These are 9 of the government’s dirtiest job openings — and they could earn you decent pay and benefits

Man clears trash from a river.

They’re physically demanding. And they’re not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach.

But if you’re willing to muscle through, you could find yourself a decent paycheck, sense of service, and opportunities for advancement while working in one of the federal government’s dirtiest jobs — ones that might involve a heavy dose of blood, sweat, toxic chemicals, or even sewage.

Here are seven of the most notable such jobs that are open to applications right now at a time when some states’ unemployment rates are still hovering above 7%.  The pay ranges from about $14 an hour to $34 an hour, well above the current federal minimum wage.

Toxic materials handler – $16.42 to $25.49 per hour

Like to work on the edge? Becoming a toxic materials handler might prove a good fit.

You’ll be required to decontaminate "toxic chemical agents that may have spilled or are leaking from toxic munitions." Your workday will involve "prolonged standing and continuous physical activity in handling, pulling, or pushing objects."

And you’ll sometimes do so while wearing protective clothing that will subject you to "profuse perspiration and extreme fatigue."

The job is located at the Pueblo Chemical Depot in Pueblo, Colorado, and is part of the Department of the Army.

One perk if you’re hired? You’ll have a security clearance of "secret."

Pay: $16.42 to $25.49 per hour.

Meatcutting worker – $19.74 to $23.04 per hour

This job isn’t for anyone squeamish around blood or for vegans.

Being a meatcutting worker, as the title suggests, involves the "cutting, trimming, and boning meat using hand tools and operating meat cutting equipment" and "processing beef, pork, veal, and lamb into retail and ready-to-eat cuts."

Located at Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona, you can also expect to work odd hours, including overnight shifts, holidays, and weekends.

Tolerance of physical labor and the cold is also a must. You will "walk and stand continuously while working" and "frequently lift, push and pull pieces and bulk boxes of meat weighing 50 to 100 pounds." You’ll also work in areas that range in temperature "from -10 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit."

The position is a union job and does not require a drug test.

Pay: $19.74 to $23.04 per hour, with an average of 32 hours worked each week.

Several other federal government meatcutting jobs are available across the country, including in Alabama, South Carolina, and Georgia.

Wastewater treatment plant operator – $29.53 to $34.50 per hour

The wastewater treatment plant operator will work in a facility in Beltsville, Maryland, not far from Washington, DC.

The chosen candidate will assist in the "operation and maintenance of two major wastewater treatment plants with a total capacity of 500,000 gallons per day and a water treatment plant."

Expect equipment repair, machine operation, and inspections to be part of your typical work week. You’ll also collect and test water and sewage samples, "such as residual chlorine and settleable solids."

The job is part of the Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service.

Pay: $29.53 to $34.50 per hour.

Cemetery caretaker – $21.28 to $24.84 per hour

Based in North Texas at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery, the cemetery caretaker requires "manual skills and physical strength."

Among the tasks you’ll tackle: digging graves, aligning headstones, operating tractors, transplanting shrubs, cutting sod, and "clearing cemetery grounds of debris using power trimmers, chainsaws, axes, shovels, rakes, blowers, vacuums."

The job is part of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Pay: $21.28 to $24.84 per hour, with opportunities for overtime.

Nursing assistant – $28,078 to $45,847 per year

If you want a truly hands-on job helping the sick and injured, you may consider becoming a nursing assistant at the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center in Muskogee, Oklahoma.

The job "will require long periods of regular and recurring standing and walking with regular and recurring lifting and positioning of patients while maintaining balance." You’ll engage in "specimen collection" and stand ready to endure the "possibility of patient assaults" and "need to protect yourself using non-abusive physical intervention techniques."  

You must possess some esoteric qualifications, too, such as: "Have olfactory senses intact to identify essential smells relevant to patient care to include bodily fluids, microscopic infestations, and environmental emergencies."

Translation: be ready to sniff out trouble.

If you can hack that, you’ll be firm in the knowledge that you’re helping numerous servicemembers in their times of need.

The job, which requires a minimum of one year of relevant post-high school education, is part of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Veterans Health Administration.

Pay: $28,078 to $45,847 per year, plus overtime opportunities.

Pizza parlor food service worker – $14.70 to $17.15 per hour

Don’t mind performing "heavy-duty cleaning tasks," move "heavy garbage cans," and handle chemical sanitizers?  

If so, you might consider working as a food service worker at the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Pizza Parlor at Naval Base Coronado in Coronado, California.

Your other tasks will include preparing salads, sandwiches, and coffee for hungry guests who will likely be glad to see you.

You won’t need much experience to qualify, either. Any citizen or national who’s at least 18 years old and has a high school degree can apply. 

Pay: $14.70 to $17.15 per hour. (And likely, free pizza.)

Drill rig operator – $24.42 to $28.52 per hour

As a drill rig operator, bank on being "subjected to conditions that are very hot and cold, wet, dusty, icy, muddy, and windy."

You’ll also likely battle "biological hazards such as biting insects, snakes, poison ivy, etc." Meanwhile, you’ll often travel to sites where "chemical contaminants are present and personal protective equipment is required." 

While the job is based in Omaha, Nebraska, you’d travel frequently as an employee of the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Pay: $24.42 to $28.52 per hour.

Irrigation laborer – $15.84 to $18.46 per hour

Wanted: someone who really likes canals.

As an irrigation laborer, you’ll clean them. You’ll remove trash from them. And when you’re not doing that, you might be burning weeds and clearing culverts near them.

There will be hauling of cement, aggregate, lumber, and gate parts, too, which requires "average or above average strength, ability, and muscular endurance to perform assigned duties."

If hired, you’ll work for the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Poston, Arizona.

Pay: $15.84 to $18.46 per hour.

Pipefitter – $26.44 to $30.84 per hour

As a pipefitter for the Miami Veterans Healthcare System in Miami, Florida, you’ll work with "many highly technical and sophisticated systems."

You’ll also bear responsibility for "installing, maintaining, and repairing all steam distribution lines, expansion loops, steam traps, valves, condensate return lines, pumps, insulation, and related suspension systems. 

But it won’t be easy. On-the-job hazards include "tripping, falling, shock, burns, dust, fluids, chemicals, and a variety of diseases." You’ll be "subjected to extreme heat, dust fumes, solvents, infectious agents, dirt, grease, noise, and dangers to the body."

Telework, as you might expect, is not an option.

Pay: $26.44 to $30.84 per hour.

Dave Levinthal August 19, 2021 at 01:36PM

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