Top 10 Most Stressful Jobs (Is Yours on the List?)

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Most Stressful Jobs

What’s the biggest source of stress in your life?

If you answered “work”, you’re not alone!

Job stress is consistently cited as one of the top sources of stress year after year, according to the American Psychological Association (APA).

The APA’s 2018 Stress in America survey reveals that:

  • 64% of adults say work is a significant source of stress
  • 77% of Gen Z adults say work is a significant source of stress
  • And according to a recent CareerCast survey, most people (69%) rank job stress at 7 or higher on a 10 point scale.

    Work stress is nothing to sneeze at … it’s precisely the type of chronic stress that can lead to physical and mental health issues such as anxiety disorders, depression, cancer and heart disease.

    So, if your job is on this list you should definitely be implementing some stress-reducing tips and avoiding habits that make anxiety worse.

    You may even want to consider whether it’s time to quit your job for the sake of your health and happiness.

    Now, let’s see if your occupation made the list of the Top 10 Most Stressful Jobs.

    But, first of all …

    How Do You Determine Which Jobs Are the Most Stressful? 

    Every career has its own unique stressors and each person is uniquely equipped to deal better with some than others.

    However, there are some universally stressful factors when it comes to the workplace. CareerCast used 11 key factors in determining the most stressful jobs of 2019:

  • Career Growth Potential
  • Competition
  • Deadlines
  • Environmental Conditions
  • Hazards Encountered
  • Immediate Risk of Another's Life
  • Meeting the Public
  • Physical Demands
  • Risk of Death or Grievous Injury
  • Travel
  • Working in the Public Eye
  • Many of these things about my old jobs would stress me out and I can see why these factors were used, can you?!

    The following list consists of synthesized information I compiled from several sources. I researched reports, surveys and articles to come up with this comprehensive list of the most stressful jobs.

    The Top 10 Most Stressful Jobs

    1. Enlisted Military Personnel

    most stressful job- military

    Well, this comes as no surprise.

    Training for combat, traveling to foreign countries, witnessing acts of violence, being away from home for extended periods of time, and facing imminent risk of death are all part of what makes this job so stressful.

    And I mean, what could be more stressful than war?

    Soldiers are at high risk for developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), combat operational stress (COS) and other mental health issues due to their exposure to life-threatening events.

    Deployment stress coupled with a constant sense of uncertainty puts a strain on servicemembers as well as their families. If not managed well, that stress can lead to overwhelm, burnout, anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues.

    2. First Responder

    stressful jobs first responder

    Paramedics, police officers, firefighters – these are the courageous people who put their lives on the line to save others.

    But, courage doesn’t mean the absence of fear. It means doing what needs to be done despite that fear.

    So, first responders are a shining example of those who “feel the fear and do it anyway” –on a regular basis!

    But, even the bravest of us can become overwhelmed by the impact of critical incident stress. Witnessing traumatic events can lead to flashbacks, nightmares, high blood pressure and impaired concentration, among other stress-related symptoms.

    *The First Responder Support Network provides first responders and their families with the tools they need to reduce stress, make career decisions, and minimize the effects of traumatic incident-related trauma on their lives.  

    Most Stressful Jobs

    3. Health Care Worker

    most stressful job- health care

    Job burnout in the health care industry is real.

    Surgeons, anesthesiologists and other types of doctors literally have people’s lives depending on them and their ability to perform … that’s a lot of pressure to deal with every single day, multiple times a day.

    Others in the industry including registered nurses, home health aids and other health care professionals are also stressed to the max because they’re often required to work long hours in a fast-paced, dangerous work environment.

    The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that more workers are injured in the healthcare industry than any other. This is because they face workplace hazards such as:

  • Biological hazards
  • Bloodborne pathogens
  • Chemical and drug exposures
  • Ergonomic hazards
  • Gas exposures
  • Radioactive material
  • Repetitive tasks
  • Respiratory hazards
  • Workplace violence
  • X-ray hazards
  • Not only that, but they are constantly dealing with emotionally-charged situations (emergencies, deaths, delivering of bad news).

    It’s no wonder workers in the health care industry are among the most stressed.

    4. Pilot

    stress inducing occupation- pilot

    Pilots fly commercial aircrafts weighing anywhere from 12,500 to over 800,000 pounds.

    Plus, they must stay awake and alert for long stretches, work irregular hours, and fly in all types of weather conditions. Like the military, they are away from their families for long periods.

    And oh yeah, they have probably about 100-300 passengers onboard, so you know, no pressure.

    Not to mention pilot fatigue which can be caused by lengthy flights, layovers, jet-lag, red-eye flights and monotony.

    Others in the airline industry including the flight crew, maintenance workers and security guards are also subject to extremely stressful work conditions.

    5. News Reporter

    job stress -news reporter

    Reporters, broadcasters and journalists all have jobs that require them to meet tight deadlines and work long, often unpredictable hours.

    They may have to put themselves in dangerous positions to get a story or interview and they are pretty much always on call, subject to the ebb and flow of the news.

    It’s a fast-paced, 24-hour, in the public eye type of job that doesn’t leave much room for error. If you struggle with public speaking (like most of us), being in the spotlight can be another source of stress for this job.

    Finally, besides the job duties, news reporters typically don’t make much money, which only adds to the overwhelming stress.

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    Most Stressful Jobs

    6. Social Worker

    most stressful job- social worker

    Anyone who helps those in need is a hero in my book!

    Social workers don’t go into the profession looking to get rich or famous.

    They usually choose social work because they want to help people, they want to make a difference.

    There are many types of social work, for example there are jobs that deal with mental health, substance abuse, child welfare, etc.

    To work in any of these areas requires something special that seems to be in short supply nowadays – empathy.

    Naturally, this draws highly sensitive persons (HSP) and empaths to the field. These are the exact people who are at risk for the overwhelm and burnout that comes from unmanageable caseloads and uncertain efficacy.

    The draining and “never-ending” nature of this job is certainly one of the reasons that it is one of the most stressful.

    7. Teacher

    job anxiety- teacher

    Teachers work lots of overtime for not much money.

    They have the huge responsibility of shaping the minds of the next generation.

    But, according to a Pennsylvania State University study, 46% of teachers report high daily stress.

    It’s typically due to things like bad classroom behavior, test scores, performance reviews and an unstable job market.

    And teachers often spend their own money on school supplies – up to $1,000 a year, according to NPR’s Education Team.

    These stressors affect not only teaching ability but also quality of life. The stress associated with the profession is so overwhelming that many teachers (30-40%) leave the profession within the first five years.

    And the increasing prevalence of school violence only adds to the stress of an already thankless job.

    8. Corporate Executive

    overwhelm- corporate executive

    This category includes senior corporate executives such as vice presidents, PR directors, and CEOs.

    These type of upper management roles come with a lot of money but also a lot of stress.

    Corporate executives are under pressure to produce results. They have the interests of numerous stakeholders to consider and lots of tight deadlines to meet.

    Public relations officers are also at risk of burnout. They have to constantly consider the reputation of the company and face enormous pressure to “put out fires”.

    Leaders in these roles often have difficulty taking care of themselves because they feel like it is selfish or unnecessary. They may even have some limiting beliefs that are causing them to believe there’s not enough time to practice self-care.

    Most Stressful Jobs

    9. Event Coordinator

    occupational burnout- event coordinator

    Event coordinators have so many responsibilities! First, they must communicate with their clients in order to glean the client’s desires for the event.

    This is not always the easiest task, considering that sometimes people either do not really know what they want, are unable to communicate what they want, or cannot afford what they want.

    And then once they’ve gotten on the same page with the client, they have to book venues, organize entertainment, budget, collect payments, mitigate issues, and basically make sure that the event goes off without a hitch.

    This requires so many skills including:

  • Ability to remain calm under pressure
  • Attention to detail
  • Communication skills
  • Creativity
  • Flexibility
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Organizational skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Time management skills
  • They’re typically the first to arrive and the last to leave the event. These long hours combined with the fast-paced nature of the job and all the responsibility that comes with it makes Event Coordinator one of the most stressful jobs.

    10. Taxi Driver

    source of stress- taxi driver

    Taxi drivers have an inherently dangerous job – first, because of the fact that they’re driving on the roads and car accidents are so common.

    I get stressed out when I have to drive to the store lol! I cannot imagine the level of stress that comes with driving every single day, non-stop, in traffic for like 12 hours a day.

    And second, because the occupation has one of the highest homicide rates – you never know who’s getting into the cab and some people do not have the best of intentions.

    Another factor that adds to the stress of the profession is the increased competition with Uber and Lyft. Many cab drivers are now struggling to make ends meet (especially the ones who are trying to pay off the loan for their New York taxi medallion).

    So, to recap the top 10 most stressful jobs are:

  • Enlisted military personnel
  • First responder
  • Health care worker
  • Pilot
  • News Reporter
  • Social Worker
  • Teacher
  • Corporate Executive
  • Event Coordinator
  • Taxi Driver
  • Honorable Mentions:

    Just because your job didn’t make this top 10 list doesn’t mean it isn’t stressful!

    Here are 15 more extremely stressful positions:

  • Air traffic controller
  • Bus driver
  • Chef/line cook
  • Construction worker
  • Customer service representative
  • Emergency dispatcher
  • Financial manager
  • IT worker
  • Lawyer
  • Mental health counselor/psychologist
  • Nuclear reactor operator
  • Physician
  • Politician
  • Sales worker
  • Waiter/waitress
  • Don’t Let Yourself Reach the Point of Burnout

    Was your job on the list of the top ten most stressful jobs?

    Or, do you see some similarities in the stressful types of work duties or work environment between the jobs on the list and yours?

    If so, you need to know how to properly handle work stress so that you don’t burn out.

    In case you’re not familiar with the term, burnout is a term used to describe the state of overwhelm and exhaustion that one reaches when exposed to excessive, prolonged stress.

    It often occurs because one feels emotionally drained, undervalued and unable to meet the constant demands that are being placed on them.

    WHO Definition of Burnout

    The World Health Organization (WHO) has updated its definition of burnout for the International Classification of Diseases which is set to go into effect January 2022.

    Here’s a sneak peak of the new definition:

    Burn-out is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions:

  • Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
  • Increased mental distance from one’s job, or negative/cynical feelings related to one’s job
  • Reduced professional efficacy

  • How to Deal with Work Stress & Anxiety

    In a future post, we’ll discuss how to deal with work stress.

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    Over to you … what’s the most stressful part of your job? Let me know in the comments!

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    About the Author

    Kalliope Archondis, JD, LLM. 👋Hi! I'm Kalli, personal development blogger and Etsy shop owner. Check out our Self Care by 3D Success relaxation spa gift sets here.