Workplace Trends

Top 10 Most Stressful Jobs of 2013

By Joan Andrews on January 18, 2013

Do you have a strong desire to keep the public safe by responding to fire emergencies that may require rushing into a burning building? Would you enjoy the responsibility of flying a 12,500 pound commercial aircraft at an average altitude of 30,000 to 40,000 feet loaded with passengers? Would you be fired up at the prospect of facing a boardroom full of senior executives demanding answers about your company’s performance?

When deciding on your next job, you need to think about what motivates you. Some people are energized by high-stress jobs and actually thrive in an environment where there are a lot of physical and/or mental demands.

While all jobs come with a certain amount of stress – whether you’re a librarian, a hair stylist or a military general – the degree of stress rises exponentially when there is less control and the level of responsibility increases. Carefully consider your tolerance for stress. Are you more reactive and anxious when you have less control? Or, are you more deliberate and calm when faced with uncertainty?

When considering a position, it’s important to be objective about your stress “triggers” and how you respond. Know if you can handle the pressures that come with:

  • Life endangerment
  • Deadlines
  • Competition
  • Opportunity for Advancement

If you think you’re cut out for it, you might consider pursuing one of CareerCast’s Top 10 Most Stressful Jobs. Just be aware that high stress does not necessarily translate into a high salary.

The Top 10 Most Stressful Jobs of 2013:

  1. Enlisted Military Personnel (median salary: $41,988): The military offers great opportunities, but it comes with the danger of losing your life. Our soldiers are counted on to protect us at home and abroad – not only in wars but also natural disasters. Think Hurricane Sandy.
  2. Military General (median salary: $196,300): While dictating tactical strategy in combat, the general is directly responsible for the safety of his subordinates who trust and rely on him. Now that’s stressful.
  3. Firefighter (median salary ($45,250): Saving lives is an admirable vocation, but the danger is high with 77 on-duty fatalities last year. The long shifts of up to 48 hours also are something to consider.
  4. Commercial Airline Pilot (median salary: $92,060): The pilot is in control of a barrage of instruments as well as the lives of a plane load of people. Perhaps you want to be the one in charge who takes the fear out of flying for so many people.
  5. Public Relations Executive (median salary: $57,550): You have to think quickly on your feet for this one. Things can go wrong in an instant as the public watches, and you have to have the answers.
  6. Senior Corporate Executive (median salary: $101,250): The high-powered corporate exec faces extra challenges in today’s tough economic climate.
  7. Photojournalist (median salary: $29,130): These intrepid workers seek out natural disasters and danger armed with nothing but a camera with a long lens.
  8. Newspaper Reporter (median salary: $36,000): These jobs are quickly disappearing with online technologies. The few that remain still face the pressures of tough deadlines and a dying profession.
  9. Taxi Driver (median salary: $22,440): Low pay, bad hours and highly susceptible to robbery. It’s stressful, but you still maybe want to be in the driver’s seat.
  10. Police Officer (median salary: $55,010): With the badge and gun comes the responsibility for the safety of yourself and everyone around you.

Think about what gets your adrenaline pumping. If you thrive in ambiguity, a high stress job can bring you a great deal of satisfaction.

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