Top 10 jobs of serial killers and psychopaths

These are the occupations that attract the most serial killers and psychopaths.

The recent arrest of the alleged Golden State Killer, Joseph James DeAngelo, was notable not just for the capture of an elusive monster after decades of futile searches, but also for DeAngelo's occupation. The killer—also known as the East Area Rapist, the Original Night Stalker, the Diamond Knot Killer and Visalia Ransacker—managed to avoid getting caught for years while being likely responsible for 12 murders and almost 50 rapes in the 1970s and '80s. How did he not get caught for such a long time? By living and working in plain sight as a police officer.


As writes professor Michael Arntfield, who teaches Criminology & English Literature at Western University, there have been other famous killers who had very reputable professions.

Canadian “Colonel" Russell Williams, who got two life sentences for multiple murders, sexual assaults and burglaries, was a commander of a major Air Force Base.

Jeffrey Dahmer raped, killed, and dismembered 17 men and boys. Already a murderer, he worked for a while at a chocolate factory in Milwaukee.

Tom Steeples, who killed several people, was a computer store owner and prominent businessman in Nashville.

Ted Bundy, convicted of ruthlessly killing 30 people while being probably responsible for many more, had a job while already a murderer at Seattle's Suicide Hotline Crisis Center. He followed that up by working on the re-election campaign of the Republican governor of Washington Daniel J. Evans.


Ted Bundy. 1977. Credit: Glenwood Springs Post Independent via AP.

Taken as a whole, certain patterns emerge in the occupations chosen by serial killers, with some full-time and part-time jobs over-represented, says Arntfield. Of course, just because terrible people had these jobs that doesn't mean everyone associated with them is somehow on the path to becoming a killer. Still, here are the top jobs for serial killers, broken down by their skill level:

TOP 1-4:

- Aircraft machinist/assembler (top skilled serial killer occupation)

- Forestry worker/arborist (top for semi-skilled killers)

- General laborer - mover, landscaper, etc. (top for unskilled)

- Police officer/security official (top for professional/government)

TOP 5-8:

- Shoemaker/repair person (skilled)

- Truck driver (semi-skilled)

- Hotel porter (unskilled)

- Military personnel (professional/government)

TOP 9-12:

- Automobile upholsterer (skilled)

- Warehouse manager (semi-skilled)

- Gas station attendant (unskilled)

- Religious official (professional/government)

What about these jobs appeals to serial killers? Arntfield says sometimes these occupations facilitate opportunities for the killers' desire to kill but ultimately, it's a complex interplay of factors.

“[It's a] combination of mobility, power (whether structural or actual), and the fact many jobs also simultaneously satisfy the underlying paraphilias, or sexual preoccupations, that also fuel killers' crimes," said Arntfield in an interview with IFLScience.

One commonality between some of the jobs is that they provide an access to vulnerable victims, like travelers, sex or shift workers.

What about the popular occupations of the psychopaths? Certainly, not all psychopaths end up as serial killers, but psychopathy is a common feature among serial killers, sex offenders and the most violent criminals.

According to an Oxford University psychologist, the top 10 jobs for psychopaths are:

1. CEO or business executive

2. Lawyer

3. Media personality

4. Salesperson

5. Surgeon

6. Journalist or news anchor

7. Police officer

8. Religious official

9. Chef

10. Miscellaneous civil servant (military, city council, corrections, etc.)

More details about the occupations of various killers can be found in Michael Arntfield's recent book, Murder in Plain English.

Archaeologists unearth dozens of mummified cats in Egypt

Dozens of mummified cats were dug up this week. This isn't as shocking as you might think.

KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images
Culture & Religion
  • Archaeologists in Egypt have found dozens of mummified cats in the tomb of a royal offical.
  • The cats will join the ranks of hundreds of thousands of previously discovered ancient kitties.
  • While the cats are nothing special, the tomb also held well preserved beetles.
Keep reading Show less

Men obsessed with building muscle mass have higher mental health risks

They're at a higher risk for depression, weekend binge drinking, and unnecessary dieting.

Palestinian participants flex their muscles during a bodybuilding competition in Gaza city on October 28, 2016. / AFP / MOHAMMED ABED (Photo credit should read MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images)
Mind & Brain
  • Body dysmorphia is not limited to women, a new study from Norway and Cambridge shows.
  • Young men that focus on building muscle are at risk for a host of mental and physical health problems.
  • Selfie culture is not helping the growing number of teens that are anxious and depressed.
Keep reading Show less

A.I. turns 57 million crop fields into stunning abstract art

Detailed (and beautiful) information on 57 million crop fields across the U.S. and Europe are now available online.

Image: OneSoil
Strange Maps
  • Using satellite images and artificial intelligence, OneSoil wants to make 'precision farming' available to the world.
  • The start-up from Belarus has already processed the U.S. and Europe, and aims for global coverage by 2020.
  • The map is practical, and more — browse 'Random Beautiful Fields' at the touch of a button.
Keep reading Show less