Some of the worst and weirdest jobs in history

Many of us fall into our careers, only to realise that the career we are in does not meet our needs. As a careers coach I meet a large number of clients looking for a new career as they dislike their current or past job roles, feeling they have greater career potential. Many do, I once met a client who cleaned chicken droppings off eggs and is now employed as an accountant.

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People often tell me about past job roles and I am constantly surprised with the amount of unusual job roles on offer. Throughout history, there have been many strange and horrid job roles people did and I have listed a few for you to read. After this you may change your belief about your current job and how “bad” it is.

The Mud Lark

Mainly young children; a mud lark worked on the banks of the Thames in the Victorian times collecting scrap metal and coal to re-sell. In the Victorian times, the Thames would wash the London sewage out to sea and the Mud Larks, would often gain infections after cutting themselves on the litter. This job worsened in the Winter months.

Whipping boy

Another job for young children; In the 15th century, a prince would have a whipping boy- a boy who would be whipped as punishment for the prince when he was naughty or when he fell behind with his studies.

Knocker up

Before alarm clocks how did you when it was time to get up for work? A Knocker-up would come around in the morning carrying a large pole that he would use to knock on your bedroom window to wake you up. He would stay there until you were awake. But who woke him up?

Potato chip inspector

A more recent role, standing on a production line looking for over-cooked potato chips to dispose of.

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Dog Food Taster

To carry on with the food theme; a dog food taster will taste dog food and write a review about it. I was told about this role from a colleague and still have my doubts.

The pure collector

“Pure” meaning Poo; The pure collector would find and collect animal faeces off the road and sell it to the leather works. The lucky ones put their collection in carts while others may carry their findings in a sack. The “Tanners” in the leather works would dip hides into a smelly lime solution and soak them with the animal faeces that the pure collectors had amounted over the course of the day. Many of the Tanners lived on the periphery of society as their stench left from their job was unbearable to the people of the town.

Crime Scene Cleaner

If squeamish do not apply-this job can be mentally disturbing, cleaning up after crime scenes; blood, loose remains and decomposing bodies.


Similar to the Tanner job role, a fuller would dip wool often used in hat making into urine to get rid of the grease (Lanolin) to stop the wool from falling apart.

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Snake miler

A dangerous job, collecting venom from snakes to make anti-venom.

Navy (Georgian Times)

We owe a lot to our Navy, but to be in the Navy in Georgian times was one of the worst jobs in history. Due to a lack of volunteers civilians may have found themselves waking up one morning travelling out to sea with the Navy after being banged on the head and smuggled aboard the night before.

To keep discipline, the Navy would hand out server punishment for any slight disobedience.

A Top Man would climb the rigging to the top sales know as sky scrapers, in stormy weather using no safety equipment.

Monkey boys would carry bags of gun powder to the cannons during battle.

Many sailors would die during battle, through cannons, splinters, gun fire, drowning and during on-board ‘life saving’ surgery.

Which careers suit your personality?

As you may well know most of these roles no longer exist. As industry and technology changes so do jobs and careers. Some of the jobs we see today will not be around in the next 10 years, as a job hunter and career-person you need to know what jobs the future holds and which of these jobs will suit your skills and qualities.

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