There are many unusual and niche jobs that take place outside office buildings and are in high demand. Unfortunately, the most in-demand and highest-paying jobs usually have a reason for staying in-demand despite offering above-market pay: they are typically dangerous, dirty, lack glamour or require a very particular set of skills.
Dirty jobs exist in all corners of society -- from cleaning out the sewers to cleaning up cattle manure. These jobs are in high demand because much of the infrastructure -- from plumbing to garbage disposal to farming -- depends on them. They typically involve complex tasks and require human judgment; they are less likely to be automated than other kinds of jobs. Examples of dirty jobs that are in demand include food processing jobs, such as manually separating edible cuts of meat from diseased, non-edible cuts, pest control jobs, including insect extermination and rodent disposal and jobs in sewage treatment plants.
To white-collar workers used to being in a predictable and safe work environment all day, dangerous jobs -- many of which involve difficult conditions and physical activity -- can sound unappealing. But dangerous jobs are a key part of sectors of the economy ranging from transportation to construction to farming, and require flexible thinking, making it difficult to automate these tasks and keeping in high demand the workers who take these jobs. Examples of dangerous jobs include jobs in construction, especially high-rise construction and ironworking, trucking jobs, which carry a high risk of injury from accidents, farming and ranching jobs, which involve dangerous farm machinery and constant contact with stressed cattle, and logging jobs, which carry risk from falling trees and branches and often take place on steep terrain.
Jobs Lacking Glamour
Many industries are associated with a lack of prestige or a negative social stigma that tends to drive potential workers away. Many of these less glamorous industries, however, are large and constantly seeking new workers. Examples of jobs in these industries include prison workers and correctional officers and sanitation workers.
Jobs Requiring Specific Skills or Training
As industries such as healthcare and energy grow, firms in these industries are demanding more specialized skills from their workers; those few workers who have these skills are well-positioned to demand high salaries. Examples of jobs in growing industries that require very specific skills include geoscientists, who study the earth and are in high demand among energy companies, especially oil companies, epidemiologists, who study patterns of illness in populations and are in high demand by the government and pharmaceutical firms, and airline pilots and engineers, who are in short supply and high in demand as airlines -- especially international airlines -- expand their travel routes.
- CNN Money; America's 10 Most Dangerous Jobs; Les Christie; August 2010
- Fast Company; The 25 Top Jobs for 2005 - 2010; Matt Quinn; January 2005
- Careerbuilder; 55 Jobs with High Growth in 2010; Rachel Zupek; February 2010
- MSN Money; Dirty, Dangerous Jobs -- And In Demand; August 2009
- University of Buffalo; Jobs & Degrees in High Demand
- U.S. News and World Report; The 50 Best Careers of 2010; Liz Wolgemuth; December 2009
- Photo Credit Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images
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