What makes a job stressful?
When searching for a new job, everyone hopes to get a low-stress career that offers adequate pay and a good work-life balance. However, some jobs are naturally more stressful than others. Some of these jobs involve working in dangerous environments where the risk of losing your life is high. Others have high-pressure deadlines, and some are just hard to do while offering little pay.
If you don’t have a high tolerance for stress, steer clear of high stress level jobs. Here, we provide a detailed list of some of the most stressful jobs in the United States to guide you when choosing a career path.
What are the most stressful jobs in the U.S.?
Here is a list of 20 of the most stressful jobs in the U.S.:
Average base pay: $42,579 per year
While teachers get automatic pay raises and long summer holidays, teaching is one of the most stressful jobs in the U.S. Teachers’ work duties extend well beyond the school day hours. They have to create lesson plans, grade papers, design curricula, and even attend continuing education courses and other school-related activities. Although teachers may earn a comfortable income, most will never be able to amass wealth on their salaries.
Learn more: Teaching Careers: How to Become a Teacher
Average base pay: $236,069 per year
Surgeons earn lucrative salaries, but they work in very high-pressure, life-or-death situations. They have to train for long years to qualify, and after qualifying, surgeons work long hours operating on several patients throughout the day. The job requires focus, mental and physical strength, and a strong stomach.
Average base pay: $49,667 per year
Police officers move toward trouble when other people run away from it. The job is high risk, requires working long shifts, and a can quickly turn deadly. Police officers work in very demanding situations and must remain courteous and professional at all times. In addition, police officers don’t earn large salaries, but, somebody has to protect the people, even though it’s one of the most stressful professions in America.
Learn more: The Best Jobs and Career Advice for Criminal Justice Majors
Average base pay: $31,975 per year
The emergency dispatcher is vital for those who work in law enforcement, emergency services, and other first responder positions. People call emergency dispatchers to report life-threatening situations, trusting them to get help as soon as possible. Emergency dispatchers are responsible for the safety of victims as well as first responders, and they must ensure that responders get accurate information before reaching their destination.
Commercial airline pilot
Average base pay: $120,000 per year
A commercial airline pilot may have a glamorous job that provides plenty of travel opportunities, but it’s also one of the most stressful jobs in the world. Airline pilots typically have their sleep patterns disrupted because of flying across different time zones. They also have to navigate their aircraft safely in inclement and adverse weather to prevent accidents and get passengers to their destinations in peace.
Average base pay: $50,239 per year
Firefighting is not only risky, but it’s also hard. Firefighters must pass exceedingly rigorous physical tests, endure skin-evaporating heat, and risk being crushed in burning buildings while trying to save people. They also play a pivotal role during and after natural disasters, such as hurricanes and floods, trying to get people to safety while risking their own lives.
Average base pay: $20,342 per year
Bartending may sound like a cool job, but it’s actually a high-stress role. Bartenders must be physically fit, courteous, fast, and professional while serving a variety of alcoholic drinks to customers. Meanwhile, they have to maintain their composure while serving inebriated customers, especially during peak periods such as holidays.
Average base pay: $65,870 per year
A registered nurse, especially one who works in the emergency room, has a busy and high-stress role. They do everything from taking samples, administering medication via injection and IVs, and checking patients’ vital signs to observing patients for adverse drug reactions and writing reports for doctors. Other healthcare providers rely on nurses for effective treatment of patients, which places a lot of strain on these professionals.
Learn more: Nurse Practitioner Career: How to Become a Nurse Practitioner
Average base pay: $36,043 per year
While some people thrive in high-pressure emergency situations where paramedics work, it can crush others. Paramedics respond to emergencies where people need fast medical care. It might be an accident scene, the aftermath of a shootout between rival gangs, or a severe asthma attack at a local school. These professionals treat patients with the meager resources an ambulance offers until the person can be safely moved to a hospital with better facilities.
Average base pay: $44,477 per year
Newspaper reporters must work extended hours, often setting out to cover breaking news. They have to cover politicians’ meetings, high-profile court cases, trends, and many other news stories that make for unpredictable work shifts. It’s also common for people to snub, abuse, and even attack news reporters just for doing their job. The most difficult part is when a reporter works long and hard on a story that an editor or publisher decides not to publish.
Average base pay: $143,698 per year
Physicians handle a wide range of health issues, depending on their specialty. They diagnose health problems, recommend treatment plans, administer medication, and educate patients and their families. Physicians have the arduous task of telling patients whether their condition will get better or worse, and they also perform administrative roles. Becoming a physician is stressful, as it requires several years of studying in college, medical school, and completing a residency.
Average base pay: $42,012 per year
Event coordinators organize and oversee events to help clients achieve specific goals. They must set up the venue to the client’s requirements, work with caterers and ushers, and also collaborate with the security team to prevent unauthorized entry. It’s extremely hard to satisfy guests at events, and this makes the job of event coordinators one of the most stressful jobs in the U.S.
Average base pay: $49,450 per year
The job of a social worker doesn’t involve manual labor, but the state of mind of the people they work with can take a toll on these professionals. Social workers assist people who are at the lowest points in their lives, including people with drug and substance abuse issues, victims of domestic violence, and children in foster care. The job provides the opportunity to have a tremendous positive impact on people’s lives, but it can also be troubling.
Average base pay: $74,730 per year
Besides hiring contractors, enforcing health and safety protocols on job sites, and obtaining work permits, construction managers also have to complete projects on schedule and within budget. Things don’t always go as planned, and the construction manager will be responsible for keeping clients happy, achieving project milestones, and ensuring contractors get paid, all of which can be stressful.
Average base salary: $99,299 per year
The job of a sales manager is hard because they have to meet sales quotas. Management puts pressure on sales managers to meet and exceed sales revenue targets, and they also demand a lot of their teams, which creates a tense environment. Some people thrive in this type of position, but it is not ideal for everyone.
Average base pay: $81,988 per year
In the U.S. Army and other branches of the military, the primary task of officers is to train for a single purpose: to defend and protection their country and its interests. Military personnel often travel to foreign lands to fight for their people. Upon returning from war, veterans may have to deal with psychological issues such as PTSD, and many have a hard time reintegrating into civilian life after leaving the military. Ironically, the military is one of the most attractive organizations for volunteers.
Average base pay: $67,637 per year
The most stressful part of being a compliance officer is dealing with people who want to break the law with your connivance. For people who have a strong character, it can be difficult and stressful to look the other way when people flout regulations you’re paid to enforce.
Public relations manager
Average base pay: $50,145 per year
Public relations managers are the voice of their organization. They interface with the media and members of the public, answering questions about their company’s conduct. The work is not physically demanding, but public relations executives often find themselves on the defensive, especially when confronted with uncomfortable facts by the media and customers.
Average base pay: $29,050 per year
Working as a laborer is physically demanding, tiring, and stressful. While it’s typically an entry-level position, it leaves little room for initiative, and most of the work will be challenging and sometimes dangerous.
Average base pay: $41,408 per year
Rehabilitation counselors help people regain their physical and emotional health. However, the job can quickly become stressful if you let the situation of your clients get to you. Plus, the job pays a relatively small salary but requires a master’s degree, which can mean more student loan debt.
When choosing a job, it’s important to consider the working conditions, how it will affect your stress levels, work-life balance, income, and your peace of mind. Regardless of your intentions, picking one of the most stressful jobs can make it difficult to achieve your career goals and lead to dissatisfaction. Use Glassdoor to help you find a low-stress career that perfectly suits your job requirements.