Most Dangerous Trade Occupations

Find your degree

Online College Plan is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Almost everyone goes to work every day, and if you don’t go to work you probably go to school for a profession that you will be working in the future. There are hundreds of thousands of jobs to be had. From accountants to actors, bartenders to business owners and fashion designers to firefighters there is a profession for everything.

RELATED FEATURE: ☞ Highest Paying Trade School Jobs

Most jobs consist of a 40 or so hour weekly schedule, a consistent task that needs to be completed every day and most likely an irritating supervisor. For the most part, no one really feels threatened at their place of work. Sure you may have a few annoying co-workers, maybe a tiresome schedule and as aforementioned an annoying boss, but it’s not like you’re life is in danger.

Surprisingly that isn’t exactly true for everybody. There are jobs out there where people not only get seriously injured while working but also die. Some of the jobs are ones some would expect. Construction workers around heavy equipment, miners working in perilous caves and fishermen working long hours in the unforgiving sea.

While those jobs may have danger basically in the job description there are plenty of other occupations that may seem ordinary that hide deadly secrets. In this article, there will be thirty entries of vocational jobs that pose the biggest risk to there employees. While some jobs may be more dangerous than others all thirty have a chance of fatality. Some of the deaths caused by these jobs include suffocation, cancer and even being crushed to death.

Most Dangerous Vocational Jobs


Commercial Fisherman

Annual Fatalities


Average Salary


When most people think of fishing, they probably imagine a rather peaceful activity. Whether it be sitting on the shore of a serine laker or floating in the beautiful and mysterious ocean, fishing can seem like a nice break from the everyday hustle and bustle.

According to the stats found by The National Institute of Occupational Safety, a commercial fisherman seems to be one of the most dangerous jobs on the planet.

The aforementioned institute did a study recording fatal falls overboard in commercial fishing. The study determined that there were about 83 deaths for every 100,000 employees. That workplace fatality rate is 23 times higher than all other U.S.-based workers.


Airline Pilot

Annual Fatalities


Average Salary


Being a pilot is another job that comes with its share of danger. Most people probably assume that plane crashes accounts could result in a high fatality rate. In actuality, the real risk of being a pilot has nothing to do with fatal crashes.

On any given day, a pilot could be responsible for hundreds or even thousands of lives. For most people, this causes a massive amount of stress.

Heart Disease is one of the main side effects of a high-stress lifestyle which could very easily lead to death or other serious health conditions. Other potential health risks faced by pilots include dehydration and an increased chance of skin cancer.



Annual Fatalities


Average Salary


Being the person who roofs a building is an incredibly dangerous task. Not only do roofers have to worry about falling off roofs and receiving potentially fatal injuries, but there are several other nasty working factors that make the job even more of a pain.

Some of those dangers include loose electrical wires, bad weather and having to use harmful chemicals.

These factors have led to a fatal injury rate of 48.6 out of every 100,000 employees All of those aspects have led to roofing as a profession being ranked as the fourth most dangerous job by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


Semi Truck Drivers

Annual Fatalities


Average Salary


Driving is one of the more dangerous things people do every day. According to a study by Driver Knowledge there are around 2 million car accidents each year that result in permanent injury. Now take the already dangerous act of driving a motorized vehicle and make the vehicle less predictable, have the drivers be behind the wheel for a longer period of time and add the variety of health risks that come from sitting for long periods of time and most will be able to see the risks of being a professional truck driver.

A study by The Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded 840 fatal car accidents involving truck drivers in one year. Unfortunately, the crashes are just a piece of the pie that represents the deadly profession that is truck driving. An article by The Better Health Channel claims that sitting for too long has several negative health effects. Some of those scary side effects are heart disease, diabetes and even cancer.



Annual Fatalities


Average Salary


Farming is a huge part of how society and the economy run. The job is no easy task of course and requires a disconnect from the big cities in favor of more rural vegetation heavy areas. The sacrifice of a big city lifestyle is not the only problem that plagues farmers. The farm is actually an incredibly dangerous place of work. The CDC stated that in one year, there were 417 farmers who perished from work-related injuries.

Perhaps the scariest cause of farm-related deaths involves grain bins. The state of the grain in the bin acts like quicksand and if one were to fall in death by suffocation is a likely outcome. Though grain like quicksand may be terrifying a much more plausible danger comes in tracker turnovers which accounts for most farm injuries and fatalities.


Taxi, Uber, & Lyft Drivers

Annual Fatalities


Average Salary


A common expression shared with nervous flyers is that you have a higher chance of dying on the way to the airport, than on the actual flight itself. That expression is actually true. According to an article on Fly Confidently you’re odds of dying in a plane crash are around 1 in 5 million.

On the other side of the coin your odds of dying in a car crash, as the New York Times puts it, are 1 in 103. While knowing those stats it’s no surprise that taxi and transportation drivers are at high risk every day.

Driving alone is dangerous enough and with transportation workers driving such large amounts, along with dealing with many unsavory characters throughout the day.


Police Officer

Annual Fatalities


Average Salary


This entry on the list probably comes to no surprise. Police officer’s main objective involves putting themselves in dangerous situations, in order to protect others. Dealing with dangerous and unpredictable people is a scar reality that comes with the profession. FBI data suggests that the rate of police officer deaths at the hands of others has increased exponentially.

Police officers also spend a lot of time driving, which from previous entries on this list, can be deceivingly dangerous. Police also have several health risks that come from extremely stressful situations and the inconsistency of their work schedules.

More Trade School Resources



Annual Fatalities


Average Salary


For those who do not know, steelworkers are those responsible for building the outside metal framing of buildings. The job involves heavy materials, sometimes high heights and large machinery. The fact that most people in the industry work from such high places is the number one cause of injury in the field.

A small trip could result in a terrible injury or possibly death. The equipment they work also causes injuries and fatalities usually due to user error or accidents. Perhaps a not often considered threat is hearing loss. The loud environment that the workers are subjected too can cause severe hearing problems when the right precautions are not taken. Even without the full loss of hearing constant loud noises are proven to cause severe anxiety in some individuals.


Construction Workers

Annual Fatalities


Annual Salary


Construction workers share some of the same hazards as steelworkers. From working around large machinery, loud environments and even being high in the air, the two professions have a lot of similarities. Just like steelworkers, the most common injuries for construction employees come from broken and fractured bones after a fall.

It is also common for construction workers to face all kinds of joint and muscle damage caused by lifting and manually moving heavy objects for long periods of time. Lacerations caused by sharp objects are also common in the profession. PTSD is also reported in some construction workers. A construction worker’s PTSD is usually caused by experiencing horrifying events at the employee’s place of work, but still having to continue work.


Telecommunication Line Installer

Annual Fatalities


Average Salary


Most everyone has a cell phone and uses it heavily. Sure a lot of those uses are arbitrary such as social media, internet surfing and youtube videos. But the phone is also a valuable tool for communication. Without the phone towers and lines seen in almost any city, most phones would fail to serve their purpose of communication.

The folks who choose to work in the profession of setting up our phone lines are called telecommunication line installers. These workers perform a much-needed task that comes with a slew of risks. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that there were 44 deaths in one year and over 6,200 injuries.



Annual Fatalities


Annual Salary


Being a professional painter is a job that most probably considers harmless. Surprisingly painting for a professional comes with several shocking disadvantages. Painters face deadly heights on a daily basis and that’s where a majority of their fatalities come from. A side effect that is almost exclusively in the field is painter’s dementia.

Painter dementia is caused by the inhalation of harmful paint fumes and causes inhalants to forget how to do common everyday tasks. Inhaling paint fumes also leads to asthma, cancer and even fertility problems. In regards to inhaling paint fumes causing cancer, recent science has stated that painters are 20% more likely than the average individual to be diagnosed with cancer.



Annual Fatalities

3.6 per 100,000

Annual Salary


For anyone who has ever had a car problem that needed swift assistance auto mechanics are a godsend. With the intricate and hard to understand designs of modern vehicles, it’s clear that auto mechanics have to have intelligent. What most people fail to realize is the danger involved with the occupation. Mechanics are constantly working with heavy equipment and vehicles and injury is common. With the conditions mechanics have to work in physical ailments are common in employes.

Another fact not commonly known outside of the profession is that mechanics sometimes have to work around asbestos. Asbestos is found on breaks of car parts and exposure to the chemical can cause death. Auto mechanics also work with dangerous substances such as battery acid, hot oil and coolant on the regular.



Annual Fatalities


Annual Salary


Carpentry is a profession that is as old as time. The job has been around forever and the business still lives on today. Though safety regulations are probably a bit better today than in the 1700s the job comes with some risk. Carpenters similar to construction workers are outside for most of their work days. The weather is one of the huge risks that come with the job. Working in extreme heat can easily lead to heat stroke, while working in cold weather can lead to severe cases of frostbite. Carpenters are also around harmful materials such as formaldehyde, solvents and wood dust that is linked to cancer.



Annual Fatalities

5 in every 3,000

Annual Salary


Welding is a job that may not be desirable to most. Using a scalding hot welder on metal with sparks flying all around you sounds dangerous enough to deter most from the profession. For those people who do choose to pursue a career in welding there are certain risks that go beyond their welding tool that comes with the job. Welders work around many objects that carry an electric charge. One of the most serious injuries that happens occurs when a welder touches that object with bare hands. Electrocution can result in death or terrible injuries. Welders also breath in a majority of different fumes made from the smoldering metal. Working around flammable and combustible materials also provides a serious risk for heat related injury.


Security Guard

Annual Fatalities


Annual Salary


If you’ve ever been to a concert, club or high profile sporting event you’ve probably encountered a security guard. While at first glance it may seem like a safer alternative to being in the police force, security guards face many of their own challenges. Security guards may work at a variety of different venues, with a variety of different regulations. The regulations and safety protocols are controlled by the venues. So depending on where the security guard is stationed he may be in more risk of a confrontation because of the venue operators.

Security guards are also known to work with canines who without the right training can prove to be dangerous. Another not necessarily commonly known risk of the security guard involves hospitals. If a security guard is stationed at a hospital they may face severe health risks regarding radiation. Of course, the biggest risk for the profession comes in the form of people. People are unpredictable and every encounter is potentially dangerous.



Annual Fatalities


Annual Salary


With the recent fires on the west coast of the United States, citizens of the country are realizing how brave and selfless firefighters truly are. The damages a firefighter puts their body through can be severe. From smoke inhalation to burns there is no easy way to do the job. The immediate effects may be obvious to most, but firefighters are also known to suffer from asthma, cancer and various other ailments.

While most recognize the physical trauma a firefighter is at risk of, some may forget the mental damage that could occur. It isn’t out of the ordinary for a firefighter to encounter a scenario that has a large amount of people being injured or succumbing to death. This leads to high levels of stress and even PTSD.



Annual Fatalities


Annual Salary


Moving is always a hassle. You’ve already went through the process of finding a new place to live and potentially putting your now old home on the market, and now there are loads of heavy furniture to transport to your new home sweet home. That’s where movers come in. These people’s profession involves lifting and transporting furniture from one place to another. Though it may sound simple, there are plenty of risks that come with heavy lifting. When it comes to objects such as large couches and pianos a simple mistake could realistically cost a mover his life. While a fatal injury isn’t likely, lifting such heavy objects can cause body injuries that last a lifetime. 



Annual Fatalities


Annual Salary


Plumbing is a job that, to most, may not seem fun but doesn’t appear dangerous. Surprisingly plumbers face a series of risks on a daily basis that would scare most people. Plumbers will commonly find themselves in confined spaces while on duty, these tight spaces aren’t only nightmare fuel for claustrophobic individuals, but could pose a serious threat. If the area doesn’t have a sufficient level of oxygen the plumber could suffer from a number of different conditions or even die.

Just like mechanics plumbers are also forced to be around asbestos at their place of work. While asbestos is now widely known to cause respiratory problems many building owners aren’t sure about the history of their property, resulting in plumbers being in close contact with the hazardous material.


Sales Representatives

Annual Fatalities


Annual Salary


Being a sales representative may seem like a pretty sweet gig. Sitting in an office, getting a commission for your performance and no manual labor may sound like a dream to some folks. Unfortunately, while sales workers don’t face many physical risks mental risks are common in the industry. In an environment where it’s every man for himself and the weakest link is either mocked or fired it’s no wonder depression is common in the profession.

The A-type personalities who have no problem harassing folks until they either get the sale or hang up have no problems in the sales business. For those who are a little more anti-social and decide politeness is the way to approach a sales position. They usually have poorer numbers and are vilified for their polite behavior. When someone is demonized for just being themselves, it creates a complex that can sometimes lead to depression. The job also has the employees on their butts for most of the day and sitting for long periods of time can lead to heart failure. 


Food Service Workers

Annual Fatalities


Annual Salary


Millions of people across the world work in fast food restaurants, as waiters and chefs. These jobs might not seem overly dangerous but they have their own serious risks. As far as the chefs go their risk will be obvious to most. Burns happen all the time and though most are minor some can have long term cosmetic effects on a person, that may affect their lifestyle. The waiters in the equations aren’t safe either as falls can cause a serious amount of damage. A CDC study states that 1 out of every 5 falls causes a severe injury. The same study states that nearly 800,000 people are hospitalized with a fall every year. 



Annual Fatalities


Annual Salary


Most people when they hear the word “logging” probably thing of lumberjacks with red flannels, burly beards and a huge person with a huge build. Considering the job is one of the most dangerous in the world, the aforementioned predictions may not be far off. Some of the most recent studies suggest that logging is the most dangerous job in America. 135.9 deaths per every 100,000 workers, makes logging the job with the highest fatality rate. The reason for death isn’t exactly a secret. The workers not only use large equipment but they are consistently cutting down massive trees that crush everything in their path. 


Wastewater Treatment Workers

Annual Fatalities


Annual Salary


This is a job that may not be familiar to anyone. Though one may not be familiar with the job, there is a need for a wastewater treatment workers in every community. Just the name of the job sounds a bit nasty, but there are several health risks that come with the title. With not much information known about the job it may surprise you that one of the risks is as easy as just tripping. If someone were to trip into one of the many water tanks drowning is a likely outcome.

The plants these people work at also suffer from a lack of oxygen and an overabundance of methane and hydrogen sulfide. Not only is this harmful to the person’s lungs, but with a spark of fire could lead to an explosion within the factory. 


Oil Rig Workers

Annual Fatalities


Annual Salary


Working on an oil rig is expectedly hard work. The average work day for a person in the profession is 12 hours. Along with the long days, they are also involved in exclusively manual labor. The labor alone is a risk on one’s health. Neck and back injuries are common, not to mention the stress of working around a combustible material for 54 hours or so a week. The job also features heavy equipment such as cranes constantly moving around working employees. According to statistics gathered by the Center for Disease Control, 30.4 oil workers out of every 100,000 suffer from fatal injuries while working. Most of the deaths occur because of a combination of a dangerous work environment and the high pressure the job entails.



Annual Fatalities


Annual Salary


Just picturing a mine is unpleasant for some people. A cold dark cave with workers being lowered down from high heights, and all manual labor. The seven dwarfs do a decent job of making the job look a bit less threatening with all the singing, but the realities of the profession don’t usually invoke joyful tunes. Miners are not only at risk of cave-ins, equipment problems and even explosions but they also face a risk of respiratory problems. Mining facilities are sometimes known to produce dust, radon and welding fumes. All three of those potential inhalants may lead to a variety of health conditions including cancer. 


Chemical Plant Workers

Annual Fatalities


Annual Salary


Chemical plant work may sound interesting to some. Some folks may have thoughts of Homer Simpson munching on donuts while slacking off at work or perhaps the Joker diving into vats of chemicals. The truth to these aren’t plants are nothing of the sort. If one were to just simply walk into a chemical plant the dangers would become clear. Between the toxic chemical fumes that can be inhaled, and the danger that a mere trip entails chemical plants just scream danger. Fortunately, the conditions have gotten much better throughout the year. In the 1900’s chemical plants were known to use asbestos in the workplace.


Grounds Maintenance

Annual Fatalities


Annual Salary


Working on ground and maintenance seems like a job that may be hard but not necessarily dangerous. But between being outside for long hours in all sorts of weather and using various chemicals on weeds the job is more dangerous than most would think. Certain weed killers have recently been linked to breast cancer. If someone were to work with that weed killer for up to 8 hours a day they would almost certainly be at risk for the aforementioned breast cancer.

Besides the chemicals, the workers will also be doing manual labor in the heat. This makes heat stroke a possibility for the workers. Having a heat stroke is incredibly damaging to one’s health and may lead to future ailments.


Elevator Mechanics

Annual Fatalities


Annual Salary


Those who work to install elevators and maintain them are at risk of danger at the beginning of every work shift. Not only do they work high in the air but they are also dealing with electricity and the elevator itself, which is a heavy piece of machinery. According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, 173 people were killed in a 10 year period while working on around elevators. The workers are of course at risk of falls that could either cause severe injuries or death, but also burns and other injuries resulting from tight work space. The most terrifying part of working on elevators comes from the fact that just a small mistake could cause you to be crushed to death. 



Annual Fatalities


Annual Salary


For those who do not know an embalmer is someone who washes and disinfects dead bodies. While the job is not necessarily the dream job for most everyone it is important. Funerals and viewing are important to a lot of folks out there. The last look at a loved one and learning to accept death as something that is a natural part of our planet is hard for a lot of people. Being able to see their loved one, one last time is an important part of how people live their lives.

Besides from the job of an embalmer being a bit disturbing there is actually a scary side-effect to the profession. Most people who work as embalmers are exposed to a dangerous chemical called formaldehyde. Prolonged exposure to the chemical can cause serious health effects.


Garbage Man

Annual Fatalities

90 per 100,000

Annual Salary


It’s hard to see the desire to be a garbage man. Most of us, who aren’t garbage workers ourselves, wake up early in the morning well after the garbage man has already stopped by and done his duty. The job entails working with smelly garbage, being up at incredibly early hours of the day and driving long periods of time.

Though the job seems a bit unfavorably our society is lucky there are people there to take on the task. Besides the obvious downsides to the job there are several different health risks. The workers are required to lift heavy objects, work around all sorts of different hazardous materials and even deal with pests.


Refrigerator Mechanic

Annual Fatalities


Annual Salary


This is definitely a strange one. A fridge is something that almost no one relates to danger. When most people think of their fridge they probably get thoughts of delectable food, carbonated drinks and maybe even fresh fruit. The reality is that a refrigerator is a heavy machine that has more to it than meets the eye. The person who is to install the fridge is dealing with an incredibly heavy object. If a fridge were to fall on someone it could potentially cause serious injury. More danger is brought into the equation considering installing a fridge requires electricity. As mentioned previously in the list, electricity is incredibly deadly when not handled properly. 

In Conclusion

From fisherman to fridge installers, sales representatives to security guards and painters to police officers there are a ton of different jobs that involve more risks than most expect. While some occupations like logging, commercial fishing and construction work have there almost obvious physical danger. A lot of other jobs share mental dangers that are equally concerning. The saddest part of the article is a lot of the dangers everyday people face at the workplace can be prevented. 

On the mental side of things, the management at sales and food service companies need to apply stronger action to protect the mental stability of their workers. As for physical injury, a lot of respiratory problems have been reported from the inhalation of harmful materials and chemicals. This could be prevented with the proper precaution and needs to be enforced more regularly.

With so many vocational jobs posing a danger factor it makes jobs obtained through education even more alluring. Sure a teacher may have to deal with snot-nosed kids and lousy pay, depending on where they are at, but at least they don’t have to worry about getting smashed by an elevator.

Yes, a lawyer may have to put hundreds of hours into a case he knows he won’t be able to solve, but he probably won’t be at risk of a tree falling on him. Unfortunately, though the society needs people to work trade jobs. Our society could survive without farmers, policemen and wastewater treatment workers. That’s why there needs to be more of an effort to protect the employees of some of the world’s most dangerous jobs.