Even dirtier IT jobs: The muck stops here

More dirty tech deeds, done dirt cheap

Hey, we can't all have careers at Google. Sometimes when you work in IT, you have to hold your nose and hope for the best.

Last year we named "The 7 dirtiest jobs in IT," but we barely scratched the topic's grime-caked surface. In the world of technology, there's plenty of dirt to go around.

You may be ordered to crawl into the nastiest corners of your office -- or to explore the nastiest corners of the Web. You may be required to stare zombie-like at a network monitoring console, waiting (possibly hoping) for the alarms to go off, or be chained to an endless series of spreadsheets and Word docs, looking for minute differences in data. You may end up berated, belittled, or sobbed at for circumstances that have nothing to do with you.

And at some point in your IT career, you will probably be asked to spy on your fellow employees -- or even your boss -- and fearlessly report what you find.

These seven jobs are not for the faint of heart or the weak of stomach. But they're out there; in these dark economic times, you might consider yourself lucky to have one of them.

Dirty IT job No. 7: Disconnect/reconnect specialist

Wanted: Able-bodied individuals with affinity for adapters, plugs, prongs, and dongles; willing to crawl under desks and squeeze into tight spaces that have never seen daylight. Strong stomach required.

Disconnect machines from one site, reconnect them at another. It sounded so simple Garth Callaghan couldn't quite believe someone would pay his company, 127tech, to do it. Now he employs three full-time employees and 30 contractors, who spend half their time unplugging and replugging machines for commercial movers in Richmond, Va.

But don't think they don't earn their money.

Most businesses have been in the same location for a long time, says Callaghan, and many of their employees haven't budged from their desks in 5 or 10 years. That can make for a rather mucky experience.

Occupational hazards include dust bunnies the size of basketballs, displays coated in soot, keyboards with enough food lodged in them to feed a small third-world country or, in one recent case, caked with a viscous layer of cosmetics.

In the three years his company has been in business, Callaghan and his crew have probably unplugged and replugged 10,000 workstations. But one in particular stands out.

"One day a couple of years ago, one of my crew members was struggling to get some cables loose from between a workstation and a wall," he says. "I said, 'Don't worry, I'm the owner of the company, I'll take responsibility if the cable breaks.' I grabbed the cable and started to shimmy it up. It wouldn't budge. Finally I yanked really hard. Out popped a bottle of Italian salad dressing, three-quarters empty. It had leaked all over the wall, the desk, and the computer. When I looked at the label I saw it was two years past its expiration date."

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