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Top 5 Most Dangerous Jobs in the U.S.

Updated September 1, 2014
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Top 5 Most Dangerous Jobs in the U.S.

The United States Labor Department keeps tracks of how many people work in each profession, and even how many of them die each year on the job.

2012 is the latest year where this kind of data is available.  In that year, 4,628 Americans died due to their jobs.  While it sounds like a lot, statistically speaking, it isn't.  According to the U.S. Labor Department, Americans worked more than 264 billion hours in 2012 and there were 3.4 fatalities per 100,000 full-time U.S. workers that year.

But it's still very clear that some jobs are riskier than others.  For example:

  • 3 of every 100,000 full-time employees die in a bar or drinking establishment each year.
  • 15 of every 100,000 full-time landscapers die (the same number as police officers).
  • 25 of every 100,000 full-time truck drivers die on the job.


Here are the top five most dangerous jobs:

1.  Underwater Welder

  • 15% fatality rate (1,000 times more dangerous than law enforcement).
  • Salaries range from $58,600 to $94,600 a year.

2.  Astronaut

  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't actually track this category, but 30 out of 550 astronauts have died (between the U.S. and Russia) either in flight or training (22 of the 30 were Americans).  You have around a 1 in 20 chance of surviving space flight.  Stats provided by CNBC.
  • Salary starts at $64,724 per year and can go up to $141,715 per year.

3.  Lumberjacks

  • 130 deaths per 100,000 (but there aren't 100,000 loggers, so 63 actually died in the year 2012).
  • Median pay is $33,630.

4.  Fisherman

  • 121 deaths per 100,000.
  • Median pay is $33,430.

5.  Pilots

  • 54 deaths per 100,000.
  • Median salary is $114,200.

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