These Are the Top 10 Dangerous Jobs in America, Study Finds

Dangerous jobs might be worth it — at the right price.

Dying in the line of duty is something that police officers, firefighters and soldiers face in their line of work. But they are hardly the only ones. According to the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), the industry with the most fatal work injuries was construction — 991 deaths in 2016 — compared to 497 for government employees. But with an annual mean wage of $49,930, is construction worth dying for?

A new study by GOBankingRates determined the best and worst dangerous jobs in America. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, specifically Occupational Employment Statistics and CFOI, the best and worst jobs were determined based on each occupation’s number of fatalities, the percentage of total work fatalities for the year and the average annual wage.

Click through to see how much these dangerous jobs will help you grow your net worth — and decide for yourself it’s worth it.

Andreas G. Karelias /

The Top 10 Best Dangerous Jobs

In 2016, the year of the most recent data, there were 5,190 fatal work injuries. The study analyzed total fatal occupational injuries by occupation and event or exposure and then factored in each occupation’s annual mean wage.

Because the study looked at jobs on the most drilled-down level, the occupations are very specific. For instance, you’ll see the occupation “heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers,” instead of using the broader, more vague occupation category, “transportation and material moving occupations.” This specificity is meant to provide a clearer picture of which jobs are truly the most dangerous relative to their pay.

Save for Your Future
Sponsors of

Here are the 10 best dangerous jobs based on low fatality rate and high average salary:

  1. First-Line Supervisors of Police and Detectives: $91,590
  2. Athletes and Sports Competitors: $88,300
  3. Commercial Pilots: $89,350
  4. Property, Real Estate and Community Association Managers: $72,370
  5. Electrical Power-Line Installers and Repairers: $68,710
  6. First-Line Supervisors of Mechanics, Installers and Repairers: $68,120
  7. First-Line Supervisors of Production and Operating Workers: $62,660
  8. First-Line Supervisors of Construction Trades and Extraction Workers: $69,200
  9. Farmers, Ranchers and Other Agricultural Managers: $80,320
  10. Plumbers, Pipefitters and Steamfitters: $57,070

Want a Career in Tech? Study Identifies the Highest-Paying Jobs

Save for Your Future
Sponsors of

Top 10 Worst Dangerous Jobs

A big common denominator for the worst dangerous jobs is moving vehicles. Work injuries involving transportation incidents are the most common occupation fatality, accounting for 40 percent, or 2,083 work injuries.

Here are the worst dangerous jobs based on high fatality rates and low pay:

  1. Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers: $44,500
  2. Construction Laborers: $38,890
  3. Cashiers: $22,130
  4. Farmworkers and Laborers: Crop, Nursery and Greenhouse: $25,070
  5. Landscaping and Groundskeeping Workers: $29,700
  6. Laborers and Freight, Stock, and Material Movers, Hand: $29,690
  7. Taxi Drivers and Chauffeurs: $27,480
  8. Farmworkers, Farm, Ranch and Aquacultural Animals: $27,840
  9. Driver/Sales Workers: $29,090
  10. Janitors and Cleaners, Except Maids and Housekeeping Cleaners: $27,900

Here is the full list of the dangerous jobs evaluated in the study, including the number of fatal injuries for that occupation; the percentage of total annual fatalities it accounts for; and mean annual wage. It is in order from worst to best, with No. 51 being the worst dangerous job relative to its pay.

Best and Worst Dangerous Jobs in America
RankOccupationsTotal Fatal InjuriesPercentage of Total Annual Work FatalitiesMean Annual Wage
51Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers78615.1%$44,500
50Construction Laborers2544.9%$38,890
48Farmworkers and Laborers: Crop, Nursery and Greenhouse781.5%$25,070
47Landscaping and Groundskeeping Workers1252.4%$29,700
46Laborers and Freight, Stock, and Material Movers, Hand921.8%$29,690
45Taxi Drivers and Chauffeurs601.2%$27,480
44Farmworkers, Farm, Ranch and Aquacultural Animals611.2%$27,840
43Driver/Sales Workers711.4%$29,090
42Janitors and Cleaners, Except Maids and Housekeeping Cleaners460.9%$27,900
41Cleaners of Vehicles and Equipment170.3%$25,770
40Retail Salespersons330.6%$27,460
39Security Guards541.0%$30,730
38Crossing Guards240.5%$30,170
37Fishers and Related Fishing Workers240.5%$31,190
36Light Truck or Delivery Services Drivers611.2%$35,610
35Tree Trimmers and Pruners841.6%$38,580
34Industrial Truck and Tractor Operators370.7%$35,370
33Logging Workers911.8%$40,730
32Maintenance and Repair Workers751.4%$40,280
30First-Line Supervisors of Food Preparation and Serving Workers170.3%$35,460
29First-Line Supervisors of Retail Sales Workers891.7%$43,580
28Refuse and Recyclable Material Collectors310.6%$38,920
27Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics641.2%$42,660
26Painters, Construction and Maintenance501.0%$41,840
25Welders, Cutters, Solderers and Brazers390.8%$43,410
22Excavating and Loading Machine and Dragline Operators200.4%$46,780
21Bus and Truck Mechanics and Diesel Engine Specialists290.6%$48,000
20Heating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers370.7%$49,530
19First-Line Supervisors of Landscaping, Lawn Service and Groundskeeping Workers300.6%$50,020
18Operating Engineers and Other Construction Equipment Operators390.8%$51,890
16Mobile Heavy Equipment Mechanics, Except Engines270.5%$52,370
14Industrial Machinery Mechanics220.4%$53,110
13Telecommunications Line Installers and Repairers210.4%$56,340
12Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers1082.1%$64,490
11Food Service Managers230.4%$57,250
10Plumbers, Pipefitters and Steamfitters180.3%$57,070
9Farmers, Ranchers and Other Agricultural Managers2605.0%$80,320
8First-Line Supervisors of Construction Trades and Extraction Workers1342.6%$69,200
7First-Line Supervisors of Production and Operating Workers310.6%$62,660
6First-Line Supervisors of Mechanics, Installers and Repairers440.8%$68,120
5Electrical Power-Line Installers and Repairers210.4%$68,710
4Property, Real Estate and Community Association Managers230.4%$72,370
3Commercial Pilots701.3%$89,350
2Athletes and Sports Competitors210.4%$88,300
1First-Line Supervisors of Police and Detectives180.3%$91,590

More on Jobs

Methodology: GOBankingRates compiled a list of occupations with the highest rate of fatalities, sourced from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, 2016.

Related Video

About the Author

Andrew DePietro is a finance writer with years of experience covering topics such as taxation, Social Security, entrepreneurship, investing, real estate and housing markets. His work has appeared on MSN, Yahoo Finance, Fortune, Forbes, CBS and U.S. News. Before writing for GOBankingRates, Andrew worked as a research assistant and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in History.