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. Is your job among the 30 most stressful?

Illustration of a woman feeling stressed and overwhelmed

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Stress is a big part of our daily lives, and most of it comes from the type of work that we do. 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?

Here are the 30 most stressful jobs in the world.

1. Personal assistant

Average salary: $48,020 (£35,320)

A personal assistant’s role is highly stressful due to the large number of administrative tasks that you’ll 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.

2. Marriage and family therapist

Average salary: $49,610 (£36,480)

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

3. Financial analyst

Average salary: $81,590 (£60,000)

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.

4. Retail and hospitality sales staff

Average salary: $25,440 (£18,710)

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

5. Construction worker

Average salary: $50,000 (£36,770)

Physical labour 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.

6. Chef

Average salary: $51,530 (£37,890)

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 your customers don’t complain – along with the added heat of ovens and hobs, it’s a very challenging atmosphere.

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7. Train driver

Average salary: $65,020 (£47,810)

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.

8. Aircraft maintenance engineer

Average salary: $64,310 (£47,290)

An aircraft maintenance engineer installs and maintains aircraft engines. In addition, they repair any electrical or systematic issues with the plane. Since the job is extremely technical, aircraft engineers are under extreme pressure and are responsible for all airline staff and passengers’ safety.

9. Truck driver

Average salary: $45,260 (£33,280)

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

10. Air traffic controller

Average salary: $122,990 (£90,440)

Air traffic controllers monitor the movement of the plane and direct the pilot 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.

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11. Sports referee

Average salary: $28,550 (£20,990)

How difficult can it be standing on the side of the pitch, deciding penalties and judging the winners be? 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 travelling to sporting venues, workers in this profession face a lot of stress.

12. Teacher

Average salary: $61,660 (£45,340)

Although teaching is a fulfilling job with extensive holidays, it’s also a hectic position and one without a hefty paycheque. 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.

13. Telephone operator

Average salary: $34,710 (£25,520)

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 get a paycheque 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.

14. Mental health counsellor

Average salary: $49,610 (£36,480)

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 career and handle heavy workloads to help your patients get better by treating emotional and mental disorders.

15. Social worker

Average salary: $50,470 (£37,110)

Social workers never know what they are going to face when they start their working day. Depending on their line of work, they could care for people who are elderly, children, sick or with 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.

16. IT manager

Average salary: $146,360 (£107,610)

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.

17. Paramedic

Average salary: $35,400 (£26,020)

Being a paramedic is an extremely stressful and emotionally challenging job – you never know what you’ll face when you respond to an emergency. According to a piece in the Guardian, written by a current paramedic working for the NHS, ‘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’.

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18. Bartender

Average salary: $23,680 (£17,410)

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 from drunk customers to be served first, as well as spending hours on end on your feet and travelling home late at night.

19. Lawyer

Average salary: $122,960 (£83,030)

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.

20. Surgeon

Average salary: $208,800 (£153,490)

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

21. Taxi driver

Average salary: $25,980 (£19,100)

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.

22. Senior corporate officer

Average salary: $104,690 (£76,950)

If you’ve made it to the highest step of the ladder in your company, it wouldn’t have come without additional responsibilities (and pressure). Being the go-to person for important decisions and spending hours outside those specified in your contract to make sure everything runs as smoothly as possible is bound to take a toll on you at someone point or another.

23. PR executive

Average salary: $116,180 (£85,400)

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 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.

24. Broadcaster

Average salary: $46,270 (£34,010)

As a broadcaster, you’ll be responsible for reporting and announcing breaking news on television. This isn’t a position for the camera-shy, as you’ll need to be an excellent public speaker and be able to handle tricky situations (from technical errors to an interviewee acting out).

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25. Reporter

Average salary: $46,270 (£34,010)

As a news reporter, you don’t know what kind of dangerous locations you’ll be whisked off to, and with little notice. Your days can vary from being in the studio to a battlefield. Once you have the news piece, you’ll need to rush off to get it published before your competition does – all for a relatively low salary.

26. Event coordinator

Average salary: $50,600 (£37,200)

Can you imagine being responsible for arranging someone’s big day? Everything has to be just perfect. Otherwise, your customers could blow the roof and tarnish your reputation, leaving you with nothing but a headache at the end of it. Coordinating big events can be stressful when things start to go wrong, like typos on the seating arrangements or the wrong flavoured cake. You’ll need to have good connections and be an excellent problem-solver to survive in this cutthroat industry.

27. Police officer

Average salary: $65,170 (£47,900)

Police officers put their lives on the line every day, dealing with life-threatening situations such as armed robberies and making arrests of dangerous criminals. This, of course, causes a large amount of stress and other health problems. The good news is that their salary is relatively high.

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28. Airline pilot

Average salary: $121,430 (£89,260)

Being the sole person responsible for hundreds of passengers’ safety can be extremely stressful, as can last-minute changes in schedules and long hours of being in the air. The high salary definitely compensates for the stress airline pilots experience.

29. Firefighter

Average salary: $50,850 (£37,380)

Firefighters risk their lives on a daily basis for the safety of others. They don’t know how dangerous the fire will be and how many people they’ll need to save on that 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.

30. Enlisted military personnel

Average salary: $38,250 (£28,120)

The most stressful job is perhaps that of military personnel. As you can imagine, being away from home often for months at a time in warzones can be extremely traumatic. The fear of injuries and casualties can cause great anxiety, 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.

Can you handle a stressful job?

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Join the conversation! 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.

This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 22 February 2018.