Construction worker wearing earplugs

When considering the many factors that go into your career choice, we bet that your long-range hearing health is fairly low on the priority list—if it’s there at all. We understand.

And while we don’t really think that your ability to hear in the future should dictate your career choice, we do think you should be aware of the risk—so that you can use appropriate hearing protection and adhere to the best habits to conserve your hearing.

According to the CDC, work-related hearing loss is one of the most prevalent occupational health problems in the US. Twenty-two million workers are exposed to harmful noise levels at work, and an estimated $242 million is expended annually on worker’s compensation for hearing loss.

So this isn’t a minimal concern; the personal and social consequences are substantial.

If you opt to pursue one of the following eight careers—or presently work in one—take extra precaution to look after your hearing.

The following are 8 of the loudest industries.

1. Military – Practically all firearms can produce 140 decibels (dB) of noise. This is significantly above the safe limit of 85 dB, and has the potential to generate instant and permanent hearing damage. Explosions and other sounds of combat add to the risk. This is why hearing loss and other hearing problems represent the most widespread injuries for veterans.

2. Music – Live shows can reach over 110 decibels, exposing musicians to hours of continually harmful noise. That explains why research has shown that musicians are four times more likely to develop noise-induced hearing loss—and 57 percent more likely to suffer from tinnitus—than other people.

3. Manufacturing – As reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, hearing loss is the most commonly documented work-related condition in manufacturing. Manufacturing equipment can reach decibel levels of well over 100.

4. Carpentry – Similar to manufacturing, carpenters use machinery that can reach damaging decibel levels. A power saw alone can reach 110 dB.

5. Aviation – A jet take-off at 25 meters registers at around 140-150 decibels. The decibel level decreases as distance increases, but aircraft pilots and airport personnel should protect against the noise.

6. Emergency Response – Ambulance and fire engine sirens can emit decibel levels of over 130. In fact, a group of firefighters has recently taken legal action against a siren manufacturer after experiencing hearing loss on the job.

7. Farming – Some tractors and farming equipment can produce well over 100 decibels. Farm workers are encouraged to keep machinery running smoothly, to take regular breaks from the noise, and to wear hearing protection.

8. Racing – The sound of a single race car can reach over 120 decibels, and a race in full action can reach 140. Participants, fans, and workers at racing events are all at risk for developing hearing loss.


Remember, sustained exposure to any noise above 85 decibels increases your risk for acquiring hearing loss. If you end up in a high-volume job, take these three precautions (if you can’t stay away from the source of the noise):

  1. Increase your distance from the sound source when feasible
  2. Take periodic rest breaks from the sound to limit time of exposure
  3. Use custom earplugs to limit volume

Taking these three easy steps (especially # 3) will permit you to pursue the career of your choice without having to give up your ability to hear later in life—because wearing earplugs now is better than wearing hearing aids later.