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Are these really the most stressful jobs of 2013?

Elizabeth Bromstein|

You think your job is stressful? You don’t know stressful!

That’s what I’d be telling you if I was enlisted military personnel, which has been ranked the most stressful job for 2013 by CareerCast.

Shockingly, freelance writer did not make the list.

Of those that did, occupations in which your own life is on the line or the lives of others are in your hands ranked highest, mostly. Factors taken into account included travel, working in the public eye, physical demand and danger.

While I can’t argue with the top four, and I’m sure they were very scientific about this and everything, I’m not sure all of the occupations that made the list are really the most stressful. Come on. Where’s miner? Those guys get trapped underground. Roustabout? Didn’t make it. Is being a newspaper reporter really more stressful than being a heart or brain surgeon? Or an oncologist? In fact, no medical professions were ranked among the most stressful. Don’t tell me getting paid well negates the stress of cutting into people’s brains or looking someone in the eye and telling them they’re going to die. Please.

Here are the top 10 most stressful jobs of 2013. Is yours on the list? If so, go have a drink and put your feet up, I guess. But are these really the most stressful jobs?

1. Enlisted Military Personnel

Soldiers, obviously, face a lot of danger. American military personnel put their lives on the line every day during times of combat. The job is physically taxing, they’re separated from friends and families for long periods of time and, to top it off, they have to worry about what they’re going to do for work once their time in service is done. Plus, the pay is not exactly amazing, considering.

MEDIAN SALARY: $41,998 (with over eight years of experience)

CAREERCAST STRESS SCORE: 84.72

2. Military General

Generals get better pay but their judgement calls can mean the difference between life and death for their troops. CareerCast says “No task could score higher on the stress scale’s metric than being responsible for the life of another person.” Understood.

MEDIAN SALARY: $196,300

CAREERCAST STRESS SCORE: 65.54

3.  Firefighter

Again, lives in your hands and high fatality rates. Add long shifts and heavy physical demands. According to the National Fire Protection Association, nearly half of firefighters die of heart attacks, which are associated with stress. At least there’s the added bonus that women everywhere swoon at the sight of you.

MEDIAN SALARY: $45,250

CAREERCAST STRESS SCORE: 60.45

4.  Commercial Airline Pilot

It’s already been mentioned that there’s nothing more stressful than having people’s lives in your hands. That’s pretty much the whole deal with this gig. Also, the hours travelling around the world can be hell. Imagine the jet lag.

MEDIAN SALARY: $92,060

CAREERCAST STRESS SCORE: 60.28

5. Public Relations Executive

This one sort of comes out of nowhere. The physical danger isn’t exactly sky high with and lives aren’t usually on the line. But reputations are, and so’s your job, all the time apparently. So the job makes the list. PR folks deal with damage control and the court of public opinion, which can be brutal. Brutal enough to merit its position here? I’m not sure. You be the judge.

MEDIAN SALARY: $57,550

CAREERCAST STRESS SCORE: 48.52

6. Senior Corporate Executive

According to CareerCast “market volatility” contributes to the Senior Corporate exec’s stress. They’re also the public face of the company and have to answer to boards and investors. Does that make it more stressful than paramedic?

MEDIAN SALARY: $101,250

CAREERCAST STRESS SCORE: 47.46

7. Photojournalist

Different from the average freelance writer (like me, who pretty much never leaves the house) or journalist, the photojournalist ventures into war-torn areas and stands in the middle of hurricanes and riots. And they get paid a pittance for their efforts. Fair enough.

MEDIAN SALARY: $29,130

CAREERCAST STRESS SCORE: 47.12

8. Newspaper Reporter

I’m not convinced. CareerCast argues that newsrooms are “cutting back on staff and requiring reporters to work longer hours at lower pay” and adds tight deadlines and a “high public profile” to the reasons. I don’t think newspaper reporters have terribly high public profiles, at least not in large cities. I can’t name one at any of our local papers in Toronto. And I’m not sure that having to meet a deadline or the threat of getting laid off is an equal stressor to risking your life on a daily basis. Feel free to argue.

MEDIAN SALARY: $36,000

JOBS RATED STRESS SCORE: 46.75

9. Taxi Driver

The pay sucks and you’re under constant threat of getting robbed. You have to deal with drunk dirtbags, demanding passengers and terrible drivers all the time. It doesn’t help that you probably have a PhD in astrophysics or neuroscience from your own country but can’t get a job here. I can’t believe cab driver doesn’t rank higher.

MEDIAN SALARY: $22,440

CAREERCAST STRESS SCORE: 46.18

10. Police Officer

Cops face regular danger and have to deal with the lowest of the low as part of their regular routine. You never know what the day has in store for you. OK. That’s a high stress job.

MEDIAN SALARY: $55,010

CAREERCAST STRESS SCORE: 45.60

What do you think? Do these look like the most stressful jobs to you?


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