Halloween is the time to speak aloud our gravest fears, and perhaps buy a Lycra bodysuit version of them for $24.98. CareerBuilder has joined in the festivities, surveying more than 4,300 U.S. workers about what they consider the scariest jobs. There seem to be some recurring themes, like those jobs that involve the dead, the dying, a risk of death -- and public speaking.
1. Bomb Squad Technician
Training: High school degree or equivalent, five years as a police officer, and a training period at a specialized facility, like the six-week course at the FBI Hazardous Devices School in Huntsville, Ala.
Red wire or blue wire? Ten seconds. Red wire or blue wire? Nine seconds. Twenty thousand innocent lives within bomb radius. Seven seconds. Probably at least 500 sleeping babies. Five seconds. Your mom. Four seconds. RED WIRE OR BLUE WIRE? Three seconds. Blue has always been your favorite color. Two seconds. Why did you ever decide to become a bomb squad technician? One second.
2. High-Rise Window Washer
Training: High-rise window washers usually need certification. For International Window Cleaning Association certification, the aspiring window washer must take four correspondence exams, specializing in commercial ground-based window cleaning, rope descent systems, and suspended scaffolds. American high-rise washers need specific training in regional standards.
Cleanliness is next to godliness, they say. But when cleaning the 102nd floor windows of the Empire State Building, you are actually next to God. Combining the detail-focus of a custodian with the fearlessness of a circus acrobat, high-rise window washers waltz daily with death to keep our skyscrapers agleam. Peering into all those offices might reveal some pretty scary stuff too.
3. Armed Forces Member
Salary: $23,400 plus bonus (private first class)
Training: Recruits usually enter the army as a private first class, after completing 10 weeks of basic training.
One of the few jobs which has as a requirement a willingness to put your life on the line.
Salary: $25.60 per hour or $53,160 per year.
Training: To fulfill the Mine Health and Safety Administration safety requirements, new miners must spend a minimum of 24 hours learning safety procedures and rescue, first aid, and miner rights and responsibilities.
Hydrogen sulfide leaks, methane explosions, mine-stope collapses, oh my! Coal mining is an ancient profession, and has been recognized as wildly risky since the very start. There are the obvious dangers that come with descending as far as hundreds of feet underground. Then there are the sneakier ones, like pulmonary disease, bladder cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, silicosis, renal disease, emphysema, "black lung" and lung cancer.
5. Police Officer
Training: All high school graduates can apply to be a cop, as long as they are drug-free and have no criminal record. If you're hired, your local police office will send you to a police academy for 12 to 14 months to learn the laws of the land.
Your job is to hunt down danger, and then hold your ground against some of the most fearless, and well-armed human beings.
6. Alaskan Crab Fishing
Training: There is no formal crab fishing license. Hang around on the Alaskan docks during high crab season (fall and winter) and chances are that you could score a job as a greenhorn -- a lowly deckhard who performs the grunt work for half the salary of a regular crew member. Prove yourself, however, and an often extremely lucrative job as a crab fisherman could eventually be yours.
"Deadliest Catch" is perhaps America's major portal into the world of Alaskan crab fishing: The unshaven, nicotine-stained men out braving the stormy Pacific to bring us hunks of fresh crustacean. And as its title both threatens and promises, "Deadliest Catch" became the first reality TV show to document a star's death. The fatality rate among Alaskan crab fishers is about 80 times that of your average worker.
Training: Aspiring morticians must complete an Associate Degree, or equivalent credits, pass a state or national board licensing licensing examination, and spend one to three years as an apprentice.
The job of mortician technically isn't dangerous, unless you believe hanging out with dead people all the time muddles your shakras. Dressing up, beautifying, casketing, embalming, burying and cremating are vital and solemn duties, but they all require a daily confrontation with your own mortality, which can be pretty frightening.
Training: Applicants need at least a high school diploma, as well as 20/20 vision. To become an active-duty firefighter, you must spend 600 hours training over 12 to 14 weeks. And to even enter a training program, you must prove your physical prowess in a series of tests.
When every molecule in your body tells you to run away from the burning building, as a firefighter you have to resist the urge, override it and plunge in.
9. High School Teacher
Training: Future educators must complete a bachelor's degree and a state-approved certificate preparation program.
Trying to impress the importance of photosynthesis upon 30 rowdy youngsters is a challenge, especially when you know they're drawing cartoons of you naked as you do it.
10. Cemetery Worker
Training: There is no formal training required, although the VA's National Cemetery Administration (NCA) Training Center offers instruction and professional development to those who manage and operate the country's 131 veterans' cemeteries and the Arlington National Cemetery.
"What is he that builds stronger than either the mason, the shipwright, or the carpenter? ... And when you are asked this question next, say 'A grave-maker.' The houses that he makes last till doomsday."
These are the words of a gravedigger in "Hamlet," one of the more famous cemetery workers of all time. But not the most. That honor would probably go to Abraham Lincoln, who worked for a time in an Indiana churchyard, as did Rod Stewart, Joe Strummer of The Clash and Major League Baseball player Dave Vanian. While preparing man's final resting place is now seen as a somewhat noble job, in pagan times the "vespillones" were considered unclean. Manhandling corpses does, after all, have a high heebie-jeebie factor.
Training: High school diploma or equivalent. Most places provide on-the-job training, and some states require that their pest control technicians get formally licensed.
Human beings have evolved to jump away from spiders, cockroaches, rats, bedbugs, earwigs, lice, fleas and centipedes. Not only can these creatures deliver nasty bites and bumps, but they can also carry a ton of diseases, like E. coli, leprosy, typhoid, polio, cholera and tuberculosis.
12. Stand-Up Comedian
Salary: Whatever you can hustle.
Training: Years of battling bullies on the schoolyard with your razor-sharp wit.
When you tell a joke and no one laughs, it can be embarrassing. When you tell a joke on a brightly lit stage in front of a crowd of people who have paid a bunch of money to laugh, and no one laughs, it can be horrifying.
13. Animal Control
Training: Animal control officers may work with police or health departments as municipality employees, or get contracted through a humane society. Apart from a high school diploma and some experience with animals, there are no standard qualifications for the job. A few states, however, require formal, accredited training.
Animal control officers rescue animals from street corners, abandoned homes and abusive owners. That means dealing with a lot of traumatized animals -- and abusive owners.
14. Stunt Person
Salary: $70,000 (once you are well-known and experienced)
Training: You can attend a stunt school for three weeks of intensive training.
Your job description is to do everything that a sane, reasonable human being has decided that they don't want to do.
Salary: $174,000 (U.S. House and Senate Members)
Training: To become a congressman or senator you have to get elected. Many careers feed into the Capitol -- law, business, medicine, real estate -- but a successful career in national politics usually starts at a young age at the local level.
Imagine tweeting a picture of your bulging crotch to a lady friend, and suddenly seeing your bulging crotch on every major TV network. Terrifying.
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