Steadfast FinancesUnwanted and Shunned Dirty Jobs Will Become the Big Money Jobs of the Future - Steadfast Finances

Unwanted and Shunned Dirty Jobs Will Become the Big Money Jobs of the Future

Filed in 20s Something Advice , Financial Crisis , Green Living 6 comments

Imagine a future where a guy who shovels cow manure is a multimillionaire.  How about a foul mouthed pig farmer with questionable hygiene becoming the new upper class of society?

You’re probably looking at that opening paragraph and thinking I’ve lost my mind.

That’s possible I suppose.

But after watching the EG08 Talk given by Mike Rowe, the host of Discovery Channel’s hit series Dirty Jobs, I think I might have stumbled on a new idea (new to me at least) where the next generation of wealth could be created by people who do the dirty jobs that no one from civilized society wants to do.

[see video below]

Have We Have Declared War on Work?

Mike makes a great observation that most of society has essentially shunned the dirty jobs that make the civilized world possible.  He even goes so far to say that Hollywood has turned laborers into the “300lb plumber with mondo butt crack” from where we can get our pseudo-superior laughs as we recline back in our easy chairs each night.  We’ve all seen those shows where the blue collar guy is the buffoon because it’s a successfully crafted Hollywood stereotype.

To further his theory, I only need to look back to my childhood.  When I was growing up, I was told it was in my best interest to go to college, get an advanced degree in something that sounds impressive, and you’ll never have to shovel horse manure from the stables (my 3x a week chore) once you get older.  You’ll be well educated and paid so well that you’ll have enough money to pay some poor guy to do it for you and will never have to do manual labor again.  Unless, of course, I also had a son or grandson that I could also pimp out to do my work for me.

Pretty convincing argument when you’re a 14 year old kid shoveling horse crap in winter time.

So as you can see from Mike’s talk, from an early age most of us Gen X’ers and beyond were prodded into careers where manual labor was supposed to be avoided.

Why?  Did the TV really tell us to do all that?  You tell me.

Dirty Jobs are the Infrastructure Jobs We Hear About

The trillion dollar stimulus package that will “put America back to work” is largely composed of dirty jobs.  Yet it seems strange that the jobs that hardly anyone I know would want are being hyped as the type of jobs that can save our broken economy.

Let’s consider why they wouldn’t want them.

Anyone who paves a few additional lanes on the interstate will have melted boots and smell like tar for days after leaving the job site.  A guy who mixes concrete on a 12 hour shift will need to rinse, lather and repeat more than once to prove to everyone he doesn’t have prematurely graying hair.  How about some poor soccer mom who’s forced to work in a Nevada desert installing solar panels sweating her assets off for eight hours a day.

Doesn’t sound too glamorous does it?

So you see, as we’re talking about the jobs that can supposedly save our country from recession (depression?), finding people who want a real honest to goodness manual labor type of job will be difficult to find.

Skilled Labor Workers are in Short Supply

When was the last time you heard someone say that they wanted to find work as a coal miner?  How about becoming a welder or an mosquito colony lab technician (my first real job in college)?

Even better, when was the last time you heard they wanted their kid to grow up and be a farmer?

Probably never.

So as most of us are sitting back in our cubicles pushing papers or staring at the computer screens all day long from our air conditioned office, the job market in the dirty jobs world keeps getting bigger and harder to fill.  That means less competition and more chances to profit.

And for the record, the examples of the pig farmer and dairy farm owner I used to grab your attention in the opening paragraph are millionaires, or likely will be future.  Both were actually featured in Dirty Jobs episodes in the past and sell products that are in high demand.

The pig farm was valued at roughly $60 million after someone made a bid on the property and the guy who shoveled cow manure manufactures biodegradable, nutrient rich flower pots from his cow poop and sells them to WalMart.

And I thought a career in medicine and biotechnology was the way to go.

Got comments?


Photo by mulsanne

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Posted by CJ   @   5 March 2009 6 comments
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Mar 6, 2009
2:04 am
#1 SJ :

It’s pretty interesting… with the way things are going it makes sense that these kinds of jobs/workers are in high demand. They don’t exactly teach those kinds of things in college!

More precisely, it seems these days there’s either a push towards being hardcore technical/business-y/prof, MS/PhD/MD/MBA/Law (is there a title lol…)
And lower degrees for the sake of the degree do less…

Maybe we should do away w/ colleges are replace purely w/ trade-schools! (this coming from a grad student… ughhhgh)

Honestly, kind of believe it… the people we see in college these days~~~

Mar 6, 2009
2:24 am
#2 Matt :

@ SJ

I see a hint of that grad student malaise-like attitude I had back in the day! I never thought it would end but it beats entering the working world early that’s for sure.

You’re correct that an advanced degree is the norm. Having a BS in this world doesn’t seem to do much for you unless you have an engineering or business degree (at least from my observations).

I think all the degrees you mentioned have their usefulness but it comes down to finding a mutually beneficial balance between the different sectors. PhD’s develop the stuff, JD’s patent it, MBA’s make money from it, and MS’s supervise the BS’s who manufacture it. When one of them gets a cough, the MD’s prescribe something.

Mar 7, 2009
2:37 am
#3 SJ :

@ Matt:

I can’t really say if it beats entering the working world right now..
I’m actually in a phD program for Electrical Engineering, which even without should be more than enough to get a job … except for in this economy… so things might be slightly different =)

But honestly, I was just referring to the people I met in ugrads, really didn’t see the reason (financially/career-wise) of going to college. I mean, I don’t regret it, college was a great time for me, will raise my earning potential blah blah, and met lots of good friends. But it seems a lot of majors and what is taught is not well-equiped for the “real world” career wise…
I say this having worked in a few internships and seeing lots of things (so not just theorizing!)

Basically, get a degree w/ an obvious use, get a phD and teach, or do something… but really? Art? Leisure studies? I really don’t know.

Mar 7, 2009
11:16 am
#4 Matt :

@ SJ

I see what you’re saying, and yes, it does seem that some degrees can be relatively worthless at the BS/BA level. I would imagine it’s fairly difficult to find a job if you have a generic degree in something like Psyc or Art History in this economy. Add on 40k in student loans and a 30k annual salary, and your point becomes very obvious.

However, the good thing about those advanced degrees is that they remove the glass ceilings for annual salaries. Companies don’t like to admit they exist, but they do.

Mar 7, 2009
1:23 pm
#5 SJ :

Right, my point breaks down to:
1. Lots of people doing fluff in ugrad and then when they realize they have no real options, decide to get a phd/ms in said fluff.

2. As for whether all advance degrees raise glass ceilings; I think financially/career-wise it makes more sense to get a MS or PhD while working. Of course, if you are going to go down a different path; hardcore “real” phd and doing research/teaching as a prof. it makes more sense. But company wise? nahhh. Again I regularly tell me I hate my life

Mar 7, 2009
4:31 pm
#6 Matt :

@ SJ

1) Definitely. That’s why an oversupply of fluff BS grads can lead to an oversupply of semi-skilled grad students. That’s why you hear phrases like “an MBA grad is a dime a dozen”. To counteract this point, finding a well respected grad program is generally enough to help you stand out from the University of Phoenix crowd.

2) Yeah my grad career was full time in a “real” hardcore research profession. Too bad I sold out and became a finance guy instead but it definitely paid well so it was worth the investment. I think the smart folks are the ones who look for unmet technological needs and base their education on those needs.

My education was designed around infectious disease research but I supplemented it lots of engineering and regulatory related courses so if one feel through, I had a few fallbacks.

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