The 20 Most Dangerous Jobs in the World

Reviewed by Melina Theodorou

firefighting in a dangerous scenario

While a lot of us are safely tucked away behind a desk job, there are a lot of people who put their lives on the line on a daily basis. 

If you’re wondering which dangerous careers are worth the risk, then keep reading! 

Here we take a look at the 20 most dangerous jobs in the world according to research conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2019. 

20. Automotive mechanic

Fatal injuries: 60 

Average salary: $44,890 (£32,190)

As an automotive mechanic, you’ll need to have plenty of patience, as well as knowledge of different types of vehicles. That said, it’s a job that comes with certain health risks; mechanics are at risk of burns from hot oil, battery acid, coolant, hydraulic fluid and other dangerous liquids.

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19. Security guard 

Fatal injuries: 63

Average salary: $33,030 (£23,690) 

Security guards either work for the government, an individual or an organisation to protect assets, belongings or persons. They are often faced with precarious situations like robberies, attacks and abusive behaviour, putting them in a constantly risky position which requires them to always be on high alert.

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18. Military personnel

Fatal injuries: 65

Average salary: Varies

It comes as no surprise that military personnel are included in this list. Indeed, this is an occupation that places you in dangerous situations on a daily basis. Besides those who work on the field fighting wars, any military member is at some form of risk and must always be on guard.

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17. Electrician

Fatal injuries: 68

Average salary: $56,180 (£40,300) 

Electricians install and maintain wiring systems in homes, buildings and roads. It’s a trades job that is in high demand and certain job stability. That said, it’s also a job whose danger can vary depending on the environment that you’re working in. Electricians are often at risk of falling since they mostly work on ladders and are often exposed to toxic materials and potential electrical burns.

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16. Livestock farmworker

Fatal injuries: 73

Average salary: $27,830 (£19,960) 

A livestock farmworker works with animals and performs plenty of duties such as cleaning and feeding the animals, herding the animals during shearing, cleaning their stables, and ensuring the animals get their daily exercise. It’s a physically challenging job that requires lots of manual labour. But besides the laborious duties, livestock farmworkers are at risk of being harmed by one of the animals or the heavy-duty equipment used on the farm.

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15. Commercial pilot

Fatal injuries: 77

Average salary: $86,080 (£61,730) 

Commercial airline pilots are responsible for the safety of the aircraft, passengers and cargo. They must safely fly from and to different locations during all types of weather conditions, which can be quite challenging, especially if something goes wrong during a flight.

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16. Maintenance worker

Fatal injuries: 78

Average salary: $39,080 (£28,020) 

Maintenance workers fix and maintain mechanical equipment, machines, building and railways. Tasks can include painting, plumbing, floor repair, electrical repair or air conditioning maintenance. Maintenance workers tend to work with tricky machinery and sharp tools and be exposed to chemicals, all of which can put them in harm’s way on a daily basis.

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15. Delivery driver

Fatal injuries: 79

Average salary: $34,730 (£24,900) 

Delivery drivers are responsible for transporting goods from sorting locations to customers or businesses. It’s a tiresome job that involved a lot of physical labour; driving, carrying parcels from the van to clients and vice versa. Delivery drivers can often be victims of assault and robbery, which makes this job a dangerous one.

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14. Store manager

Fatal injuries: 81

Average salary: $40,350 (£28,930) 

A store manager is responsible for monitoring the operations of a shop, including hiring and firing of staff, training, budgets, creating business strategies and overseeing customer relations. While it’s a fairly safe role, fatalities may occur in areas where there are many robberies and crimes.

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11. Route sales driver

Fatal injuries: 83

Average salary: $25,860 (£18,540) 

A route sales driver is essentially a sales role in which a person delivers goods to homes and businesses. For example, you may work for a skincare brand delivering goods and products to estheticians; while doing so, you’ll also need to try and upsell and new items that have launched and convince them to sell to their customers. However, like any other job involving travelling long distances, there’s an increased risk of road fatalities.

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10. Police officer

Fatal injuries: 86

Average salary: $63,150 (£42,300) 

As a police officer, you may be required to patrol high-crime area, arrest people who break the law and respond to emergencies. Usurpingly, the role of a police officer is tough and places you in numerous dangerous scenarios every day.

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9. Crops farm worker

Fatal injuries: 87

Average salary: $25,440 (£18,240) 

A crops farmworker plants and maintains crops; they are responsible for planting seeds, watching the produce grow and harvesting them once they are ready. While it can be a curative role, it’s also physically draining for most. Agriculture is considered to be among the most hazardous industries, and injuries are often caused by transportation incidents, particularly tractor overturns.

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8. Arborist

Fatal injuries: 97

Average salary: $39,980 (£28,660) 

An arborist, also known as a tree surgeon, cultivates, manages and studies trees, vines, shrubs and other woody plants. Essentially, they ensure that trees are healthy and not harmful to people’s properties. This occupation comes with its risks; climbing and pruning trees from big heights whilst managing sharp tools in tough weather conditions can often lead to fatal injuries.

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7. Warehouse worker

Fatal injuries: 102

Average salary: $29,510 (£21,160) 

Warehouse workers perform an array of duties, including stock taking, processing, unboxing and organising, picking and filling orders, packing and shipping orders, and general maintenance of the warehouse and product. While you might think that it’s a simple job, warehouse workers are at risk of forklift accidents, loading dock and fall injuries, as well as general overexertion injuries.

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6. Roofer

Fatal injuries: 111

Average salary: $42,100 (£30,180) 

Being a roofer is an extremely challenging job; your days are spent installing and fixing roofs by using various materials, including shingles, asphalt, and metal. Colder months can bring additional challenges that could lead to fatal falls and injuries. While the salary tends to be rewarding, you must have the stamina to do a laborious job day in and day out.

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5. Greenskeeper

Fatal injuries: 124

Average salary: $30,440 (£21,820) 

Greenskeepers are tasked with maintaining golf courses. They are responsible for the upkeep of the turf and soil which golfers play on. The fatality rate here may be surprising, but greenskeepers are at risk of injuries from large equipment or gardening tools, as well as overexertion.

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4. Construction supervisor

Fatal injuries: 136

Average salary: $66,210 (£47,460) 

A construction supervisor oversees the construction activities on a worksite, organising and planning the project, hiring staff, monitoring budgets, and efficiently allocating resources and materials. While they must enforce safety rules for their staff and ensure all safety protocols are followed, they also place themselves in danger of accidents that can happen on-site, such as falling scaffoldings, forklift accidents and collapsing buildings.

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3. Farm manager

Fatal injuries: 238

Average salary: $71,160 (£51,000) 

Farm managers, also known as agricultural farmers, are in charge of day-to-day farm duties, typically managing livestock, produce, equipment and crops. Besides the manual work, they must also take care of administrative duties, including paperwork and invoicing. That said, the laborious side of the job places them in great danger of being harmed by heavy equipment or animals on the farm.

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2. Construction worker

Fatal injuries: 293

Average salary: $36,860 (£26,430) 

Construction workers have a long list of duties, including erecting scaffolding, loading and unloading building materials, removing debris and assisting with mechanical equipment. The work is physically demanding, and some sites may be extremely dangerous. Much like the dangers faced by construction managers, construction workers are often prone to falls, electrocution and broken bones, among other common injuries.

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1. Truck driver

Fatal injuries: 843

Average salary: $45,260 (£32,450) 

Truck drivers spend long hours on the road steering a heavy vehicle. It’s often lonely and dangerous since you can end up feeling sleepy or losing control of the wheel during a long journey. Besides these factors, they must drive in harsh weather conditions, including rain, snow or even extreme heat, often leading to serious accidents, making this the most dangerous job in the world.

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While some of these roles don’t seem dangerous at first thought, data has proven that they can be potentially fatal. Due to several factors, including risky environments, sharp machinery and challenging weather conditions, these are some of the most dangerous jobs in the world.

So, before you embark on any of these career paths, make sure that you’re up for the challenge. 

Did any of the jobs on our list surprise you? What other jobs do you consider dangerous? Let us know in the comments section below. 

This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 3 November 2017. 

Salary information is based on data provided by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Currency conversions are based on rates supplied by on 1 March 2021.