Some people are drawn to a dangerous job or career path because they are adventurous thrill seekers, while others may gravitate to the same profession because it pays well and doesn’t require a college degree. Obviously not every high risk job is going to be open to those without a college degree, but there is a surprising number of $50K+ careers where experience is preferred over a college education. Here’s a list of five extremely hazardous vocations that pay well, some requiring a degree and some not.
Yes, this is a job, and yes, it can be dangerous. It’s different than vehicle repossession, which is a dangerous job in and of itself, because airplane repossession involves dealing with the private bodyguards of the wealthy, estate trespassing issues, airport security, airplane safety (has it been maintained? can it even be flown?) and a litany of other obstacles. The pay is great, though. It’s commission-based, so depending on the planes value, a person in this line of work can earn between $10,000 and $90,000 per job.
Speaking of flying, airplane pilots themselves have dangerous jobs, especially those who fly private aircraft. Not only is the job dangerous, but liability is a big factor as well. If a pilot does crash, but survives the plane accident, he or she faces the danger of litigation. For example, if a pilot crash landed at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas, he could expect to hear from a Houston wrongful death attorney, regardless of whether or not he did everything right. Just as driving a vehicle with passengers carries an inherent risk of liability, so does flying an airplane.
Of course, there are many other risks involved. There are so many dangers, in fact, that compared to the 2012 overall average number of work-related deaths in the U.S. (3.2 for every 100,000), the airplane pilot’s average was an incredible 56.1 per 100,000. The job does pay well though. The average commercial airplane pilot earns about $92,000 a year.
Oil Rig Worker
An oil rig worker has a job that is dangerous and dirty, but the job appeals to so many people because a college degree isn’t required. It does help when it comes to salary though. In 2011, oil rig workers earned an average of a little more than $99,000 a year. Drilling consultants earned well over $200K, but even those who had been on the job for less than a year earned just under $70K on average.
For obvious reasons, a career as an FBI agent is dangerous. Always out to catch the bad guy, agents intentionally put themselves in the line of fire. While there are a lot of desk duties involved, the nature of the pursuit is what makes this one of the most dangerous in the United States. An FBI agent’s salary isn’t bad, with trainees earning about $51,000 a year while in the academy, and then between about $61K and $70K with their first assignment. If the agent is assigned to an area that has a higher than average cost of living (New York, San Francisco), they may also receive a one-time relocation payment of approximately $22,000.
Private Security Contractor
Another dangerous profession that pays well is that of a private security contractor (PSC). Most PSC’s have strong military backgrounds, including special operations. The location and nature of most of the job assignments (protecting diplomats, etc in war zones) makes this an especially dangerous profession since, like an FBI agent, a private security contractor intentionally puts him or herself in the line of fire. Depending on the assignment, and location and experience of the individual, a PSC can earn up to $1,000 a day. The jobs aren’t always consistent and often there are no benefits attached, but for someone looking for a career of adventure and peril, this just may be it.
A job that is inherently dangerous isn’t for the faint of heart. Sometimes they come in the form of property owner neglect and sometimes they’re just obvious. Some of the vocations listed can be considered blue collar, some are white collar, and some don’t require a collar at all. No matter how the jobs are categorized, though, they all have two things in common – they are incredibly dangerous and they pay very well because of it.