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.

The Top 10 Best Dangerous Jobs

More From Your Money

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.

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

More From Your Money

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

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.

More From Your Money
Best and Worst Dangerous Jobs in America
Rank Occupations Total Fatal Injuries Percentage of Total Annual Work Fatalities Mean Annual Wage
51 Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers 786 15.1% $44,500
50 Construction Laborers 254 4.9% $38,890
49 Cashiers 62 1.2% $22,130
48 Farmworkers and Laborers: Crop, Nursery and Greenhouse 78 1.5% $25,070
47 Landscaping and Groundskeeping Workers 125 2.4% $29,700
46 Laborers and Freight, Stock, and Material Movers, Hand 92 1.8% $29,690
45 Taxi Drivers and Chauffeurs 60 1.2% $27,480
44 Farmworkers, Farm, Ranch and Aquacultural Animals 61 1.2% $27,840
43 Driver/Sales Workers 71 1.4% $29,090
42 Janitors and Cleaners, Except Maids and Housekeeping Cleaners 46 0.9% $27,900
41 Cleaners of Vehicles and Equipment 17 0.3% $25,770
40 Retail Salespersons 33 0.6% $27,460
39 Security Guards 54 1.0% $30,730
38 Crossing Guards 24 0.5% $30,170
37 Fishers and Related Fishing Workers 24 0.5% $31,190
36 Light Truck or Delivery Services Drivers 61 1.2% $35,610
35 Tree Trimmers and Pruners 84 1.6% $38,580
34 Industrial Truck and Tractor Operators 37 0.7% $35,370
33 Logging Workers 91 1.8% $40,730
32 Maintenance and Repair Workers 75 1.4% $40,280
31 Roofers 101 1.9% $42,780
30 First-Line Supervisors of Food Preparation and Serving Workers 17 0.3% $35,460
29 First-Line Supervisors of Retail Sales Workers 89 1.7% $43,580
28 Refuse and Recyclable Material Collectors 31 0.6% $38,920
27 Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics 64 1.2% $42,660
26 Painters, Construction and Maintenance 50 1.0% $41,840
25 Welders, Cutters, Solderers and Brazers 39 0.8% $43,410
24 Fallers 70 1.3% $46,930
23 Carpenters 99 1.9% $49,630
22 Excavating and Loading Machine and Dragline Operators 20 0.4% $46,780
21 Bus and Truck Mechanics and Diesel Engine Specialists 29 0.6% $48,000
20 Heating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers 37 0.7% $49,530
19 First-Line Supervisors of Landscaping, Lawn Service and Groundskeeping Workers 30 0.6% $50,020
18 Operating Engineers and Other Construction Equipment Operators 39 0.8% $51,890
17 Firefighters 35 0.7% $51,930
16 Mobile Heavy Equipment Mechanics, Except Engines 27 0.5% $52,370
15 Electricians 79 1.5% $57,910
14 Industrial Machinery Mechanics 22 0.4% $53,110
13 Telecommunications Line Installers and Repairers 21 0.4% $56,340
12 Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers 108 2.1% $64,490
11 Food Service Managers 23 0.4% $57,250
10 Plumbers, Pipefitters and Steamfitters 18 0.3% $57,070
9 Farmers, Ranchers and Other Agricultural Managers 260 5.0% $80,320
8 First-Line Supervisors of Construction Trades and Extraction Workers 134 2.6% $69,200
7 First-Line Supervisors of Production and Operating Workers 31 0.6% $62,660
6 First-Line Supervisors of Mechanics, Installers and Repairers 44 0.8% $68,120
5 Electrical Power-Line Installers and Repairers 21 0.4% $68,710
4 Property, Real Estate and Community Association Managers 23 0.4% $72,370
3 Commercial Pilots 70 1.3% $89,350
2 Athletes and Sports Competitors 21 0.4% $88,300
1 First-Line Supervisors of Police and Detectives 18 0.3% $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.

About the Author

Andrew DePietro

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.

Read More

These Are the Top 10 Dangerous Jobs in America, Study Finds
Close popup Live Richer Newsletter

We're here to help you Live Richer.

Sign up to receive our daily weekday newsletter with the latest finance and lifestyle content.

Loading...
Please enter an email.
Please enter a valid email address.
There was an unknown error. Please try again later.

For our full Privacy Policy, click here.