The 20 Most Dangerous Jobs On The Planet

If you’re sitting in your office reading this, you might be dreaming of doing something a little more daring. But while flying through the bush or milking a snake may give you an adrenaline boost, it may also just kill you. So if you’re looking for reassurance that spending eight hours a day in front of a computer isn’t actually the worst way to while away your week, read on.

20. Snake milker

Snake milkers aren’t extracting literal milk from their slippery serpent subjects as a milker does from sheep or a cow. Instead, they’re removing poisonous venoms from the likes of rattlesnakes and cobras, to be used in antidotes (or “antivenoms”). Either way, forcing a snake to release its venom isn’t exactly the safest job you’ll ever see.

19. Crocodile wrestler

It’s not exactly the most widespread career choice out there, but in one particular zoo in Thailand, you can actually get a job as a crocodile wrestler. If you fancy sticking your head inside a crocodile’s mouth, that is. Yes, that’s just one of the duties of the performers, who also have to catch crocs with their bare hands for guests’ entertainment.

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18. Underwater welder

Doing anything underwater long term sounds pretty dangerous, but welding takes the cake. Not only is there a risk of getting electrocuted if proper safety procedures aren’t followed, divers also experience compression sickness and even wear and tear on their dental fillings. But the greatest peril to an underwater welder is drowning.

17. Courier

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Of all couriers, those transporting goods via bicycle probably have it worst. After all, with little to no protection, they stand a good chance of being run over, particularly in busy cities with plenty of traffic. And they’re also much more liable to theft than a courier traveling by car, thanks to their more readily accessible cargo.

16. Bull rider

It’s no secret that climbing on to the back of a bull can have serious consequences. But did you know that bull riders are at ten times greater risk of getting injured than the likes of football players? In fact, between 1989 and 2009, 16 riders even lost their lives. And with bulls growing ever stronger, that stat is only going to go one way.

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15. Microchip manufacturer

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It may surprise you to learn that the smartphone you’re holding wasn’t the safest thing to put together. Indeed, one electronics factory even has safety nets installed to catch would-be suicide jumpers, succumbing to the pressure of deadlines for the likes of Apple and Dell. And even beyond that, working with microchips is thought to increase radiation exposure, leading to cancer.

14. War correspondent

Imagine if it was your job to travel to war zones. Not as a soldier, or with any real form of protection, but as a fly on the wall. Huddled among troops, often finding yourself in the midst of firefights, all while remaining as impartial as your editor decrees. Sounds terrifying, right?

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13. Oil rigger

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It’s probably no surprise that working on an oil rig is filled with dangers. After all, you’re handling highly flammable material, under immense pressure and intense working conditions. Twelve-hour shifts are the norm, and you’re so isolated that if the loneliness doesn’t kill you, the slow emergency response time just might.

12. Logger

Sorry, Monty Python fans: if you’re a lumberjack, chances are you aren’t okay. Indeed, logging is one of the United States’ most dangerous professions, with a fatality rate more than 21 times higher than the country’s total. In 2010 alone, an alarming 70 loggers died on the job.

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11. Fisherman

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Fishing workers run the risk every day of getting swallowed by the very thing they’re trying to catch. And if that wasn’t bad enough, there’s also the risk of drowning, or getting lost at sea, as 13 fishermen managed to in 2009 in the United Kingdom. In fact, there’s a one in 20 chance that a British fisherman will die while working.

10. Bush pilot

Flying around rough terrain in Canada, Alaska and the Australian Outback requires a great degree of skill – and a high capacity for danger. After all, nowhere else do you run the risk of crashing into a mountainside if your visibility drops. And runways aren’t exactly a thing in the wilderness, so even landing can be terribly tricky.

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9. Sulfur miner

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If you think your job is stressful, take solace in the fact that it won’t kill you before you turn 30. That’s the reality facing sulfur miners in Indonesia, who toil away for 12 hours a day on pitiful wages. Indeed, they’re surrounded by poisonous fumes, inside a live volcano, near an acid lake. It almost sounds too horrifying to be true.

8. Magician’s assistant

We’re not talking about getting sawed in half here. No, there is actual danger associated with being a magician’s assistant. Specifically, a target assistant. After all, one mistimed slip, cough or sneeze, and that dagger flying toward the target may suddenly find its way to you.

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7. Civil engineer

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While civil engineers may spend a good chunk of their time in the office, that’s not all they do. Yes, much of their time is spent on construction sites, where all manner of dangers can befall them. It might be a falling scaffold or loose debris; it might be a loose screw or wire. Either way, it’s definitely not risk free.

6. Firefighter

It’s no secret that firefighters have a dangerous time of it. After all, it’s right there in the job title: you’re literally fighting fire. And as well as actual flames, firefighters also have to contend with risky chemicals and materials, including asbestos. In 2015 alone, 68 firefighters in the United States lost their lives.

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5. Astronaut

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You probably don’t need us to tell you why flying into a space in a massive metal tube isn’t exactly the safest way to spend your afternoon. But it’s not just getting incinerated in the atmosphere or trapped in outer space that threatens astronauts. Indeed, space debris can prove especially ruinous, with screws and metal shards flying around the Earth at 22,000 mph.

4. Power-line installer

Climbing to lethal heights and messing around with power lines is a recipe for disaster. Just ask the many people who work on them day in, day out. Indeed, 25 are electrocuted every year, with a total of 19.2 deaths per 100,000 workers in the United States. Their job is essential, but it’s also one of the most dangerous around.

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3. Structural steel and iron worker

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When you’re balancing on a four-inch-wide steel beam, 300 feet in the air, the last thing on your mind will be the fatality rate of your career. Or maybe it will be the only thing keeping you from making a fatal misstep. Thankfully, safety nets have helped to curb iron worker fatalities, but it’s still a risky job.

2. Refuse collectors

Collecting trash might not seem particularly dangerous, but you can rest assured that it very much is. In fact, the U.S. fatality rate is higher than that for miners, construction workers and policemen. Refuse trucks are dangerous vehicles – for instance, if the cable lifting the trash snaps, the results can be gruesome. It’s no wonder many sanitation workers bring home six figures…

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1. Roofers

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Pretty much all facets of home improvement carry some risks, but roofing is up there with the most dangerous. Falling off will hurt, sure, but there are also exposed cables, falling debris and various chemicals to contend with. While protection and training have improved in recent years, there are still plenty of inexperienced roofers making all kinds of fatal mistakes.

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