The 10 Most Dangerous Jobs – and Which are Worth the Pay

You’ve probably never thought to yourself, “I want to have a really dangerous job.” But if you knew that job came with a hefty paycheck, would you be willing to risk it? How big of a paycheck would you need to, say, swim with sharks every day? Or handle venomous snakes? Or play with wild tigers? Granted, none of those “jobs” are on the most dangerous list – and some that are might surprise you. But we wanted to know: what dangerous jobs might actually be worth it?

So let’s start with the most dangerous jobs list:




What does this mean?

But when we compared the workplace fatality rate with the approximate average salary for a U.S. worker in that occupation, the numbers tell a slightly different story. We calculated the fatality rate per $10,000 salary for each of the top ten most dangerous jobs2. Considering the risk of death, logging workers were still the worst off, with a 35.3 rate (fatality/$10,000 salary). The same was true of fishers and related fishing industry employees: their rate was almost half that of loggers, but still high, at 18.3.

deadly-presidentsBut aircraft pilots and flight engineers take home a relatively high salary for the risk of death the job requires. They came in at 3.4 and the only two jobs that rated better than them were farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural workers, and electrical power-line installers and repairers, both with a rate of 3.1. When death is on the line, these are facts that make a difference.

And in case you’re wondering, the two careers that often come to mind when people think of dangerous jobs – police and firemen – are not only statistically safer than the other ten jobs on our list, they are also far better money for the dangers they do offer. Police and sheriff’s officers (the deadliest of law enforcement positions) have a fatality rate of 13 per 100,000, while firefighters only have a fatality rate of about 9.1. Furthermore, police officers’ fatality per $10,000 in salary is 2.1 and firefighters’ is 1.8, which is by far the best rate of any of the dangerous professions we examined.

So what?

The larger point here is this: when we are deciding on a career or thinking about changing our careers, there are a lot of factors to consider and salary isn’t the only one – fatality rate is certainly one of those considerations, although probably not the most common for most of us. Maybe one job has a higher salary in a less desirable area of the country. Perhaps another position is exactly what you want to be doing, where you want to do it, but the benefits are horrible. Not all of these things can be quantified, as we have done here with fatality rate and salary, but nonetheless, they have to be weighed.

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1. Only civilian occupations are considered. Rate represents fatal work injuries per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers. All statistics are derived from: United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, 2015. Accessed January 5, 2017.

2. Salaries derived from United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Accessed January 5, 2017