What are the most stressful jobs in America?

Soldier, firefighter and police officer positions are obvious, but jobs in media are right up there, too.

It’s human nature to complain about workplace stress. But which jobs are the ones that actually carry the most stress?

If you ask most people, they’d probably cite jobs in the military, police and firefighting as particularly stressful ones because of the inherent dangers of working on the job. Airline pilots would be up there as well.

And yes, those jobs do rank the highest among the many jobs surveyed about by employment portal CareerCast in its newest research on the topic. But of the other jobs that make the “Top 10 most stressful” list, several of them might surprise you:

Most Stressful: CareerCast Stress Scores by Profession (2019)

#1. Enlisted military personnel (E3, 4 years experience): 73

#2. Firefighter:  72

#3. Airline pilot:  61

#4. Police officer:  52

#5. Broadcaster:  51

#6. Event coordinator:  51

#7. News reporter:  50

#8. PR executive:  49

#9. Senior corporate executive:  49

#10. Taxi driver:  48

According to the CareerCast research findings, based on an evaluation of 11 potential stress factors including meeting deadlines, job hazards, physical demands and public interaction requirements, more than three-fourths of respondents in the 2019 survey rated their job stress at 7 or higher on a 10-point scale.

The most common stress contributors cited were “meeting deadlines’ (~38% of respondents) and “interacting with the public” (~14%).

Upon reflection, it’s perhaps understandable why workers in media positions feel like they are under particular stress – what with “fake news” claims and a constant barrage of criticism from both the left and the right which can go beyond being simply irritants into some much more stress-inducing.

What if someone wanted to make a career change and switch to a job that’s at the opposite end of the stress scale? CareerCast has identified those positions, too.  Here are the “least stressful” jobs as found in its 2019 research results:

Least Stressful: CareerCast 2019 Stress Score by Profession

#1. Diagnostic medical sonographer:  5

#2. Compliance officer:  6

#3: Hair stylist:  7

#4. Audiologist:  7

#5. University professor:  8

#6. Medical records technician:  9

#7. Jeweler:  9

#8: Operations research analyst:  9

#9. Pharmacy technician:  9

#10. Massage therapist:  10

Interestingly, one might assume that the most stressful jobs in America would carry a commensurate salary premium, but that doesn’t turn out to be the case.  The average median salary for the Top 10 “most stressful” jobs in America is hardly distinguishable from those of the Top 10 “least stressful” jobs – differing by only around 4%.  It seems like those latter workers are onto something!

More information about the CareerCast findings can be viewed here.

2 thoughts on “What are the most stressful jobs in America?

  1. Stress comes not from the difficulty of a task, but from how much can go wrong and from how easily one loses control.

    Judged that way, not much goes wrong for an audiologist … but a lot can go wrong for a pilot in a split second, a taxi driver dealing with a criminal, or a newsperson embedded with troops.

    I know a professor of music whose wife has figured out he worked 12 hours a week for the last 30 years. He conducts a university orchestra, has tenure, is not involved in college politics and experiences almost no stress at all. The reason is simple: Except for a cracked note on the french horn, little is outside his control.

    Control seems to be the Darwinistic key. A study of crustaceans reveals that even low-ranking lobsters experience more stress than the (so to speak) “top dog” lobsters. They run the place, and not much bad happens to them.

    As Hobbes famously wrote, life in a state of nature is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” Since then, we have achieved a great deal of control. But some have more control than others …

  2. Event management has been on this list for a while and it’s no surprise to me. A million details, venue service that’s never stellar, high expectations, huge expense.

    All of this adds to the complexity of event coordination and therefore stress. This is why I hate trade shows and show planning.

    But ranked just after pilot and police officer? That’s crazy, isn’t it? Events aren’t life or death. But we get the same punishment of jobs that are so much more critical to society.

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