May 18 2010|07.23 AM UTC

Jonathan Rivers

12 of The Most Stressful Jobs in America

Category: Personal FinanceTags: , , ,

It’s no secret that many of us get stressed out by our jobs. Office politics, bureaucracy and the 9-5 grind can all make getting through the day a serious drag. That being said, the normal stressors of office or retail work are a world apart from withstanding emotional distress or physical danger on a daily basis. To spend even a day in such a position is to gain an entirely new perspective on what it means to be stressed in the workplace. Today, Billshrink examines 12 of the most truly stressful jobs in America (and the diciest aspects of each job description.)

Inner City Police Officer


Image Source

Police officers in general have one of the most demanding job descriptions of all. Investigating suspicious activity, breaking up domestic violence and arresting criminals all regularly place officers in harm’s way. The life of an inner city cop, however, produces an entirely different class of stress. While an officer in a peaceful suburb might manage to sidestep a great deal of trouble, the typical New York or Los Angeles police officer is constantly pressed into risky situations involving some of the most dangerous people on the street. Shootouts, stabbings and brutal assault are not cause for alarm and quickly become routine parts of the workweek.

Divorce Attorney


Image Source

Plenty of attorneys have anxiety-prone jobs (defense lawyers and federal prosecutors come to mind), but few are made to withstand the day in, day out pummeling that divorce attorneys can encounter. Imagine for a moment trying to be the calm, rational mediator between a heated ex-couple fighting bitterly over child custody, bank accounts, business interests or real estate. In addition to verbal abuse and adult temper tantrums, divorce attorneys have actually been attacked by enraged ex-husbands and wives harmed by the outcomes of the separation.

Coach or GM of a Professional Team

Image Source

A surprising number of people (including sports fans) underestimate the stress and pressure involved in coaching or running a professional sports team. A team’s GM, for instance, lays out a plan for the entire organization, including which types of players will be acquired, how much they will be paid, and whether to compete now or “rebuild” for success further down the road. In cities with rabid fans (like New York), GMs are routinely scapegoated, insulted and second-guessed. If the team deteriorates badly enough, fans flood the talk radio waves and blogosphere demanding that the GM be fired. Similar pressures are felt by coaches, who make the important in-game decisions.

Bail Bondsman

Image Source

Certain occupations by their very nature require dealing with dangerous, suspicious or untrustworthy classes of people. The working life of a bail bondsman is a classic example of this. Earning a living in this field involves putting up bail money for suspected criminals and collecting payment from them thereafter. Unsurprisingly, though, a great many of these people turn around and flee the area before their court date, stiffing the bail bonds company in the process. When that happens, the company is not only in the hole for the money they put up, but must also now apprehend the runaway fugitive.

Warrant Unit

Image Source

It is relatively uncommon for police departments in small towns to issue arrest warrants. In big cities, the situation is the opposite: arrest warrants are issued on a constant, daily basis for a wide range of crimes. Given the higher number of warrants, simply hoping that police officers passively encounter the criminals is an untenable strategy. Instead, police departments in major cities have warrant units whose officers are responsible for actively pursuing and apprehending the criminals being sought. Of course, criminals for whom warrants have been issued are usually taking great pains not to be found.

Bomb Squad Officer

Image Source

Another stressful and unique subset of city police departments is the bomb squad. When suspicious packages appear or bomb threats get called in, bomb squad officers are dispatched to evaluate the situation. While the scares often turn out to be harmless, these officers are relied upon to defuse explosives and advise the rest of the force about any evacuation plans or precautions that become necessary. With not only their lives at stake but also those of everyone nearby, working for the bomb squad is something only the truly strong-willed should even consider.

Hostage Negotiator

Image Source

Few situations are as pressure-filled and anxiety-ridden as intense hostage negotiations. When armed fugitives hide behind human shields and make obscene demands for their release, professional hostage negotiators are called in. Only the coolest of heads can prevail amidst such nerve-wracking and emotionally charged circumstances. A successful negotiation means the safe release of the hostages. A failed negotiation means the hostages (and potentially the negotiator himself) get killed.

Alaskan Crab Fisherman

Image Source

As the hit Discovery Channel show Deadliest Catch routinely demonstrates, Alaskan crab fishing involves more sheer physical danger than virtually any other job. Sent out to sea in teams, crab fishermen navigate some of the most turbulent and frigid waters on earth in search of crabs to resell. Their boats are frequently tossed about by icy waves and can even capsize during storms. Worst yet, crab fishermen are typically paid by the crab, rather than by the hour. Therefore, a thoroughly miserable yet unsuccessful crab fishing expedition could lead to little or no pay whatsoever.

Repo Men

Image Source (Thanks ShoutDrive!)

Like a bail bondsman, a repo man routinely finds himself rubbing shoulders with the shady underbelly of society. When others dread the stack of paperwork waiting to be filled out on their desks, repo men lie awake wondering how they’re going to take a truck from a 6’5 biker who’s been skipping payments. Naturally, such people rarely surrender their property peacefully. A repo man, therefore, must not only possess great bravery in the face of resistance, but also the physical strength to overcome it.

Coal Miner

Image Source

Darkness, tight spaces and sparse oxygen all represent stressors for most of the population. Unfortunately, each of these things fits the standard, daily job description of a coal miner. Once a mine is ready for exploration, teams of miners venture deep inside with oxygen masks and head lamps. Whether they come back out is another story. Coal miners can easily become trapped if the mine collapses, and to skillfully extract coal while being constantly aware of that threat is no easy task.

Point Man (Army)

Image Source

A point man has arguably the most stressful job in the entire U.S. Army. As Wikipedia explains, point men assume “the first and most exposed position in a combat military formation.” In the same way that a group of penguins pushes one unlucky bird off the cliff to test the waters, an Army unit sends the point man into enemy territory to feel out the threats that await. By assuming this role, a point man has a higher probability of being hurt or killed than almost any other Army position.

Air Traffic Controller

Image Source

One of the only things preventing horrific airplane crashes are skilled, precise air traffic controllers. Several planes at a time are usually taking off or landing at any given airport, and it is the job of the air traffic controller to instruct each pilot as to when they can do so. Giving a land or take off signal too soon or too late can (and has) result in a crash that is solely the fault of the air traffic controller. Most people would undoubtedly find it stressful to know that each direction they gave at work killed or saved hundreds of people.

More Jobs Related Articles? You Betcha

Share this article:
  • Digg
  • Reddit
  • del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • Tipd
https://www.billshrink.com/blog/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/digg_48.png https://www.billshrink.com/blog/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/reddit_48.png https://www.billshrink.com/blog/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/stumbleupon_48.png https://www.billshrink.com/blog/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/delicious_48.png https://www.billshrink.com/blog/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/google_48.png https://www.billshrink.com/blog/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/yahoobuzz_48.png https://www.billshrink.com/blog/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/twitter_48.png

{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

SRP May 18, 2010 at 12:41 pm

You forgot line cook

Reply

Anonymous June 1, 2010 at 5:03 pm

+1 Line cook.

I remember 3 cops in NYC that quit being line cooks because it was too stressful.

Reply

kp May 18, 2010 at 12:42 pm

Your addition of bail bondsmen might change once you listen to this audiocast that was on NPR

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=122725771

Reply

Brandon Perry May 18, 2010 at 12:42 pm

You forgot programmer!

Reply

Mr. Williams May 18, 2010 at 1:00 pm

You forgot about school teachers. Between administrators demanding higher scores, parents who defend their kids (viciously)no matter how wrong the kid is, and students who are disrespectful.Then you add the media knocking teachers for having it too easy.
Teaching is very stressful. Just when you want to quit, a student brightens your day and it all starts over again.

Reply

Sandy May 18, 2010 at 1:10 pm

Come ride with me one day as I face down aggressive and dangerous dogs that sometimes outweigh me and want to kill me. If I fail in my job, either a human can be injured or a dog put down. Dog behavior modification would rank high among stressful jobs.

Reply

canam4life May 18, 2010 at 1:18 pm

add Summer Training IT Liason to the list

Reply

apeg May 18, 2010 at 1:27 pm

This article is silly, its seems more like you came up with the 1st 12 jobs that come to mind that you think is Stressful. With the exception of Air Traffic Controller every other job is debatable.

Reply

Elf May 18, 2010 at 1:47 pm

Funny, I don’t see even a mention the #1 most stressful job of all, bar none, parenthood. Next to that, none of the others mean anything.

Reply

Mike Hawk May 18, 2010 at 2:00 pm

You’re seriously not going to put firefighters on the list???

Reply

Saltcreep May 18, 2010 at 2:56 pm

Child Protective Services Social Worker should be up there, for sure. They have to trudge through the worst parts of town all day (no, not JUST the hood, but mostly the hood) and sometimes nights, with double the amount of manageable case loads, trying to force hostile parents to take drug tests, sometimes being forced to take angry people’s kids away from them, and they are blamed if a crackhead client decides to hurt his/her kids. Also they don’t get paid jack. My wife used to be one. It’s a horrible, dangerous, thankless profession.

Reply

BC May 18, 2010 at 4:40 pm

You forgot Live TV Producer.

Reply

Anonymous May 18, 2010 at 5:14 pm

The most stressful job is Sonar Technician aboard a nuclear submarine. You just have no idea what goes on

Reply

Anonymous May 18, 2010 at 7:10 pm

School teachers? give me a break. Enjoy your cushy ass job.

Reply

Sally May 18, 2010 at 7:56 pm

I could tell you amazing stories about what real estate agents end up dealing with–those commissions do not come easy!

Reply

andrew May 18, 2010 at 9:12 pm

Instead of point man being most stressful, it might be better to just say infantry. I think the concept of a point man is distorted somewhat in this article. A point man is at the front of a fire-team formation, usually consisting of a few to many soldiers. The point man’s position isnt really any more stressful than the next guy in the formation. The next guy behind the point man is only about 10 meters away and the next guy is 10 meters away and so on. Any posistion in a fire-team formation is stressful if not more stressful than point man. For example, pulling rear security or being the squad leader that has to guide and lead the fire team. Basically, any form of combat infantry is stressful and all point man is is one of many positions that can scare the shit out of you.

Reply

Anonymous May 18, 2010 at 10:07 pm

Wow…way to forget about Paramedics. We spend 12 hours a day in ambulances with a year and a half training in ALS with multiple ways to kill someone. We use dangerous medications and pretty invasive procedures to provide you with care at whatever scene we may find you all the while we are being shot at, berated, pissed, shat, bled, and puked on by people that carry illnesses like HIV, Hep C, Syphilis, C-Diff, ESBL, and other acronyms that equal painful sickness or death. But yeah a divorce attorney who has to determine who gets the houseboat is on here….

Reply

ryan May 18, 2010 at 11:43 pm

You also forgot top secret super spies. We… I mean THEY have a very hard time not breaking cover. Damn, this is harder than it looks…

Reply

mmh May 19, 2010 at 4:39 am

Yes, most of us do not know what goes on a nuclear submarine but on the other hand the Sonar Technician does not know what goes on in the air traffic control center or how it is working in a bomb squad.
I would also say this post is but rather because it is debatable how a stressful job is defined.
As an hostage negotiator you have to be highly intelligent, eloquent and maybe very social person. But how to compare that to a job in a coal mine especially even in the U.S.A.
In my view however no kind of a coach has nothing to do on such a list.

Reply

Anonymous May 19, 2010 at 6:50 am

Try being a Chef.

Reply

joyce May 27, 2010 at 10:03 am

I agree with you, Been a chef is the most stressful job ever.

Reply

sabir May 19, 2010 at 8:50 am

You forgot the Army. Just yesterday i saw a documentary which showed how many of them suffer from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Many of them even go to the extreme of committing suicide.

Reply

Dan May 22, 2010 at 2:39 am

I think the “parents” in this job advert could have a very stressful time!

http://www.perkjobs.co.nz/jobs/wellington/hospitality/work/2-students-required-to-be-part-of-a-trial-family/

Reply

jlo0312 May 22, 2010 at 8:26 am

I’d knock “Divorce Attorney” and “Coach/GM for Pro Team” to #99 and #100. They’re well-paid to deal with the “stress” of coaching baseball for a living.

Losing a job–or unemployment–is ranked as one of the biggest stresses a person can have. I’d move that to the top 5. Then, I’d move inner city cop down and Point Man to the top. Bail bondmen don’t “do” anything, so move them out of the top ten.

What about Middle Managers in the FBI/CIA/JTTF or actual agents. Stockbrokers? Inner-city school teachers. blah blah blah.

I’m sure everyone’s list is different.

Reply

Manster May 24, 2010 at 10:42 am

Try being an older, unemployed, uninsured person with health problems.

Reply

Igor May 25, 2010 at 3:29 am

Simultaneous interpreter?

Reply

m. olar May 26, 2010 at 5:31 pm

You forgot tooth fairy!

Reply

MJ May 29, 2010 at 5:42 am

CAREGIVER!

Reply

Clare June 8, 2010 at 5:19 pm

What about real estate Brokers? I am sick of being screamed at by over anxious, over priced, sellers for things that are beyond my control. People need to calm down and walk in another person’s shoes before they start calling people names and belittling them. We can’t force people to accept their overpriced house, they fight you on the price when listing it and then it is your fault if no one makes an offer or offer too little (according to them), also they want you to be available for their telephone calls and text messages 24 hours a day, if you are a Broker, you are not really human, I guess, according to them. Go to the gym? What gym? Dinner with your family, forget it. They will probably call while you are at the gym at 10pm when most normal people are going to bed and after already working 12 hours that day, shouldn’t you be at your desk trying to sell their house? You are their prisoner and very abused verbally; also after investing a lot of time and money in their listing and taking their abuse, if you try to reason with them, they will take away their listing and the Board of Realtors allow it; I hate this job! At least when you work for an employer, you get paid and are usually treated with respect. The more that you do for people, the more that they DEMAND, and sadly, they don’t pay you one cent for your time and materials and if you are lucky enough to get a buyer, they then expect you to give up more of your commission so that they can net more money and they talk bad about you no matter what happens-you are the villian, you cannot please them. I think I am going back into the corporate world, yes there is stress, at least my evenings and weekends will be free and I get a paycheck and have some form of life, it’s going by too fast to be a home seller’s prisoner – they are the most stressed out people I know!

Reply

icu nurse July 13, 2010 at 8:06 pm

What about nurses. Does anyone ever stop to think about the stresses we face daily. Familys who expect miracles when you are doing all you can do. Patients who threaten you or hit at you because there confused. Doctors who are grumpy and take it out on you because they are stressed also. A patient will actually call you to rub lotion on them while they can hear you helping someone next door struggling for breath. I love my job most of the time. The sweet lady who is dying and only needs you to rub her head and hold her hand when you have done everthing possible to keep her alive. That person makes me happy to be a nurse. Being treated like a personal slave to impatient people who dont understand that you have to treat those who are most critical first…..difficult.

Reply

Justanobody August 2, 2010 at 2:25 pm

I think all of you need to take a step back and look at what you are saying. Every single person on here is claiming that their jobs should be on the list. Way to make your selves look good. Sitting here reading all of theses posts after reading the article only makes me think of one thing. What a bunch of cry babies. Clare…I think you need to take your own advice and put your self in other people’s shoes. everyone’s job has stress. Life it’s self is stressful. Instead of complaining that you should get recognized….grow a pair and move on. There is more to life than complaining that you are more stressed out than someone else.

Reply

aboringblog August 11, 2010 at 1:36 pm

Try being Santa Clause, having to fly to every child’s house on earth in one night. Not to mention fitting in chimneys and people forgetting to put out their fireplaces.

Reply

anonymous September 19, 2010 at 1:07 pm

Seriously!!!!!! you forgot to put book editor and author and those kinds of careers!!!!!!!!!! Those are like reallllyyyyyyyyyyyyy stressful

Reply

Anonymous October 1, 2010 at 9:37 am

what about bill collector

Reply

In the know December 21, 2010 at 7:58 pm

As a coal miner from kentucky i must say that your description of is laughable, air is pumped in u dont need to wear an oxygen mask ever unless shits hit the fan and likely youll already be dead if it does, the job really isnt stressful in terms of the difficulty of the work or fear of death, the worst part is the work schedule, if u work in the mines in ky u live there 6 days a week rain or shine and thats the part thatll beat u down.

Reply

Devin G. February 2, 2011 at 12:02 am

Before I became a Boston cop, I was an infantryman in the army for 6 years. I’ll say, army infantry,rangers, and up the chain probably pack the most stress.17-20 year old kids doing 3 days worth of work in 8 hours, up at 430 in the morning everyday, ending around 1000pm sometimes or even without sleep of time to get 3 meals in a day to eat. When it came to combat, those kids were gone for 12 to 18 months without any breaks to come home in some cases. Had numerous suicides from stress in our brigade. It was really sad how hard these soldiersworked and got no recognition or time to catch-up personally. I enjoy being in a better line of work, I look highly on combat infantrymen and what they go through though.

Reply

Jimbob Mc Grory June 25, 2011 at 2:22 am

Having said that, they didn’t have to join up to the world’s biggest military, they could always have chosen a less aggressive career choice, like say……..pretty much anything actually.

Reply

Anonymous July 11, 2011 at 7:13 am

Looks to me that everyone who commented is just complaining about their job instead of giving the website feedback. Interesting…..

Reply

Sagarian December 29, 2011 at 7:00 pm

A live network robotics cameraman who today does the job of at least three or more cameras that used to be manned is essentially a stress filled candy shop, especially if you have a TV director screaming at you in your headset. Make one mistake and millions of people “see” that mistake instantly! The TV director meanwhile is safe in the control room out of harms way and no one “knows” of his or her involvement. Think its easy?

Reply

Wendy January 6, 2012 at 12:50 pm

Some of you goons need to realize that YOU willingly & voluntarily applied for your job. If you don’t like it, or if it’s too “stressful” for you, then move on! Instead of complaining about how stressful your job is, BE THANKFUL YOU HAVE ONE. However, I must agree with Mike, I can’t believe Firefighter wasn’t mentioned (& NO I’m not a firefighter).

Reply

Bbyluv January 11, 2012 at 4:17 am

Ha ha ja ha can some one call the waaaaaambulance seriously you all are funny would you like some cheese for your “wine ing” all jobs are stressfully at one point or another stress factor depends how you approach each n every situation and what each individual is capable of dealing with …. Too much stress find something less stressful not enough find something more challenging we forget “we” are the ones who make the ultimate decision on what we choose to put up with …. I figure there’s something grater than the stress that keeps you at that job there must be some kind of compensation weather it may be the pay or the ppl or the contribution you yourself put in tht grant you satisfaction.

Reply

Lena August 16, 2012 at 6:44 pm

I think this list is ill-conceived. Parenting is a job yes, but Im assuming we’re talking about pay. To the idots who say that people should not complain about the stress level of their supposedly volunteered for jobs, don not realize that stating that your job is stressful doesn’t mean you do not like or even love your job. Teachers especially in NYC have a very stressful job especially wiyh the new IEP reports and ridiculous layoffs or replacement into schools with metal detectors and gun-toting students. I personally worked as a line cook for 3 yrs at a 4star restaurant in Upper West Side Manhattan… You want stress, ex-militants, cops, brokers etc has quit after 3 days of hell. I loved and hated it all at the same time. I am now an Air Force Air Traffic Controller. What makes it stressful would probably be the rate of how fast our jets come in along with the ridiculously long hour shifts! But ask me if Id rather be there or in a pro kitchen… Ha ATC is a breeze comparably!

Reply

Nope October 28, 2012 at 11:56 am

You could have just said law enforcement and then put more of a variety up…

Reply

Anonymous October 28, 2012 at 11:58 am

Believe it or not but religious workers are stressful too. Like a rabbi, a pastor or even a Muslim cleric

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: