Divorce Rate by Profession From Highest to Lowest

Updated May 8, 2020
Divorce lawyer talking to a couple

The complexity of society is reflected in current divorce statistics thanks to expansion in various social norms like the increase in single women, more women in the workforce, and an up and down economy at best. Nowadays, your career choice, whether your parents were married, the number of children you have, and even where you live can play key roles in the probability of getting a divorce.

Divorce Rate By Occupation

A study in 2017 by statistician Nathan Yau compiled data from the 2015 American Community Survey by the U.S. Census. Using the U.S. Census data, Yau looked at divorce rates among about 500 different careers to determine which were correlated with the highest and lowest divorce rates. The resulting percentages reflect the chances of an individual in a particular career to experience divorce.

Careers With Highest Divorce Rates

There are a number of factors that make it more likely for a couple to divorce. Some major ones include age, lack of communication and income. You might be surprised at which professions have the highest divorce rate in the U.S. based on Yau's study, which are listed below.

stressed person workin

Gaming Managers and Gaming Services Workers - 52.9 to 50.3%

Location and alcohol, without question, are two of the main reasons individuals in this industry have some of the highest divorce rates. According to divorcestatistics.org, Nevada has the highest divorce rate and one of the largest populations of casino employees. Individuals that work in casinos are more likely to suffer from depression, abuse alcohol, and smoke cigarettes, all of which could play a significant role in their divorce rate. In addition, the educational requirement for gaming managers and workers is a high school diploma, which could be another reason this career carries such a high divorce rate for both managers (52.9%) and workers (50.3%).

Bartenders - 52.7%

Late nights, party atmospheres, and constant interaction with individuals of the opposite sex are likely reasons for the high divorce rate of this group. Bartenders are often confided to by angry or depressed spouses with diminished inhibitions due to alcohol, which can unfortunately lead to inappropriate encounters. However, their lack of education and age might be factors as well. Considering that the average age of a bartender is 34, it's no wonder that a little impulsivity could cause a person to jump out of marriage almost as quickly as they jumped in.

Flight Attendants - 50.5%

Fight attendants work a difficult schedule that takes them away from their home and spouses on a regular basis. This can lead to alienation and an increased risk of infidelity as the opportunity for cheating increases with travel. You also have a situation where flight attendants and pilots work together in close proximity which can increase the chances for cheating when you're both overnighting in a city away from home on your own.

Flight Attendants leaning on a door at the airport

Switchboard Operators, Telemarketers, and Telephone Operators - 49.7 to 47.8%

Working as a switchboard operator (49.7%) or telephone operator (47.8%) can be a stressful job, especially if you deal with a high number of unpleasant calls each day. Likewise, telemarketing (49.2%) is a job that involves long hours on the phone with people and many of these calls can be difficult. The chances that a person will bring their stress and upset from a hard day at work handling a high volume of telephone calls is high. As a result marriages can suffer when one spouse comes home tired and in a bad mood, leading to problems with communication, intimacy and general health.

Metals and Plastics Machine Setters and Operators - 49.6 to 50.1%

Yau found a high rate of divorce among two types of machine setters and operators. Rolling machine setters, operators and tenders for metals and plastic had a rate of 50.1% while extruding and drawing machine setters, operator and tenders had a rate of 49.6%. These similar careers fall within the manufacturing industry. These workers fall into two categories that quickly lead to a marriage falling apart - low rates of income and lack of a college education. Individuals in this area often experience higher rates of unemployment. According to DivorceMagazine.com, financial difficulties and debt is one of the top reasons individuals get divorced, which makes it is easy to see why this group has such a high divorce rate.

Massage Therapists - 47.8%

Massage therapy is a field that is highly dominated by women. A study conducted by Boston University found women who work are more likely to find themselves in divorce court than those that don't. In addition, massage therapists spend a lot of time in close personal contact with repeat clients in private to semi-private settings. Considering that the best way to avoid adultery is to keep out of the field of temptation, this could be a large factor in the massage therapist divorce rate.

Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocation Nurses - 47%

It's not a surprise that there's a high level of divorce among marriages with nurses, as this critical profession is a high-stress one. Nurses often work long hours and weekend and night shifts, as well as holidays, which means lots of time away from their families. They also can struggle with low pay and juggling career, family and financial issues coupled with the stress of dealing with sick patients can be a real strain on a person and their marriage.

Hospital emergency

First-Line Supervisors of Correctional Officers - 46.9%

Working in a correctional facility means long days in a very high-stress environment. In addition to high divorce rates, correctional officers and their supervisors suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and suicide, as well as high rates of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. A study of correctional officers found that the conflict between their family life and their work life was the most difficult problem they faced with their job, and these are a clear contributor to divorce.

Dancers and Choreographers - 46.8%

The lifestyle of a professional dancer is not necessarily conducive to married life, which is probably why this career has such a high divorce rate. In addition to having a relatively low pay rate, which can play a significant role in causing divorce, dancers also work extremely long hours and are always on the road. Dancing does not require a college education and lacking a college education is a factor tied to marriage, happiness and likelihood of getting divorced.

Careers With Lowest Divorce Rates

Just as there are statistical factors that make it more likely for you and your spouse to divorce, there are other factors that make it more likely your marriage will work. Happy marriages last. Factors that can make a marriage more enduring than other marriages include having a college degree, sharing similar backgrounds, and having the same outlook on marriage, family, and kids. Some careers with the lowest divorce rates in Yau's review are listed below.

Actuaries - 17%

The profession with the lowest divorce rate fits the description of the types of positions that lead to less divorce. Actuaries, who make their living by examining data and predicting risk for insurance, need to have a higher level of education to be employed in their field. It's also a stable career with a high median income in the low six figures.

Physical Scientists and Medical Scientists and Life Scientists - 18.9 to 19.6%

The Yau study found that different types of scientists made the list of the lowest divorce rates. The personality characteristics that make someone a good scientist, also makes them more likely to be successful in a marriage. Scientists tend to be highly logical and rational individuals who maintain a sort of flexibility when it comes to solving problems. In addition, recent scientific studies on making a marriage work could provide individuals who are physical scientists (18.9%) and medical/life scientists (19.6%) a roadmap to maintaining a successful marriage.

Clergy - 19.8%

Almost every, if not every, denomination believes in holding true to a promise made to whatever divine being that forms the basis of their faith. Clergy members are often committed to working their marital problems out, a key factor in making a marriage more likely to work. Also, spiritual leaders operate as role models for their flock, including providing marital counseling when required. This higher knowledge of the benefits of honoring and respecting your spouse may play a role in keeping this group's marriages together.

Software Developers, Applications and System Software - 20.3%

Like other low-divorce rate professions, successful software developers have similar qualities as scientists and actuaries. These professions all involve reviewing data, calculating risks and possible outcomes and in a developer's case, the use of logic and careful planning to design software. It's also a high income profession, with starting salaries around $85,000 and a high level of education is necessary to succeed. Many software developers also work remotely, which allows them to have more time with their spouses and families.

Woman coding at night

Physical Therapists - 20.7%

Physical therapists are a sought-after position with excellent employment prospects. It's also a field requiring advanced education and the median salary is around $87,000. Physical therapists also report lower stress and high satisfaction in their position compared to others. It's a position often included in lists of the happiest professions, and this type of job satisfaction can mean less stress on a marriage.

Optometrists - 20.8%

Optometrists or eye doctors have a doctorate degree and average almost $100k a year, both of which increases the probability for their marriages to work. In addition, a number of the personal characteristics that make individuals successful as mates, also make a person successful in the optometry profession, including the ability to operate well under stress, the ability to accept criticism, and the willingness to compromise.

Engineers - 21.1 to 22%

Not only does working as an engineer require an advanced degree, biomedical and agricultural engineers (22%) and chemical engineers (21.1%) are well compensated. The average income is high enough to stave off financial difficulties that can often cause marriages to fail. The higher levels of communication inherent within these types of positions may play a vital role in keeping marriages together since good communication is a necessity for marital success.

Divorce Rates in Popular Careers

According to U.S. News & World Report, the following careers, with their corresponding divorce rates, are some of the most popular.

Professional Athletes - 60 to 80%

It's estimated that 60 to 80% of professional athlete's marriages end in divorce. Adultery is one of the main causes of divorce, and for this group of individuals adoring fans make adultery more commonplace than in other marriages. Another factor that increases the likelihood of divorce in this group is the large amounts of money they earn. In addition, this group of individuals lives a lifestyle unlike the rest of America, one that allows them to fulfill most of their wishes. Couple all of this with the fact that individuals in these careers tend to spend a lot of time away from home and often face career pressures at a greater level due to their overwhelming presence in the public arena.

Pilots - 30.5%

Just as with flight attendants, the pilot divorce rate is high at 30.5%. Divorce is so common among pilots that there's a term for it in the industry: Aviation Induced Divorce Syndrome. Piloting an airplane is a high stress profession and research has found that depression is more prevalent among pilots than the average population. In addition, full-time pilots can find themselves away from home a lot, missing important events like anniversaries, graduations, and birthdays. If the marriage doesn't have good communication and an understanding spouse, resentment and the possibility of adultery can place a marriage in jeopardy.

Senior pilot waiting at the airport lobby for flight

Veterinarians - 23%

The divorce rate for veterinarians currently is around 23%. Income, educational status, and job growth rate make this a pretty safe profession to get into for long term career potential and marriage stability. The slightly elevated divorce rate could be because women now dominate this field. Professional women have a higher divorce rate than their non-professional counterparts. Veterinary medicine can also be a high stress field with a high incidence of mental health problems, burnout and even suicide, especially among younger practitioners.

Physicians and Surgeons - 21.8%

The divorce rate for physicians is 21.8% which is interesting compared to the high divorce rate of nurses. However, despite the same workplace, there are differences between the two professions that can explain the differences. Doctors have higher educational levels and income compared to nurses. They also tend to marry later because they take longer to complete their higher education and marrying too young has been found to be a risk factor for divorce. The statistics for the divorce rate will vary depending on whether the doctor is male or female, however. A study by the British Medical Journal found that female physicians were more likely to get divorced than males. The risk went up even more if they were a female physician who worked an extended schedule, leading to more time away from home.

Avoiding Divorce

There are a number of other factors that could tie into an increased likelihood that your career choice could lead to a higher probability for being divorced including communication, infidelity, and lack of quality time spent together. Some of the best advice is making sure to communicate and working to show affection.

Divorce Rate by Profession From Highest to Lowest