toughest military job

Last Updated on 12/27/2023

At all times, the military profession was considered to be truly masculine and undoubtedly dangerous. Nowadays, women can also successfully build an army career, while the danger label of this work forever remains relevant.

In fear of war efforts, society always demands organized, competent, and physically trained fighters. However, mental abilities in this industry are no less important than physical ones. New technologies are regularly forcing soldiers to learn, adapt, and improve their skills.

Within the civil service, there is quite a wide selection of military jobs. Each of them is specific and strategically important. When put together, they all make up a full-fledged defense complex.

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The future soldier selects the type of forces primarily based on personal inclinations and compliance with specific criteria of professional suitability.

But undoubtedly, many of them think about the original question of “What is the most dangerous job in the military?” In this article, we are trying to answer that question.

The Toughest Military Job

Without exception, all army professions are challenging both physically and mentally. And if the global goals are the same for everyone, the specifics of tasks completing can be entirely different even for the safest jobs army provides. So, let’s have a look at the most dangerous jobs in the military and try to compare them.

Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician (EOD)

eod job

MOS Code 11B

As a rule, explosive ordnance or EOD technicians provide installation and disposal of warheads, clear the way in mine-explosive fields, and participate in various military operations. 

Now, modern equipment is reliable enough to protect a person from a mine burst, but sometimes it may not be enough. That’s why soldiers have no right to make a mistake because it can hurt them and in the worst scenario, even kill. For instance, from 2005 to 2020, 14 EOD airmen have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, making it one of the most hazardous professions in the Air Force. All of those staying alive experience Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. When EODs warriors are wounded they sustain some of the most severe and often life-changing injuries, including loss of limbs, burns, paralysis, blindness, or traumatic brain injury. In just five years, the Air Force has awarded more than 70 Purple Hearts to EOD techs, with some US military badasses earning more than one.

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fighter pilot

MOS Code F22

Pilots of military aviation are real superhumans. They are familiar with the technical characteristics of all known air vehicles, with radio equipment, echolocation, and when needed, they can even fix the plane. This role involves constant moving, long flights to various parts of the world, and huge workloads. 

During armed conflicts, an aircraft can be shot down at any second. Even if it happened and a pilot succeeds in catapulting, he will most likely land on the rival territory, where his chances of survival are negligible. Enemies often torture pilots with ruthless methods and, as a rule, do not hold them captive for a long time.

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military soldier

MOS Code 1 TX22

The professional group of Battlefield Airmen is engaged in personnel combat search, rescue, and recovery. Each soldier has emergency medical capabilities in combat or humanitarian conditions.

Any group of pararescuemencan work on the land, water, in the air, and any other restricted environments. Considered to be the toughest military job, this unit considers the most highly skilled emergency trauma experts in the U.S. army.

Every pararescueman can perform life-saving missions in the world’s most remote regions. Also, Pararescue (PJ) is considered the record holder of self-sacrifice for the lives of others in the United States. 

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Cavalry Scout

military fighters

MOS Code 19D

Cavalry scouts are those fighters who operate behind enemy lines without any support from the Allies, being the eyes and ears on the battlefield. Along with gathering information about enemy positions, vehicles, weapons, and activity, these militants usually carry out several tasks at once:

  • territory reconnaissance (ambush, surveillance, interrogation of local residents, etc.);
  • interception of the principal radio signals or phone conversations; 
  • extraction of necessary documents, exclusive data, etc.;
  • participation in military operations.

Cavalry scouts help commanders make informed decisions about the best time and way to move troops and attack and report about the necessity to call for reinforcements or to order a retreat. During some operations, cavalry scouts can sit stock-still in ambush for hours or days. In case of failure, they will be held captive at best or killed at worst, enlarging figures of army cavalry scout death rate.



MOS Code 11C

Infantry is the most multitudinous specialization in many world armies, including the USA. On the battlefield, the infantry is undoubtedly one of the most dangerous military job. 

First of all, the goal of these troops is to find and destroy the enemy and help other military units when they are in danger. Every infantryman must be fluent in any weapon and equipment that is involved in the operation. Infantrymen are universal and fearless soldiers who must be ready for any operation, which means that they can be sent to a hot spot at any time. The lives of these soldiers are always at risk. For instance, statistics from the Combat Area Casualty File (CACF) as of November 1993 show that an average army infantry life expectancy for 11B MOS killed in Vietnam was 22.55 years.

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Combat Medic

military doctor

MOS Code 68W

The combat medic must be able to deploy the operating room in any possible environment (in a tent, airplane, submarine, etc.). The doctor is obliged to organize mobile first-aid posts and provide emergency assistance in the most challenging and unpredictable situations.

This profession has many narrow specializations, but all of them are difficult and life-threatening. For example, a military surgeon performs up to 300 complicated operations per year, and if necessary, provides multidisciplinary care in a military conflict. They are required to understand all areas of surgery.

Navy SEALs

soldiers of navy seal

MOS Code E300

To be a navy seal means to have the hardest job in the military. Navy SEALs are a special force that participates in operations of any area (literally any). Particular emphasis is placed on preparing and equipping detachments for operations in coastal and marine environments. Up to 2021, only male servicemen could join Navy SEAL and Special Boat crews. The situation has changed with the first female sailor, who graduated from a Naval Special Warfare training pipeline in July 2021 to join one of the most dangerous jobs in the navy as a combatant-craft crewman.

Well-trained soldiers silently carry night operations of national importance, being deployed around the world to protect state interests. Naturally, if this unit performs the most complex and specific operations, it is always a huge risk that threatens the life of a soldier. No matter how well they are prepared, in war, soldiers tend to die. And unfortunately, the more elite the soldiers are, the more the enemy is ready and willing to kill them.

Forward Observer

forward observer job

MOS Code 13F

Military artillery observers get used to working with mortar, artillery missions, and naval guns. They are responsible for directing artillery and mortar fire onto a target and defending particular zones. These guys are equally comfortable with a map, compass, night optics, and laser-guided bombs, Hellfires, or rockets.

Their skills in close air support and operating spotter for naval gunfire support stand high within the U.S. Navy and Air Force. Forward observers with a high level of proficiency at naval gunfire directing turn the U.S. Marine Corps into a mighty and the most feared military branch. It goes without saying, operations with shell bursts and adjusting fire on the first line of observation posts put the lives of forwarding observers at significant risk.

Special Forces Soldier

special forces soldier job

MOS Code 18X

U.S. Army Special Forces Soldiers are better known as Green Berets or Night Stalkers. Their berets serve as a distinction of excellence within the Army and uniqueness of their strength and elite skills. The most dangerous MOS in the army has become legendary problem-solvers, involved in different delicate and secret national strategic missions, such as:

  • unconventional warfare; 
  • foreign internal defense & security force assistance;
  • direct action & special reconnaissance;
  • counter-insurgency & counter-terrorism;
  • information operations;
  • counterproliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Different high-performing teams take on terrorists through quiet, guerilla war-style missions, operating in highly complex and uncertain environments worldwide. And the memorial wall of fallen heroes who prioritized and protected U.S. interests is much broader than any civilian can imagine ever.

Motor Transport Operator

motor transport operator

MOS Code 88M

Being the backbone of the military support, its sustainment structure and, smooth operating, motor transport operators are responsible for supervising and driving military wheel vehicles over varied terrain and roadways. The requirements of advanced mobility while transporting personnel and cargo on and off the battlefield make truck driving another toughest military job in the wake of recent war activities. 

Detonating mines and booby-traps can put at risk the lives of truck drivers, convoying large supplies and moving forward with the troops. Many honored soldiers paid the ultimate sacrifice during Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, and Inherent Resolve while getting up-armored vehicles to all units in Iraq and Afghanistan.

What is the Hardest Job in the Military?

It’s quite hard to compile a list or single out the most dangerous military branches. For instance, the combat medic is highly responsible since they must save the wounded lives, and the EOD technicians work on life-saving but in other fields. Some troops are considered to be the most dangerous MOS in the army; others are less difficult but require more preparation and training. The total loss of American service members killed in Afghanistan through April 2021 is 2,448 along with 3,846 U.S. contractors. The facts speak for themselves — there is no military profession that would be clear of danger.

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The hardest MOS in the army is often associated with the deaths of either enemy or innocent residents and colleagues because any loss of life is a tragedy. Those who die being engaged in hostile action or war are the most notable and memorable. However, such deaths are not in vain, they have happened for the sake of world peace. That is why any army worker who defends the cause of peace is a true hero, deserving respect and support from civilians. No matter whether combatants serve in the most dangerous branch of the military or the safest one, they risk life and limb for our safety.

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Professional resume writer Linda R. BedfordLinda R. Bedford

Linda is a Professional Resume Writer and Military to Civilian Transition Specialist. Her expertise range across a large spectrum of industries. She loves coaching with people and helps job-seekers in transitioning to their next and best chapter.
  1. Avatar

    look at the requirements of a combat engineer, and it fits right in there with toughest military jobs

  2. Avatar
    Leo Mc Cormick

    Being an army scout for 2 rotations in Vietnam Was shot at daily and returned fire daily recon was lonely and sleepless for long periods of time, reporting enemy strength and location was difficult to comprehend

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