11 Genuinely Dangerous Jobs That Pay $75,000 or More

Find out how you can earn $75K or more in some of the world's most perilous professions.
Updated April 11, 2024
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Dangerous jobs can be stressful. However, they often pay a lucrative salary that can help you stop living paycheck to paycheck.

Check out some of these dangerous jobs that pay more than $75,000 and see if any appeal to your sense of adventure. 

Editor's note: All salary information comes from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

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Chemical plant operator

Kadmy/Adobe pharmaceutical industry worker

A chemical plant operator maintains equipment in a plant and works with hazardous chemicals. An operator must be careful to avoid being hurt by such chemicals.

Chemical plant operators earn a median annual salary of $82,670.

Nuclear power reactor operator

Aunging/Adobe engineer working in the power plant

An operator at a nuclear power reactor starts and stops equipment, monitors controls, or works on other issues related to nuclear reactors. Operators should be trained in emergency procedures.

Working with nuclear power involves some level of risk. Nuclear power reactor operators earn a median annual income of $115,870.

Electrical power line installer and repairer

tong2530/Adobe Two workers looking at a powerline

An electrical power line installer and repairer is responsible for working with electrical lines. They may have to install new lines or repair existing lines, particularly after a storm or other weather event that damages power lines.

An electrical power-line installer or repairer faces the danger of working with electricity. The position has a median annual salary of $82,340.

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Signal and track switch repairer

APchanel/Adobe engineers inspecting railway switches

Signal and track switch repairers work on train tracks to ensure signals and switches are fixed. They help keep train traffic moving safely.

The job is generally safe, but there is always a danger when working on train tracks. The median annual wage for this position is $81,300.

Detective or criminal investigator

fergregory/Adobe police crime scene

A criminal investigator or detective is responsible for solving crimes by talking to witnesses or gathering information.

Dealing with criminals brings with it the potential for danger. Criminal investigators earn a median annual wage of $86,280.

Elevator installer and repairer

Алексей Смышляев/Adobe elevator equipment during major repairs

Elevator installers and repairers maintain and repair elevators to make sure they're working properly.

You usually need a high school diploma and an apprenticeship to work with elevators. Some states also require you to be licensed.

Working in elevator shafts is potentially dangerous, and the median annual wage of $99,000 might partially account for that risk.

Construction manager

Rido/Adobe contractor at building site

Construction managers oversee projects, including planning and coordination from design to completion. You may be required to work on construction sites and maintain safety standards as part of your duties.

Construction sites can be dangerous places, and these managers make a median annual wage of $101,480.


Manu Reyes/Adobe vet with a cat

Veterinarians take care of animals of all kinds to make sure they remain healthy. They might work with pets such as dogs and cats or large animals such as livestock or horses. They also might treat animals at a zoo.

Working with animals of all types comes with some danger. Veterinarians earn a median income of $103,260.

Airline pilot

Yakobchuk Olena/Adobe mature pilot in cockpit looking at control panel

Airline pilots are responsible for flying and navigating aircraft, such as planes, helicopters, and other air transportation. You usually need a bachelor’s degree and flight training and must meet requirements outlined by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Wherever you fly, there is the risk of a crash. Airline pilots make a median annual salary of $148,900.

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Water vessel captain

Yakobchuk Olena/Adobe man looking into the distance

Water vessel captains are responsible for operating ships and other water vessels, such as tugboats or ferryboats.

You may be required to oversee a vessel’s personnel and operations in demanding conditions, such as navigating challenging waterways or operating under rough weather conditions.

You'll also be required to hold a license from the U.S. Coast Guard to operate a water vessel. These professionals earn a median annual wage of $95,210.

Emergency medical physician

Tyler Olson/Adobe Female EMT

Emergency medical physicians work under stressful conditions. They have to make quick medical decisions to care for patients in immediate need.

While the job might not sound dangerous on the surface, it’s easy to overlook the fact that you can be exposed to diseases and contagious conditions.

An emergency medical physician earns a median annual income of $221,320, which makes this job a great way to get ahead financially.

Bottom line

Syda Productions/Adobe indian man with notebook

Dangerous jobs can help boost your bank account because they often pay more to compensate for the risks you take in these positions.

Check out the jobs on this list and see if any of them make sense for you despite the potential danger that comes with them.

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Author Details

Jenny Cohen Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.

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