Experts have found that occupations and serial murders are often linked, with some jobs being strangely over-represented among serial killers.

According to Michael Arntfield, associate professor of criminology and English literature at Western University and author of the book, “Murder in Plain English,” some dominant patterns have emerged among serial killers and certain occupations over the last 50 years.

Arntfield outlined the patterns in his book, and listed the occupations, dividing them into four categories based on skill, training and turnover.

  • Top 3 Skilled Serial-Killer Occupations: 1. Aircraft machinist/assembler 2. Shoemaker/repair person 3. Automobile upholsterer
  • Top 3 Semi-Skilled Serial Killer Occupations: 1. Forestry worker/arborist 2. Truck driver 3. Warehouse manager
  • Top 3 Unskilled Serial Killer Occupations: 1. General labourer (mover, landscaper, et. al.) 2. Hotel porter 3. Gas station attendant
  • Top 3 Professional/Government Serial Killer Occupations: 1. Police/security official 2. Military personnel 3. Religious official

In an article written for The Conversation, Arntfield noted “Obviously, not everyone occupying these jobs is a serial killer, nor are they likely to become one.”

Even so, he contended that there was something about the listed occupations that was inherently appealing to offenders, “or that otherwise cultivates the impulses of serial killers-in-waiting and causes them to be curiously over-represented among this rare breed of murderer.”

For example, Joseph DeAngelo, the alleged Golden State Killer, held three of the listed occupations over the course of his lifetime: Police officer, military personnel (he served in the U.S. Navy), and, peripherally, truck driver, although, after being fired from the police force in 1979 for shoplifting, he technically spent his post-law-enforcement career as a mechanic for a fleet of grocery store freezer trucks.

There are also occupations that are over-represented among psychopaths. Arntfield wrote, “While not all psychopaths are serial killers, psychopathy — or at the very least, the possession of psychopathic traits — is a common denominator among serial killers, sex offenders and most violent criminals.”

Following are the top 10 occupations according to an Oxford University psychologist:

  • CEO or business executive
  • Lawyer
  • Media personality
  • Salesperson
  • Surgeon
  • Journalist or news anchor
  • Police officer
  • Religious official
  • Chef
  • Miscellaneous civil servant (military, city council, corrections, etc.)

In conclusion, Arntfield wrote, “In overlaying the two lists, we can see that even amid a perpetually changing economy, certain jobs are always likely to appeal to those people we will later be stunned to learn managed to carry on that type of work while also being monsters in our midst.”