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Average Salary: Working in Iraq Worth the Risks?

It might surprise most Americans to learn that there are over 25,000 private contractors in Iraq. These contractors make up the third largest international force in the war-torn country, behind U.S. military and U.K. troops. For this reason, private contractors are often called the “shadow army in Iraq .” Many jobs that were traditionally performed by the U.S. military - truck driving, security, laundry and food services - have been farmed out to private contractors. The idea is if these military jobs are “outsourced” to contractors, then the U.S. military is freed up for armed conflict. According to our PayScale salary survey, the average wages for truck drivers in Illinois are around $45,000. If that same trucker works for a private contractor in Iraq, he will reportedly have a starting salary range of $100,000, but are the dangers worth it?

It might surprise most Americans to learn that there are over 25,000 private contractors in Iraq. These contractors make up the third largest international force in the war-torn country, behind U.S. military and U.K. troops. For this reason, private contractors are often called the “shadow army in Iraq .”

Many jobs that were traditionally performed by the U.S. military – truck driving, security, laundry and food services – have been farmed out to private contractors. The idea is if these military jobs are “outsourced” to contractors, then the U.S. military is freed up for armed conflict.

According to our PayScale salary survey, the average wages for truck drivers in Illinois are around $45,000. If that same trucker works for a private contractor in Iraq, he will reportedly have a starting salary range of $100,000, but are the dangers worth it?

Private Contractor Tactical Training

Private contractors in Iraq, such as truck drivers wear only a flak jacket as they face ambushes, machine gunfire and improvised explosive devices along the roads. Trucks may also not have armor, adding more risk to this high salary range position.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Driving a truck in Iraq is a high risk, high salary range job.  There is a big difference in risk between typical high risk jobs like fishing in the gulf of Alaska and working in a hot war zone. Below I will look at each extreme, and see how different risks change the calculation for truck drivers in Iraq.

Private Contractor vs Household Employee

Risk/reward is a tricky calculation, and human beings are generally very bad at estimating the cost of risk. For example, is it a good deal for a 30-year-old truck driver with a family to support to go to Iraq for an extra $50,000 a year? Assume he could have worked another 35 years for an average salary of $45,000/year. If he dies in Iraq, his family loses 35 x $45,000 = $1.5 million in income.

This is where the tricky risk calculations come in. Say he plans to stay in Iraq for 2 years, bringing home an extra $100,000:

  • If his risk of death is 1.5 in 1000 per year (same as fishermen), the “expectation value” of the future income he risks losing is 2 years x 0.15% x $1.5 million = $4,500. Given he would earn $100,000, this looks like a risk worth taking.
  • If the risk is 10X that of fishermen, then he risks 2 x 1.5% x $1.5 million = $45,000. This is no longer a slam-dunk deal; the truck driver is now only making a little more than twice what he is risking.
  • If the risk is 100X that of fishermen (15% a year), he is risking $450,000 to earn $100,000. This is not the way to make more money for his family.

Above Average Wages for Truck Drivers, but…

Death isn’t the only possible outcome. The US troops are injured at roughly 8X the rate they are killed in Iraq. If the truck driver is injured so that he no longer can work, his family still loses his future income.

How likely is the worst (15%) case above? For comparison, the US had an average of about 150,000 ground troops in Iraq during 2005. About 6800 were injured or killed that year. This is a casualty rate of 4.5%. If truck drivers in Iraq have the same risk, then the truck driver from Illinois is risking $135,000 in future income to earn $100,000 extra.

Halliburton Jobs in Middle East, Legal Recourse?

Life insurance for someone working in a war zone is hard to get, and the truck driver’s family is unlikely to have other legal or financial redress like workman’s compensation. For example, a lawsuit against Halliburton brought by the families of truckers killed in an ambush near Baghdad, in April 2004, was thrown out of court.

In the ruling, U.S. District Judge Gray H. Miller said that the U.S. military played a major role in sending the convoy and that it was not the court’s place to second-guess the Army’s orders. “The contracts show that the Army, not the defendants, was responsible for the security of the convoys,” Judge Miller wrote.

Overtime Payment Government Contract?

Another downside is that there is no overtime pay for private contractors in Iraq. In a class action lawsuit against Halliburton for overtime, workers claimed that they were working more than 100 hours a week and not receiving overtime, even though a Pentagon contract called for overtime pay in Iraq.

However, U.S. District Court Judge Melinda Harmon ruled that Halliburton did not have to pay overtime, because U.S. laws governing military contracts say that only workers employed inside the United States are subject to US overtime pay laws.

Personally, if I were the truck driver, I would go back to school and learn to be a Clinical Research Associate. According to PayScale salary survey data, this job pays an average salary of $50,000 to start and can be over $90,000/year with 10 years of experience. The biggest risk is a paper cut.

How does your salary rank against the contractors in Iraq? Is it time to move to Baghdad, or stay home? Find out with our salary calculator.

Cheers,

Dr. Al Lee


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david hancock
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david hancock

drove trucks in convoys for 6 years in iraq.will go back.

tone
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tone

Hey man do they concrete worker needs in Iraq an if so how do I get a hold of contractors looking for construction workers out there?

UT utDavid Harper
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UT utDavid Harper

Being doing middle east and european work overland for 24 years.Looking to go back to doing middle east work again .Off to Dubai next week will be looking for work there .But want work in iraq or other middle east countries if possible

Philip mceveley
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Philip mceveley

Oh Dave,you wouldnt know the way.

Hugo Bellamy
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Hugo Bellamy

I have a class A CDL with tanker doubles and trips endorsement been looking for something over seas for sometime now and getting no where in a hurry seems like u gotta no somebody and whoever that somebody is I DON’T NO THEM….

Tendai T
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Tendai T

RN/ICU NURSE
EX Military

Ori George
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Ori George

I have a company based in south africa, we supply red seal riggers to various industries around south africa. If someone could please tell me how I would go about getting on a US contracting tender to supply my riggers in the middle east?

victor
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victor

I am looking for a job as a tankerman are there anyone who can help?

Steve Lashley
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Steve Lashley

I am a over the road truck driver…looking for something challenging with a good salary… driving trucks in Iraq and Afghanistan is something that interests me…I have no wife the kids are grown…and I need more money…

Andrew GIBLIN
Guest
Andrew GIBLIN

I have a class 2 hgv license with cpc up to date drove hgv for past 10 years is there a use for me in Iraq

Martha Reyes
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Martha Reyes

I will be retiring from the Postal Service, have been trying to contact retired postal workers that have gone to Iraq and Afghanistan to work, but have been unable to get a hold of anyone. What is website to get hired?

Christian Caine
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Christian Caine

CDL holder , single, looking to drive in Iraq

Nick Gonzalez
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Nick Gonzalez

Any one know what the pay is now for Labor workers in Iraq with KBR?

James Robertson
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James Robertson

Looking for Plant Manager / Superintendents job Mining Construction Maintenance

tone
Guest
tone

I am a mason/concrete worker/stucco guy I am looking for work in the middle east. I here the pay is great. I’m trying to get a hold of a contractor who could use my trades. I am just trying to provide a better life for my family. So please any contractors out there who can use me or if anyone who can help me get threw to the right channels. Please email me @ tonyjaramillo13@gmail.com

Ajay Kumar
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Ajay Kumar

I am searching for a position as laundry press man job

john dean
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john dean

are there any jobs for plant fitters there

Fuadihassan
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Fuadihassan

what about the salary of a truck driver in Iraq who is not living in us how much is he paid

Nate Strover
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Nate Strover

Hi Ive been looking for work in Dubai for the longest and have had no luck. My goal is to obtain a warehouse shipping, receiving type job indoors and away from any harm to potentially be able to move my family. I have a Resume available and I would love to see what opportunities there are available.

Kennin tackett
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Kennin tackett

Is there any helper jobs over there??

Amir
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Amir

Looking job in the war zone. Pleas contact me.

Clayton Davis
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Clayton Davis

Hi there I’d like to drive in the war zone l!

Eric
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Eric

How do I get connected for work ?

George Kuhn
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George Kuhn

Hard working male,35, looking for driving job in the war zone. Armer vehicle driving experience. Plz mail me any opportunities.

Eric Rawlings
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Eric Rawlings

I have a diverse work background. I have a degree in Political Science and a MBA with a concentration in Human Resource. I would be a great candidate for administrative positions sir.

John gaboriault
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John gaboriault

I am a journeyman electrician interested in working in Iraq. Please email me any opportunities that are available. I am highly motivated and would like to start working to restore power to war torn regions. Thank you for your time all oppotunities will be considered.

Razaro matenhese
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Razaro matenhese

Im a zimbabwean and need a truck driving job in iraq nw. Any one to help . Email me

Adam b
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Adam b

Wanting to find a trucking job Iraq Afghanistan

TamilSelvan
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TamilSelvan

Dear sir
I am experienced electrical engineer please contact for your vacancies
Thanks
TamilSelvan
9500200482
ishaktamil@gmail.com

Nawaz ahmed
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Nawaz ahmed

I am a driver I want job you can help me

irshad ah khan
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irshad ah khan

network techation plz concatat +97430859392

zaker alam
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zaker alam

sir. i am 3(tree) years experience oman and 1(one)years experience qatar

David Scott
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David Scott

I am a former soldier who needs to get out of the uk for a few years.. I’ve not been able to settle as a civilian. I am a class1 HGV driver. Sign me up!

,Andrew Ellis
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,Andrew Ellis

I ready and willing to start now

koku.Janardhan
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koku.Janardhan

Driver job

Dale Perry
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Dale Perry

I am a welder of 12 years. Is there any jobs over for me

Jeemon Antony
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Jeemon Antony

sir,
i am ready for joying in your company(truck driver-12 years experience)

michael gourdine
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michael gourdine

WORK GOT VERY SLOW AT MY LAST DRIVING JOB. JUST THROUGH IT WAS TIME FOR ME TO MAYBE  TRY A DIFFERENT  LOOK    

Robert Haskill
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Robert Haskill

I am doing Armed Security Bank Protection Officer in Detroit. Thirteen years Security experience.

Desmond Collins
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Desmond Collins

Looking for a contractors job overseas either in Dubai, or Afghanistan. Please email me with list…

Daniel knight
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Daniel knight

I have been a truck driver in the uk for nearly 30yrs and need a new experience. Will quite happily try working in Iraq

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