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Reasons Why People Choose Risky Jobs

Not many truly realize the risks some people face daily and still perform a job with skill and competence. People in safe occupations can’t relate. Meanwhile, dangerous occupations may require heights, exposure to chemicals, or lifting weight that’s heavier than your own. Regardless of these jobs being dangerous, what makes them appealing to others?

What Makes a Job Dangerous?

Other jobs are more dangerous than others. The International Labor Organization characterizes these jobs as the “3D”: dirty, difficult, and dangerous. These include agriculture, construction, mining, and other jobs that expose an individual to similar risks.

At the risk of sounding morbid, there are two main methods in identifying if a job is dangerous. The first method is by identifying the number of job-related fatalities in the said job (fatality frequency count). Meanwhile, the other method is by dividing the number of job-related fatalities during a specific time by the average number of workers during that period (fatality rate). Furthermore, these high-risk jobs are categorized into non-fatal and fatal occupations. Two occupations in the list of fatal and non-fatal occupations are truck drivers and construction laborers.

Aside from that,  the workplace was a source of disability, more for men than it is for women. One study showed that among Disability Insurance recipients who had work-related causes of their disabilities, 45% were men while 26% were women.

Worker Demographics, Occupations, and Workplace Exposures

As lucrative as the pay is, it is not without risk. Workers aged  55 and older accounted for 38% of workplace fatalities in 2019. Since these jobs are mostly very physical, age could be a factor in risk going beyond the baseline. In terms of fatal injury counts, fishing and hunting workers were placed first, followed by logging workers and aircraft pilots, and flight engineers.

The immediate environment of these individuals already exposes them to risk. Some workplace exposures associated with the risk of injuries include manual handling, operating machinery, forceful exertions, extreme temperatures, heights, and more.

Even with all this said, why do people turn to dangerous work? Multiple factors answer that question, but here are a couple of highlights.

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High Pay

Dangerous jobs do pay well. Considering the nature and responsibilities of these jobs, it’s just right that workers are compensated well. Dangerous jobs pay a salary of $45,000 and above per year. Tree climbers, for example, are paid $21.57 per hour, while Diesel mechanics are paid a little more with $23.05 per hour.

It’s not solely about manual labor but a sophisticated skill set and the ability to make snap decisions, all the while being exposed to some level of risk. Although these jobs don’t require a degree or even previous experience, it takes a certain mindset to step into a job knowing the risks while still putting in the work to get the job done. In addition, it takes years of experience and hard work to master the skills needed in the job.

Hustle mindset aside, one can’t disregard the possibility of others getting into this line of work out of a need which is a valid reason.


Although the pay was already discussed, let’s cover what benefits look like in dangerous work. People in risky jobs suffer less from tax changes than safer jobs since most of their compensation is non-taxable. Their compensation ends up becoming even more valuable as marginal tax rates go up. Everything from benefits to overtime pay may increase. In this case, should there be anything unfortunate like a disability-causing injury, social security disability claims might be taken seriously.

It’s A Passion and a  Practical Choice

In some cases, these hard jobs are a rite of passage, passed down from one generation to another. A person could be born into a family with a construction business or a long line of law enforcement officers. Other than the social pressure that can play a role in a person’s career path, the person can become accustomed to the job as they are raised exposed.

Another common scenario is that others don’t have much of a choice. Many of those couldn’t afford to go to college or choose not to get into the trade. Since it doesn’t require a college degree and considering the benefits, it’s a viable option as a career.

Whether a person is born into a family trade or trained to perform a trade, a passion, or a practical choice, it’s valid.

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