Make Over $100K With These Jobs No One Wants — If You Can Handle the Downsides

Empowered happy woman driving a truck in the transport industry wearing high visibility clothing.
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Unemployment is near all-time lows and there are many high-paying jobs still available. If you’re looking to boost your pay, some of these jobs don’t even require college degrees.

But there’s one problem.

Some of the best jobs out there are — for lack of a better term — a bit messy. We’ve found some of the highest-paying “dirty jobs” that can net you a six-figure income in a hurry. But you’ll need to be able to handle the downsides.

Also see 10 ways to make money online.

Crab Boat Captain: Up to $200K

People will pay a premium for fresh-caught crab. And who catches those delicious morsels?

Crab fishers who hop on boats and go out to sea to find bountiful harvests of 10-legged delicacies. Crab fisherman who go after Alaskan king crabs can earn nearly $100,000 per year, while the captains of those boats can rake in nearly $200,000.

But work conditions can be extremely dangerous, with stormy weather and frigid temperatures threatening crew members. Ever heard of the show “Deadliest Catch”? Yeah, it’s that job.

Is it worth it? The conditions can be life-threatening, but the payoff is also high. If you are willing to brave the waves and wind to bring in huge crabs for hungry customers, you can reap the rewards.

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Truck Driver: Up to $100K

Truck drivers keep America moving. Driving a big rig around the country helps keep cities and consumers supplied with goods and keeps Amazon delivery times short.

Truck drivers can earn $100,000 per year, though many drivers are independent contractors who have to pay their own work-related expenses as well.

The job is grueling, and many companies pay per mile driven, incentivizing long work days stuck in the driver’s seat. This can have a detrimental effect on drivers’ physical health, in addition to the toll of being away from family for days or weeks at a time.

Is it worth it? If you like the open road and are comfortable driving a big rig, the job can pay well. If you have to pay your own expenses on your truck and other materials, make sure the pay is enough to cover the costs and make a good profit. Just make sure you work out regularly and can handle the loneliness on the road.

Veterinarian: Up to $200K

Do you love animals? Becoming a veterinarian can be a great way to take care of pets and other animals on a daily basis.

While schooling can cost a lot, a good veterinarian can make up to $200,000 per year while hanging out with animals all day.

The downside is that the hours can be long and you may end up “on call” during the middle of the night. In addition, you are at risk of being injured by the animals you are treating, and it can be awful having to euthanize an animal.

Is it worth it? Becoming a vet typically requires a four-year degree, then specialized training in veterinary school. This can mean a high debt load to pay off after school, and you won’t earn the high salary up front. But if you can minimize your school debt and are up for the long hours to care for animals, this can be a great career to consider.

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Garbage Collector: Up to $100K

They say “one man’s trash is another mans’ treasure.” This is absolutely true for many in the garbage collection industry. 

While pay varies by location and the company you work for, garbage collectors can make up to $100,000 per year. And you don’t need a college degree or to take on student loans to get there.

The downsides are pretty obvious — namely picking up smelly, messy trash. Plus, you have to haul that trash around all day and bring it to an even dirtier place (the dump). 

Is it worth it? If you can handle the smell and the potential mess, this can be a lucrative career. Plus it doesn’t require traveling out of town. Many garbage trucks have arms that let you empty the trash without getting out of the truck.

Elevator Repair Person: Up to $100K

What goes up must come down. But if it doesn’t, you might get paid handsomely to repair it.

Elevator repair professionals can earn a great salary, with many jobs paying $100,000 or more. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay is $97,000, and technicians with more experience can earn quite a bit more.

But the job may require cramming into small spaces to work on elevator components or working at heights if repairing an elevator from inside the shaft. Injuries and deaths occur on an annual basis, so it’s something to consider.

Is it worth it? If you are not claustrophobic and can handle working in cramped spaces, the pay is high, and there is a high demand for elevator repair workers. But the risk is real, with an average of 14 workers dying on the job each year in the U.S.

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Plumber: Up to $200K

Plumbers have one of the least glamorous jobs on the planet, clearing out messes and handling human waste. But the majority of the job is installing or repairing pipes and plumbing fixtures.

Plumbers can easily earn six figures per year, and self-employed plumbers can earn $200,000. But you must become a savvy business operator to earn that amount.

Is it worth it? If you don’t mind dealing with the mess, plumbing can be a lucrative career path. It’s not all clogged toilets and sewer drains, as many plumbers can specialize in new construction or repair work that is a bit less rubbish.

Oil Rig Worker: Up to $100K

Oil still drives the auto industry, as well as many others. While starting pay is decent, management positions can earn up to $100,000 per year. Specialty engineer positions can earn even more.

But the dangers of working on an oil rig include severe weather, long hours and weeks away from family. Plus work-related injury and deaths are higher than most jobs.

Is it worth it? If you can handle the worksite risks and time away, you can make great income with no time to spend it (because you’re stuck on the rig). This can help you save more than the average American.

Hazardous Material Remover: Up to $100K

If you ever wonder who cleans up the mess from a superhero movie where the villains destroy an entire city, it’s actually a well-paid gig.

Hazardous material removers can earn up to six figures by strapping on hazmat suits and meticulously cleaning up things like asbestos, lead and radioactive materials. While the starting pay isn’t high, after an apprenticeship, you can earn a high hourly wage.

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The obvious downside is the risk of being harmed by the materials you are cleaning up.

Is it worth it? If you’re up for working around harmful substances and think hazmat suits are in fashion, you can get paid well for this position. But if you don’t want to turn into a Ninja Turtle by stepping in radioactive goo, you might want to avoid this job.

Gastroenterologist: Up to $400K

In the field of medicine, one of the better-paying gigs is a gastroenterologist. Many people avoid this job because of the part of the human anatomy that these doctors specialize in. 

While it does require a lot of schooling and may saddle you with a load of student loan debt, the upside is very good. Gastroenterologists can make up to $400,000 per year.

The downside? You have to be an expert on a not-so-glamorous part of the human body.

Is it worth it? If you don’t mind the work, it’s hard to argue with a $400,000 salary.

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