You think you have it bad at your job? Take a look at these careers, which make earning a living much scarier than dealing with a bad day in the cubicle.
The Ice Road Trucker
Ice road truckers do what it sounds like they do: they drive big trucks full of tons of freight across a road of ice. Actually, it's not so much a road as just ice, and man-made ice at that. Every year, in order to ship supplies to the diamond mines in Canada, a 40-inch deep, 370-mile long "road" is created. That's the road that these truckers trust. The perks of the job? Well, it's short. Ice road trucking only lasts for a season of about 60 days, and in that time you could pull in up to $250,000. Not bad for a couple of months of work. Just remember that those months involve sub-zero temperature, white-outs, blizzards and potential accidents at any moment.(For more, read America's 10 Most Dangerous Jobs.)
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The Crab Fisher
Like ice road truckers, crab fishers do a job dangerous enough to merit their own reality TV show. "Deadliest Catch" showed the world what you face when you decide to get in on the Alaskan crab fishing action, and it's not pretty. First there's the weather. Alaska is a cold place, and the spot for crab fishing is in the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea. The Bering Sea is between Alaska and Russia which is another location not known for its summery temperatures. So there's cold, frigid, deep, eat-into-your-soul cold weather.
Then there's the equipment: 800-pound crab pots, which are common sources of injury. The pay-off? If you hit the crab jackpot, your boat could pull in $50,000 in under a week, or twice that if you fish for snow crabs, which have a longer season. (For other dangerous jobs, check out 6 Surprisingly Dangerous Jobs.)
The Alligator Hunter
Lots of people hunt, and though the sport involves weapons, it's not considered one of the deadliest jobs (or hobbies) out there. Unless you're hunting alligators, that is, which is precisely what happens starting on the first Wednesday in September in the swamps of Louisiana. For 30 days, licensed hunters who have been approved to go gator hunting get to do just that.
The state of Louisiana oversees the hunting, issuing tags and licenses and defining particular wetlands habitats in which it is legal - for 30 days - to venture into the swamps, track and kill the gators before they kill you. For those willing to risk life and limb to the teeth of the swamp monsters, there's good money to be made. Around 30,000 wild alligators are caught annually, resulting in about $10 million of alligator revenue, all in a month's time.
The Window Washer
Janitorial services may have more than their fair share of negative aspects. There's not much fun in emptying stinky trash cans, but you don't think of a janitor as a big risk-taker. That is, until you see the guy who has to wash the windows on the skyscraper or the surfaces of other enormous structures.
From Big Ben to the Space Needle to Mount Rushmore, men and women have braved the extreme height to do a little scrubbing. The workers are either secured by harnesses and straps, on scaffolding or both. Accidents happen, and often those accidents are fatal. Window washers do earn some of the highest salaries in janitorial services, around $50,000 a year with good medical coverage for occupational accidents. It's a good paycheck, but is it worth it? It depends on how much you like a clean window.
The Bottom Line
If the occasional paper cut or coffee burn is the worst you face on the job, consider yourself lucky to be clear of the dangerous jobs list. It takes a special kind of risk-taker to choose a job that literally puts your life on the line just to earn a paycheck, even if it is a good one. Give it some thought before plunging into the pursuit of a high-risk career. In the meantime, be careful with that stapler. (For some unorthodox jobs, check out 6 Unusual Ways To Make A Living.)