Will Your Job Kill You?

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Logger falling a pine tree
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By Jada A. Graves

Even a good job has its drawbacks. That's the case with these 18 – they're well-paying, society-building occupations for which workers potentially risk their emotional and physical health when clocking in each day. You don't have to just take our word for it, though. Learn more about the professions the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports have the highest fatal work injury rates and that the job website CareerCast has deemed the most stressful.

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Will Your Job Kill You?

Median Salary: $22,840

Taxi drivers dodge and weave thousand-pound hunks of metal in and out of traffic – of course their job is dangerous. CareerCast ranks its most stressful jobs based on 11 criteria; cabbies took the No. 10 slot because they consistently endanger their life as well as the lives of their passengers while traveling through varied road conditions.

Median Salary: $56,130

Police officers have one of the highest rates of injuries and illness, the BLS reports, largely due to the varied physical and emotional demands associated with the position. And though it isn't one of the top 10 jobs with most reported fatalities, police officers did earn the No. 9 spot on CareerCast’s list of most stressful jobs for 2014.

Median Salary: $34,190 

This is when this list gets really dour. Harvesting forest is injury-prone even when done correctly and safely – logging workers contend with falling branches, hilly terrain, flying wood chips, trip-ready vines and whirring chain saws. The job also has one of the highest on-the-job fatality rates of any profession, according to the BLS; in 2013 there were 59 logging deaths.

Median Salary: $171,610

Office bigwigs don’t necessarily live the life of Riley. The pressures of running a corporation, developing initiatives and meeting fiscal expectations could take considerable toll on a senior office executive, which took the No. 7 slot on CareerCast's list of most stressful jobs. Another mitigating factor: senior corporate execs are often sedentary, which could lead to a hodgepodge of physical woes.

Median Salary: $35,600

It’s uncommon for a newspaper reporter to suffer from a serious on-the-job injury. But this profession could hurt your health due to the emotional strain it causes – which anyone who has stared-down the face of a looming, daunting deadline can identify with. Newspaper reporter was the No. 8 job on CareerCast’s list of stressful jobs for 2014. 

Median Salary: $35,270 

Recreational fishing is a popular unwinding pastime for many, but commercial fishing is dangerous and strenuous. Fishers have to be diligent when surrounded by slippery decks, easy-to-snare nets and puncture-producing fishing equipment, particularly since their isolated working conditions make receiving prompt medical attention difficult. In 2013 there were 27 reported fatalities, according to the BLS. Most commercial fishing fatalities are caused by drowning.

Median Salary: $35,520 

This profession involves lots of heavy lifting, climbing, bending and kneeling. There’s also the chance of suffering a heat-related injury, since both roof repair and roof installation are popular construction jobs during the warmer months. But the most frightening health hazard involved with being a roofer is the chance of slipping and falling. There were 69 reported on-the-job deaths for roofers in 2013, according to BLS.

Median Salary: $54,940

Not convinced that PR could be emotionally taxing and detrimental to your health? Consider this – the average tenure of a White House press secretary is two years; President Bill Clinton had five White House press secretaries in his eight years in office, President George W. Bush had four and three have currently served under President Barack Obama. CareerCast also thinks managing a corporation’s image and communication with consumers, investors and the media is a high-stakes occupation, and public relations executives received the No. 6 slot on its list of most stressful jobs.

Median Salary: $46,260 

Being an event coordinator involves wrangling schedules, vendors, clients … and tense environments and scenarios. Usually there’s also a great deal of travel involved in this occupation – another key component CareerCast used to compile its list. According to the job website, event coordinator is the No. 5 most stressful job in 2014. 

Median Salary: $32,720 

The BLS reported 33 garbage collector fatalities in 2013. Less severe injuries might also occur when picking up and disposing trash, ranging from having contact with materials and chemicals to muscle strain from lifting heavy objects. Roadway accidents are also possible for collectors who make neighborhood rounds driving or riding on the back of a garbage truck.

Median Salary: $74,470 

This occupation placed fourth on CareerCast’s list because pilots’ unorthodox work schedules can result in tremendous fatigue. Flying also requires considerable concentration, compounded with the emotional wear of being responsible for the lives of flight passengers. It was also one of the 10 jobs the BLS reports had the most fatalities. In 2013 there were 63 pilot deaths.

Median Salary: $50,820

When it comes to danger, the name of this profession says it all. These miners operate complex machinery that breaks apart and transports some of the coarsest materials: coal, metal and nonmetal ores, plus rock, stone and sand. According to the BLS, there were 16 work fatalities in this occupation in 2013.

Median Salary: $45,600 

Firefighters constantly risk their health and lives, entering dangerous conditions where they’re potentially exposed to hazardous fumes and materials. The BLS reports fatal work injuries among firefighters rose 194 percent to 53 in 2013, from 18 in 2012. And like pilots, firefighters also have a chaotic schedule, often working 24-hour shifts when they're on-call and waiting for the next emergency. The uncertainty of this job’s requirements and routine particularly lead to its placement as CareerCast’s third-most stressful occupation.

Median Salary: $29,170

The danger of being a delivery truck driver is two-fold: They have heavy packages to haul and lift from warehouses to homes and businesses. Then once in the truck, drivers could be involved in a traffic accident. Drivers has the highest fatality count of all occupations in 2013; the BLS reports there were 748 deaths.

Median Salary: $70,110 

Fatalities in farming and ranching declined 13 percent in 2013, but still there’s risk involved in operating complex machinery and equipment. Both farmers and ranchers also come into contact with hazardous chemicals and pesticides. The BLS notes there were 220 deaths in this industry in 2013.

Median Salary: $64,170 

Power line installers and repairers endure arduous training on safety procedures and protocol before they’re allowed to perform their jobs, and the BLS reports that safety standards have improved and on-the-job fatalities have declined. Still, there’s risk of injury and death from electrocution or falling from a great height, and in 2013 this job had 27 reported deaths.

Median Salary: $31,312 

Members of the armed forces experience all the components CareerCast assessed to compile its ranking. But most notably, they place their lives in danger and bear the responsibility – and stress – of looking out for the lives of others. The BLS reports 67 fatal work injuries to resident military personnel in 2013, compared to 50 in 2012. CareerCast recognized military generals as the second-most stressful job of this year, and enlisted personnel as the most stressful profession in 2014.

Median Salary: $30,460 

General construction labor ranges from digging trenches to building scaffolding, so the types of potential on-the-job injury also vary. According to the BLS, general construction workers are susceptible to the "fatal four:" falls, electrocution, being struck by an object or getting caught/trapped in between two surfaces. There were 215 reported deaths in this job in 2013.

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