Divorce Rate by Profession: The 9 Highest and 7 Lowest

Discover the careers with the highest and lowest divorce rates and see where you land.

Updated April 18, 2024
Divorce lawyer talking to a couple

Many things can contribute to divorce. Looking at divorce rates by profession provides a snapshot of those jobs that may contribute to the breakdown of marriage. Of course, it's not necessarily the job that causes the issues but all the things that come with it, such as long or odd hours, the heavy mental load required by the job, stress, and more. 

Divorce Rate by Occupation

The most recent study into divorce rate and occupation was completed in 2017 by statistician Nathan Yau. He 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 getting divorced.

Need to Know

It's important to understand when looking at statistics that correlation doesn't necessarily imply causation. In other words, just because a job and a divorce are statistically linked doesn't mean it's the job that causes the divorce. 

A Snapshot of Professions With the Highest and Lowest Divorce Rates

We'll discuss this in more detail later, but if you want the facts now, this quick list will show you the 9 professions with the highest divorce rates and the 7 professions with the lowest.

Top 9 Highest Divorce Rates by Profession

  1. Gaming managers and gaming service workers -  52.9 to 50.3%
  2. Bartenders - 52.7%
  3. Flight attendants - 50.5%
  4. Switchboard operators, telemarketers, and telephone operators - 49.7 to 47.8%
  5. Metals and plastics machine setters and operators - 49.6 to 50.1%
  6. Massage therapists - 47.8%
  7. Licensed practical and licensed vocation nurses - 47%
  8. First-line supervisors of correctional officers - 46.9%
  9. Dancers and choreographers - 46.8%

Top 8 Professions With the Lowest Divorce Rate

  1. Actuaries - 17%
  2. Physical scientists, medical scientists, and life scientists - 18.9 to 19.6%
  3. Clergy - 19.8%
  4. Software developers, applications and system software - 20.3%
  5. Physical therapists - 20.7%
  6. Optometrists - 20.8%
  7. Engineers - 21.1 to 22%

Careers With Highest Divorce Rates

stressed person workin

Many things contribute to whether a couple stays married or gets divorced. Some major factors include age, education level, income, and job stress. The professions with the highest divorce rates, according to Yau's study, might surprise you — or they might not given the above factors. 

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. People who 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 patrons are likely reasons for the high divorce rate of this group. People with diminished inhibitions due to alcohol often chat up bartenders, which can, unfortunately, lead to inappropriate encounters. However, their age might be a factor 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%

Flight Attendants leaning on a door at the airport

Distance doesn't always make the heart grow fonder, and being apart a lot can be challenging in a marriage. Flight attendants work a difficult schedule that regularly takes them away from their homes and spouses. This may cause 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 of cheating when you're both overnighting in a city away from home without your partner.

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 and lots of rejection. Sometimes, in high-stress jobs, it's difficult to leave work stress at the door, and marriages can suffer when one spouse comes home tired and cranky. This can lead to communication, intimacy, and general health issues. 

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, operators, and tenders had a rate of 49.6%.

These manufacturing careers often have two things in common that can challenge a marriage — low income and lower education levels. There is job insecurity, too, as people working in these positions may experience higher unemployment rates. All these factors can contribute to higher divorce rates.

Massage Therapists - 47.8%

Massage therapy is a field that's highly dominated by women. And while it may sound archaic, a study conducted by Boston University found women who work are more likely to find themselves in divorce court than those who don't. Plus, massage therapists spend a lot of time in close personal contact with repeat clients in private to semi-private settings, which could also be a contributing factor.

Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocation Nurses - 47%

Hospital emergency

Job stress and odd hours are the most likely contributors to high divorce rates in nursing. Nurses often work long hours, weekend and night shifts, and holidays, which means lots of time away from their families. LPNs and LVNs can also struggle with low pay, juggling career and family, and lots of stress from dealing with sick patients.

First-Line Supervisors of Correctional Officers - 46.9%

Working in a correctional facility means long days in a very high-stress environment. Along with high divorce rates, correctional officers and their supervisors may 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 clear contributors to divorce.

Dancers and Choreographers - 46.8%

The lifestyle of a professional dancer isn't necessarily conducive to married life, which may be 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. Dancers may also have lower educational levels, and income may be insecure or low.

Careers With Lowest Divorce Rates

Just as there are statistical factors that make it more likely for you and your spouse to divorce, other factors make it more likely your marriage will work. Happy marriages last. Factors that can make a marriage more enduring 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 fewer divorces. Actuaries — who make their living by examining data and predicting risk for insurance — need 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, 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 make them more likely to have a successful marriage. Scientists tend to be highly logical and rational people who maintain a sort of flexibility when it comes to problem-solving. And 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%

Woman coding at night

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, using logic and careful planning to design software. Software development is also a high-income profession, with starting annual salaries at around $95,000, and it requires a high level of education to succeed. Many software developers also work remotely, which allows them to spend more time with their spouses and families.

Physical Therapists - 20.7%

Physical therapists are sought-after positions with excellent employment prospects. The field requires advanced education, and the median annual salary is around $99,000. Physical therapists also report lower stress and higher satisfaction in their positions compared to others. They're often included in lists of the happiest professions, and this type of job satisfaction can mean less stress in a marriage.

Optometrists - 20.8%

Optometrists — eye doctors — have a doctorate degree and average almost $130,000 a year, both of which increase the probability of their marriages working. 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, but 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 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 are some of the most popular, with their corresponding divorce rates.

Professional Athletes - 60 to 80%

It's estimated that 60 to 80% of professional athletes' marriages end in divorce. Adultery is one of the main causes of divorce, and athletes have plenty of opportunities with all their adoring fans. They also live a pretty unconventional lifestyle, one that allows them to fulfill most of their wishes. They spend a ton 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%

Senior pilot waiting at the airport lobby for flight

The issues with pilots are similar to those flight attendants face, and 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. Full-time pilots spend a lot of time away from home, 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.

Veterinarians - 23%

The divorce rate for veterinarians currently is around 23%. Income, educational status, and job growth make this a 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, and 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 for nurses. However, despite having the same workplace, there are differences between the two professions.

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.

The Link Between Profession and Divorce

Your job isn't the only predictor of marital success, but it can definitely play a role. But that doesn't mean if you work in one of the high divorce-rate jobs, you're doomed, or that you'll be married forever if you're in a low-divorce-rate career. What truly matters is communication, willingness to work things out, and making time for your loved one. With the right foundation, your marriage can succeed, no matter what your job is.

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Divorce Rate by Profession: The 9 Highest and 7 Lowest