8 Risky But Lucrative Professions in 2020

Lakshya Singh Lakshya Singh
May 18, 2020 5 min read
8 Risky But Lucrative Professions in 2020

You’ve probably seen dangerous jobs on reality TV shows like Ax Men or Deadliest Catch, but here’s the thing: the pay is generally not that great considering the huge risk to life and limb that the people working in these jobs take. Loggers and fishermen, for example, have fairly dangerous jobs compared with other professions yet they only take home an average salary compared to other workers, if not even less. If you’re going to take a risky job, whether you’re risking your health, money, or even your life then you should at least be handsomely compensated for it. Thankfully, there are plenty of risky yet lucrative professions that you should consider in 2020.

Day Trader

If you’d rather not work in a job that risks your life or wellbeing just by turning up to work, but don’t mind taking risks elsewhere, then consider day trading. Day trading in the stock market can be risky to your pocket as you never know when the market value could fall and leave you short, but on the other hand, making calculated risks can pay off handsomely. You can get actionable advice from people who’ve made a successful living from day trading to make sure that you put together a trading strategy that is likely to work. And, the best part of day trading is that it allows you to work for yourself; you get to decide which hours to work and you can usually do it from anywhere that you have a laptop or computer and a reliable internet connection.

Airline Pilot

While flying might be safer than driving, airline accidents do still happen and they’re usually very serious. Crashes might be rare, but there’s always that serious risk to life as an airline pilot every time you take off from the runway. And there are some smaller risks to your health as an airline pilot as well; the most common is back strain after spending countless hours in flight decks. But with a median salary of over $100k per year, the amount you can earn might just make the risks of this job worthwhile. Plus, it’s a huge amount of fun and you get to see different countries as you work.

Registered Nurse

There’s no doubt that nurses face more health risks than almost any other profession. As a nurse, you’ll spend every day dealing with sick people and are on the front line when it comes to treating infectious diseases, so there’s always that very real risk that you are going to wind up catching something that a patient brought in. And, overexertion can be a real problem for nurses who are often on their feet caring for patients for long shifts with little rest. However, typical average wages that are around 88% higher than the average national wage might make it worth it, not to mention the sense of satisfaction that you get from working in a role that is critical to the healthcare system.

Professional Athlete

If you play a sport and really enjoy it, then you might have considered your chances of becoming a professional athlete. Anyone who’s really good at a sport can make money from their game, but it certainly doesn’t come risk-free. After all, when your job involves keeping fit and physically competing on a regular basis, it’s bound to take a toll on your body. Over half of the injuries that athletes sustain are tears, sprains, and strains - but most find it’s worth it when they get to play the game for a living. And, the pay isn’t bad either - get really good and you could be on track to becoming a millionaire. But even minor league athletes can expect paychecks a few thousand dollars higher than the national average.

Construction Foreman

Working as a construction foreman means that you’re the first-line supervisor on a job site, and the risks are fairly high. However, the risk of fatality is lower than that of ironworkers and roofers who spend most of the time on the job working at height. Foremen tend to be more likely to suffer from strains, sprains, and tears that are caused by the physical demands of the job. However, with a median annual salary of almost $60k per year and the chance to earn around $100k for those with experience, the money you can earn certainly makes it worth it. And, most people start working in construction right out of high school; unlike many other high-earning professions you can learn on the job and there’s no need to get into student debt to get a college degree before you start.

Police Officer

If you want an exciting career and don’t mind taking some risks, working in the police could be ideal for you. While the high drama of working as a cop might be exaggerated for TV and movies, real-life policing is still one of the riskiest professions out there. In fact, the number of work-related deaths in the police is greater than all the other occupations listed here. However, it’s not very high, with around 18 deaths per 100,000 workers. And paychecks almost 60% higher than the national median salary may be worth sustaining some sprains and strains for. And, there are several options for entering the police; you can enter the academy after graduating high school, although some agencies will require you to have a college degree.


With high demand from both residential and business clients everywhere you go, electricians are practically guaranteed a lucrative and prosperous career. But, this profession doesn’t come without its own set of risks. Electricians typically sustain injuries due to falls, which is unsurprising considering that they tend to spend a lot of time working on ladders at construction sites. If you’ve got a good balance and can watch your step, you can typically enjoy a paycheck that’s just over 40% higher than the national average salary.

Mining Machine Operator

Unsurprisingly, spending your time pumping the Earth for its resources can take a physical toll on you, but you’ll be handsomely compensated for the trouble. Extraction workers cover a broad category of people who drill and mine for resources such as gas, oil, and coal. There are various job opportunities on offer with some paying better than others, and certain mining machine operators can enjoy a very lucrative career. For example, mining roof bolters operate machinery and equipment working in underground mines and earn the highest average pay of all extraction workers along with supervisors and engineers. But, it comes with the highest risk; roof bolters tend to work mostly in coal mines and have a very high injury rate of 554 per 10,000 workers. On the other hand, oil and gas drill operators might earn a little less, but enjoy far fewer risks of injury. And, getting started doesn’t mean that you have to spend lots of time and money on education; you can get into mining straight from high school, but if you want to earn more, it’s worth investing in an engineering degree.

If you’re going to work in a job where you’re risking something, whether it’s your health, your finances, or your life, then you should definitely be paid enough to make it worth it.

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