Here Are 14 of the Most Stressful Jobs That Are Not for the Faint of Heart

Bored at work or just need more pressure to make the day go by faster? Here are over a dozen of the most stressful jobs out there!

While many people focus on their physical health to live a long life, they’re likely to suffer from something mostly unrelated to their workout routine and regular checkups — stress. Stress is the silent killer, causing deaths of over 100,000 people a year with various health conditions. 

One of the biggest causes of stress out there is work-related stress. You can have exhausting and frustrating days at any job, but one has to admit that some professions can be particularly stressful. 

This article will walk you through some of the most stressful jobs in the world, so you could decide for yourself whether it’s the right fit for you. 

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1. Surgeon 

Surgeons rightfully head the list of stressful jobs. In their case, the pressure doesn’t come from their own lives being in danger but being responsible for the lives of others.

It’s a surgeon’s job to perform operations dealing with the smallest nuances of the human’s body — in many ways, they determine whether or not a person will live or die. They have to obtain vast knowledge and experience, and many specialize in certain problems or conditions: you can meet neurosurgeons, critical care surgeons, or vascular surgeons. 

Have you ever heard of certain surgeries only having a fifty percent success rate? Some operations are so difficult that not every surgeon can pull it off. And, there is always a risk of complications even during the most mundane procedure. You can only imagine the sort of pressure someone who does this must undergo. 

Many surgeons work 50-60 hours a week and have to spend practically all of their time on call. If someone needs emergency surgery, they can’t simply call in sick no matter how hard they worked the day before. 

On top of this, the moment-to-moment stress is also tough to handle — surgeons have to make split-second decisions, don’t have control over many factors, and some even have to lead a team of people. 

2. Nurse

A nurse is one of the other most stressful occupations (at the end of the day, so many of those in the medical field are). They often do just as much as doctors — especially nurse practitioners — with the addition of grunt work and being responsible for patient care. And, as you might suspect, it could get highly stressful dealing with sick people and those in pain. Finally, they get paid much less than doctors. With all these factors combined, you could see why it’s such a challenging profession.

The COVID-19 pandemic has turned being a nurse from a tough job to one of the most grueling occupations in the world. These days, you never know when a new variant is going to develop and when a new hotspot of cases will break out. You might well run out of supplies and have to put people on beds in hallways. 

In the past months, many nurses were being forced to start working with little training. It must be insanely difficult to know that peoples’ lives are in your hands, and you have to step up to serve your country even though you’re still underqualified.

3. Police Officer

No matter how you feel about the police, you have to admit that this job is quite stressful. Of course, the first thing that comes to mind is situations where they deal with criminals — often those who are violent. But, many police officers experience stress and pressure simply from wearing the badge. They always have to be in control of their emotions, weigh their decisions keeping in mind the public reaction, and be responsible for protecting the lives of others.

Most jobs — even the most difficult ones — have some level of standardization. But there are no limits to what a police officer might have to do on any given day. Usually, it involves witnessing people in distress or pain and dealing with crimes that can go beyond understanding. 

Finally, sometimes they have to make extremely fast decisions, often affecting people’s lives, considering many rules and restrictions. If police officers make the wrong move, they can harm someone else, get injured or die themselves, or face legal actions. 

Related Read: Best First Jobs: 75+ First-Time Job Ideas for Teens & College Students

4. Logger

The stress that comes with the job of the logger is caused mainly by one reason — sheer danger. Logging is widely considered the most dangerous job in the country, 33 times more likely to cause death than the national average.  

Everything about this important job is dangerous: operating heavy machinery designed to cut giant objects, working with falling trees, being out in the woods far away from medical facilities, and working at extreme heights means that there’s death around every corner. On top of this, we’re talking about people who work outside during all weather conditions. Hypothermia is a very real possibility — as is heat exhaustion in high temperatures. 

For those who prefer to work physically outdoors and avoid constant interactions with other people, logger might be one of the best professions to consider. But, you should keep in mind how exhausting and dangerous it is before  

5. Taxi Driver 

Even though becoming an Uber or Lyft driver to make some extra cash might sound like a good opportunity, you should think twice before getting behind the wheel. First of all, you might have to drive at different hours, including late at night, which can be both stressful and dangerous. You must stay alert and be responsible not only for your life and safety but also for your passengers’. 

On top of this is the fact that cars are extremely dangerous. There are millions of car accidents in the U.S. every year, and if they don’t kill, they sometimes cause extreme suffering and pain. 

Add long hours, rush-hour traffic, wild drivers, and (at times) difficult or even hostile customers, and you have one of the most stressful occupations you can think of. 

6. Firefighter

Firefighters have one of the most stressful jobs in the world, hands down. They have to face one of the most famous unstoppable forces in nature and reduce its impact on the human world. Firefighters have to deal with collapsing houses, hazardous chemicals, smoke, and fire itself. Not only that, but they have to save lives in the meantime. 

On top of all of this, firefighters are often taking care of people undergoing severe emotional stress. Years upon years of watching people’s homes getting destroyed can have a huge impact on your mental health — particularly if you’re a family person yourself.

And, let’s not forget that a firefighter has to stay on duty around the clock and has to be a night owl as well. 

Related Read: 13 Best Work From Home Jobs for Remote Careers

7. Fisherman 

If you’ve ever been out fishing with your family, you might be scratching your head about this one. However, it’s important to remember that those who do it for a living have to catch a large number of fish and, therefore, have to go way out into the ocean. 

The ocean is famously unpredictable. Even our greatest technologies can’t help us control it. The best we can do is improve the ways that we adapt to what it throws at us, which can be challenging.

Fishers also have to deal with heavy machinery, ropes, and cages which can easily maim or kill them. The uneasy rocking of the boat, the unpredictability of waves, and the slippery nature of vessels make it extremely easy to fall. 

8. Paramedic

Paramedics have a stressful job because they have to witness some of the most gruesome scenes that human life has to offer. Someone needs to take injured people and bring them to the hospital, and those people don’t have the benefit of getting time to prepare for what they’re about to see.

Paramedics have to operate fast and are constantly aware that lives are on the line. They don’t always get there in time, and watching people die is a large part of the job. 

On top of this, paramedics are on call for a lot of the time they aren’t working. It’s hard to settle yourself into a routine and get good sleep, knowing that you might get called to help out at any point.  

9. Forensic Cleaner

One of the more morbid items on our list is forensic cleaner professionals. It’s a dark, depressing job, but somebody has to do it. 

People are often surprised to learn that police officers, coroners, and medical professionals don’t handle cleanup services for homicides, suicides, and simply messy deaths. This is where crime scene or forensic cleanup professionals come in. 

These professionals don’t only have to deal with seeing the gruesome details of someone’s death but also have to clean it up. They have to make sure they’re using the proper equipment not to contract a disease, and they often have to clean blood and body fluids underneath the floor.  

Related Read: 15+ Best Jobs For High School Students (Part-Time, Weekends, Summer)

10. Social Worker

While forensic cleaners have to deal with some of the most brutal physical images imaginable, social workers have to deal with the worst mental traumas. Social workers have to help out people suffering from abuse, suicidal thoughts, and severe forms of depression. 

While social workers are trained to handle this, it’s famously hard for social workers to separate their jobs from their lives. An extremely high number of social workers develop addictions to cope with the stress of their jobs. Often, they have to make hard decisions and face the resistance of those people they are trying to help. 

11. Bartender

The job of a bartender is a highly stressful one. Many people see it as a good way for young people to make quick tips. However, considering the age of many bartenders, they have to deal with some big responsibilities. 

Bartenders need to keep track of many people’s orders and serve up their drinks correctly. But, unlike waiters, they are almost always dealing with drunk people. This means that bartenders have to use their judgment to determine whether or not people are too drunk for another round. Often, people could become angry at a bartender about this and go into long and exhausting negotiations or even a physical fight.

12. Teacher 

Teachers don’t have the biggest life-and-death responsibility in the world, nor do they face split decisions. However, when you add up all of the disadvantages of being a teacher, it comes out as one of the most stressful jobs possible. 

First of all, there’s the fact that the job goes way beyond the hours you’re actually “doing” your job. All of the time taken to help out students falling behind, attend faculty meetings, deal with angry parents, grade papers, and come up with assignments is taken out of your personal time. 

On top of all of that, teachers don’t make all that much money at all. On average, they make about $42,000 a year, which is, quite frankly, abysmal for how hard they work.

Related Read: Best Jobs For College Students: 75+ Options for the Ambitious Student

13. Pilot

Being a pilot is certainly an attractive job. It pays well and allows you to travel around the world. However, it comes with a fair share of drawbacks. 

Pilots regularly work long hours and fly through various time zones. This often messes up their sleep schedule, which makes their job extra-hard and exhausting. 

On top of this, pilots are responsible for the lives of all of their passengers. Even if someone goes wrong completely out of their control, they will almost always get blamed for the crash. 

14. Lawyer

Not many people get paid to argue for a living. Lawyers have to deal with fighting on behalf of a client who hires them. If they lose, they can vastly affect their client’s life. 

On top of the stress of in-court protocol, a lawyer also has to meet many deadlines and keep up with changing laws. They end up dealing with people facing some of the worst moments of their lives, which makes this one of the most stressful jobs in the world.

Understand the Most Stressful Jobs

If you are trying to decide on your future profession, there are so many factors to keep in mind! You have to balance things you like to do and those you’re actually good at. Plus, you have to consider your potential salary, growth opportunities, and whether the job you choose will match your desired lifestyle. 

We believe that it is also essential to be aware of the stress level you might experience. For many people, anxiety is a part of everyday life. Instead of constantly trying to manage anxiety while working in a highly stressful field, you could turn your attention to some of the least stressful jobs possible. It is always possible to find something you love which won’t take a toll on your mental health.

Related Read: 25+ Best Jobs for Introverts: Top Careers for the Reserved & Reflective

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Goodwall Team
Written By Goodwall Team
This article was written by the Goodwall team or by a contributor for publication on Goodwall. Goodwall is dedicated to helping students, entrepreneurs, and young professionals reach their full potential. We'll share thought-provoking and supportive articles on career advice, self-improvement, navigating the college landscape, climate action, social impact, and more. On the business side, we'll talk about SMB subjects related to community, diversity, talent acquisition, case studies, and enterprise.

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