For some people, the simple requirement to show up at work by 8:00am every morning is very stressful. For others, such a demand is child’s play, because they have to contend with really demanding work conditions, such as frequent deadlines, injury risk, public scrutiny, or death threats, therefore getting exposed to high stress levels.
Every year, CareerCast names the most stressful jobs, analyzing careers by 11 factors including career hazards, travel potential, risk of death or injury, environmental conditions, physical demands, public scrutiny, competition, career growth, risk to another person’s life, career growth and deadlines. The more a job is characterized by the aforementioned factors, the more tense it’s reported to be. Sadly, some of these jobs have been so taxing, driving these professionals into mental instability, and committing suicide.
Even without such a report, it goes without saying that some jobs are naturally stressful compared to the rest. Occupations such as military personnel, psychiatric hospital attendants, police officers and fire fighters, are all naturally nerve-racking due to the risk involved and working conditions.
As you will also discover, some jobs that seem pretty simple, like waiting tables and driving a taxi, are shockingly worse than what a neurosurgeon goes through. Others are very rewarding, with attractive packages such as paid holidays and five star treatments, but the professionals must work for every coin.
So, here are 15 stressful jobs that will test your sanity.
15. Air Traffic Controller
An air traffic controller’s job description would seem too easy and boring, when briefly described. This person typically sits in a dark room, watching a computer screen all day. What you might not know is the amount of stress the person goes through. While the job poses no physical threat, an air traffic controller is responsible for the safety of the pilot, crew and passengers. Additionally, he needs to make accurate and quick decisions on the most efficient route, lest he causes a major accident. A combination of serious IT and mathematical skills makes the job mentally taxing, hence exposing these employees to increased health risks.
14. 911 Emergency Dispatcher
A 911 emergency dispatch operator needs very basic skills, acquired at high school level. Needing a simple skill set of communication skills, judgment and operations, this job description can simply pass for the easiest job on the planet. On the contrary, it can get very stressful and emotionally draining. One has to constantly send colleagues to unknown danger zones, which could cause their death. Some calls are also very creepy. For example, one operator had to help a 12-year-old boy perform CPR on his mother who had attempted suicide. Unfortunately, she died, and the operator has never forgotten that experience.
13. Social Worker
Tasked with the responsibility of helping individuals, families or a group of people deal with life problems and challenges, social workers live a stressful, but rewarding life. Sadly, most of the time they encounter people who resent help, and can turn violent. In addition to this, they have a massive to-do list, which can be overwhelming, yet each case is equally as important as the other one. As a result, social workers have high anxiety and stress levels.
12. Psychiatric Ward Worker
Psychiatric ward workers provide mental health services, ranging from psychotherapy to diagnosing mental illnesses. A one on one relationship with these patients can be life-threatening in some cases, especially when dealing with a highly volatile patient. This means that these professionals are always on high alert, and sometimes see things that scare them to the core. In one instance, a nurse was making a routine ward check at night and noticed that one patient room door was open. When she got there, she saw that the patient has gorged out her eyes with her bare hands, and a colleague who had gotten there before her, got a heart attack after seeing what the patient had done.
A surgeon is responsible for operating on patients, and making sure that the operation is successful. Sadly, some operations are very delicate, taking hours, and in some cases, the patient dies despite the efforts. Additionally, a surgeon is required to work even at odd hours, with very short breaks in between, if any. The job is also mentally demanding, requiring surgeons to pay close attention to detail, work with precision, as they make quick life and death decisions. The increasing malpractice insurance costs are also a major cause of stress among surgeons.
The newsroom is usually a beehive of activities, with deadlines, upon deadlines, yet there is no room for mistakes, within that short period. Journalists are also required to travel, satisfy their demanding editor, while dealing with the fear of being laid off, anytime. Even worse, is the long hours they are subjected to when there are major national or global events, as well as breaking news.
As the job demands, journalists do not choose stories to tell, a fact which sometimes endangers their lives. Reporters who cover gang violence, terrorism, and wars, for example, have to deal with even higher anxiety levels.
9. Airline Pilot
Remember the movie ‘Sully’? If you have not watched it, kindly find time and do. This is a movie based on real events that happened on January 15th 2009, when Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger tried to make an emergency landing in New York’s Hudson River, after US Airways Flight 1549 hit a flock of geese. The accident disabled both engines, at 3 minutes into the flight, and at an altitude of 2800 feet. This prompted the pilot to work with his co-pilot and air traffic controller, to find the best place to make an emergency landing. With 155 lives at risk, and only seconds to make a life and death decision, this movie perfectly displayed the stress levels pilots are subjected to.
Imagine being sent into a hot ravaging fire, to save a toddler and her mum, stuck in rubble filled with suffocating gas, and scalding heat. Would you attempt to save them? How quickly would you make this decision? Endangering your life in this case is optional for you, but is mandatory for any firefighter. As much as safety technology is lowering the risk, firefighters still face the anxiety of possibly losing their lives, or getting life-threatening wounds. Additionally, some have undergone serious emotional trauma after successfully saving victims, only for them to die soon after.
7. Police Officer
Standard procedure demands that people lie down in case of a gunshot or bomb attack, and run far away from the source. This is not the case for policemen. Immediately such incidents occur, they are required to run towards the scene, and face the criminals. As a result, the United States alone has lost over 20,000 police officers in the line of duty, in its history. Some have died defusing bombs, others in car accidents as they chased criminals, some in shoot outs, and others in terrorist attacks. This is the exact risk that a police officer has to deal with everyday, as he responds to emergency calls.
6. Public Relations Executive
Ranked as the 6th most stressful job of 2016, PR still rates highly as a career choice for college students. The job entails working with different clients, to ensure that their public reputation is great, and running reputation management activities, especially when there are bad reviews or publicity. As much as the job is rewarding, it presents immense stress levels. Client demands, tight deadlines, public scrutiny, long hours, and uncooperative partners are a PR executive’s worst nightmare. According to Lauren Littlefield, president of Field Public Relations in Indianapolis, it takes thick skin to put the phone down, and try again.
5. Event Coordinator
Have an event? Simple hire an event planner, state your needs, sit back and watch everything work according to plan. While things seem easy from your end, you never know the sleepless nights that an event coordinator spends. The simple fact that he has been fully paid to run a seamless event, and impress the client, is stressful enough. This is coupled with unreliable suppliers, running multiple projects with crazy deadlines, organizing a team, precise time management and tight budgets. Worse still, in an era of sophisticated and informed attendees, event coordinators must find innovative ways of attracting traffic, in order to break even.
4. Enlisted Military Personnel
The difference between this job and the rest is how much it also affects the family. Reading military families’ stories just shows how deep an enlisted military personnel’s stress levels go. First of all, deployments that last for months separate the family, and this is depressing, especially for the kids. Constantly worrying about their families, as well as always striving to stay safe in war zones, could drive a solder crazy. Additionally, some that come back from dangerous deployments suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a mental consequence of the violence they were exposed to. In extreme cases, some soldiers have opted to commit suicide, to completely rid themselves of the stress.
3. Taxi Driver
Being a taxi driver is a very simple job in theory-get a client, drive them to wherever they need to go, get paid for the service, then repeat. On the contrary, this is one of the hardest and most dangerous jobs in the world today, making it to the top 10 list of occupations with the highest homicide rates. A taxi driver faces financial stress, in form of unpredictable and unreliable pay, combined with competition from established firms like Uber. They are also worried about their safety, because they carry random people, going to strange locations even at odd hours in the night.
2. Corporate Executive
Running a company has very attractive perks. Money, power, a jet-setting lifestyle, and honor among friends, are just a few advantages of being CEO. Although desirable, these come at a cost. While researching on his book, “The Secrets of CEOs”, Steve Tappin interviewed 150 global chief executives, about the harsh realities of their job. He discovered that behind the glamour is a professional who is overworked, overstressed and exhausted. The main emotions these people have is frustration, disappointment, overwhelm and irritation, which mostly run 80% of the day. Consequently, corporate executives are at high risk of health conditions such as cancer and heart attacks.
Waiting tables is a tough job, characterized by weird working hours, desperately catching sleep on a bus ride home, unwanted advances from abusive patrons and negligible pay. The job is actually very stressful, that scientists have found out that it is more traumatic to be a waiter than a neurosurgeon. According to these researchers from Southern Medical University in Guangzhou, China, waiting tables is a high stress job, posing great mental and physical health risk. Actually, these workers have 22% higher risk of stroke, with the figure increasing to 33% in women.
So, before you snap on a waitress for bringing ginger bread instead of pancakes, think about their daily hustle and be polite.
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