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What Do the World’s Most Dangerous Jobs Pay?

If the profession is risky, the pay better be worth it.

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When you’re risking your neck in the course of your daily job, you deserve to get paid more. So much more!

There’s a bit of irony in the term “make a living” when we’re talking about occupations that pose a threat to living, breathing humans.

Look, we get it: The risk factor really can’t be dialed down for some jobs. At least there’s a semblance of justice and compassion when it comes to the salaries these jobs fetch.

Some of these professions are deeply linked to infrastructures and utilities. Others have something to do with transportation, healthcare, public safety, and agriculture.

Oh, sports, too. Don’t ever underestimate the brutality of sports.

In short, if your job entails pain, it better pay handsomely.

To find out what the world’s most dangerous jobs pay, check out the list below!

Administrative and Support Service Worker
$53,202
These workers have to deal with natural and biological hazards.
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Aeronautics and Space Administrator
$93,181
As illustrated by the tragedy of the Challenger space shuttle, it’s not only the astronauts who are at risk during launch sequences. Aeronautics administrators on the ground are in danger, too.
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Agricultural Worker
$29,680
Agricultural workers have to deal with scratches, bites, and infection.
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Air Traffic Controller
$57,413
To say that air traffic controllers need to be mentally alert at all times is a grave understatement. Their daily work certainly causes mental exhaustion.
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Aircraft Mechanic
$68,207
When you’re working on an aircraft, dangerous fumes like carbon monoxide are prevalent in the air.
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Airline Pilot
$93,300
Aside from the obvious risk of high-altitude crashes, airline pilots can also be vulnerable to dehydration, insomnia, and skin cancer.
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Animal Care Worker
$30,961
Large livestock can be a handful as they can be territorial and awfully protective of their offspring.
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Arborist
$36,645
While the work they do to take care of trees is admirable, it’s rather dangerous. Imagine having to climb really tall trees while carrying a bunch of sharp tools.
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Arts and Recreation Service Worker
$35,643
Artists, athletes, performers, and even casino workers can get sprains and strains from all those repetitive movements.
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Assassin
$57,567
In the first place, why would you even agree to be a killer for hire? The physical and psychological toll is all on you.
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Astronaut
$161,141
Don’t let the Fantastic Four fool you: Astronauts could suffer from health issues caused by exposure to radiation from the cosmos.
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Athlete
$77,300
For the love of the game, athletes will push their bodies to the limit. Unfortunately, that’s when injuries are most likely to occur.
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Athlete, Coach, Umpire, and Related Worker
$34,692
Even coaches, umpires, and ball boys can get hit with a stray ball (or a stray elbow) by an irate player.
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Automotive Mechanic
$58,076
Mechanics can sustain burns from various sources, such as hot oil, battery acid, and hydraulic fluid.
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Bomb Disposal Technician
$72,860
Aside from the risk of explosive material, well, exploding, bomb disposal technicans also have to endure excessive heat strain.
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BSL-4 Lab Technician
$57,800
These labs contain very dangerous microbes. The diseases transmitted by said microbes are usually the ones for which there is no vaccine yet.
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Bull Rider
$37,311
Ole! Or not…If the numbers are to be believed, bull riders get a significant injury every 15 rides.
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Bus Driver
$41,951
Research shows that bus drivers have a higher rate of mortality compared to other workers from a wide range of occupations.
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Bush Pilot
$84,788
These pilots deliver goods and supplies to locations that are tremendously difficult to reach. The weather and wildlife in these places are no joke.
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Camper and Travel-Trailer Manufacturing Worker
$68,000
Assembling these campers and travel-trailers is certainly not easy, especially when injuries and illnesses are right around the corner.
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Care and Nursing
$77,600
Can you stand this? At times, healthcare workers have to stand for hours at a time. This makes them prone to back injuries and other physical ailments.
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Cargo Pilot
$63,623
If the pilot is suffering from fatigue, the entire flight is compromised.
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Carpenter
$53,706
An assortment of equipment can lead to an array of injuries. And don’t forget those slips and trips.
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Cashier
$26,770
They can get caught up in shootings and robberies. It’s one thing if the cash in their register is taken, but quite another if they get seriously hurt.
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Celebrity or Political Bodyguard
$64,700
They put their bodies on the line so that their clients don’t get hurt.
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Cement Mason
$56,552
Is there any job out there that requires as much kneeling as a cement mason’s? Those knee injuries can be excruciating.
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Chemical Plant Operator
$69,020
It can be really, really hot inside a chemical plant. That doesn’t bode well for the plant’s operators.
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Circus Performer
$37,500
Now this is a lethal form of entertainment! If a lion or a crocodile decides to go in business for itself, that circus performer is in serious trouble.
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Civil Engineer
$84,737
There are many pitfalls to avoid in this line of work: falling from elevated spots, taking a header into trenches, tumbling down slopes, and the like.
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Cleaner / Groundskeeper
$47,400
Cleaners are exposed to chemical and physical hazards.
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Coal Miner
$72,000
This job has a lengthy history of occupational hazards. Foremost among these are respiratory illnesses like pneumoconiosis, also known as black lung and silicosis.
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Commercial Diver
$60,360
Underwater excursions can lead to difficult situations, such as lack of oxygen and getting stuck in a submerged state.
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Commercial Fisherman
$62,812
Their work out at sea is life-threatening in more ways than one—from harsh weather conditions to the risk of falling overboard.
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Correctional Officer
$47,839
This definitely isn’t a glamorous job. All the stress and burnout that jail guards experience can lead to worse things, such as heart disease.
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Counter-Terrorism Specialist
$53,275
You’re playing with fire when your job description is to contain the threat of terrorism.
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Courier
$27,678
Here’s a double jeopardy situation that can unfold: A courier can get jumped by a robber, then have to explain to the waiting customer why the package can’t be delivered at the present time.
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Crane Operator
$62,240
At mind-blowing heights, gravity is not a friend of these workers.
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Crossing Guard
$50,000
These folks are meant to facilitate a smooth flow of vehicle and pedestrian traffic. They are NOT meant to bear the brunt of vehicle crashes.
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Crude Oil Hauler
$48,421
These folks are hauling trucks with combustible materials like crude oil and refined fuel. If anyone nearby gets careless with a cigarette…
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Deckhand
$35,237
These members of a ship crew can get pushed to their physical limits after working for a prolonged period of time.
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Demolition Worker
$32,821
Mishaps at the demolition site can result in these workers getting stuck or buried under debris.
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Derrick Operator in Oil, Gas, and Mining
$52,140
These operators don’t have a particularly easy time as they work in the vicinity of a derrick, which holds drilling equipment. Erroneous contact with lethal objects and equipment can be costly for these operators.
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Diesel Mechanic
$48,750
These mechanics have to contort their bodies in peculiar positions, which can cause back and muscle injuries.
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Door Staff
$46,719
Sometimes, unsolicited visitors aren’t just rude. They’re also aggressive, which means the door staff might get into a scuffle or two.
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Drug Lord
$130,000
Look, just don’t—you could end up in front of a firing squad.
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Electrical Power Lineman
$78,057
One wrong move, and they can end up burned or electrocuted.
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Electrician
$52,802
Electricians run the risk of sustaining burns and shocks. They can also get caught up in explosions.
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Elevator Mechanic
$97,860
Just to ensure the convenience of people who go up and down, elevator mechanics put their lives on the line. Those vertical drops can lead to severe injuries or death.
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Embalmer
$51,210
Embalmers have prolonged exposure to formaldehyde, which can have adverse effects on their health.
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Emergency Medical Technician
$74,192
It’s challenging enough to ensure the well-being of patients, but when said patients take on a combative stance for one reason or another, emergency medical technicians have their hands full.
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Extraction Worker
$37,760
Their drilling equipment is as dangerous as it is gigantic.
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Factory Worker
$32,507
Factory workers are constantly exposed to chemicals. Also, the very nature of their work calls for repetitive motions, which eventually lead to injuries like carpal tunnel.
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Farm Manager
$32,718
Animals can get unruly on a farm. Plus, heavy equipment can cause aches and bruises.
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FBI Agent
$66,542
Think you can get as lucky as Mulder and Scully? Real-life FBI agents face real-life threats from dangerous criminals.
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Firefighter
$55,290
They have to save people from houses on fire. ‘Nuff said.
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Food Service Worker
$26,899
The kitchen can be a hotbed for burns and cuts.
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Forester
$67,710
The work of foresters is filled with grave threats. Inclement weather, falling branches, chainsaw mishaps, and the risk of falls all over the place are just some of the dangers that foresters face.
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Forklift Operator
$33,559
It’s not easy to handle those forklift trucks. The operators have to endure pain in the back, neck, hands, and arms.
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Garbage Collector
$38,500
Collecting trash is no easy feat, especially as it comes with back pain, cuts from sharp edges, and exposure to nasty bacteria.
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Government Restricted Building Security
$61,960
Government buildings are in the cross hairs of criminal groups. To ensure security in these places, guards have to be ready to avert all sorts of threats.
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Health Care and Social Assistant
$56,152
Health care assistants can suffer from mental health problems brought about by long hours and repetitive tasks.
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Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanic and Installer
$48,630
Never, ever inhale a refrigerant! Plenty of mechanics and installers have suffered because of this.
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Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Service Technician and Mechanic
$53,770
These technicians and mechanics often find themselves in awkward standing and lying positions. While they’re at it, they can sustain burns, cuts, and bruises.
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Helicopter Cowboy
$100,434
Instead of saddling up on a horse, helicopter cowboys get into choppers in order to round their herd. The helicopter part, sadly, causes the danger factor to rise.
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HGV Driver
$81,199
Some heavy good vehicle drivers lose consciousness at the wheel. This is never a good development.
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Highway Maintenance Worker
$44,340
The highway is where workers live life on the fast lane. Car crashes can occur right beside them at any moment.
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Industrial Cleaner
$27,739
Since they are working in close proximity to machinery that’s, you know, moving, they’re in harm’s way.
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Industrial Machinery Installation, Repair, and Maintenance Worker
$59,380
Asbestos, vapors, and solvents are just a few of the chemicals these workers have to deal with.
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Joiner and Painter
$5,625
Their daily work includes constant exposure to solvents and other toxic materials.
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King Crab Fishing Boat Captain
$61,512
Equipment like coil lines and crab pot launchers can cause a world of hurt to fishermen.
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Landmine Remover
$65,646
Landmines can, you know, go off.
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Landscaping and Groundskeeping Supervisor
$38,200
Those working in landscaping are exposed to toxic substances.
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Large Animal Vet
$42,097
Vets dealing with large animals can get accidentally exposed to X-rays, which can cause injuries and, sadly, even increase the risk of cancer.
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Logger
$66,886
Timber! The logs, heavy equipment, and environmental factors can be too much.
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Maintenance and Repair Worker
$34,000
Maintenance and repair workers are highly susceptible to injuries like cuts, bruises, and electrical shocks.
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Meat Rendering and Processing Laborer
$32,010
Meat processing laborers are really, really prone to injury and illness.
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Mechanic Supervisor
$74,602
These supervisors face the same risks of injury as mechanics and installers.
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Mental Health Caregiver
$58,369
These caregivers tend to have ramped up cardiovascular responses to situations that unfold with their patients. This makes them prone to heart disease.
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Microchip Manufacturer
$28,411
Microchip manufacturers have to work with arsenic, which can cause respiratory diseases and cancer after prolonged exposure.
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Military
$65,000
From the frontlines to the army bases, the threat of warfare, contamination, and illness hangs over the heads of men and women in uniform.
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MMA Fighter
$160,022
Way before they step into the octagon, MMA fighters can tap out to injuries sustained in training or the unbelievable psychological pressure in this cutthroat industry.
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Mount Everest Sherpa
$5,000
The world’s highest mountain is filled with chunks of ice that can get dislodged at any minute.
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Mover
$33,406
All those heavy boxes stuffed with your personal belongings? Too many of them can cause injuries to movers.
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Movie Stunt Performer
$70,000
While VFX can make it look like they’re falling off a building, there’s nothing simulated about the cuts, burns, and sprains they can sustain while filming a movie.
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Nascar Driver
$112,038
Before you start your engines, think of all the burns, fractures, and concussions that you might suffer on all these laps.
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NFL Player
$860,000
The hard knocks out on the gridiron can take a deadly toll.
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Nuclear Technician
$95,200
Ionizing radiation is a huge problem, whether you’re exposed to it in high or low doses. That’s exactly what nuclear technicians have to deal with regularly.
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Nurse
$82,750
That compassion and level of attention that your nurse displays? All of it comes at a price: exposure to whatever ailment you’re dealing with.
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Office Administrator
$56,001
Don’t underestimate the dangers lurking in innocent-looking workspaces. There are physical threats such as floor or power cords and psychological concerns such as bullying and harassment.
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Offshore Oil Platform Worker
$66,236
The oil part of this job is dangerous enough with all the explosions that could occur, but this is also offshore.
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Operations Engineer
$97,925
Construction sites and heavy machinery make their workplaces a danger zone.
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Police Officer
$54,866
As the sworn protectors of civilians, police officers take on danger headfirst.
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Painter
$30,225
It’s you, the canvas, and the palette…plus a whole host of fungi, bacteria, and molds.
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Paramedic
$38,830
They can get infected with diseases either through transmission from patients or contact with needles.
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Personal Transport Worker (E.g., Rickshaw Driver)
$63,000
Sadly, workplace violence has become far too common among workers in the informal transport sector.
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Plumber
$54,644
It’s not as easy as it looks. Hazardous substances like lead, asbestos, and silica can compromise the health of plumbers.
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President of the United States
$400,000
Lincoln, Garfield, Kennedy…Need we go on?
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Private Investigator
$60,970
PIs that go undercover in rough neighborhoods can be exposed; when this happens, they can get badly hurt.
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Private Military Contractor
$90,057
Though these individuals have extensive military training, they’re not exactly going for a walk in the park when they work special assignments for companies or nations, especially those that have made plenty of enemies.
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Quarry Worker
$41,630
These workers have to worry about both ground failure and instability. Lack of vigilance can result in very bad slips.
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Railroad Conductor/Yardmaster
$66,990
They’re in danger of meeting train accidents. Yikes.
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Real Estate Agent
$164,000
Agents who work solo can be preyed upon by cold-hearted criminals.
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Roofer
$37,531
When you’re standing on top of a house for a lengthy period of time, you’re bound to get heat cramps, heat rash, heat stroke, and other heat-related ailments.
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Route Sales Driver
$44,500
Just like any other type of driver, they have to steer clear of road mishaps. Unfortunately, there are a lot of those.
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Sales Representative
$69,824
The competition among sales representatives can get pretty intense. Tremendous stress, lack of sleep, and loss of confidence can take their toll.
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Sanitation Worker
$33,056
The danger level here is high due to large equipment and exposure to the elements.
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Scaffolder
$42,900
Those scaffolds can be a doozy. In particular, scaffolds that are in poor shape can lead to nasty outcomes for construction workers.
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Scuba Diver
$44,414
Scuba divers can suffer from decompression sickness or arterial air embolism. Not what you want when you’re supposed to be enjoying underwater wonders.
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Search and Rescue Operator
$73,463
Danger is all around these operators, who are surrounded by sharp edges, unstable structures, and noise pollution.
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Security Guard
$50,652
Customers and even staff members can get pretty rowdy within an establishment. When security guards step in to contain the situation, they’re putting themselves at risk of an ugly beating.
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Sewer Flusher
$47,936
Sewer flushers can go blind or sustain other permanent injuries after getting exposed to high pressure water.
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Sheriff
$51,625
If there’s a new sheriff in town, it might be because the previous one got caught up in a precarious situation.
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Skiing-Related Worker
$50,377
Snow blindness, sunburns, and avalanches are no fun to deal with.
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Slaughter House Worker
$32,010
These people are at risk of both physical injuries and psychological issues like dissociation.
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Smokejumper
$58,170
When remote areas of forests go ablaze, smokejumpers are deployed as a form of quick response. Yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like: They jump from aircraft and parachute into the fire area. That description right there gives you an idea of how many things can go wrong in this line of work.
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Snake Milker
$27,000
Snake. Milker. That’s pretty self-explanatory.
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Specialized Construction Worker
$59,000
A construction site is no playground. The wide array of dangers includes heavy loads, staggering heights, and less-than-ideal working conditions.
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Spy
$66,020
This is why James Bond was always paid handsomely: One slip of the tongue from a spy, and their cover, along with perhaps their head, is blown.
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Steelworker
$61,270
Welding can cause serious burns, and flammable materials all around the site can get ignited.
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Store Manager
$53,122
Criminals can barge into their stores and attempt to steal cash or goods. When this happens, the staff in those stores can get badly hurt—or worse.
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Street Sweeper
$38,237
As they do their thing in the streets, they’re at the mercy of exhaust fumes and dust particles.
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Surgeon
$195,006
After all those grueling hours in the operating room, surgeons can sustain injuries to their hands and wrists.
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Taxi Driver
$31,824
Unfortunately, all those film and TV scenes depicting taxi drivers at gunpoint have a basis in reality. Many taxi drivers have been assault, robbery, and even murder victims.
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Tree Surgeon
$52,165
First of all…yes, there is such a thing as a tree surgeon, one who treats old or damaged trees. Second of all, their job is rather risky. All that falling timber and all those nasty chainsaws? Scary.
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Underwater Welder
$53,990
As if welding wasn’t dangerous enough, the underwater part ups the ante.
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Veterinarian
$112,999
Count how many times your dog has scratched your vet in the face or on the arm. Now multiply that number by, say, a dozen. That’s a lot of scratches.
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War Correspondent
$70,911
Those unbelievable photos and videos of war-torn spots? That’s the work of war correspondents, who are constantly seconds away from becoming casualties.
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Warehouse Worker
$29,250
These workers can get badly hurt when their machines malfunction.
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Waste Manager
$73,000
There are all sorts of diseases lurking around solid wastes. Waste managers, unfortunately, are often on the receiving end of those.
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Water Treatment Worker
$65,536
It’s not really the water that’s the problem in water treatment plants, but the air—low levels of oxygen, high levels of methane and hydrogen sulfide.
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Welder
$40,000
A welder’s job isn’t pretty, on top of which there are the risks: lung cancer, skin cancer, asphyxiation.
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Worker in Rope, Cordage, Twine, Tire Cord, or Tire Fabric Mills
$72,000
These mills expose their workers to a particularly high risk of getting ill or injured.
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Note: All salaries mentioned in this list are average annual salaries in U.S. dollars, as obtained from the sources cited. The majority are median salaries; however, depending on the source, some mean salaries are also given.

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