Special Report

24 Jobs That Could Ruin Your Hearing

Source: flisk / iStock via Getty Images

24. Musicians, singers, and related workers
> Average decibel level: 88.3 dBA (1.9% lower than the OSHA limit)
> Total employment, 2019: 51,710
> Annual median wage: N/A

As you might expect, musicians, singers, and other people who make music for a living are often exposed to loud noises for extended periods of time. These musicians are often near loud instruments and speakers that are loud enough to project sound throughout venues.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that the typical worker in this industry is exposed to sounds that average 88.3 decibels throughout an eight hour workday. OSHA wants all jobs in which employees are exposed to noise levels of an average of 85 decibels or higher for a full day to provide workers with a hearing conservation program. OSHA’s permissible exposure limit for all workers is 90 decibels.

Source: Group4 Studio / E+ via Getty Images

23. Multiple machine tool setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic
> Average decibel level: 88.3 dBA (1.9% lower than the OSHA limit)
> Total employment, 2019: 146,950
> Annual median wage: $36,330

Workers in this occupation set up, operate, and tend to cutting and shaping machines used in metal and plastic production. These machines are often loud, making the occupation one of the noisiest in America, with an average of over 88 decibels in a typical workday. For context, a normal conversation exists at around 60 decibels, and a running lawn mower produces around 90 decibels.

OSHA found that, among the 2,100 measurements it took for machine tool operators in recent decades, nearly half exceeded the permissible exposure limit of 90 decibels.

Source: GCShutter / E+ via Getty Images

22. Miscellaneous food processing workers
> Average decibel level: 88.4 dBA (1.7% lower than the OSHA limit)
> Total employment, 2019: 253,140
> Annual median wage: $30,200

Miscellaneous food processing workers are in jobs that require them to operate machines that roast, bake, and cook food, as well as operate equipment that blends ingredients. These machines are frequently large and loud, and these workers are in one of just a handful of jobs in which the noise level of the average workday exceeds 88 decibels.

Food processing workers are much more likely than the typical worker to experience hearing loss due to their job. Some types of food processors report hearing loss rates of more than 30 cases per 10,000 full-time workers. For context, the hearing loss rate for all private industry jobs is 1.8 per 10,000.

Source: AvailableLight / iStock via Getty Images

21. Pumping station operators
> Average decibel level: 88.4 dBA (1.7% lower than the OSHA limit)
> Total employment, 2019: 26,420
> Annual median wage: $52,240

Pumping station operators can work a variety of jobs around wells that pump resources like butane, nitrogen, hydrogen, and natural gas. The machinery needed to extract these resources tend to be loud, and even though the average decibel level comes in just under the maximum permissible level of 90 dBA, most OSHA measurements of these work environments exceeded that level.

Pumping station operator jobs come with many hazards, and workers must wear protective gear each day, including hearing protection.

Source: alvarez / E+ via Getty Images

20. Conveyor operators and tenders
> Average decibel level: 88.6 dBA (1.6% lower than the OSHA limit)
> Total employment, 2019: 24,050
> Annual median wage: $34,660

Workers in this occupation operate and tend to conveyor belts that move materials and products. These workers are most commonly employed in warehouses, mines, mills, and other manufacturing plants — all of which utilize noisy machinery throughout the day.

With an average decibel level of 88.6 dBA, these workers operate just below the maximum threshold of an average noise level of 90 dBA. Though most workplaces in this occupation operate under this threshold, more than 80% operate above 85 dBA, the level at which workplaces are encouraged to provide hearing protection.

Sponsored: Tips for Investing

A financial advisor can help you understand the advantages and disadvantages of investment properties. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

Investing in real estate can diversify your portfolio. But expanding your horizons may add additional costs. If you’re an investor looking to minimize expenses, consider checking out online brokerages. They often offer low investment fees, helping you maximize your profit.