Throughout 2020, Americans gained a new appreciation for many previously overlooked laborers, as those delivering food, stocking shelves, and working cash registers were deemed essential workers amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
Yet even before COVID-19, there were millions of Americans working very dangerous jobs that make daily life possible. In 2019, 5,333 American workers were killed on the job. Nearly 3,000 of these injuries were suffered by workers in just 25 different career fields. In these career fields, workers are more than twice as likely to die on the job as the typical worker, making them the most dangerous jobs in the country.
To determine the 25 most dangerous jobs in America, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed fatal injury rates for dozens of occupations from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries program. These occupations are ranked based on the number of fatal injuries in 2019 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers. Full-time equivalent workers is calculated using the number of hours worked in a particular job divided by the hours that would be worked equivalent to working 40 hours a week, 50 weeks in a year. These occupations are ranked based on the number of fatal injuries in 2019 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers.
The majority of the careers on this list fall into three Bureau of Labor Statistics categories — farming, fishing, and forestry; construction and extraction; and installation, maintenance, and repair. These fields often require workers to use heavy machinery as well as work with dangerous animals and potentially hazardous chemicals.
Though these jobs are perilous, many have some benefits. The majority have an annual median wage of over $48,000 — well beyond the U.S. median wage for all jobs in 2019 of $39,810. Most also do not generally require a college education for entry into the field. These are the highest paying jobs you can get without a college degree.
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