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What Degrees Do You Need To Do Dirty Jobs?

Fans of the show Dirty Jobs love to see Mike Rowe get his hands — and often all the rest of him — dirty doing what workers around the world do on a daily basis. They get a glimpse into a not-so-glamorous life doing jobs that, as the show intro puts it, make civilized life possible for the rest of us. Of course, you might find yourself forgetting that many of these people are highly trained specialists, not simple menial workers. Here’s a look at the schooling necessary for some of these dirty jobs.

Learn more about getting a "dirty" yet much needed and reliable job.

Learn more about getting a “dirty” yet much needed and reliable job.

Garbage Collector

Garbage collectors generally don’t need a fancy college education. There’s no degree in Waste Management at any accredited university. What these waste removal specialists do need is a mixture of physical and mechanical skills. Drivers of garbage trucks need a special license for heavy machinery.

Many rural routes still have manned trucks with a worker throwing all the trash into the truck themselves, rather than operating a lift. This means they need the physical strength to heave trash around all day. Many garbage truck drivers also need some facility with machine repair, in case their truck malfunctions in the middle of a route. Of course, a bad sense of smell is a bonus.

Pig Farmer

Being a pig farmer runs a wide range of educational requirements depending on your position on the farm. Farm managers might require an agricultural business degree. Those who work directly with the swine benefit from animal breeding, veterinary or wildlife degrees. Farm management, animal husbandry and other such degrees are all benefits for prospective livestock farmers.

Small farms might employ one person to do a variety of jobs, so flexibility is a must. For larger farms, you might be a member of a specialized team, so detailed knowledge of your specialty is virtually required.

Bridge Painter

Who can forget the images of Mike Rowe climbing through Michigan’s Mackinac bridge, maintaining and painting the massive edifice? Bridges all across the country — and there are thousands of them, great and small — require maintenance. Even highway overpasses count as bridges.

Maintaining these bridges requires a detailed knowledge of civil and structural engineering. You might not be designing the bridge, but you need to know how it works and how to fix it. You also need to know how to be safe doing so — climbing lessons and a working knowledge of safety equipment is vital.

Fireworks Technician

Playing with fire is a dream some people simply don’t grow out of. Fireworks are the largest and most impressive demonstrations, but a pyrotechnician can do everything from parades to rock concerts as well. They need to know how to work with fire safely, so that the performers and the audience are at no risk of harm.

Pyrotechnicians don’t have any official degree programs nationally, but they can benefit from physics and chemistry knowledge. They also require licensing in most states, with varying requirements from state to state. If you’re driving somewhere to put on a show, you’ll also need a specific driving license to transport explosives.

Dirty Jobs Television Host

Mike Rowe is actually a very accomplished actor, narrator and writer. He, and many other television hosts, have degrees in the performing arts. Rowe’s happens to be a communications degree. Other TV hosts have acting degrees. Some earn degrees in technical fields related to broadcasting.

The primary reason Mike Rowe made such a good TV host was his on-screen personality. His voice, trained through years of narration and singing, certainly helped. Anyone looking to break into TV hosting would benefit most from a broadcast journalism or general communications degree.

Every dirty job has people trained to do it. One thing Mike demonstrates is that the people working these dirty jobs do it because they love their work. Not every job requires a technical college degree, but they all require passion and training in the profession.

-Brandon Serna writes on topics related to business, education, and entertianment. He’s interested in how people translate their specialized talents and education into successful careers.

Tim Esterdahl

Tim Esterdahl is the editor of IFCS blog. He is a married father of three and enjoys golf in his spare time.
Tim Esterdahl

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