These Are the 20 Deadliest Jobs in America, and They Aren't the Ones You Think

If pop culture served as our guide to America's most dangerous jobs, then police, firemen and fishermen would probably claim top honors. And that wouldn't be entirely off — all those occupations are in fact among the top 20 deadliest in the country. But you may be surprised to see where they rank relative to other professions.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics' data on the deadliest industries and jobs in the country has some incredibly interesting finds, which you can see in the chart, courtesy of the Washington Post, below:

The fishing industry is certainly dangerous — it has the second highest fatality rate nationally — but logging has a significantly higher rate of deaths on the job. In third place are aircraft pilots and engineers.   

Garbage collectors, roofers and agricultural workers are all among the top 10 deadliest gigs in the country. Taxi drivers and chauffeurs are 12th in the nation.

Police officers rank 15th, and firefighters come in at 18th.

How is it possible that the fatality rate for garbage collectors is more than triple the rate for police officers? Sanitation work is actually quite dangerous — bags of refuse are often filled with sharp and heavy objects that workers have little ability to protect themselves from, should the bags open up unexpectedly. 

Policing, however, has grown dramatically safer for the past two decades as violent crime has plummeted, and assaults against officers have decreased. In 2013, the percentage of active-duty police killed in homicides was about the lowest it's been in a century. Which is all to say that while police officers encounter extremely high-risk scenarios far more than most other professions, the chance of these risks resulting in negative outcomes is small, mainly due to shifts in the criminal landscape and risk management practices. 

That's probably how to look at fatality rates in other professions as well. A number of jobs have inherent risks, but safety is also a function of how a profession and its technologies and practices have adapted to those risks. 

h/t Washington Post

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Zeeshan Aleem

Zeeshan is a senior staff writer at Mic, covering public policy and national politics. He is based in New York and can be reached at zeeshan@mic.com.

MORE FROM

8 of the biggest moments from the 48th NYC LGBT Pride March

The biggest Pride event in the world was a sight to behold.

Movement for Black Lives activists disrupt Minneapolis Pride to protest Philando Castile verdict

Protesters reportedly held signs with messages like "No KKKops at Pride."

Protesters reportedly arrested near NYC's Stonewall Inn, Pride March endpoint

The reason for the arrests were not immediately known.

Marchers arrested in Istanbul as Pride parade continues despite cancellation

The organizers' decision to move forward with the previously cancelled march led to clashes with police.

Car slams into Eid celebrants in UK, injuring 6; police say terrorism isn't suspected

Police say they believe an Eid celebrant was behind the wheel of the car that injured six outside a mosque.

Oil truck explodes in Pakistan, killing at least 153

The deadly fire broke out as residents rushed to collect the leaking oil from the overturned tanker.

8 of the biggest moments from the 48th NYC LGBT Pride March

The biggest Pride event in the world was a sight to behold.

Movement for Black Lives activists disrupt Minneapolis Pride to protest Philando Castile verdict

Protesters reportedly held signs with messages like "No KKKops at Pride."

Protesters reportedly arrested near NYC's Stonewall Inn, Pride March endpoint

The reason for the arrests were not immediately known.

Marchers arrested in Istanbul as Pride parade continues despite cancellation

The organizers' decision to move forward with the previously cancelled march led to clashes with police.

Car slams into Eid celebrants in UK, injuring 6; police say terrorism isn't suspected

Police say they believe an Eid celebrant was behind the wheel of the car that injured six outside a mosque.

Oil truck explodes in Pakistan, killing at least 153

The deadly fire broke out as residents rushed to collect the leaking oil from the overturned tanker.