These workers have one of the scariest jobs in the world

These workers have one of the scariest jobs in the world

Todd Whitehill and his team of bridge painters are part of a brave crew that works year-round to ensure the George Washington Bridge is operational at all times. Every day, these workers weave in and out of the steel mazes — rigging, climbing, scraping and painting the rusted steel — all while hundreds of feet in the air.

Traffic moves over the Hudson River and across the George Washington Bridge between New York City (R), and in Fort Lee, New Jersey.
Getty Images

"The margin for error is very small," says Whitehill, who has been helping to maintain the structure for more than two decades. "This bridge is heartless and unforgiving."

Whitehill tells CNBC he took the job in the first place because it was available, steady work that paid well. "I wanted a house and I wanted to get my daughter through college," he explains.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average painter, construction and maintenance worker starts out at around $37,960 per year, and experts say the pay can top out at around $71,000. With the George Washington Bridge's more than 9 million square feet of paintable surface and a crew of only 16, you could say these guys have the ultimate job security.

But getting used to the conditions hundreds of feet up is certainly not for the faint of heart.

That's why applicants who want to join this dream team need to prove they have nerves of steel.

To make the cut, candidates must take a freight elevator to the top of one of the bridge's two 604-foot steel towers. Next, as traffic whizzes below, the candidate must walk on a six-inch beam to the opposite side of the tower — a task that would paralyze most people with fear.

"There's barely a few people that just barely make it out of the elevator," explains Whitehill.

But if you can get past the fear, one thing's for certain: Even the world's plushest corner offices don't have the kind of views these bridge painters see.

Read more: NFL linebacker Brandon Copeland saves 90% of his pay. Here's how he does it

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