Are you willing to work a dangerous job for a big money pay out? Dangerous jobs come in many different forms, some glamorous and some down and dirty. Dangerous jobs can be found in the dark, cold, deep ocean, thousands of feet up in the clear blue sky and anywhere in between.
In a dangerous job you might chase the bad guy, find the fugitive or drill for black, slimy oil. You might climb the highest pole in a frigid snowstorm or dive into the deepest depths of the ocean. Some dangerous jobs require years of higher education and some are learned on the go.
Is the potential for high pay worth the risk of injury or even death? Do you have to be an adventurous thrill seeker to succeed at a dangerous high paying job? You decide.
Here is a list of dangerous jobs that pay big money (average annual salary listed). See if you have what it takes to earn a big paycheck while working in a dangerous job.
18 Electrical Power Line Installer/Repairs - $58,030
Electric repairmen work in all kinds of weather conditions including winter storms, thunderstorms and intense heat. They must climb high poles, work with high electrical voltage and work all hours of the day and night. When power lines are knocked out of service from natural or human causes, the electric repairmen are the ones who must show up and fix the problem.
We have all experienced power outages and while it is inconvenient, it can also be dangerous to the sick, elderly and very young. Most power outages are fixed quickly but in some instances such as storms, it may take several days for the power to be repaired. We rely on our electricity much more than we realize and it is only after having the electricity off for several hours or even days that we remember to appreciate what we normally take for granted such as lights, heat/air-conditioning, TV and outlets to charge all of our devices.
17 Construction Foreman - $59,700
A construction foreman is the person in charge of the construction crew and is usually the person in charge of making sure that every aspect of the construction runs smoothly from start to finish. This may include the budget for the project, personnel working on the project, customer service, administrative duties such as planning the work and ordering materials needed and the construction foreman is responsible for the completion of the work.
The construction foreman is also the person in charge of the quality of the building. The construction project could be small or large. The project might be to build one house, or it might be to build an entire housing complex. It could be to build an office tower or retail shopping mall. The pay scale will reflect the size of the project that is to be built along with the previous experience of the foreman.
16 Crab Fisherman - $60,000
Crab fishermen are commercial fishermen who work in the freezing cold with icy sea conditions, no sleep and at the mercy of the sea and their co-workers. Some co-workers are very experienced and some come to the job with no experience at all and must learn the skills from the other deck hands. They may have instances where their fishing expeditions are unsuccessful and disappointing or they may experience full crab pots and great success.
Bigger boats can hold more crab pots so the possibility of earning more money is greater on a bigger boat. However, bigger boats require hiring more deckhands so there are more people to split the profit with. Crab fisherman typically fish in Alaska on the Bering Sea in the fall and winter.
15 Commercial Diver - $64,900
Commercial divers dive under water to work on construction projects. There are many different types of commercial divers: offshore, inland, hazmat, nuclear, scientific, media, military and police.
The most common type of commercial diver is the offshore diver who works in the oil industry helping to maintain and build oil platforms and underwater structures. They live on the oil platforms for long periods of time and they work long, hard hours.
An inland diver works with civil engineers on projects from a land-based site. These projects would include structures on lakes, rivers and dams around mostly freshwater.
Hazmat divers dive into contaminated waters such as sewers, polluted waters and waters with chemical spills. Because hazmat divers are usually working in contaminated conditions, it is very dangerous and divers need to wear special equipment and have special certifications.
Nuclear diving is very similar to hazmat diving, however nuclear divers also work with radiation contamination.
Scientific divers are qualified scientists who are also certified divers. These divers conduct scientific exploration, observation and testing of marine sciences, which include marine biology, marine chemistry, underwater archeology and geology.
A media diver is involved in underwater photography and cinematography for T.V. and movies.
Military diving is performed by members of the military and includes ship inspection and underwater maintenance, underwater salvage of down military equipment, underwater mine clearance and military research and development.
Police divers are police officers that recover evidence from waterways and ships.
14 CIA Agent - $68,820
A Central Intelligence Agent monitors and analyzes national security information from all over the world in order to keep Americans and America safe. The CIA is the only agency authorized by law to carry out covert action. There are many departments within the CIA including clandestine service, engineering, security and science technology. The main function of the CIA is to perform covert operations, collect, analyze and evaluate foreign intelligence.
The CIA deals with counterterrorism, weapons of mass destruction, counterintelligence and cyber intelligence. There are many requirements to becoming a CIA agent and the requirements differ depending on which area of the CIA you want to be involved in. There are operations officers, collection management officers, staff operations officers and specialized skills.
There are different training programs for each area, like The Professional Trainee Program and The Clandestine Service Program. There are background checks, age limits/requirements and education requirements. Once accepted into the 18-month training program, there is no guarantee that you will make it through the training to become an agent.
13 Bodyguard - $70,000
Personal bodyguards protect people from danger such as kidnapping, assault, theft, harassment, threats and even death. A bodyguard may also be involved in securing locations, planning an outing, searching and pre-searching rooms or buildings and performing background checks on people in contact with their employer.
A bodyguard may also be referred to as personal security, security specialist or a close protection officer. A group of bodyguards is referred to as a security detail. A bodyguard may work for an agency or freelance.
Bodyguards often work long hours, weekends, evenings and holidays. The salary can vary greatly depending on the skills brought to the job, as well as the degree of danger that may be involved in guarding a particular person, group of people or location such as restaurants, hotels and casinos.
12 Stuntman - $70,000
Stuntmen are needed in movies and TV shows. It’s a hard industry to break into but once you’re in, you might earn a year's salary in only a couple of stunts. Stuntmen need to have a wide range of skills such as driving, falling, fighting, sky diving, scuba diving, gymnastics, rock-climbing and water skills. Stuntman must be in excellent physical condition and they must be willing to work long hours and travel often.
Most stuntmen learn skills from other experienced stuntmen; however, there are schools and classes offered in various areas such as weapons fighting or karate. Stuntmen work long hours in near and far locations with real and movie magic dangers around every corner.
11 Elevator Mechanic - $70,000
An elevator mechanic is tough, physical work in small, dark, cramped spaces with electric installations, often times at great heights and with heavy equipment. An elevator mechanic must be able to install, maintain, repair and replace elevators, escalators and moving walkways.
Elevator mechanics must have the proper education, licensing and certifications. Most mechanics go through an apprenticeship program that can take up to 4 years to complete. Depending on the job, some elevator mechanics may work on a team or alone. Elevator mechanics may also be on call to handle emergencies that arise.
10 Ironworker - $70,000
Ironworkers work with steel and iron in many ways, such as structural steel framework for buildings, stadiums, bridges, etc. Ironworkers are also called journeymen and they work in teams to accomplish a job.
Ironworkers must go through an apprenticeship program as well as take classes to learn the trade. They work in unpredictable weather conditions and typically at great heights. It is physically demanding work with heavy equipment and heavy material.
They must also have a good sense of balance and they might work for commercial construction builders, heavy construction companies or metal fabricating businesses.
9 Nuclear Power Operator - $75,650
A nuclear power operator is in charge of controlling and operating the equipment that distributes electric power at a nuclear power plant. Nuclear power plants are owned by either local governments or private companies. Nuclear power plant operators must meet educational requirements and be properly licensed.
An operator must oversee and monitor systems and controls of the nuclear reactor, which can change the power level. They must make adjustments when needed and they must perform routine maintenance and refueling operations. They must also react during emergencies to protect the public. Power plants have high security and must be monitored at all times, so the operators usually work in shifts around the clock.
8 FBI Agent - $77,100
An FBI agent works for the intelligence and security service of the United States, investigating federal crimes. Federal crimes can consist of financial crimes, white-collar crimes, drug trafficking and kidnapping. FBI agents are educated in law, ethics, behavioral science, forensic science, administrative, foreign language, forensic accounting, business, computer technology investigative and intelligence techniques. They must be trained in academics, case exercises, firearms and operational skills. An FBI agent must be in good physical condition and willing to travel or relocate.
7 Bounty Hunter - $100,000
A Bounty Hunter must search for and find fugitives and bring them into custody to collect the bounty. When a person is charged with a crime, often times bail is set, where the accused person can pay a certain amount of money (bail) to get out of jail while they are waiting for their trial. If the accused person cannot afford the bail, they can hire a bail bondsman who will put up the money for an additional fee.
The bail acts as insurance that the accused person will show up for their trial. If the accused person does not show up for trial, the bail bondsman has to pay all of the money that was posted for bail. At that point, the bail bondsman will hire a bounty hunter to locate the missing, accused person (fugitive).
Most bounty hunters earn a percentage of the fugitive's bail amount. However, bounty hunter regulations and licensing requirements vary from state to state and it's even illegal in some states. Bounty hunters should be physically fit and have self-defense and firearm training. There are some states that do not allow bounty hunters to carry firearms.
Bounty hunters work long, hard hours, find themselves in dangerous neighborhoods and around dangerous criminals who may have a violent background and find themselves in a desperate situation.
6 Oil Well Driller - $101,000
There are two types of oil wells, land based and ocean based. Both off shore and on shore oil well drillers face uncertain weather conditions and long, hard working hours pumping oil from the ground. The shifts are usually 12 hours long for 7 to 14 days. The driller is in charge of a team who is running an oil rig and the driller monitors safety hazards. The work is physically demanding in often inclement weather with a high degree of danger. The company that hires the oil well driller usually trains him and there are safety certifications that may be required as well as an apprenticeship program.
5 Airline Pilot - $114,200
While airline travel is considered safe, being an airline pilot is one of the most dangerous jobs because of the possibility of malfunctioning equipment, especially during take off and landing. Airline pilots must have a bachelor’s degree, log in a certain number of hours in flight, obtain a commercial pilot’s license and airline certifications and gain experience, in order to advance. Many airline pilots also have military training.
4 Air Traffic Controller - $122,530
An air traffic controller works in a control tower and monitors airplane traffic to make sure the airplanes stay safe. Air traffic controllers update pilots on weather conditions, monitor the altitude, direction and speed of the airplane, communicate with pilots on take off and landing and respond appropriately in an emergency.
While the air traffic controller is not in danger at work, it is a high stress job due to the responsibility of keeping so many people out of danger and safe. Air traffic controller’s must apply and if accepted, attend the FAA Academy. The FAA Academy is the only training center and is located in Oklahoma City, OK.
There are many prerequisites to being accepted into the academy, one of which is age. All applicants must be younger than 31 years old. If accepted to attend the academy, there is no tuition, as all fees are covered by the U.S. Government.
3 Petroleum Engineer - $130,280
A petroleum engineer designs drills and other methods to extract crude oil and natural gas from the earth. A petroleum engineer has a background in chemistry, physics, engineering and mining and must spend their days in the desert heat, Arctic cold or deep ocean.
A petroleum engineer works with geologists to determine the potential at new drilling sites, monitors the production at existing sites and works on strategies to improve that production. They will research new methods and must be able to work with others at the drilling sites.
There is an increasing new demand for petroleum engineering in environmental clean up and underground waste disposal. To be an environmental engineer you must first be a petroleum engineer. Petroleum engineers work in both laboratories and at drilling sites.
2 Submarine Cook - $175,000
A submarine cook is considered an important position because food is one of the only things Navy men have to look forward to when they are at sea for long periods of time. Because of the confined space and long periods of time at sea, it is also a job that not many people want to do. A submarine cook must spend much of his time cooking in a small, hot, stuffy space for many hungry people with no access to supplies other than what is on the submarine.
A submarine cook's base pay is not that high but then there are allowances and bonuses added to the base pay, which increase the total salary substantially. For example, submarine cooks are known as “individuals critical to the Navy” and thus, get a bonus added to their salary. There is also something known as a seagoing allowance, submarine service allowance and if the cook has experience, there is a bonus for experience. There are usually three cooks on the ship. They say submarine cooks are often the highest paid position on the submarine.
1 Airplane Repossessor - $ 100,000 +
An aircraft repossessor is a pilot who is licensed to fly many different types of airplanes and is hired by the bank when an owner cannot pay his bills. The repo man has to find the plane, make sure it’s flyable and basically steal it back for the bank.
There are many things that can go wrong including the owner or security showing up and thinking the repo man is stealing the plane. The type of airplanes that are repossessed can be anything from a crop duster to a corporate jet to a commercial aircraft.
There are banks that specialize in making airplane loans and when the loans are not paid back the bank calls in the repo man. Airplane repossessors are paid a commission on the resale price of each plane they repossess, which can add up to a hefty sum. The economy plays a big role in how many airplane owners have trouble meeting their loan agreements.
In times of recession, there may be a lot of banks contacting repossessors. An airplane repossessor has to be willing and able to travel all over the world, have excellent detective skills, nerves of steel and the willingness to walk away from the repossession when things get too heated. People do not like having their airplanes repossessed.
Sources: payscale.com, finance.yahoo.com, businessinsider.com, chicagotribune.com
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