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December 22nd, 2008
20 Relatively Well-Paid Jobs That Most People Overlook In America And Why

Here are 20 certain jobs that people overlook. What’s surprising, however, is how much money some of these jobs actually pay people who do them.

1) Crab fisherman

Featured on the Discovery Channel’s hit TV series “Deadliest Catch”, the job of crab fisherman is often called the most dangerous in America. Fishing in frigid Alaskan waters, these brave spirits weather stormy seas, below-freezing temperatures, and the heartache of being away from home for months. The short crab season makes it imperative that they catch as many crabs as possible during that short window. However, this can become astonishingly lucrative once one gets the hang of of it. According to one estimate, even a somewhat experienced crab fisherman can catch as many as $50,000 worth of crabs in an 8 week period.

2) Gastroenterologist

Gastroenterologists are seen by almost every patient they treat as a necessary evil. This is unlikely to change, as virtually no one gets excited about going in for a colonoscopy or an invasive prostate exam. Worse yet, almost all of a gastroenterologist’s time is spent performing these same, routine, unchanging procedures that everyone dreads having. The only saving grace appears to be the eye-popping salary. According to, a gastroenterologist can earn as much as $269,500 per year.

3) Podiatrist

Podiatry is another lucrative yet otherwise unappealing wing of medicine available to the open-minded job seeker. While clocks the annual earnings potential of a podiatrist at $149,527, it will come at a steep price. Should you undertake this career, your days will be spent on such enthralling, rewarding tasks as dealing with ingrown toenails, bunions, and ulcers. As if that weren’t enough, you will also be snickered at by the elite “real doctors” (ie, those with MD degrees) while you toil away as a lowly DPM (Doctor of Podiatric Medicine.)

4) Accountant

Often stereotyped as “bean counters”, the accountant is seen as the prototypical “boring” person. Spending the workday digging through hordes of numbers, in a cramped office, under buzzing fluorescent lights is just not what most people bargained for. Fortunately, this creates a massive opportunity for those who don’t mind such things! If you’re the kind of person who loves numbers and the quiet peace of being left alone, accounting could be a great fit. The average starting salary for an accountant is roughly $41,000, while the best and most experienced are known to pull down salaries of $200,000 or more.

5) Commissioned salesperson

90% of the job-seeking public have zero interest in jobs without a base salary. “Why would I work somewhere that doesn’t even guarantee me a pay check?” is the common refrain. However, those who are bold and confident enough to take on a commissioned sales job can make an extremely comfortable living by doing so. The most successful salespeople at car dealerships, electronics stores, and investment banks, for example, regularly drum up $100,000 or more per year in commission.

6) IT employee

The term “IT employee” is a broad catch-all that encompasses programmers, network administrators, database engineers, and virtually any other job function pertaining to the use of technology. The demand for those skills has steadily risen since the 90’s and there seems to be no end in sight! Fortunately, there may not be as much competition for these jobs as you might think. Despite the average $103,400 salary, many people simply do not want to spend the day in an office cubicle.

7) Roughneck

For an average salary of $46,867, a roughneck can look forward to 12 hour days spent beneath an enormous oil drilling rig. There, they will find the work environment so noisy that they only communicate using hand signals, the air filled with swirling toxins and chemicals, and the most dangerous, backbreaking labor saved especially for them. A typical roughneck might find himself changing scalding hot drill pits or connecting new sections of pipe to one another. Those who can prove themselves capable of these tasks can rise to earn as much as $100,000 for specialized “supervisor” positions.

8 ) Crop duster pilot

Most people get their pilot’s license to realize their lifelong dreams of taking to the air and soaring high above the lowly ground below. Crop duster pilots, on the other hand, are a slightly different breed. Instead of cruising through the clouds, a crop duster pilot must skilfully navigate his small craft at a dangerously low level, making sure to avoid power lines and fence posts along the way. If he can survive this and continued exposure to toxic chemicals, an experienced crop duster can rake in up to $80,000 per year.

9) Iraq private security contractor

“Private security” makes most people think of the rent-a-cops who used to bother them as kids at the local shopping mall. In Iraq, however, the job description takes on a totally different (and dangerous) meaning. As a private security contractor in that area, people are literally asked to shield travelling diplomats and politicians from hostile enemy fire. And despite hundreds of private contractor deaths since the beginning of combat actions, people are still signing up in droves to collect the $10,000 per month fees. If you are willing to become a human shield to make a decent living for a while, this could be the opportunity you have been waiting for!

10) Trash collector

Being a trash man is a “somebody’s gotta do it” job if ever there was one, but depending on where you live, it can be a very high-paying gig. clocks the starting salary of a New York City trash collector at a very respectable $80,000. The salary seems to decline the further south you go, bottoming out at $35,000 in Pensacola, Florida. Still, $35,000 right off the bat is nothing to sneeze at for emptying trash cans into a big truck.

11) Truck driver

Driving a truck might be the only job on this list that is actually proven to shave 10-15 years the average male’s life. The combination of constant driving, sleep deprivation and fatty convenience foods take a hefty toll on a truck driver’s body and mind alike. The upside is the pay and job security. The average truck driver earns $43,200 without the need for a college degree or extensive training. As drivers become more experienced and establish good safety records, salaries as high as $85,000 are possible.

12) Crime scene cleaner

While the hit show “CSI” has kindled interest in this career path, serious potential applicants should know a few more things about their “dream field.” In addition to mopping up blood, the day of a crime scene cleaner can also include ripping up carpet and floorboards, working in extremely tight spaces, and unearthing bodily fluids and evidence from asbestos-filled buildings. Crime scene cleaners who are lucky enough to get called into a drug lab will get the extra joy of gingerly handling combustible chemicals and compounds while they strive to do their jobs. If none of this phases you, however, an average salary of $50,400 is yours for the taking.

13) Sewer inspector

The unpleasant nature of this job should need no explaining, but suffice it to say that sewer inspectors should expect to work in dark, damp, cramped spaces filled with rats, cockroaches, and a never-ending flood of human refuse. It is through this maze of filth that sewer inspectors crawl in efforts to find and repair cracked, clogged pipes or passageways. While the starting salary for this position is not very high ($34,960), salaries as high as $61,000 have been doled out to people who are brave enough to stick with it and become skilled.

14) Soldier

The U.S. military is suffering one of its biggest recruitment crunches ever, in spite of more money and higher perks people who join. According to MSN, new volunteers are eligible to collect sign-up bonuses of $10,000 (up from $8,000 previously), while soldiers with college aspirations will find up to $70,000 waiting for them at the end of their term. Combine that with PX privileges and the potential for life-long pension and health insurance, and the military might not seem like such a raw deal, but if you don’t live long enough to enjoy that money, or have to discard your principles, it’s simply not worth it for most people.

15) Construction worker

The life of a construction worker is a constant disaster waiting to happen. Whether you are working beside highway traffic, laying out a bridge across a huge body of water or operating equipment that could saw off a human limb, the threat of danger is always present. When you consider that construction workers do all of this year round, in blazing sun or bone-chilling cold, it’s not difficult to see why people shy away from such work. It does, however, offer an average starting salary of $49,517, according to

16) Toll booth collector

According to Businessweek’s article “Worst Jobs With The Best Pay”, toll booth collectors earn an average salar of $45,000. If you’re not scared off by the prospect of spending your night in a booth smaller than a jail cell as you take money from people passing through to somewhere fun, it’s not a bad living. Business Week also notes that toll collectors are union employees with good benefits packages and overtime pay that would make non-union workers salivate with jealousy.

17) Highway patrol worker

Most people don’t relish the prospect of patrolling the interstate during early morning hours, but the highway patrol is a pretty decent-paying gig. lists the median expected salary for a highway patrol officer at $43,112 with room for advancement. If you can withstand being sworn at and despised by every rush-hour motorist on the road, this might be worth looking into.

18) Plumber

Plumbing the shadowy depths of a stranger’s toilet bowl may not be the stuff dreams are made of, but it might be the path to a decent-sized bank account. The average salary for a journeyman plumber is $41,000 per year, according to’s estimates. This is just a starting point, however, as plumbers are known to charge more and more as they become known and referred around their local area.

19) Hazmat worker

It is the job of hazardous materials workers to neutralize and otherwise deal with dangerous substances or outbreaks. In a typical day, a hazmat worker might find himself handling asbestos, spent oil or fuel, lead-based paint, transmission fluid, mold, toxins, contaminated soil or even radioactive waste. All of this must be dealt with by following strict, federal government mandated regulations and procedures, not to mention intense scrutiny from anyone who happens to be nearby. Beginning hazmat workers can expect to earn roughly $40,000 per year (more in heavily populated metro areas like New York City.)

20) Sports agent

Contrary to popular myth, the life of a beginning sports agent is almost nothing like “Jerry McGuire”. Instead, the book “License To Deal” tells a much different story. Tommy Tanzer, a now-prominent agent, got his start by turning his van into a mobile home and going into debt in order to travel and sign players. Another agent is said to have spent his early days backpacking through South America, sleeping in tents while attempting to sign players from that area. If you are willing to endure this type of struggle, who knows? You just might hang around long enough to negotiate multi-million dollar contracts for sports megastars.

From BUSINESS PUNDIT Filed in archive Jobs by Ryan on August 6, 2008

Catherine Adenle
Founder, Catherine's Career Corner. The career site empowering and inspiring ambitious candidates of all ages and professions to thrive and work smarter on their careers. Gladly helping all career-minded people worldwide to explore their career, manage change and understand how new technologies are changing and enhancing the future of work.
Catherine Adenle
Catherine Adenle

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