Think your job sucks? You may appreciate it a little more once you read our top 10 list of horrible jobs, worst jobs.
There’s no doubt you’ve worked your share of horrible jobs, but we’ve compiled a list of some of the riskiest, most dangerous, gut-churning jobs around. These horrible jobs meet a combination of all the following requirements: they’re low-paying, they have terrible working conditions and they put workers at a high risk for immediate and/or long-term injury.
If you spot your horrible job here, take a bow — you’re part superhero for living through it. For everyone else, put down any food you might be chewing on and check out what made the list of the top 10 most horrible jobs in existence.
Called “dish pigs” because they have their hands in human leftovers all day, restaurant dishwashers have a horrible job. They scrub burnt saucepans, dip their fingers into corrosive cleaning solutions, inhale chemical solvents and, worst of all, empty fryer grease into a “grease pit” that smells somewhere between vomit and rotten meat. Dishwashers also work in high-stress conditions with wait staff and cooks putting constant demands on them for everything from cutlery to pans. They can also be easily injured, cutting or nicking themselves with knives, and scalding themselves on hot pans. But Band-Aids and gauze don’t help because they have to plunge their hands right back into dish muck. Of course, this guarantees their infection. So, what do they get for their toil at this horrible job? They don’t clean up at all, making around 17K a year.
Slime line workers
Slime line workers cut fish open, rip out their guts and throw them down the line in a fish-processing plant. It sounds easy enough, but the conditions are pretty tough. Hillary Clinton once worked this horrible job and said it was the worst she’s ever had (apart from trying to beat Obama). Workers are in a cold plant where they stand all day, ankle-deep in fish blood and guts where they can easily cut themselves. Since their hands are covered in slime, it’s a certainty their cuts will get infected. One of the biggest negatives, however, is the smell. Unless workers date each other, their fishy scent won’t win them many outside admirers. Plus the wage stinks, averaging $9.87 an hour.
This might be the funniest job title of all-time and it’s sure to drop jaws when you tell people what you do for a living. The barnyard masturbator, er, masturbates livestock to collect sperm samples. They make their collection in three ways: electroejaculation — they jam an electric probe up a cow’s rectum to buzz its bits ‘til orgasm; artificial vagina — they hold a latex tube over a bull’s Johnson just before it mounts a cow; manually — they do the tried-and-true wrist workout. Apart from the danger this horrible job poses to its workers’ social life, workers regularly get injured from bull kicks. It’s not clear how much they get paid, but they certainly earn every cent.
Medical waste biohazard cooker
You know those red biohazard bags that doctors and nurses drop needles in? Well, the bags also carry urine, semen, teeth, and blood. When the bags are full, they get sent to a biohazard cooker. Each biohazard cooker puts a load of bags in an oven-like contraption that steams them at 260°F for 30 minutes before they’re disposed of. They wear gloves and goggles, but if a bag punctures, a single drop of bad human fluid can infect their own. If that’s not enough, they contend with the “gag-errific” stench of boiled human fluids, described as a bouquet of stinky feet, rank armpit odor and burnt rubber. This smell lasts all day as cookers finish with one load and put another one in. Think: This can all be yours for around $16.28 an hour.
Sewage treatment workers
Sewage treatment workers work in what you flush — with rats. They repair sewer leaks, take sewage samples, remove obstructions in sewers, and make sure raw sewage is properly treated. The health risks are huge: workers can die from toxic fumes, contract hepatitis A and get cancer. The physical working conditions are also bad; they are bending and kneeling in confined spaces and are exposed to high levels of noise. Drowning is a threat, as well as electrocution. Plus workers’ only defense against disease is wearing protective clothing and keeping their lips closed tight so no sewage accidentally splashes in. Want to search underground for big alligators and get paid for it? Your salary starts at $15 an hour.
Logging fatality rates are 21 times higher than the rate for any other worker in the U.S. and chainsaw operators are a big reason for it. If these operators aren’t killed, they report 30,000 injuries every year. The first threat is their chainsaw; its blades can kick back and slice an arm, leg or head. Or if the worker is really unlucky, the chain can break off completely and wrap itself around his neck. Also they can hit a spike that an environmentalist lodged in a tree to save it, but in reality the spike can actually kill a logger when it causes his chainsaw to kick back. And then they face the biggest threat of all: A falling tree or limb can crush them or knock them out in an instant. How much does this danger pay? Try $20K to 24K a year. Fresh air may be the only upside.
Poultry kill room attendant
These workers kill chickens in a factory. Armed with a knife, they stand in two inches of chicken blood and slit chicken throats all day. Their working area is a small room with rows and rows of hanging chickens that looks much like how clothes are hung at the dry cleaner. These workers are prone to back trouble, repetitive stress injuries and can easily slice themselves, but their biggest threat is exposure to disease and pathogens. With blood flying left and right and with the likelihood of workers cutting themselves, there is a good chance they will catch something. The list is long: from light bugs that cause stomach upset to fatal viruses like avian flu. Workers roll the dice with every chicken jugular they cut. Does killing pay? At $9 an hour, not so much.
These scuba divers do the unthinkable; they swim in toxic material to perform repairs. Radioactive soup, oil spills, chemical spills, and raw sewage are all fair game in this horrible job. Obviously, their work conditions are god-awful; they have little to no visibility and are surrounded by liquid death. One tiny rip in their suit, and any number of diseases can come pouring in. Divers say bobbing in the toxic mess feels like wearing a raincoat in warm water. Either these guys are crazy or have steel cojones because most people would run from this horrible job. Surely, the catch must be that they get $1 million a year for all the danger, right? Nope. Try $37,000 — plus a couple kids with three feet and five eyes.
Hospital laundry workers
After a life-saving procedure in the ER on television, the next scene cuts away to the patient tucked into finely pressed white sheets. In reality, however, someone has to make those fluid-spattered ER sheets clean. Hospital laundry workers are the ones to do it — and they do it in the worst conditions imaginable. Their laundry room is hot and flies buzz around their heads and infest piles of dirty linens. The real problem, though, is that they’re exposed to every infectious disease that lives on hospital fabric. Sure, they are given cotton gloves, but many don’t wear them. And since they find sharp things like needles, scalpels and broken glass mixed into the laundry, gloves don’t really help. Plus limbs and human organs are known to fall out of sheets, which only skyrockets their risk of getting a disease. The pay? An abysmal $8 an hour. Clearly not everything comes out clean in the wash.
Meat plant carcass splitters
This job is as horrific as it sounds. These workers cut open cow and pig carcasses all day and remove their innards. It’s definitely nasty, but here’s the real horror: One out of three workers gets injured every year and often without compensation. They can maim themselves with their own cleaver or a factory blade. If knives don’t get them, disease like E. coli and mad cow can. Studies have linked the cause of neurological conditions in some workers to disease in animal meat. Also, they’re 35 times more likely to get carpal tunnel syndrome here than in other manufacturing job. Additionally, with an assembly line cranking out 400 livestock an hour (from 175 just 25 years ago), the chance of an accident has increased. When it happens, the worker can spurt as much blood as they want — the line won’t stop. Oh and the pay? $9.50 and hour. Interested?
work hard for the money
Everyone has had a horrible job experience, but few have worked jobs as horrible as these. From criminally low wages to the danger of being killed or dismembered to subhuman working conditions, our top 10 list covers it all. So next time you’re about to throw in the towel and shower your boss with expletives, take a second to reconsider; you might not have it so bad.