"Big risk means big rewards." This phrase holds true in many situations, but is that always the case? Most would agree that people who take the biggest risks should be rewarded for their bravery, perseverance and hard work.
Crystal Ski Holidays recently conducted a study of the coldest occupations on the planet in places where temperatures dip as low as -38 degrees Fahrenheit. They then ranked the coldest jobs according to how the temperature, pay and cost of living compare.
So, are these workers compensated accordingly, considering the risks they take and the discomfort they endure?
How risky is it?
According to temperature experts, frostbite – damage to body tissues that freeze – occurs at temperatures of -18 F and lower. Frostbite can occur within minutes.
The average temperature for all the jobs in this study hovers at -14 F. However, as this study reports, the coldest jobs don't always correlate with the best-paying job. The coldest career, chief technologist, based in Verkhoyansk and Yakutsk, Russia – a place that sees temperatures plummet as low as -38.2 F – has an annual salary of only $57,108.
Cost of living in the cold
People must work and live in these conditions, so cost of living is a significant factor as well. The average monthly rent for the top five coldest jobs in the survey (chief technologist; mining officer, Fort Selkirk, Yukon; engine installation engineer, Harbin, Heilongjiang; hazmat specialist, Barrow, Alaska; and mill helper in Snag, Yukon) came to $584.80. In this regard, workers are getting a better deal than if they worked in large cities where monthly rent can easily top $1,500.
Is it worth it?
While you might think working in well-below-freezing temperatures would correlate with a high salary, the study finds this is not the case. Half of the 12 jobs studied paid less than the national average despite the extreme conditions its workers endure. Of the six that did pay more (welder, package delivery driver, outdoor instructor, truck driver, general laborer and hazmat specialist), two (truck driver and hazmat specialist) paid 40 percent more than the national average, and two other jobs (package delivery driver and outdoor instructor) paid 20 percent above national average.
So, unfortunately, the phrase "big risk means big reward" doesn't hold true for cold-weather workers. Despite the frigid average working temperature, employees, on average, make $40,824.58 per year. While monthly rent is cheap, for most workers, the benefits do not outweigh the risks and misery of working in such extreme environmental conditions.