6 Dangerous Jobs That Require a Degree

It might surprise people to know that some of the country’s most dangerous jobs also require a college degree. These professionals attended college for either two-year associate degrees or four-year bachelor’s degrees, and are now employed in careers that put their lives in jeopardy. Below, we’ve highlighted six of these dangerous jobs.

  1. Pilot. Working as a pilot can be both challenging and risky. According to The Daily Beast, an online news source, airplane pilots face a fatality rate of 72 in 100,000. Pilots can work as crop dusters, flight instructors, fly cargo and passenger planes, and even assist in natural disaster relief. Airline pilots often face hazardous working conditions, mostly fatigue due to long routes and changing time zones, while commercial pilots that test new equipment can experience faulty instrument or parts and crop dusters can be exposed to harmful chemicals. Most airlines require at least an associate’s degree from an accredited university, generally in mathematics, physics, aeronautical engineering or aviation. Flight training and licensure is also required.
  2. Law Enforcement Officers. These officers have a fatality rate of 16 per 100,000. These professionals work to apprehend criminals, maintain civil order and peace, issue citations, and prevent crime. They often encounter dangerous individuals and situations that require them to use a weapon or bodily force. While education requirements can vary between governments, most agencies require at least an associate’s degree, typically in criminal justice or political science, for application to the police academy or law enforcement training. Federal agencies require a bachelor’s degree and related work experience.
  3. Merchant Marine. Another highly dangerous career is that of a merchant marine. These professionals operate and maintain deep sea merchant ships, tugboats, ferries, research vessels, and other great boats, and face a fatality rate of 23 in every 100,000 workers. They work in harsh weather conditions, often during severe storms, and can run the risk of falling overboard. They can also work with large machinery and hazardous cargo. The United States Coast Guard maintains strict educational and training requirements for these employees. All officers and operators, including engineering officers, must become licensed by successful graduating from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, which issues bachelor’s degrees in nautical science or marine engineering.
  4. Fire fighter. Fire fighters respond to fires and other emergencies in an effort to protect the public from danger. When everyone else is trying to escape a burning building, firefighters often must enter it in efforts to put out fires from the inside and rescue trapped occupants. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were seven fatalities and six injuries per 100,000 workers in 2008. To be a fire fighter, one typically has to have at least an associate degree, although those who have a two-year or four-year degree in fire science or fire engineering will have the best employment opportunities.
  5. Mining Engineers. These types of engineers extract and produce oil, gas, coal, minerals, and metals for manufacturing purposes. They design underground mines, and work in underground operations to supervise the construction of mine shafts and tunnels. With the possibility of mining explosions and mine cave-ins, mining engineers are often responsible for the safe operation of mines and the safety of workers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2008 there were 176 fatalities and 2.9 injuries per 100 full-time workers in the mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction industry. To be a mining engineer, one has to have earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering with a concentration on mining, mechanical, electrical, or civil engineering.
  6. Construction Managers. Construction managers plan and coordinate projects that involve the construction of residential and commercial buildings, industrial structures, roads, and bridges. They supervise projects and oversee aspects such as the clearing and excavation of land, laying foundations, and erecting structural framework. Managers can usually be found on the job site where they are on call to deal with delays, effects of bad weather, and emergencies. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2008 that there were 1,016 fatalities and 4.7 injuries per 100 full-time workers in construction. To be a construction manager, one has to have earned a bachelor’s degree in a related field like construction science, construction management, building science, or civil engineering.

While most people assume that earning a college education precludes them from manual labor or dangerous working conditions, these professionals know that isn’t always the case. Their dangerous jobs keep our peaceful lives running smoothly.

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