Top 25 Hardest Jobs in the World

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Most of us think our jobs are the most difficult and stressful jobs in the world. But, if you’re sat at a desk working a 9-5 job you probably have it pretty good. Here we take a look at the toughest and most demanding professions in the world. Some being physically, mentally and emotionally challenging; the reason why many people decide to pursue these career paths is the reward they feel once they have completed their job - knowing they have made a positive impact on society.

Let’s take a look at the top 25 hardest jobs in the world:

25. Mountain Guide

Between the rocks, glaciers and slippery slopes, mountain guiding can be an extremely challenging job. It’s physically demanding and you need a lot of stamina to climb mountains day in and day out. You also have to be an outgoing and social person as you will be in charge of everyone's safety and enjoyment on the trip.

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24. Carpenter

Being a carpenter is not only physically but mentally challenging. First, you must plan out the work that you will do, whether it’s tiling a floor or building a bookshelf. Then, you must figure out the correct measurements, before deciding what tools you will use. Many people find the job extremely rewarding and also well paying.


23. Painter

Painting initially sounds like an easy job, but they have to climb to hazardous heights to reach areas that require painting. These conditions can lead to falls and injuries. Awkward postures made while painting effect the spine adversely which can lead to skeletal and muscular problems.


22. Stuntman

Being a stuntman can be one of the most challenging careers to pursue; from jumping off buildings to being lit on fire. As Foster, a professional stuntman, says: "You're standing there on the edge ready to jump, and your whole body and mind are going, 'Don't do this. You do this and you're going to die.” Yet it’s what he’s wanted to do ever since a child and loves the adrenaline rushes of the job.


21. Mercenary

Soldiers that are hired to serve in a foreign army in the way the French Foreign Legion do are becoming much more scarce now. Mercenaries are now called PMC’s or private military contractors and are used mainly to guard people and installations. But, they are usually deployed in very hostile areas and can put their lives at risk on a daily basis. The high paycheck can make up for the serious stress and possible trauma that may result.


20. President

Being a president comes with tremendous status and benefits, but the trials and tribulations of a political career can certainly take a toll on one’s mental health. It is one of the hardest jobs as you have to deal with all the responsibilities and important decisions of your country from political issues, economy, education, development to international affairs.

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19. E-Waste Recycler

E-waste recycling can be an extremely dangerous job when completed in an unsafe environment with workers inhaling harmful toxins on a daily basis. According to Forbes “only 25% of total e-waste is being collected for recycling – most are discarded in landfills or incinerators, releasing dangerous toxins into the land and air. While e-waste represents just two percent of America’s trash in landfills, it equals 70% of overall toxic waste.”

E-Waste Shutterstock

18. Farmer

Farmers spend long hours dealing with large animals and work in intensive, all-weather conditions. It's not all agricultural, either; self-employed farmers need to be adept at selling their produce and balancing budgets. Being a farmer is a profession that is tough on your mental and physical state, but many talk about how satisfying their job is.

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17. Firefighter

The role of a firefighter is essentially to protect the lives of the general public during potentially life-threatening situations. They are on call 24/7 to respond to emergency situations including car crashes, water rescue, chemical spills, and of course, fires. The job is challenging, dangerous and oftentimes incredibly stressful but provides high levels of job satisfaction.


16. Roofer

Although most roofers earn a high-salary, the physical strain makes this an extremely tough career. As with many construction roles, there are the obvious precarious situations like heat stroke and other weather-related issues as well as the fright of falling. Roofers also have a tough time in the winter months where their work is cancelled due to bad weather, meaning that they can’t work and get paid.


15. Police Officer

Being a police officer can be very challenging, with officers receiving a lot of stick on a daily basis from disruptive citizens. They don’t know what type of crime they will face during the day and often put their lives on the line to make their country a better place. Although a tough profession, knowing you have contributed to a good cause is very gratifying.

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14. Astronaut

Astronauts must be physically fit and able to withstand the mental isolation of long missions in space. The environment is often stressful and, in a crisis, astronauts must demonstrate the ability to stay calm under pressure. But, the job brings with it a great deal of satisfaction. Imagine looking down on earth from space, knowing that you are the one of the few to live this experience.

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13. Bodyguard

A bodyguard is essentially paid to serve as a human shield for a politician, celebrity or businessman. They protect their charges from such things as theft, assault, kidnapping, homicide, harassment, loss of confidential information, threats, or other criminal offences. It’s extremely tough when you don’t know what to expect and need to be ready to react within seconds. Yet, many bodyguards live for the thrill and high pay cheque.


12. Metal Crafter

Metal crafters have one of the most difficult jobs in the world. Besides dealing with the obvious things like heat and metal, these workers typically experience negative health effects in the long term due to inhalation of various chemicals they are exposed to.

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11. Search and Rescue

Working for a search and rescue team can be extremely difficult. To succeed in this career, you must be able to think on your feet and have great attention to detail. Whether it’s the Coast Guard facing high seas or a mountain rescue team facing subzero temperatures at night, search and rescue members must be able to work fast under extreme circumstances.

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10. Sanitation Worker

Sanitation workers are faced with horrible stenches, rats, dead pigs, and cows. Their working hours are difficult with some working from 7pm to 3 am in any type of weather condition. They are faced with heckles from drunk citizens but push through for the hefty wage. CNN reported that two workers in the USA, “Molina made $112,000 last year as a garbage truck driver and Sankar made $100,000 as a helper, riding on the back of the truck.”

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9. Alaskan Crab Fishermen

Often described as the most dangerous job in the world, crab fishing involves long hours at rough seas searching for crabs. Weather conditions are arduous and conditions on board are extremely basic. Fishermen are required to work for up to 24 hours non-stop searching for crab, and, if there are no crabs to be caught, there is no money to be made. But, a good catch can earn tens of thousands of pounds in one month, so if you have what it takes, you may be in a position to earn a great deal of money.

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8. Landmine Remover

In some parts of the world this is part of the military’s job, however, it’s becoming a private market in other parts. Landmine removal is extremely dangerous and requires skilled workers to complete the job without causing a potential disaster.

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7. Driver

Whether it’s a taxi, bus, or train, it’s a tough job chauffeuring passengers for over eight hours a day. You need to have all eyes on the road at all time which can be extremely tiring and you have to deal with a number of different characters. The pay is not the best, but it’s not that difficult to get into the profession.

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6. Pilot

Being a pilot is one of the toughest professions; in addition to always being on the go, airline pilots also must deal with weather delays, disgruntled or unruly passengers and the danger of terrorist attacks. Despite anticipated job growth, competition for jobs at the major airlines is fierce, making it difficult for many to jump up the ladder from a regional airline to working for a top carrier.


5. Lumberjack

Being a lumberjack requires that you spend all your time working outdoors and often during difficult weather conditions. This job is challenging, considering that it is intensive and highly hazardous due to falling branches and trees, and moving machinery.


4. Prison Worker

The role of a prison warden is extremely stressful as they are responsible for managing a large group of convicted criminals. As you can imagine, the work environment is not exactly safe with them being surrounded by violent offenders, and their role is highly demanding.

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3. Mortician

Morticians are forced to face death everyday having to prepare the deceased for burial which includes cleaning, embalming, grooming, and dressing them. Also, they tend to work for long and irregular hours, supporting the family of the deceased.

mortician with client and urnShutterstock

2. Oil Rig Worker

A physically and mentally taxing job that involves long hours in a challenging and hostile environment. Jobs can vary from a cleaner or painter right through to driller or tool pusher. Wages are often calculated on an hourly basis with accommodation and meals included. The typical work schedule will involve working on the rig for 6 weeks followed by 6 weeks of leave. There is great potential to make a substantial amount of money and so the risk associated with oil rig work is often downplayed by those wanting to earn a high salary.

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1. Communication Tower Climber 

Tower climbing is one of the deadliest jobs in the world. “While things have gotten a bit safer, this job still results in 20 deaths each year on average in the US” as reported on LousyCV. “In order to maintain communication towers, employees regularly climb towers, using fixed ladders, support structures or step bolts, from 100 feet to heights in excess of 1000 or 2000 feet.” They often climb these heights in extreme weather conditions when things tend to go wrong.

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So, there you have it, the top 25 hardest jobs in the world. Are you considering going into any of these careers? Let us know in the comment section below!

This article was originally published in September 2016.