The Most Stressful Jobs – Are They Worth it?


Stressful Jobs

At some time, most people run across stressful situations at work. It’s inevitable and for many of us it’s difficult to predict when it will happen. It can be related to a particular assignment, your boss, or it can come with the territory. Without a doubt, some positions have a higher level of stress than others. What are the most stressful jobs and why? Are they bad for your health?

CareerCast ranked many jobs using a list of stress factors. They looked at the typical demands imposed on these positions and what type of crisis they may expect to be put under. They determined the following factors evokes stress: physical demands, hazards, life of another at risk, your life at risk, growth potential, deadlines, travel, being in the public eye, competitiveness, environmental conditions, and meeting with the public. Jobs were rated by these 11 factors and ranked accordingly with a score of 0-15 (some were 0-5). The following are CarrerCast’s top list (those with “Stress Level” scores) of the most stressful jobs in addition to other high stress positions that we added. After viewing these positions, you may want to consider looking at the least stressful jobs.


Working Parents

At the top of our list is the working parent. Working parents don’t get additional compensation for being a parent. Often, there isn’t a clear division between the time spent parenting and the time working at their job. Something will have to give since the balance is difficult to achieve. Emotions, stress, and guilt are the by-products of this conflict. Conflicts arise on a daily basis – attending to a child’s needs may conflict with the parents’ work schedule or deadline. Being a single parent only heightens the stress level. Imagine being a working parent and also holding down one of the jobs on the following pages.


Enlisted military personnel

Stress score: 84.78
Median Annual Salary: $28,840
Enlisted military personnel have a high likelihood of being deployed to a foreign country and go into battle against enemy forces. This job often involves killing or being killed, witnessing a buddy being wounded or killed, being on call at a moment’s notice, or witnessing some unthinkable horror. When arriving back home after their tour, they have to assimilate back into civilian life and may have to deal with depression and other disorders such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).


Military general

Median Annual Salary:$196,300
As with enlisted military personnel, military generals are separated from their families. They are under constant pressure to make decisions affecting the lives of their soldiers. They witness unthinkable acts of violence and as a commander they have to write a letter to the family of a fallen soldier. As with enlisted personnel, they too may suffer from PTSD and have to assimilate back in to civilian life when their tour of duty ends.



Stress score: 60.59
Median Annual Salary:$45,600
Savings lives, rescuing people, and putting themselves in harm’s way at the same time is the norm for a firefighter. These courageous firefighters can work countless hours in scorching heat while hiking in mountainous terrain fighting fires while carrying 45-75 pounds of equipment.


Airline pilot

Stress score: 60.46
Median Annual Salary: $103,390
Every takeoff and landing puts high pressure on airline pilots, since their acts affect the lives of 100’s of passengers and crew members. They sit in a cramped cabin space with many instrument clusters that need to be monitored, at the same time being in constant communication with air traffic controllers. Flying in storms adds another layer of complexity to make sure their passengers and crew are kept safe.


Air Traffic Controller

Median Annual Salary: $122,500
Air traffic controllers too work under constant stress, and sit for long periods of time at their equipment making real time decisions that could affect the lives of 100s’ of people. Air traffic controllers are challenged each day with many variables that puts additional pressure on them: weather, aircraft traffic volumes, human factors, configurations, and equipment.


Police officer

Stress score: 53.82
Median Annual Salary:$58,360
Law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day. They also need a perfect balance, which may be difficult to perform given a particular confrontation. Officers need to assess a situation in a very short period of time. They must be alert and on guard to potential threats at all times. At the same time, officers need to practice restraint making sure they don’t use excessive force. Their split second act may be second guessed by others for a very long time.



Median Annual Salary:$42,530
A photojournalist is a reporter that makes a split-second decision to capture a moment in time, while being exposed to huge obstacles in front of them. They can be enveloped in civil unrest, war, physical danger, boisterous crowds, or unsettling weather.



Median Annual Salary:$342,520
A surgeon is responsible for the life of the person on their operating table every time. They need to make sure their operating room team and the anesthesiologist are working together in tandem. There are many unanticipated things that can go wrong, and perhaps at the same time, which adds an additional layer of complexity to a surgery. Just one mistake can be a death sentence for the patient.


Event coordinator

Stress score: 49.93
Median Annual Salary:$45,810
An event coordinator or a party planner has one objective: achieving their client’s goals. A lot of stress is placed on the event coordinator when planning for a wedding or conference. Every event poses new challenges. The coordinator is placed in the middle to resolve any disputes, and needs to be the calming force since they are dealing with emotions from many players. Planning ahead and having contingency plans for the unexpected is part of the norm.


Public Relations Executive

Stress score: 48.46
Median Annual Salary:$55,680
A public relations (PR) executive is constantly on the run to meet tight deadlines. They are also charged with representing their company or employer in the best light, when issuing press releases or other public communications during a crisis. The PR executive is in the public limelight when their client needs to correct or rectify a situation that went wrong, otherwise known as damage control. Every word needs to be crafted correctly, otherwise it may have a devastating and irreversible effect.


Senior Corporate executive

Stress score: 47.46
Median Annual Salary:$102,270.
A senior exec gets some great compensation. However, they put in long hours, are highly visible to the corporation bureaucracy, and are scrutinized for their department’s failures. While it’s nice to climb the corporate ladder to obtain one of these highly sought after positions, they are under daily pressure. They are charged with achieving the overall corporate goals, increase revenues, cut needless expenses, and satisfy the shareholder’s interests.



Stress score: 47.30
Median Annual Salary:$60,070
Working in the public eye, whether sitting in a sound room behind a microphone or being on camera, is very stressful. The broadcaster needs to be sharp and look great, enunciate every word spoken, and not make any flubs. You don’t get a second chance.


Newspaper reporter

Stress score: 46.76
Median Annual Salary:$37,090
Most reporters work very long long hours. When news happens, they need to jump. They need to meet deadlines on an daily basis and for little pay. When a breaking story happens, they need to get the scene as soon as possible regardless of the time of day or night. They need to cover their story and get it out before the competition.