Gross or Great? Five Nasty Jobs that Pay Well and Don’t Require a 4-Year Degree

Do you have a strong stomach? Could you have been a contestant on Fear Factor? If so, there are ways that you can profit from having a higher gross-out threshold than the average person. There are a number of occupations which reward people who are willing to do things others might find unpalatable. Best of all, you don’t need advanced or even 4-year college degrees to do these jobs–an associate’s degree or even a certificate program can make you eligible. All you need is some relevant training and a strong constitution.

Here are five jobs that pay well without 4-year college degrees, as long as you aren’t too squeamish:

1. Dental Assistant: Mouth Gunk and Rotten Molars

Spending the day reaching into someone else’s mouth isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. After all, not everybody has a Hollywood smile and minty-fresh breath–in fact, often people are visiting the dentist precisely because they are suffering from some unpleasant conditions of the teeth and gums. However, if you are willing to put up with that, being a dental assistant can be a good career choice. Online associate’s degrees in dental assisting can help you fit this training into a busy schedule, and once you’ve attained your associate’s degree , you should be ready for a rewarding career.

Job prospects for dental assistants are projected to be much faster than average through 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Furthermore, dental assistants earned a median annual wage of $32,380 in 2008.

2. Agricultural Inspector: What’s that Smell?

You know the old expression that nobody likes to see how the sausage is made? Well, agricultural inspectors have the unappetizing job of examining poultry and livestock to make sure the food supply is kept safe. This can mean working in unpleasant conditions and dealing with issues of disease and cleanliness. On the bright side, it doesn’t require a 4-year college degree. An associate’s degree in biology or a similar discipline could give you the relevant background you’ll need. If you choose this profession, your best bet may be to work for the federal government, since their agricultural inspectors are generally the highest paid of the lot, earning a mean hourly wage of $20.94 in 2008.

3. Clinical Laboratory Technologists: Is Blood or Bile in that Vial?

If the sight of blood makes you queasy, this isn’t the job for you. However, if you are seeking an above-average income and don’t mind a job that involves collecting and analyzing blood and tissue samples, then this might be a good fit. While clinical laboratory technologists usually have a bachelor’s degree, it is possible to get started with an associate’s of science in medical laboratory technology.

4. Forensic Science Technicians: CSI, for Real

Physical evidence from crime scenes–especially those involving violent crimes–is not for the faint of heart, but forensic science technicians perform a valuable role in helping to solve these crimes. It’s also a profession that pays above the national average, and you can get started with an online associate’s of degree in crime scene technology.

5. Funeral Directors: Six Feet Under

Many people are uncomfortable being around the deceased, and since funeral directors typically handle embalming, the nitty-gritty aspects of the job are probably too much for the average person to take. On the other hand, it is a necessary service, and with an aging population, one that’s likely to see rising demand in the years ahead. As a reward, compensation is typically higher than the national average, and you can get started with an associate’s degree in mortuary science.

If any of the above appeals to you, then a good way to get started is to check out campus and online associate’s degrees for relevant training opportunities.

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