The 15 careers that might be ruining your health.


Often we think about jobs in terms of how much they pay, how stressful they might be, or how much satisfaction is derived from them.

However, in many occupations the potential impacts on an employee’s physical health are very real and very serious.

Business Insider has ranked the most unhealthy jobs in the US, using data from the Occupational Informational Network (O*NET). They used O*NET measures of six occupational risk factors, like exposure to dangerous substances, disease and/or injury, and the amount of time workers spend sitting at work, to analyse the ‘unhealthiness’ of 974 different occupations. We’ve listed the top 15 below.

Of course, this information shouldn’t deter anyone from pursuing their dream job. If you want to be a doctor or a pilot or a vet or an engineer, go for it – it’s just worth knowing what the role could involve.

1. Dentists

Yep, dentists, dental surgeons, hygienists and assistants are considered to hold the ‘unhealthiest’ jobs. The top rating for this profession is due to exposure to contaminants, diseases and infection, in addition to the amount of time per day dentists spend sitting. The overall unhealthiness score was 65.4.

If you’re concerned about the amount of sitting you do in your job, here are some exercises to help you overcome it. (Post continues after video.)


2. Flight attendants

Another interesting one. The health risks flight attendants ranked highly in were exposure to contaminants, disease and infection, and minor burns, cuts, bites or stings. Seeing the world does have its downsides.


3. Anaesthetists

Anaesthetists (known as anesthesiologists in the US), assistants and nurses come in third due to their exposure to disease and infection, contaminants and radiation.

4. Vets

Advantages of being a veterinarian, assistant or technician: working with all kinds of beautiful animals and helping them stay healthy. Disadvantages: high exposure to disease and infection; minor burns, cuts and stings; and contaminants.


5. Podiatrists

Spare a thought for your podiatrist – not only do they work with feet all day, but they face a high risk of exposure to disease and infections, radiation, and contaminants.


6. Immigration/customs inspectors

Flight attendants aren’t the only airport staff to make the list. Customs inspectors, unsurprisingly, are exposed to contaminants, diseases and infections, and radiation.

7. Histotechnologists

These people work in medical laboratories, and prepare human, animal or plant tissue specimen slides for analysis and possible disease diagnosis. They are exposed to hazardous conditions, contaminants, and diseases and infections. (Post continues after gallery.)

8. Water treatment plant operators

Exposure to contaminants, hazardous conditions and minor burns, cuts, stings or bites placed water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators high on the list.

9. Stationary engineers, boiler operators

Contaminants, hazardous conditions, and minor cuts and burns are all big risk factors.

10. Surgical and medical assistants

This one isn’t a huge shock. Surgical and medical assistants, technologists and technicians face high exposure to disease and infections, contaminants, and hazardous conditions.



11. Derrick operators (coal, gas)

Working with derrick equipment and pumps comes with exposure to contaminants, minor burns and cuts, and hazardous conditions.

12 (tie). Airline pilots

The biggest health risk for pilots, co-pilots and flight engineers is… you guessed it, the amount of time they spend sitting. Just think of all those long-haul flights. This was followed by exposure to radiation and contaminants.

12. Medical equipment preparers

Exposure to contaminants, disease and infections and hazardous conditions are all part of the territory for people who prepare, install, clean and sterilise medical equipment. They tied for twelfth place with pilots.

14. Nuclear equipment operation technicians

As you might imagine, exposure to radiation is the biggest risk for these workers, with a score of 89. Hazardous conditions and contaminants are also factors.

15. Waste/recycling collectors

The workers who collect the waste and recyclables from our wheelie bins each week are not only exposed to contaminants, diseases and infections, but they spend a large portion of their working day sitting down.