These Are The Professions A Serial Killer Is Most Likely To Work In


Madison Dapcevich


Madison Dapcevich

Freelance Writer and Fact-Checker

Madison is a freelance science reporter and full-time fact-checker based in the wild Rocky Mountains of western Montana.

Freelance Writer and Fact-Checker


The man believed to be the Golden State Killer was a police officer and veteran, later working in a warehouse. Between 1976 and 1986 he committed 12 homicides, 45 rapes, and more than 120 residential burglaries in multiple California communities. He often wore ski masks like the ones shown here. By FBI via Wikimedia Commons

As it turns out, serial killing is not a full-time job. In fact, many accused and convicted serial killers had day jobs to pay the bills – or perhaps provide an alibi. Either way, a new book suggests that there is a link between serial killers and the likelihood of them working in certain industries. So much so, the author claims, that dominant patterns have emerged over the last 50 years.

In his new book Murder in Plain English, criminologist and professor Michael Arntfield lays out the top 12 professions that attract serial killers, citing and updating information gathered in a 2012 tabulation of serial killer jobs. Some of the findings may surprise you, others not so much.


Many of the offenders were simultaneously in more than one job. For example, the man believed to be the Golden State Killer was previously a police officer, military personnel, and warehouse worker – three of the most common jobs associated with serial killers. As such, Arntfield breaks down 12 professions into four categories based on skill, training, and turnover in both full- and part-time occupations.

Skilled Occupations:

1. Aircraft machinist/assembler
2. Shoemaker/repair person
3. Automobile upholsterer.

Semi-Skilled Occupations:


1. Forestry worker/arborist
2. Truck driver
3. Warehouse manager

Unskilled Occupations

1. General laborer (such as a mover or landscaper)
2. Hotel porter
3. Gas station attendant

Professional and Government Occupations:


1. Police/security official
2. Military personnel
3. Religious official.

In an interview with IFLScience, Arntfield says serial killers are attracted to these jobs because they facilitate a desire to kill, and in some cases they kill because they're already in the job. But what is it about these professions that attract serial killers? Well, it’s complicated.

“[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.

For instance, “mechanophilia” (machine fixation or eroticism) is strongly correlated with necrophilia and homicidal necrophilia for reasons not fully understood. Many jobs allow easy access to vulnerable victims – like sex trade workers, transients, and shift workers – under the guise of employment. Knowing this information could have implications for future investigations and profiling efforts, according to Arntfield.


“The FBI already has a task force built around the understanding that highway travel for work is correlated with a great deal of interstate and multi-jurisdictional serial murder,” he said. “In future, it will also assist with, ideally, better screening – especially for police and similar jobs that still allow too many to squeeze through.”

[H/T: The Conversation]


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