The 30 Most Stressful Jobs (and How Much They Pay)

Every job has its share of stress — but some jobs are more stressful than others. How does yours fair?

Reviewed by Chris Leitch

Stressful jobs

Stress is a big part of our daily lives, and most of it comes from the type of work that we do. Tight deadlines, dangerous working environments and lots of pressure causes heaps of anxiety and workplace stress. Certain professions naturally lead to higher stress levels, while others take us entirely by surprise.

Naturally, most people think that they have the most stressful job in the world, and no other is more difficult than theirs. But just how stressful is their job, really?

Here are the 30 most stressful jobs in the world.

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30. Taxi driver

Taxi driver

Average salary: $30,050

What can make driving around all day so bad? Drunk and rude passengers, lunatic drivers, rush-hour traffic, and bad weather are just a few reasons worth mentioning! Being stuck in a car and dealing with a number of these issues can make any working day very stressful for a taxi or Uber driver.

29. Surgeon


Average salary: $297,800

Surgeons operate on patients, treat injuries, and deal with several hiccups and unexpected circumstances during an operation. They have the added stress of not making a wrong decision that can result in a fatal error.

28. Lawyer


Average salary: $148,030

Lawyers are usually tough characters that can take on the added pressure and handle difficult situations and personalities. The long hours and burden to win a court case can be extremely demanding, and will leave many people in this role feeling burned out at some point in their career.

27. Bartender


Average salary: $30,340

Many think that being a bartender and getting paid to drink and hang out in bars isn’t even a real job. However, the truth is that it can be stressful, what with the added pressure of drunk customers demanding to be served first, as well as spending hours on end on your feet and traveling home late at night.

26. Paramedic


Average salary: $38,830

Being a paramedic is an extremely stressful and emotionally challenging job — you never know what you’ll face when responding to an emergency. Writing for the Guardian, a paramedic working for the NHS says: “4 of the 30 paramedics at my ambulance station have been off with stress over the last few years. They just couldn’t face coming in for another run of 14- or 15-hour shifts.”

25. IT manager

IT manager

Average salary: $162,930

Many seem to think that IT staff have it easy, but being responsible for the whole company’s IT processes can cause quite a bit of strain, especially if there are any faults and the entire system goes down. In this role, you’ll need to quickly develop your leadership skills and be able to think on your feet and come up with quick, effective solutions — and this can be stressful, to say the least.

24. Social worker

Social worker

Average salary: $63,010

Social workers never know what they’re going to face when they start their workday. Depending on their line of work, they could care for people who are elderly, children or sick, or have mental health problems. Late nights and long shifts can also take a toll on their health and personal life, but the satisfaction of making a positive impact on someone’s life can make all the stress worthwhile.

23. Mental health counselor

Mental health counselor

Average salary: $53,490

For obvious reasons, working as a mental health counsellor can be quite stressful. You’ll need to have a calming nature to do well in this job, and handle heavy workloads to help your patients get better by treating emotional and mental disorders like anxiety and depression.

22. Telephone operator

Telephone operator

Average salary: $39,370

Sitting at a desk and talking to people all day sounds like the easiest job in the world. However, when you’re dealing with angry customers and have a ridiculous number of targets to hit to earn a paycheck at the end of the month, you’ll soon be feeling the strain. While some people thrive in a competitive office, it can make others crumble under the pressure.

21. Teacher


Average salary: $65,990

Although teaching is a fulfilling job with extensive holidays, it’s also a hectic position. People in this career tend to work out of hours to ensure their pupils’ work is marked, and lesson plans are completed. They also deal with a variety of different personalities, including disruptive students.

20. Sports referee

Sports referee

Average salary: $51,710

How difficult can it be standing on the side of the pitch, deciding penalties and judging the winners? With constant verbal abuse and even death threats, a job as a referee can cause a lot of uneasiness. Along with numerous sleepless nights and lots of traveling to and from sporting venues, workers in this profession face a lot of stress.

19. Truck driver

Truck driver

Average salary: $50,340

You might think that sitting in a truck and driving is an easy job, but hauling a large vehicle across cities — and sometimes even countries — becomes tiresome, especially when you have to conduct long journeys day in and day out without a break.

18. Aircraft maintenance engineer

Aircraft maintenance engineer

Average salary: $69,470

An aircraft maintenance engineer installs and maintains aircraft engines, as well as repairs any electrical or systematic issues with the aircraft. Since the job is extremely technical, aircraft maintenance engineers are under extreme pressure and are responsible for the safety of all crew and passengers.

17. Train driver

Train driver

Average salary: $72,940

To become a train driver, you’ll need to have excellent eyesight and attention to detail to operate the train. While the role might sound fun, it comes with great responsibility. Train drivers are responsible for getting their passengers to their destination safely and on time.

16. Chef


Average salary: $56,920

The role of a chef is extremely stressful when working in a busy and demanding kitchen. You need to ensure you cook orders to perfection and within a timely manner so that your customers don’t complain. Along with the added heat of ovens and hobs, it’s a very challenging atmosphere.

15. Construction worker

Construction worker

Average salary: $44,130

Physical labor is laborious but also stressful. Construction workers have to work in intense weather conditions and are often instructed what to do. From digging and building, the work takes a mental and physical toll on your body.

14. Retail and hospitality sales staff

Retail and hospitality sales staff

Average salary: $31,920

Retail and hospitality staff often find themselves in challenging situations with demanding customers. They have to diffuse difficult situations and handle complaints in a professional and timely manner, ensuring that their customers are always satisfied.

13. Financial analyst

Financial analyst

Average salary: $103,020

Financial analysts examine financial data and guide businesses on investment opportunities. While the job’s evaluation side isn’t stressful, they often have to deal with unhappy clients when the market takes a turn for the worst.

12. Marriage and family therapist

Marriage and family therapist

Average salary: $59,660

Restoring harmony and helping couples resolve their differences can be an extremely stressful job. When tensions start to rise, it will be your responsibility to diffuse the situation. However, it will be gratifying when you’ve helped couples reconcile.

11. Personal assistant

Personal assistant

Average salary: $66,870

The job of a personal assistant is highly stressful due to the large number of administrative tasks that they have to manage. Also, you’ll be responsible for running lots of errands (including personal ones) for your boss and will have little time to take a breather.

10. Air traffic controller

Air traffic controller

Average salary: $127,920

Air traffic controllers monitor the movement of aircraft and direct pilots from the ground. They also control movement on the ground in airports and runways. While the job may sound simple, air traffic controllers must be alert at all times and need to be ready to advise a pilot if and when a problem arises.

9. Phlebotomist


Average salary: $38,450

Phlebotomists collect blood samples from patients for tests, transfusions or donations. While the role may be straightforward, the pressure of collecting samples, sending them for analysis and dealing with difficult clients makes it a stressful one. Phlebotomists need to ensure they label each sample correctly to not confuse their patients’ diagnosis.

8. Event coordinator

Event coordinator

Average salary: $57,850

Having the responsibility of arranging someone’s big day or large event can be extremely stressful as an event coordinator. Ensuring all aspects of the event run smoothly is a hard task that requires lots of meticulous attention to detail. Besides this, if something goes wrong, you need to ensure that you can work fast enough to resolve the issue. You’ll also need to have good connections and be an excellent problem-solver to survive in this cutthroat industry.

7. PR executive

PR executive

Average salary: $73,250

PR executives are responsible for the reputation of their clients or the company they work for. They’ll need to work at all hours to ensure their client receives the best coverage and to book deals and appearances to heighten their visibility. As you can imagine, dealing with celebrities and public figures can take a lot of nail biting to ensure no relationships are tarnished.

6. 911 dispatcher

911 dispatcher

Average salary: $47,030

911 dispatchers are responsible for answering emergency calls and liaising with police officers and other emergency responders. The job involves plenty of stress while having to remain calm and composed to guide the caller through their next steps. Some calls, meanwhile, can be extremely traumatic.

5. Airline pilot

Airline pilot

Average salary: $198,190

As an airline pilot, you’re solely responsible for the safety of all of your passengers, and having to fly in extreme weather conditions can be extremely stressful. Besides the daily struggles of an airline pilot, last-minute changes in schedules can also increase stress levels, knowing that your passengers will be increasingly frustrated.

4. Firefighter


Average salary: $55,290

Working through blazing fires and unknown circumstances ends up paying a toll on the emotional wellbeing of a firefighter. Each day brings new challenges by not knowing the severity of a fire scene or how many people they will need to rescue in one day. Last-minute shift changes can also add a strain on their personal lives, as they won’t be able to make any plans in advance.

3. Healthcare worker

Healthcare worker

Average salary: $33,330

Healthcare workers also dedicate a lot of their time and risk their lives to ensure the health of others. As we saw during the COVID-19 pandemic, many healthcare staff risked their lives on a daily basis to work in highly stressful environments with a surge in patients and not enough staff and resources. This forced them to work overtime and endanger their own wellbeing to help others.

2. Police officer

Police officer

Average salary: $70,750

Depending on their department or line of work, police officers work in high-risk situations, dealing with life-threatening situations such as armed robberies or violent and abusive circumstances. They may end up dealing with dangerous criminals to make arrests. This, of course, causes a large amount of stress and other health problems.

1. Enlisted military personnel

Enlisted military personnel

Average salary: $31,060

A highly stressful job is that of military personnel. Besides the stress of being away from home, having to work in a warzone is extremely traumatic. The fear of casualties and the loss of loved ones leave anxiety levels high, often resulting in post-traumatic stress disorder and mental health issues.

Final thoughts

It’s safe to say that all these jobs have added stress factors, but their benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. That said, regardless of your profession, if you are experiencing severe signs of stress and are struggling with your mental health, you should seek out the help of a professional.

Do you work in one of these roles? If so, let us know what the stress factor is for you in the comments section below.

Originally published on February 22, 2018.