The Top 20 Most Dangerous Jobs in America

The Scary Facts About Deadly and Dangerous Jobs

Some people may hate their jobs, they may be dull or just not what you have been wanting, but one thing to be thankful for is that it may not necessarily be dangerous. Not daily, anyway.

These jobs, on the other hand, have at least some form of danger every day; from risking their own lives to save others to things that can risk leaching off of the worker’s health, it is all a risk that is taken solely for the fact that it needs to be done. The good news is, on average, job-related deaths, injuries, and illnesses have been decreasing in America since 1970 when they were at their peak.

It was in 1970 when approximately 38 workers were killed each day on their jobs, in 1972 that number was reduced to an average of 10.9 job-related injuries and illnesses for every 100 workers in the nation. Through workplace safety measures implemented through OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration,) these numbers steadily dropped and by 2014 the numbers had decreased to 13 deaths per day and just 3.3 events per 100 workers.

The ugly truth, however, is that some of the deadliest jobs in America may go unrecognized. It may turn out that a lot of people eventually suffer or are killed because of conditions that they previously believed were safe.

What the statistics like those above often don’t show are the long-term impacts of dangerous professions on worker health. It is possible to work for years in a high-risk career, and never experience significant health problems by the time you leave, only to develop a disease later on that can be linked back to your time in that job.

Some researchers have speculated that occupational injuries and illnesses would be among the top five causes of death and disease in America if they were more accurately tracked and reported.

The official numbers are still alarming. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 4,821 civilian workers in the U.S. were killed in 2014 as a direct result of their employment. And the numbers rise when you consider long-term occupational diseases. Some government estimates have estimated the yearly number of deaths in America from occupational diseases at anywhere from 26,000 to 72,000. Work-related cancer is a big issue, accounting for between 12,000 and 26,000 of those annual deaths. The other point of putting workers at risk is work-related heart disease which could account for between approximately 6,000 and 18,000 of them.

 So What Are the Most Dangerous Jobs Based on Civilian Deaths?

If you were taking a guess, what would you believe are the most dangerous non-military occupations in the country? Would you be confident in your answers? Many are surprised to learn that their assumptions for many jobs cannot be backed up by the statistics. For instance, firefighters don’t even break the top 20 in our list and jobs commonly thought of (such as police officer) may be a lot further down the list than you expect.

Within many of these industries, safety is spotty at best. Some employers don’t make safety a priority, even though they may claim to be safe. It doesn’t help that the number of government safety inspectors has been declining. In 2015, OSHA used only one inspector for every 74,760 workers in America. And few of the people who work in dangerous job settings have been appropriately trained to provide necessary life support (BLS) during injuries and life-threatening medical emergencies.

So, which civilian jobs are the most dangerous in America? Take a look at the following list. Based on the 2014 statistics (which are the most recent,) they all have fatality rates that are above the national average, of 3.4 occupational deaths per 100,000 full-time workers.

Note: The median yearly pay of each occupation is based on national estimates from May 2017.


1. Loggers

What is the most dangerous job in America? Logging? Yes, anyone working in the logging industry has always known that it is a very dangerous job. Logging workers frequently have to move through challenging terrain while using heavy cutting equipment while staying aware of their surroundings. Despite their best intentions, accidents happen, particularly when the weather becomes severe. Among other dangers, they canbe crushed by falling trees or get cuts from chainsaws which can cause harm. Long hours dealing with sharp instruments like buzzsaws and massive, dense trees and machinery is a recipe for issues. Not to mention their workplaces are typically far away from communities, including hospitals.

  • Fatality rate—110.9 deaths per 100,000 workers
  • Median yearly pay—$39,740