By Kyle Kensing
Jobs that require you to face unpredictable conditions, immediate dangers and high-stakes situations rank among the most stressful of 2014. These are careers that require a unique kind of mettle, but only if you're bold enough to pursue them.
Or, as Richard Keyworth, a retired firefighter in Elk Grove Village, Ill., says of his profession, it takes a “round peg in a square hole” mentality to succeed.
“I often joke when I’m talking to people that anybody with brains runs out of a burning building,” says Keyworth, who has over 30 years of firefighting experience. He adds that the psychological stress firefighters face is far from a laughing matter, however.
“We go through a lot of psychological training,” he says. “Understand, this is not all glory. You never know if you’re not coming home one day.”
Firefighter is ranked third among the CareerCast.com most stressful Jobs Rated report of 2014. Only enlisted military personnel and military general scored higher in a measurement of 11 stress factors, including whether your life and the life of others is at risk.
The personal dangers military personnel and firefighters face as part of their work is evident. But both are responsible for the safety of their peers as well, as Keyworth explains.
“We operate in team environment. No one goes in by [himself or herself],” he says. “Go in as team, go out as a team.”
Firefighters and soldiers also fill vital functions to society, as their work ensures the safety of entire communities. Though it differs in nature, the same ethos is behind the No. 4 most stressful job, airline pilot. Pilots are entrusted with the safety of hundreds of passengers every day, and their skills at using the equipment keeps everyone safe.
After three decades fighting fires, Keyworth now prepares new generations of firefighters for the rigors of the job as an adjunct faculty instructor in fire science at Harper College. He’s also written a true crime book, Fires: Accidental or Arson.
In real cases like those studied in Keyworth’s book, firefighters work closely with police officers, the No. 9 most stressful job of 2014, and another good example of how a potentially dangerous field causes on-the-job stress.
Of course, not all workplace stress emanates from on-the-job danger. Jobs such as public relations executive, newspaper reporter and event coordinator are among the most stressful because of tight deadlines and scrutiny in the public eye. And senior corporate executives are on the list as they are responsible for the direction of entire companies, which means their daily decisions have an effect on an entire workforce.
The following are the 10 most stressful jobs of 2014, according to our CareerCast.com Jobs Rated report:
From serving food in the mess hall to fighting a battle on the front line to avoiding land mines along the path to a village, the duties a soldier carries out have very different levels of responsibility.