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10 Most Stressful Blue-Collar Jobs of 2011

Firefighters fighting a fire. By Victoria Brienza

 

Many blue-collar jobs rank as even more stressful than their salaried counterparts. Firefighters, for example, top the list of most stressful blue-collar jobs and rank at the top of all of the 200 jobs studied in our report. Firefighters routinely face dangerous and complex fires and often face poisonous gases or other hazardous materials.

The other most stressful jobs for blue-collar workers include:

Protects individuals and saves lives and property from the ravages of fire.

  • Overall Score: 730.00
  • Income: $45,222.00

  • Work Environment:
    3314.030
  • Stress:
    60.220
  • Hiring Outlook:
    18.22

Operates a taxi cab over the streets and roads of a municipality, picking up and dropping off passengers by request.

  • Overall Score: 821.00
  • Income: $21,127.00

  • Work Environment:
    2317.210
  • Stress:
    46.270
  • Hiring Outlook:
    5.27

Provides protection against crime, investigates criminal activity, and works with the public on crime-prevention measures.

  • Overall Score: 731.00
  • Income: $49,185.00

  • Work Environment:
    1877.850
  • Stress:
    43.850
  • Hiring Outlook:
    7.85

Patrols roads and highways, and enforces traffic regulations and criminal statutes.

  • Overall Score: 692.00
  • Income: $53,171.00

  • Work Environment:
    1733.400
  • Stress:
    40.710
  • Hiring Outlook:
    7.71

Fells, cuts, and transports timber to be processed into lumber, paper, and other wood products.

  • Overall Score: 868.00
  • Income: $32,109.00

  • Work Environment:
    1817.530
  • Stress:
    40.090
  • Hiring Outlook:
    0.09

Prepares surfaces, and applies paints, varnishes, and finishes to the interiors and exteriors of houses and other structures.

  • Overall Score: 798.00
  • Income: $34,152.00

  • Work Environment:
    1034.020
  • Stress:
    31.520
  • Hiring Outlook:
    -3.48

Supervises inmates' activities and enforces regulations in jails, prisons, and other correctional facilities.

  • Overall Score: 673.00
  • Income: $39,150.00

  • Work Environment:
    1646.750
  • Stress:
    31.500
  • Hiring Outlook:
    9.50

Raises the steel framework of buildings, bridges, and other structures.

  • Overall Score: 887.00
  • Income: $34,127.00

  • Work Environment:
    1593.720
  • Stress:
    31.270
  • Hiring Outlook:
    -12.73

Supervises the work of employees and ensures that equipment and materials are being used properly and effectively.

  • Overall Score: 558.00
  • Income: $82,210.00

  • Work Environment:
    923.210
  • Stress:
    31.100
  • Hiring Outlook:
    10.10

Installs roofs on new buildings, performs repairs on old roofs, and re-roofs old buildings.

  • Overall Score: 863.00
  • Income: $34,168.00

  • Work Environment:
    1481.200
  • Stress:
    30.680
  • Hiring Outlook:
    -9.32

For more information on how we rank all 200 jobs, see our 2011 Jobs Rated Methodology.

Continue to see the 10 Least Stressful White-Collar Jobs of 2011


Um...it said BLUE collar.

I think some people missed the part about BLUE collar. That is why air controllers and nurses are not on the list. BUT! I do defend the nurse notion. It is not only an academic profession. There are HUGE physical demands placed on them.

Registered Nurses

Who made this list?? And what factors "qualified" each proffession to be included in this list? There are two things I'm a little shocked about....how on earth did painters get on this list? Seriously. PAINTERS?? and LUMBERJACKS?? Is that a joke?? The other thing I would like to know is how RN's (registered nurses) didn't make it on this list, I believe they should be on the top five, so I'm shocked they didn't make it on the list at all. When I chose nursing as a career, I believed it to be a profession which woul allow me to care for others, under supervision of doctors, I expected the environment to be maneagable, with some stress involved, after all it is working with sick people. I always wondered why nurses complained so much, now i know why. Four years into being a registered nurse, I'm already trying to figure out how to get out of it. I've already been on worker's compensation twice, with a broken foot and slipped disc, and have already been tested for AIDs after a needle stick injury. There ate a large number of nurses on my ward who have had spinal surgery as a result of work related injuries. More than once a week I come home and just cry. The stress is too much. The responsibility is enormous, and the working conditions are inhumane for nurses. I am neglecting myself over the job, due to the workload, i often go without a break all day, without sitting down once, not going to the toilet at all often between 6am and 6pm...thats 12 hours! Not having a bite to eat or a single drop of water to drink. We also work with dangerous chemicals such as cancer drugs, which affects our fertility and even puts us at risk of certain cancers. The extent of the physical, emotional and mental stress cannot even be described. It is a job where there is not room for even the simplest of human errors, which can easily result in the death of a patient, and being sued. Basically our job is to fight against death, which really, is unstopable and inevitable. The diagnosis the Dr makes is dependant on findings by the nurses, we are the ones who make sure the patients are seen by the Dr, treated by the Dr, and that the Dr doesn't make any mistakes, if they do, we are the ones who get blamed and suffer the consequences. And the stress never leaves us either, even after work, i am in constant stress regarding if i made any mistakes, forgot to follow something up, hand something over, act on something, or document something. The amount of paperwork is ridiculous. We take the brunt of all other worker's stress, doctors, physios, OT's, wardsmen, other nurses etc, not to mention from the families and the patients, the frustration, immense stress and the grief they are going through. The workload is impossible, not to mention everything skill and job has to be done perfectly. At 25 years old, I feel that my job is killing me. So I am getting out. It has ruined all my relationships to some extent. And I don't feel like myself anymore. Nurses are the punching bags of the health system, and i've had enough. Every other nurse I know are getting out aswell. Nursing has a very fast turn over. Nurses definately deserve much more pay. But what we really deserve is decreased and more realistic workloads, more support, more holidays, and most of all, more recognition and respect. And to be rightfully portrayed in
the media, instead of no-brainer workers just standing by the doctors, or as young sex objects on some of those disgusting belittling shows made by men. Our hours are erratic, we have no sleeping pattern or routine what so ever, get run down and sick all the time, including working with patients infected with multi-resistant organisms, which is basically a resistance to antibiotics, 95% of nurses contract this, so what hope do nurses have of successful treatment if we contract a serious infection if we are already resitant to antibiotics? We never get to spend special times such as christmas day with our families, because we are busy saving your loved one's lives. Anyone considering nursing...please don't go into it. Anyone else wondering why nurses haven't been included on this list?

What about registered nurses???

Who made this list?? And what factors allowed each proffession to be validated to be on this list? Thete are two things I'm a little shocked about....how on earth did painters get on this list? Seriously. PAINTERS?? Is that a joke?? The other thing I would like to know is how RN's (registered nurses) didn't make it on this list, I believe they should be on the top five, so I'm shocked they didn't make it on the list at all. When I chose nursing as a career, I believed it to be a profession which woul allow me to care for others, under supervision of doctors, I expected the environment to be maneagable, with some stress involved, after all it is working with sick people. I always wondered why nurses complained so much, now i know why. Four years into being a registered nurse, I'm already trying to figure out how to get out of it. I've already been on worker's compensation twice, with a broken foot and slipped disc, and have already been tested for AIDs after a needle stick injury. There ate a large number of nurses on my ward who have had spinal surgery as a result of work related injuries. More than once a week I come home and just cry. The stress is too much. The responsibility is enormous, and the working conditions are inhumane for nurses. I am neglecting myself over the job, due to the workload, i often go without a break all day, without sitting down once, not having a bite to eat or a single drop of water to drink. We also work with dangerous chemicals such as cancer drugs, which affects our fertility and even puts us at risk of certain cancers. The extent of the physical, emotional and mental stress cannot even be described. It is a job where there is not room for even the simplest of human errors, which can easily result in the death of a patient, and being sued. Basically we are fighting against death, which really, is unstopable and inevitable. The diagnosis the Dr makes is dependant on findings by the nurses, we are the ones who make sure the patients are seen by the Dr, treated by the Dr, and that the Dr doesn't make any mistakes, if they do, we are the ones who get blamed. And the stress never leaves us either, even after work, i am in constant stress regarding if i made any mistakes, forgot to follow something up, hand something over, act on something, or document something. The amount of paperwork is ridiculous. Ae take the brunt of all other worker's stress, doctors, physios, OT's, wardsmen, other nurses etc, not to mention from the families and the patients, the frustration and the grief they are going through. The workload is impossible, not to mention everything has to do everything perfectly. At 25 years old, I feel that my job is killing me. So I am getting out. It has ruined all my relationships to some extent. And I don't feel like myself anymore. Nurses are the punching bags of the health system, and i've had enough. Every other nurse I know are getting out aswell. Nursing has a very fast turn over. Nurses definately deserve much more pay. But what we really deserve is decreased more realistic workloads, more support, more holidays, and most of all, more recognition and respect. And to be rightfully portrayed in the media, instead of no-brainer workers just standing by the doctors, or as young sex objects on some of those disgusting belittling shows made by men. Our hours are erratic, we have no sleeping pattern or routine what so ever, get run down and sick all the time, and we never get to spend special times such as christmas day with our families, bevause we are busy saving your loved one's lives. Anyone considering nursing...please don't go into it.

Loggers, not "Lumberjacks"

"Lumberjacks" are the guys who put on shows with axe-throwing and so forth. Logging is the profession, and always rated in the top one or two in dangerousness. Working dawn to dusk every day in season, being covered with cuts and scrapes and bruises, and nearly getting killed several times a week, is a fairly rugged way to make a living, my friends.

Stress

What college educated moron writes this crap? Listen; here is what stress is; leaving your family everyday to go help people that don’t give a crap about your help, knowing that people want to hurt you just because, not being able to protect yourself until certain elements have been met (and trying to satisfy all those elements in a second or less), and so many other things all the while trying to keep your family intact. I am fortunate to have God in my life to help with all that. Some are not so lucky. Public safety personnel should always be at the top of the list. I have rarely seen or heard a pilot get beat up (excludes the heroes of 9/11), an architect get spat upon, a real estate agent getting shot at, a stockbroker getting stuck with a dirty needle (not self inflicted), or any of the other professions getting blamed for everything the way public safety personnel do. When was the last time an executive was blamed for a killer going free? Have you ever heard of a painter getting blamed for a person dying in an accident except for the one he caused? Do me a favor author and step in to the shoes of a public safety official before you write this crap. By the way I don’t want this to sound like a complaint because I chose my profession. I enjoy what I do, handle the stress well and accept all the criticism. It makes me a better officer.

stressful blue coller jobs

Crane Operator

Air Traffic Controller

Firefighter, Police Officers, yup, stressful jobs, and thank God for them. However, if you want to experience stress, sit at a control terminal as an air traffic controller. 300 airplanes of every type, thousands of passengers and staff, bad weather, uncontrolled aircraft, and much more. You can't take your eyes off the screen for even a couple seconds because everything is moving, constantly. One mistake and instant disaster. Now, that's pressure, and not only at a moment in time, but all the time. Why do upwards of 75% of controllers leave the profession on medical disability (high blood pressure, gastrointestinal, cardiac, emotional, and other maladies) before they are eligible to retire? Answer: continual, high level, work stress. Many occupations have stress and at times high stress, but I submit that no occupation has the high level, continual stress of an air traffic controller.

Psychiatric Technician

Try working with the severely, chronically mentally ill and you'll know stress! Constant verbal and physical threats combined with low pay and a critical high tech environment leaves one desperate for a vacation every 2-3 months. It's a calling but one that needs revamping in order to keep folks working.

what about to be a kitchen chef

it one of the most stressfull work in

You people need to relax

Sounds like a bunch of whining babies on here!! Who cares what job is more stressful. Every job has it stresses, some just more than others. Sounds to me, by reading these comments, that most of you induce the stress where you work.

Powerlineman

Im not saying my profession has anymore stress than the next, but working with high voltage power lines has its fair share of stress!

EMT's and Paramedics

Why is EMS never remembered, never mind included on any list? While I completely commend police and fire for the job they do, where is our recognition? In the town of 33,000 where I work, EMS did over 3,500 calls last year. With the growing problem of morbid obesity (no pun intended) in addition to the unknown illnesses, mental states, environments, and safety issues we are exposed to, when will we start to be counted? EMS week is May 15-21 this year. If you see an EMT or Paramedic, no need to make a big commotion...a simple thank you is more than we normally get. Thanks to all who have, are, and will work this underpaid and overworked occupation.

EMT is listed under "white collar" jobs.

Don't worry, you guys are represented...

A stressful job

A lot of people do not realize what a stressful job being a court reporter is. Not only are you supposed to get every word down accurately, even when attorneys are arguing and speaking over one another, but it must all be transcribed accurately to provide an appellate record. Most transcribing is done in the court reporter's spare time.....weekends and nights. Also, deadlines are often short and must be met.

Caregivers

We're at the bottom of the food chain. Everybody has the right to order us about - residents, their families, nurses, administrators, doctors...anyone, and we have to take it with a smile. We clean colostomy bags, empty catheter bags, change dirty diapers, lift hundreds of pounds of residents a day, care for way too many people (currently NOC shift - 68 residents for two caregivers). We clean bodily fluid accidents, both solid and not-so-solid, on the floors and elsewhere, dress and bathe folks who may have severe dementia and are aggressive and/or paranoia, or others who are totally bed-bound. Make the beds, do the laundry, do housekeeping, feed the residents who can't feed themselves, plate the dinners, serve them and clean the dining room and floor of the kitchen, and set the tables for the next round. It goes on and on, four days on two days off, no sick leave at all, no vacation until a year, near minimum wages if employed at an ALF (and if employed in a home, even if through a company, in my state, Oregon, there is NO minimum wage, believe it or not). But, hey, I'm college-educated, had bad luck with a serious illness, and I'm doing that job that "Americans don't want to do." Most of my coworkers are from other countries, legally, by the way. Smile.

caregivers

I know the feeling, doing for others is rewarding in and of itself. Sometimes forgetting to care for yourself happens. It's very rewarding work spiritually, and yes, at times draining both physically and emotionally. Thank goodness for chocolate!

in home caregiving for Alzheimers patients

no one has a clue until they have done this job by the time I get home I can only hit the couch too tired to cook clean or even eat, I worked in accounting for 22 years until I lost my job in Aug of 2010 and nothing has been as stressful as caregiving , being hit and scratched on a daily basis and having to keep a positive attitude with a smile on your face spending over 2 hours getting someone to eat or to get meds down.

I'm glad you spoke up. Hats

I'm glad you spoke up. Hats off to you and others in your profession.

all jobs are getting more

all jobs are getting more stressful with the way companies are cutting back on employees and making everyone work longer hours with a bigger work load. I'm a construction superintendent that over sees projects ranging from 20 million to 80 million. The schedules are so tight,money is tight missing a dead line or just forgetting a simple step in the process or one small item can cost 100,000 or millions of dollars. I would have to agree that nurses should have been before lumber jack. I think there are more stressful jobs then what they listed. Sorry lumber jack, it might be stressful and dangerous but when they say "stressful" I think it puts you down the list a little? If they said dangerous, tough, and hard and stressful then you would be on top but mentally stressful no.

Police Officer, Coal Miner and Corrections Officer

Police officer aspects can vary widely, from desk clerks who take reports, detectives who investigate after the fact, to SWAT teams who go into highly volatile, unknown situations. Even size of jails can be a factor - my husband is a 17 yr veteran in the 3rd largest facility in the US of over 10,000 inmates on any given day. Then there are small, one-stop light towns that hardly have anyone behind bars on a weekly basis.
My point is that I'm sure it was hard to calculate the overall, weighted factors for this ranking - but it is the wide swing of variances and unknowns alone that make this profession extremely stressful. I wasn't sure why at first it would be ranked behind taxi cab drivers until my husband explained they at least police officers have protection at their disposal, where as taxi cab drivers truly have an unknown factor without structure of authority in regards to protection.
I agree with the commenter in regards to coal miners. Talk about tough conditions and risk of life.
re #7 Correction Officer: My husband did point out something regarding the #7 Corrections ranking - his experience in Texas is that Corrections officials have a much more stressful job - for one, they are NOT licensed police officers, yet ALL they ever deal with are criminals, and are usually paid a lot less than police officers. There's a variance to the role in Texas, where corrections officers are only at the state prison level - whereas license officers run the county and local jails. But he's quick to say that wouldn't be an assumption in regards to how other states run jails vs prisons. He just pointed out at least in Texas, the two positions are worlds apart in authority and resources, vs the environment.

Nursing

Nursing is by far one of the most stressful jobs out there. I am shocked that it didnt make the list. It is physically, emotional, and mentally exhausting. We are the ones who have to deal with everything!!!!! From patients, families, physicians, other disciplines, and hosptial administrators telling us to document more, spend more time with patient, make the patient and family enjoy their stay more, and do it in a timely fashion. Never mind actually doing our job of taking care of sick patients and making sure they get better and not crash. Why is nursing not on this list? It makes me question the validated of this list.

Dispatcher 911

What about a 911 dispatcher we are the first ones to talk to the people before we send help really they are not even mentioned this is crap.

911 Dispatcher

I agree! And it isn't like we can just hang up on a stressful situation...we have to stay in it until someone arrives on scene and takes over! Sometimes that can take up to an hour (in rural areas-like where I work-and depending on time of day). Who does the public/responders rely on when the worse possible unimaginable & stressful situation is happening to them- 911 Dispatchers!!! Although we may SOUND calm on the phone & radio, this is "auto pilot", something that occurs subconscoiusly & naturally in ALL good dispatchers. That should not be taken that it is not stressful for us to be in the situation with the person on the other end of the radio or the phone! This article is very poorly put together. I worked as a correctional officer and didn't come CLOSE to making $39,000/year! Also, although it is WORRISOME to think about being in a dangerous situation with an inmate-I only experienced a stressful situation in the prison one time! 911 dispatcher-that stress is multiple times a DAY! This article is very inaccurate. To the Anonymous who wrote the "Dispatcher 911" comment- THANKS FOR ALL YOU DO...from one dispatcher to another...and I recognize your stress!!!
PS...maybe they didn't put us on the list because they would have to broadcast what little pay WE make for the IMPORTANT job we do. Just saying....

911-Dispatchers

When a Police officer, or Firefighter responds to a critical situation, what do they do? They PHYSICALLY react, thus the dump of the adreneline going through their bodies can be physically expelled by their physical actions. Plus they handle one critical incident at a time. A 9-1-1 Dispatcher's job is to immediately tamp down the adreline kick, internalize it, and stay in one place, dispatching the call, or staying on the phone. Many times, that may not be the only incident going on either. And when the incident is done, what does a 9-1-1 dispatcher do? They go onto the next call. The point I am trying to make here is this. A 9-1-1 Dispatcher may not seem to be physically in harms way, however, when faced with a critical incident, we have the same reactions as a Cop or a Firefighter, only we have to handle our physical reactions differently. This puts stress on our bodies and brains just as much, sometimes more than a Cop or Firefighter. Now I didn't write all that to say "oh look at us! look at us we have stressful jobs too!" I write all this so every 9-1-1 Dispatcher knows A) Someone out there gets it! and B) You need to make sure that you are taking care of yourself, because its up to you not your department to do so! And one last thing.. the book On Combat.. Lt Colonel Grossman... they talk about warriors of war, and Officers in the field... He is talking about YOU TOO!! Read it, it might help prolong your life.....

Registered Nurse

I think nursing is the most stressfull career. We deal with patients lives everyday. We deal with the physicians, the patients and their family, and the entire staffs of the hospital, including dietary. If they have questions about a patient, they call the nurse. Whenever something is wrong, you hear "nurse, nurse". the physician come and talk to the patient for less than a minutes (most of them); We spend at least 12 hours a day with the patients and call the physician to give them updates about the patients. one minutes the patient can be talking and the next minute he or she can stop talking and crash, who is there to help prevent the patient from getting worse? The nurse. When we go home we still think about the well-being of the patients that we leave in the hospital.

For going to college for four years, the hardwork and the stress we take everyday at work, we should not get this salary; we deserve way better salary. Some people, including the ones getting the garbages off of the streets get more money and better benefits than us. This isn't fair.

We deserve respect, better salary and better benefits

Critical Care Registered Nurse

Absolutely no doubt working as an RN in ICU (especially) has got to be one of the TOP TEN most stressful positions/careers to be in. Every minute we are literally fighting death. And the documentation along with the stress of the families and hospital administrators/department managers, is certainly making nurses age faster,get sick more often, and not to mention the weight gain. While our families wait patiently for us to come home, we are busy caring for your families. Being vomited on, bled on, coughed on, etc....is just one glamourous part of our stressful job.
The only explanation for Critical Care RN position to have not made this list has got to be pure IGNORANCE.

transit operators

Stress is always available for bus drivers but the pay is great and so worth the stress

"the pay is good?"

"The pay is good and worth the stress"??? Which city transit system do you work for?!
:^)

Good List

Septic tank truck drivers are underrated

stress

Customer Service Reps- we have to constantly and consistently talk with the public; which is stressful because most people behave like idiots on the phone because it can be anonymous. You have to be "nice" and professional even if the other person is screaming and cursing at you. Try doing that for eight hours out of the day.

figures are out of date?

I have two friends who are police officers. One for the State of California and he earns 147,000 a year plus benefits. Another works for the NYPD
and in not counting getting overtime for being at NY Yankee games as security, he ears 128,000 a year.

i think the figures are a little out of date.

granted, these jobs are SEVERELY RISKY and cops are underpaid, but I just think it fair to use updated figures.

just curious

why is it that everytime someone list stressful jobs it never consists of the military? lets put aside the facts that we drive up and down heavily IED'ed roads get shot at or even handle high explosives. then theres the so called down time we have which consist of constant inspections test classes and training, not to mention PT test. so when it comes to stressful jobs i hate to say it im pretty sure for the most part you have it easy. i mean i doubt any of these cool cats are going to be on their way home from a nice days work and go boom. but hey police and firefighters i would give you two and three

Bingo

Try being a lowly action officer in the Pentagon. That will stress you out.

Military

I agree with you one hundred percent. I was never on the front lines when I was in the military and it was still more stressful than any of the jobs listed in the top ten! Our soldiers on the front have the most stressful job bar none!

Amen

Amen

Firefighters Unite!

Cooks and bus drivers? You've got to be kidding. No job is more dangerous, underpaid, overworked and stressful than firefighter, except maybe police officer. Great report!

Firefighters and Police

The stressfullness of these jobs compared to their outlandish salaries are a joke. It's true that you continually forget to mention military. Just the fact of keeping in physical shape is stressfull. We all have seen the fat slobs in Police uniforms the street. Just imaine what the police force is ashamed to show in public and keeps in low stess and danger admnn positions drawing full 'high risk pay and pensions'. All work is stressful when you have a familiy to take care of!

a reminder

When I see what you mention, I always remind myself that it isn't a representation of the whole - there are many officers who daily work to stay in shape (some even better later, than when they came out of the academy). It is not good for PR, regarding for what you mention.
Many officers and firefighters deal with the worst of the worst, and are expected to maintain professional standards with people and situations you wouldn't want to look at, smell, or conditions you wouldn't let your kids be around. Plus, many can't go home to talk about "their day" because it can sometimes be beyond comprehension.
It is extremely stressful for not just the firefighters and police, but their families - volunteer firefighters have full time jobs, and go without sleep so they can respond to weeknight calls for as little as a false alarms throughout the evening, to a multi alarm fire that keeps them literally up all night, ending in exhaustion. Officers these days often have to work double shifts without notice, so going to family functions or appts becomes tough - to repeat it again the next day on just a few hours of sleep and little time to eat.

Any and every job is stressful

Nothing about non-profit sector. Try working full time hours on a part-time basis or filling four jobs with two people because there isn't enough funds and getting paid very little. Talk about stressful!

WTF

Hey what about cooks, its hot stuff can burn the crap out of ya and sharp knives and crazy people that all have records as co workers

What about coal mining?

What about coal mining?

stress

Also there is those of us that are Paramedics as well Firefighters. This is becoming a common trend across the Country.

stress

What about a paramedic. Making life or death decisions on patient care with out the benefit of having a Dr in the room. Not to mention the driving and constant continuing education requirments.

stress

i havebeen a bus operator for 25 years my hair has turned from the stress i deal with on a day to day basis .we operate buses in every type of driving conditions you can imagine.we are never thanked for being dedicated to the riding public, we are constantly vilified and harassed by stupervision ignored by a mayor that is clueless we suffer more health issues high blood pressure diabetes heart attacks kidney failure crippling knee problems and we didnt even make this list most people would last one week if you had my job.

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