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Before accountancy: The worst jobs in the world

2nd Jul 2009
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For many of us, the first forays into the working world started with a humble paper round, pot washing at a run-down restaurant or a spell pulling pints at the local. We’re curious to learn if this is true of the UK accounting profession, or if you have some more grisly vocational skeletons in your cupboard. 

A quick poll of the AccountingWEB.co.uk office team uncovered a Pandora’s box of rubbish factory jobs we’d rather keep a memory lid on. From cleaning turkey carcasses to working in a tampon factory and risking ‘cheese nail’, a condition afflicting the digits of those brave enough to work in cheese processing plants, everyone’s cupboard contains a veritable bone-yard of dubious jobs.

What was your worst ever job, before you took the plunge into the world of finance and figures? Tell us your tale below this article. We appreciate the memories may be painful to relive, but if it makes you feel any better, here is a run-down of some undesirable vocations we’ve found around the world.

Crime scene cleaner
CSI fan? Like working with hazardous substances? Seeking non-pukers with no sense of smell who don’t fear the reaper and enjoy industrial cleaning. Tasks include scraping brain matter off walls and removing blood stains, as well as disposing of maggots, the liquefied remains of long-deceased residents and other toxic or infected items such as the upholstery. Must be professional and like long-hours. Competitive salary, ‘gross test’ training and protective clothing supplied. Depressives and voyeurs need not apply.

Cat food quality controller
Fetish for felines? Love food? Why not combine the two and become a quality controller in the pet food industry. Must have a good nose for blocking out the already rank smell to sniff out rancid meat, long arms to retrieve any bones that may have accidentally contaminated the sludge of blended animal parts and the ability to identify and physically remove those lumps of gristle that are even unappetising to little Tiddles. Eight out of 10 humans probably won’t prefer it.

King crab fisherman
Always wanted to work on a boat? Passion for seafood? Why not stare death in the face on a daily basis by becoming a king crab fisherman in the treacherous winter waters of Alaska. A job for experienced fisherman only, tasks include baiting large steel pots with chopped up fish and operating heavy hydraulic machinery to catch these desirable crustaceans Those who can avoid drowning, hypothermia or crippling machine injuries can expect a high salary. With the fatality rate around 90 times that of the average worker, life insurance is recommended.

Mosquito researcher, Brazil
Always wanted to travel? Attractive to mozzies? Seeking insect-lovers prepared to turn themselves into an all-you-can-eat buffet for the Malaria-carrying Anopheles darlingi species. Adverse to traditional traps, these mosquitoes prefer live pray so be prepared to sit bare-legged in a tent and collect them in a jar as they chow down, all in the name of Malaria research. Perks include the chance to take your lump-infested limbs around scenic Brazilian sights on your days off – unless you’re unfortunate enough to catch Malaria, which could take up to two years to recover from.

Sewer worker
Hate daylight? Fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? If you’ve always dreamt of working under the nation’s streets then brace yourself for wading through faeces, toilet paper, nappies, sanitary pads, cooking fat  and whatever else disappears down our U-bends to keep the “nation’s arteries” in check. Potential health hazards include gastroenteritis, Weil's disease, hepatitis, occupational asthma, and skin, eye or lung infections. But a wide-variety of wildlife can be observed from rats and goldfish to the odd python. Waders, breathing apparatus and harness included.

Flatulence odour expert
Bit gassy? Can you smell what it is yet? If you’re bored sniffing breath at a mouthwash company, you might not want to turn your nose up as a research volunteer for gastroenterologists. Michael Levitt hired judges to sniff the rear emissions from 16 pinto bean-guzzling volunteers to try to identify how the smelliness of farts relates to gastrointestinal health. In case you’re wondering, the pungent aroma of human flatulence is predominantly caused by hydrogen sulphide. Only those who prefer close relationships with colleagues should submit a CV for future trials.

Road kill collector [Please don't click on this if you're of a squeamish disposition]
Love animals? Want to make our roads a safer place? If you’ve never shed a tear while watching Watership Down and would cherish the prospect of working alone in the great outdoors, a career as a deceased animal removal expert could be for you. Ideal candidates will be able to dodge traffic and keep down breakfast as they scrape up the remains of various creatures to take them for burial at the local landfill. Job perks include a free meal for those who aren’t too who aren’t too fussy about their meat cuts.

Stool/sputum sample analyser
Fascinated by bodily functions? Eye for detail? Only candidates with a strong stomach need apply to inspect faecal matter or vomit for the causes of gastric disorders, such as dysentery, E.coli, parasites, or other infections and diseases. After the patient’s stool has been spooned into a container or they have spewed into the vessel, your job is to run in-depth, laboratory diagnostics on the samples. After a few years in service at least you’ll be able to spot unhealthy poo like a Dulex colour chart. Scientific qualifications a must.

Refuse loader and operative
Enjoy the aroma of rotting fish? Like sifting through other peoples’ mess? Agile bin men wanted who can dodge needles and broken glass, outrun irate customers who have forgotten to put their rubbish out and avoid breaking their backs whilst heaving waste into the back of a putrid smelling lorry. Promotional opportunities include raking through recycling, sweeping the streets free of fag butts and litter, or even branching out into showbusiness. Get a few star pointers from X Factor semi-finalist and Eurovision flop Andy Abrahams or just laugh at ‘Ziggy Dust’ busting some moves.

Hand fisherman
Like fishing? Can’t afford bait? You won’t need a rod and line to become a hand fisherman or catfish noodler. Seeking people to spend the summer wading through the rivers and lakes of the southern and mid-western US states to poke around inside catfish lairs during spawning season. Experienced arm wrestlers will have an advantage once the now irate species, weighing anything up to around 50lbs, have latched onto your arms. No equipment supplied. Comes with free snapper turtles and snakes to avoid; severe maiming optional.

So what was your worst ever job? Tell us below.

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By Gina Dyer
02nd Jul 2009 18:43

My life of crap
How long have you got? I did all sorts of jobs in my spare time when I was at school. I dished up battered Mars bars to builders down the local chippie, I got puked on by bratty kids I babysat in the neighbourhood, I got clay stuck in my hair working at a 'paint your own pottery' workshop, I got stuck in someone's pond whilst working as a gardener and was made to dress up as a medieval wench and play giant chess with American tourists whilst helping out our local fancy dress shop. I could write a book on all the rubbish jobs I did!

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By Anonymous
03rd Jul 2009 11:13

Butlins
Aged 17, I lied about my age and competence and was appointed a photographer at Butlins. I was duly issued with a camera and a smart blue blue blazer prominently marked in several places 'OFFICIAL CAMP PHOTOGRAPHER'.
As a result of a sheltered upbringing I had no idea why people thought this was funny.
All these years later I can't remember if I lived up to the description. I got sacked after 4 days.

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By Swiss Toni
03rd Jul 2009 13:20

How about

Hi Yes Hello.....

How about being in charge of the new accountigweb website, amount of flack you guys are getting recently is totally in most part almost
undeserved in my opinion.

Chow for now

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By Anonymous
04th Jul 2009 13:19

Swiss
I assume your comment was ironic?
The switchover to the new site has been utterly shambolic.

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Mark Lee 2017
By Mark Lee
06th Jul 2009 12:57

Before I was an accountant
Long before I had to consider my post education career path I was a childrens party entertainer (from age 14).
Indeed my business development efforts in this regard were probably the earliest evidence of my entrepreneurial ambitions that then lay dormant almost throughout my accountancy career!

Mark Lee

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By Ermintrude
10th Jul 2009 09:45

Horrid Job
A worked in an hotel called the Ship Hotel - should have been called the "Sh*t" Hotel. The bar was frequented by travelling land-workers - who got into regular fights involving knives and glass. The toilets were shocking - other than having been liberally sprayed with urine, I found a soiled sanitary towel in a cistern, and once someone defacated on the floor (although the owner herself cleaned that up, realising expecting me to do that would be too much). Residents included sewerage workers from across the water, who carried "Weils" (an infection from contact with rats and rats' urine) cards. They enjoyed a drink or twenty after work, and I would have at least two urine soaked beds to deal with the following day. Yuck. However, even though the job was so foul, it wasn't boring - which has to be worse. Most boring jobs include potato grading (in a huge shed, no daylight, watching spuds roll by on a conveyor belt for 7 hours. Travelling to and from work in a transit van crammed with heavy smokers), and PUBLIC SECTOR AUDITING!

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By Richard Willis
12th Jul 2009 15:16

Factory Painter?
When I was, I think, 17 I blagged a job as a painter. The work involved painting the girders in the roof of what used to be the Gloster Aircraft factory, 40Ft up. They were then making petrol tankers for Esso, cut and curled sections of which stood, edge up, on the floor underneath.

In the good old days before Health & Safety (I think that the old Factories Act SHOULD have applied) we were expected to walk on 14inch duck boards across 12Ft voids with a bucket of paint in one hand and a bunch of brushes in the other.

When I was castigated for not painting the underside of the main braces, the surface of which was about 18Inches BELOW the duck boards I was shown by Murphy how to do it. This involved hanging upside down by one arm and one leg while painting with the free arm and we were NOT wearing ANY form of harness. Remember the curled section of tanker underneath?

At that point, the end of day 2, I left.

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