons and registered nurses.
16. Stationary engineers and boiler operators
Stationary engineers and boiler operators have a median annual salary of $62,150 however they risk exposure to contaminants on a daily basis.
15. Surgical assistants
While helping surgeons during surgery while performing duties that expose them to disease and infections, like tissue retraction and intubation, surgical assistants have a median annual salary of $49,850.
While it comes as no surprise that veterinarians have a median annual salary of $95,460, the job does involve risking exposure to disease and infections as well as bites and cuts.
13. Histotechnologists and histologic technicians
Histotechnologists and histologic technicians make about $53,120 per year by preparing histologic slides from tissue sections for examination by pathologists, however, they do run the risk of being exposed to hazardous conditions.
12. Immigration and customs inspectors
Immigration and custom inspectors risk exposure to contaminants as they inspect goods and merchandise that arrive at the border. That said, their median annual salary is $83,170.
With an attractive median annual salary of $126,240, podiatrists risk exposure to disease and infection while diagnosing and treating diseases associated with the human foot.
10. Anesthesiologist assistants
Anesthesiologist assistants help anesthesiologists to administer anesthesia while running the risk of being exposed to disease and infections. The median annual salary for such a job is $112,260.
Like anesthesiologist assistants, anesthesiologists administer anesthetics during medical procedures and risk exposure to disease. As such, the annual salary is over $208,000.
8. Flight attendants
With a median annual salary of $56,640, flight attendants risk exposure to contaminants, disease, and infections while greeting passengers, serving food and beverages, aiding in the comfort of airline passengers.
Prosthodontists craft oral prosthesis to replace missing teeth and other dental issues and while they risk exposure to disease and infections, their annual salary is above $208,000.
6. Nurse anesthetists
Nurse anesthetists pull in a median annual salary of $174,790 which includes risk to disease and infections while administering anesthesia and monitoring vital signs.
5. Dental assistants
While risking exposure to disease, dental assistants make $40,080 while helping dentists prepare patients for treatment.
4. Dental laboratory technicians
Dental laboratory technicians risk exposure to contaminants while repairing dentures and dental appliances. As such, their median annual salary is $41,340.
3. Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers
Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers take care of examining pets and other animals in animal hospitals and clinics. Their median annual salary is $28,590.
2. General dentists
With an attractive median annual salary of $155,600, general dentists run the risk of exposure to disease and infections, exposure to radiation, and also put their health in jeopardy by the amount of time spent sitting down.
1. Dental hygienists
Similar to general dentists, dental hygienists risk exposure to disease, infections, radiation, and spend a lot of the day sitting. However, their median annual salary is much lower: $76,220.