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Top 10 Most Stressful Jobs

written by: N Nayab•edited by: Linda Richter•updated: 5/27/2011

Competitive pressures force people to work harder for less money and less job security. This combined with the dilution of division between work and life increases stress. Some jobs carry inherent causes for high stress levels, compounding the situation. Read on for the list of most stressful jobs.

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    Firefighter

    Firefighters top the list of most stressful jobs. The job-related stress factors for firefighters include:

    • Long and varied work shifts, with duty usually extending to 24 hours, compounded by dormitory-style fire stations
    • The need to remain on the alert constantly and respond immediately when the alarm rings
    • Needing to work in extreme weather and in high risk situations such as exposure to flame and smoke, danger of floors caving in, walls toppling, exposure to toxic chemicals and radioactive materials, and similar hazards, all of which have serious short-term and long-term implications.

    Image Credit: nasaimages.org

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    Police and Patrol Officer

    Jobs that Cause Stress Law enforcement jobs such as police officers and highway patrol officers are very stressful and dangerous. These professionals face potentially life-threatening situations daily when encountering colorful criminals of all types. Other causes for stress include:

    • Long and strenuous shifts, which include late-night hours
    • The need to work and remain especially alert during most public holidays
    • The need to remain patient and cool under taxing circumstances and when interacting with people
    • The need to provide emergency medical care to the injured
    • Risks associated with chasing down criminals
    • The need for high levels of vigilance and concentration throughout the shift

    Image Credit: flickr.com/Cliff

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    Corporate Executive

    The jobs of corporate executives are high paying and entail working in plush, air-conditioned offices. These are nevertheless jobs that cause stress owing to the pressure to perform and meet tight deadlines on a constant basis.

    Corporate executives of all levels remain prime targets for layoff if their company’s operations do not meet the desired results. The causes for poor performance may be adverse external environment, but corporate executives cannot make excuses. They remain responsible for the successful outcome of projects in situations where they have little or no control. They also need to multitask on a regular basis, besides staying on top of financial knowledge, economic trends, and other developments that change by the minute.

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    Surgeon

    The job of a surgeon ranks amongst the top paying jobs, but the high pay comes with a good amount of stress. The causes for high stress levels include:

    • The need to perform the work with immense precision and virtually zero tolerance for errors, while making instant decisions at the same time
    • Handling multiple life and death situations on a daily basis
    • Long working hours, including shifts at odd hours and being summoned from sleep to tend to emergencies
    • The threat of lawsuit against malpractice

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    Commercial Pilot

    The job of a commercial pilot ranks amongst the best careers in terms of pay, but remains a very dangerous and high stress job, making it a common inclusion in the list of most stressful jobs.

    The high stress levels come from the need to remain on constant alert when on the job, even when suffering from jet lag; the need to work long hours and arrive on time regardless of the weather; and still put up a warm and pleasant face and ensure the comfort of passengers.

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    Air Traffic Controller

    The job of an air traffic controller ranks as a high-stress job owing to the mental stress of being responsible for the safety of the airlines and passengers. Even a minor error can cause a plane crash. During peak hours, air traffic controllers need to handle many planes at once, setting priorities and giving permission to pilots rapidly and efficiently. This requires utmost concentration with even a minor distraction causing high risks. The job also requires shift work. Since controllers cannot leave their posts vacant, they may also need to work overtime if their reliever fails to turn up.

    The risk of air traffic controllers monitoring radars mounts even higher as they work in semi-darkness trying to detect a small “blip" on the radarscope.

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    Real Estate Agent

    A real estate agent works independently. The benefits in terms of flexible work hours and the ability to set one's own pace notwithstanding, the job of a real estate agent finds inclusion in the 10 most stressful jobs. The causes for high stress levels come from:

    • The need to tailor work hours based on client conveniences, which usually entails erratic work hours and split shifts.
    • The need to remain patient and composed even under provocation
    • The imperative need to strike a rapport with the clients for the business to progress
    • The highly competitive nature of the field, where painstaking hard work can yield no rewards if the property owner decides to conclude the deal with someone else
    • Tight deadlines

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    Taxi Driver

    Most Stressful Jobs Taxi drivers rank high on the list of most dangerous jobs and most stressful jobs. Although they can work independently to set their own pace and time, the job remains high stress owing to many factors such as:

    • Driving for a long period through densely populated areas, seated in the same position
    • The risk of robbery and physical assault
    • Varied work hours, with peak work time on weekends and holidays
    • The need to handle customers of varied types and personalities

    Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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    MIner

    Most Stressful Jobs 

    The job of a miner ranks among the top most stressful blue collar jobs.

    Mining jobs require working for extended periods in adverse working conditions such as darkness, dampness, heat, noise, and dirt. At times, several inches of water may cover tunnel floors. The stress in mining jobs compounds with the dangerous working conditions the need to apply physical strength and stamina on a constant basis. The threat of accidents such as cave-ins, fire, exposure to harmful gases, and other dangers remain commonplace.

    Isolated mining works in oil and gas extraction and underground mines have shifts extending to several days in a row, followed by several days off. The remote location requires some workers to live onsite.

    Image Credit: flickr.com/Lloyd Morgan

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    Waiter

    Waiters or food and beverage service workers encounter high-stress levels, especially during peak business hours, to serve multiple clients in a timely manner and without errors. This requires intense concentration and the ability to work under distractions. They remain on their feet during most of their shift hours and need to carry heavy trays of food, dishes, and glassware without spilling, tripping, or bumping into someone else. The threat of injuries from slips, cuts, and burns add to the stress.

    Waiters work long and varied hours, and invariably on evenings and holidays. The job places high demand on the workers, but ranks at the bottom when it comes to working conditions, pay, or job security.

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    References

    1. "Top 10 Stressful Jobs in America." http://www.kold.com/global/story.asp?s=8129358. Retrieved 31 October 2010
    2. “America’s Most Stressful Jobs 2010.“ http://www.cnbc.com/id/36715336/America_s_Most_Stressful_Jobs_2010?slide=1. Retrieved 31 October 2010.