Believe it or not, a good number of folks work dangerous jobs for big money each day. They work in occupations that place them close to high-speed traffic, in front of bullet-toting criminals or high atop shaky structures.
So, which workers put their lives on the line and how well are they paid for that risk? Take a look at this list of 10 dangerous jobs.
Dangerous Jobs That Pay Well
1. Construction laborer. What do you see when you look at a construction site? Lots of activity. Cranes move heavy loads, backhoes push huge piles of dirt and concrete trucks unload as quickly as possible. You can bet that the people in this environment move very carefully. Annual salary of a Construction Laborer = $36,329
2. Structural steel worker. The world’s soon-to-be tallest building, Burj Dubai in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, is expected to rise over 2,650 feet in the sky – just over half a mile – when it’s completed. How would you like to be at the top, soldering the last bits of rebar? Annual salary of Structural Steel Worker = $34,388
3. Horticultural farmer. Getting hundreds of acres of crops to grow year after year requires some large, dangerous machinery and exposure to chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Annual salary of Horticultural farmer= $29,500
4. Ranch worker. Whether forcing a herd of unruly cattle into a pen or trying to brand them, ranch workers constantly expose their arms, legs, heads and hands to crushing forces. Annual salary of a ranch worker = $31,343
5. Police / sheriff’s patrol officer. While the rest of us run from trouble to save our lives, these brave souls head straight for it. They may be well trained, but the people they face are unpredictable and very dangerous. Annual salary of police officer / sheriff = $46,467
6. Fishing vessel deckhand. If you haven’t seen Discovery Channel’s reality TV show, The Deadliest Catch, just imagine trying to hold on to a slippery, ice-covered deck while 40-foot waves crash over you in a Bering Sea storm – frigid and frightening. Annual salary of deckhand= $46,978
7. Roofer. Since over one-third of fall-related deaths involve roofs and ladders, it’s easy to understand why these nimble-footed folks are at great risk every day they’re on the job. Annual salary of a roofer = $42,116
8. Coal miner. Sadly, because of several tragedies in recent years, most Americans are well aware of the dangers present in this line of work. Fortunately, the number of deaths in private mines decreased by 43 percent between 2006 and 2007. Annual salary of coal miner= $53,500
9. Highway maintenance worker. We get frustrated when they slow down our morning commute. But, the truth is, this group of essential laborers – from asphalt layers to sign holders – gets closer to distracted, speeding drivers than any of us ever should. Annual salary of maintenance worker = $33,685
10. Journeyman lineman. In the cruelest storms and thickest snows conditions, these tough and highly-skilled people scale electrical poles to help us keep our lights on. With risks ranging from falls to voltage, they must move quickly but cautiously to stay safe. Annual salary journey lineman = $53,461 per year
If you’re curious, here are some more facts about fatal work accidents in the U.S. from a 2008 Bureau of Labor Statistics study.
- Men make up 54 percent of the workforce but experience 92 percent of fatal work accidents
- Women die more often from highway incidents and homicides than men.
- Latinos are the ethnic group most often involved with fatal work accidents
- Construction has the highest number of fatalities total, but agriculture, forestry, fishing, hunting and mining have the highest rates of fatalities per 100,000 workers.
- Highways incidents alone accounted for nearly one out of every four fatal work injuries in 2007.
- Workers over 65 years of age are over twice as likely to die on the job (9.9 per 100,000) than the national average (3.7 per 100,000).
Source: All annual salary data is from PayScale.com. The annual salaries listed are median, annual salaries for full-time workers with 5-8 years of experience and include any bonuses, commissions or profit sharing.