Despite increased risk, dangerous jobs may not pay much higher

Pennsylvania workers may be interested in a recent article that looked at five of the most dangerous jobs and examined whether their income was higher due to the danger involved. As it turns out, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most of these high-risk occupations do not command an income premium.

While everyday life always carries with it some element of risk, some jobs may severely increase one’s risk of injury. According to the BLS data, the workers most at risk are fishermen, pilots, construction workers, farmers and truck drivers. The highest-risk job, truck drivers, had the lowest median pay at $27,530 while the fourth highest, pilots and aircraft engineers, had the highest median annual income at $129,600, followed by agricultural managers and farmers at $73,210. The median pay for the other risky occupations was generally in the mid-$30,000s.

The data were ranked by the highest rate of fatalities per 100,000 rather than the highest number of total fatalities each year. Therefore, while aircraft pilots and flight engineers are a small group, the fatality rate makes them rank highly on the list.

The research showed that three of the five jobs made less than the average income for households, lower than many safer occupations. The higher salary associated with agricultural managers and pilots and flight engineers is likely due to the substantial education or experience needed in order to enter that career. On the whole, according to the Library of Economics and Liberty, blue-collar jobs carrying an increased risk only earn an income premium of up to $500 annually.

In occupations where the risk of an on-the-job injury from a workplace accident is high, such an accident can seriously impact an employee’s ability to earn a living. When someone is injured on the job, an attorney may be able to help the worker file a workers’ compensation claim or file a legal action against a negligent employer.

Source: Wall St. Cheat Sheet, “Price of Risk: How Well Do the 5 Most Dangerous Jobs Pay?“, Erika Rawes, June 28, 2014

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