Your own job may not be on the list, but as you go through the list, try to determine which of the stressors these other jobs face can also be found in your job.
Executives have to contend with other corporate executives, employees, the public, and board members. And they’re only as good as the last quarter’s revenue. When the economy tanks, they sweat. The hours can be long and the weekends filled with networking and making contacts. Often, a lot of traveling is required, which means time away from family and friends. Job security is uncertain.
Deployed military personnel
Being on the front lines, facing the stress of war and combat can result in incredible levels of stress. The physical and psychological demands of training and duty, dangers of war, stress of relocation, and difficulties transitioning into a civilian job only add to this stress. Separation from family can be a major stressor. Also, the pay is relatively low.
Those of higher military rank face the stressors of decision-making and responsibility. You are responsible for the lives of those under you.
Inner-city high school teachers
While this job is not without its physical dangers, the major source of stress comes from other places. Teachers must manage classroom behavior and motivate students to become more interested in learning and work harder on their studies. Sometimes, they have to work just to get them to show up to class.
Everybody thinks that teachers have it easy, going home at 3:30. Not so. There are lessons to be prepared, papers to grade, reports to be handed in. Then there are the politics of the school with grade and performance expectations, often felt by teachers to be at the expense of other subject learning. Coping with the demands, complaints, and often the lack of involvement of parents presents additional stressors.
The pay is usually not terrific. Burnout is not uncommon.
Journalists and reporters
Perhaps the major sources of stress for many who work in these jobs are the constant unpredictable demands of the job and relative lack of control the reporter has over what to write about. The hours can be long and stretch into the weekends. Deadlines are always looming. There is pressure to get it right the first time, with little room for error.
More recently, newer stresses have been added. The print media is in decline, with more papers and magazines folding. Jobs are harder to come by, and if you have a job, you are probably doing your job plus the work of one or two others.
That transition period between graduating from medical school and being able to practice medicine can be incredibly stressful. It starts with a heavy workload (and a great deal of sleep deprivation) and a high level of responsibility. Patients can be difficult and taxing. The newly minted doc may have relocated for his or her internship from another state or city.
There may be financial issues and debt. While the image of the graduating doctor is of someone financially well-off, the money may not be there at the beginning. There is information overload with the intern constantly being assessed and tested. Should the intern have a family, the stresses and the isolation may be compounded.
Working underground certainly would seem to be stressful. The thought of descending into the bowels of the earth with little air, little light, and the fear of a collapsing mine would not be a career on the top of most people’s list.
Besides the danger of being killed or trapped, spending many hours in a cramped, poorly-lit environment with no sun or fresh air adds to the stress. There are also the health risks that come with breathing in particle dust and fumes over the course of many years.
Pilots (and those who help them land)
Pilots, of course, are responsible for the lives of their passengers. Pilots (and crew) spend a lot of time away from home. The air-traffic controllers, the people who are responsible for helping the pilot land the plane, may feel even more stress. Perhaps no other job has been as readily identified as the “poster job” for stress.
Both of these groups are responsible for thousands of lives. People expect to arrive at their destination safely and as quickly as possible. The demands of these jobs are high. There is very little room for error, and not a whole lot of down time. The work is usually done in shifts with the schedule changing all the time. You work lots of holidays, putting additional stress on your family life.
Police officers and fire fighters
Police officers are responsible for the safety of the public, their colleagues, and themselves. The work of a fire fighter often puts him or her in the direct line of danger. Physically, the work is fatiguing. The hours can be long and erratic. For firefighters, there can be long periods of boredom and inactivity. The nature of the work can also take its toll on family life.
The hours can be long and the shifts inconvenient. You are on your feet for many hours. You are juggling orders. The rewards are few. The average income is around $20,000. Your job security is not great either. Make some mistakes, and you may find yourself replaced. The job is not often held in high esteem in society.
Undesirable hours, low pay, and danger contribute to the stress of this career choice. Crime is a major concern, especially in inner cities. Passengers can be a pain in the neck. The traffic can be horrendous. Drivers pretty much just sit in their cars for many grueling hours without any physical exercise. The pay is generally low, with a median salary of around $25,000.