10 Difficult Jobs That Are Worth the Effort


There are few ways to make money that anyone could honestly say are easy. In fact, even the best jobs can get boring, redundant, and monotonous given enough time and familiarity with tasks and surroundings. (See also: What to Do When You Want to Quit Your Job)

At the same time, it's true that there are jobs that are more difficult, demanding, and strenuous than others. Most of the time (not always) these jobs are better paying because of that difficulty and extra stress. For most of us, the task is to strike a balance between how hard we work and how much we make.

Here are some tough jobs you might want to consider because it'll be worth the effort.

1. Landscaping

You'd be surprised at the number of people who work in an office and wish they could take a crack at some of the work the landscapers do around their building.

Getting to work outdoors with your hands definitely has its perks, both in terms of your own physical strength and the compensation provided. Those who run a landscaping business generally do better financially than their employees, but there's definitely some money to be made here, despite the difficult labor and long hours.

Median Salary: $25,870

Extras: Improved physical strength, getting to work outdoors.

2. Blogging and Online Marketing Consulting

Keeping a monetized blog is an often romanticized method of making money, but it's also a tremendously difficult row to hoe. (See also: How Do Bloggers Make Money?)

To make matters worse, the most difficult portion is usually the first two or three years, when money is almost always going to be scarce. The real upside to a blogging career comes to those who have a lot of patience and a supplemental income to keep them going through those early years. (See also: 30 Great Side Jobs)

With solid content, quality writing and a long-term commitment, blogging can potentially bring in five figures, while giving you the opportunity to work for yourself and, in a sense, run your own online business. It's hard and it takes a lot of time, but this is an instance where the long-term results are worth the initial effort.

Online marketing is considered to be an offshoot of a blogger's career. Since businesses aren't usually able to devote the amount of time and energy necessary to market their website and manage a variety of social media accounts, they'll hire bloggers or consultants to do it for them.

The work is tough because it's heavily results based, but if this is your area of expertise, there are plenty of companies of all sizes that would be willing to pay for your knowledge and for your time.

Median Salary: $57,550

Extras: Flexible scheduling, work from home opportunities, be your own boss.

3. Construction

Like landscaping, construction gives you a chance to work with your hands, which in and of itself can be rewarding and worth the effort. Though it's also worth noting that you'll rarely be short on work if this is your field, especially if you've got a reputation for being good at what you do.

It's tough to be out when it's 95 degrees and you've got to finish building a roof, but a steady income, plenty of jobs to get to, and avoiding the cubicle scene is perfect for a lot of people.

Median Salary: $28,410 to $83,860

Extras: Work outdoors, combination of working with your hands and mind.

4. Landlord

In most places, tenants are generally pretty good, and most realtors will tell you that in the average renting market, you'll have one in ten renters who end up being difficult and doing more damage than a security deposit could ever hope to recoup. (See also: Should You Become a Landlord?)

If you're a landlord with several properties, running into these people is inevitable. At the same time, renting space is fairly passive income when you're not dealing with repairs or checks that are bouncing.

It's a tough and somewhat risky investment, but if you've got the money to put down, it's not uncommon for a three-bedroom home to rent for more than $2,000 a month, depending on your area.

Median Income: Dependent on number of homes and quality of neighborhood.

Extras: Passive income, the satisfaction of getting a significant return on your investment.

5. Software and Web Developer

You might be surprised to know that you don't actually need a degree in computer science to get a job as a software developer. Those who can design programs and exhibit that ability in the form of a portfolio, completed projects, or even smartphone apps will probably have an easier time getting hired than those coming out of college with only a degree to show for it.

The downside of developing software and writing code for computer programs is that it's a tremendously difficult and stressful job, even for those who are good at it. Long hours, difficult problems to solve, and hard deadlines are the norm in this field.

So what makes it worth all the fuss?

Software developers are always in high demand, so you'll never be out of work. It's also a highly paid position in most cases with plenty of room for advancement and new projects. It's a tough job, but you're unlikely to have trouble finding work in this area.

While it's similar to the job of a software developer, a web developer is someone who only writes code for and designs web pages.

In many cases a good web developer is expected to have a handle both front-end web design, which is relating mostly to how the website looks, and back-end design, which is all about how the website works and functions behind the scenes.

Constantly fielding opinions and requests from clients to go along with long hours make this job pretty tough, even for an experienced developer.

But just as with software, web developers are always in high demand.

Median Income: $75,660 to $90,530

Extras: Independent working environment.

6. Writers and Authors

With the Internet giving business blogging and social media such a high amount of relevance, the stock of the written word has risen in the past decade.

Companies need good, well-written content, and it's still (surprisingly) hard to find. If you're a good writer with specialty areas, then you can do really well as both a freelancer and a hired writer. Writing is a mind intensive kind of work that requires you to be tuned in and free of distractions for long periods of time, so it's definitely not easy. However, if written, online content continues to be as important as it is, writers will continue to be in high demand.

Median Income: $55,420

Extras: Ability to exercise your own creativity, work from home options, flexible scheduling.

7. Gas and Oil Industry

If you don't mind working long hours, often outdoors and often in several different places within the span of a few weeks, jobs in the gas and oil industry pay fairly well and are usually available for anyone willing to take on that kind of lifestyle.

These jobs are ideally suited for someone who's single and perhaps looking to see a new part of the country while making enough to save some money and maybe pay off some debt. It needs to be the right fit, but if it appeals to you, there's definitely some money to be made.

Median Income: $37,640

Extras: Working outdoors, getting to see a wide variety of places.

8. Restaurant Service

It can be a tiring, thankless job at times; but especially in the right location, waiting tables for tips can bring in several hundred dollars per night.

This is true particularly in places where the nightlife is active, like big cities or college towns, people will usually tip more generously, plus the volume of people you serve will be much higher, which means your hourly rate will be much better.

Median Income: $18,330, plus tips.

Extras: Fast-paced environment, social atmosphere.

9. Commercial Fisherman

This one really requires that you be a fan of the great outdoors and possibly cold temperatures depending on where you take the job. Fishing goes on in all kinds of different climates and ranges from small boats to large fishing barges. A basic requirement is that you be comfortable spending a lot of time on the water and are at least somewhat familiar with basic boating practices.

If that's something you enjoy, these jobs can be had with little education requirements and allow you to earn a decent wage while spending a lot of time on or near coastal areas.

Median Income: $25,590

Extras: Getting to live and work near coastal water, getting to see a variety of beaches, few prerequisites.

10. Meteorologist

You'll need a bachelor's degree to qualify for these positions, but if you've got one and can snag a job as a meteorologist, you'll enjoy a decent salary and get to spend your time using computer programs to predict the weather and study the climate. It's a dream come true for any storm chaser/weather geek, as you'll be working mostly indoors but with occasional field work to break up the monotony.

Median Salary: $87,780

Extras: Occasional field work, ideal for the weather or climate enthusiast.

The Right Fit

All these jobs have the potential to both be extremely difficult and make you a lot of money at the same time. Then again, that shouldn't be a surprise.

Hard work and long hours pay well — that's how our market tends to function. Also, business owners will tell you that it's difficult to find good, hard working people these days. If you can be that hard-working and driven individual, you'll be a valuable commodity to your employer wherever you work.

If you've got the work ethic portion down, it's just a matter of finding the right fit for you and your particular situation.

Do you work an especially tough or demanding job? Tell us about it in comments!

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Guest's picture
Mike Kopp

Nearly 30 years as a radio and television news personality. I got old. Too old for local news outlets. Became a documentary producer. That gig ran out of money. Today, I'm a hired man on a farm. I've gone from a 5-figure a year job to a 4-figure a year job. It's hard work. It's demeaning work. It's meant for men half my age. But it's a job. It's an income without benefits, without a lunch break, without overtime.

Guest's picture

Blogging is definitely the toughest one on that list! All those nights that you'll stay up until 6am, listening to love songs while you attempt to pump an article out are draining!

Guest's picture
Insurance Hunter

Many of these positions are a result of the impact the internet has had on how people work. Things like being a writer or even a landscaper can be done on a freelance basis. If you have the entrepreneurial spirit and are tech savvy, you can easily market yourself and make a good living.