The 10 Most Stressful Jobs of 2012

The 10 Most Stressful Jobs of 2012

By: Victoria Brienza

This is the 2012 most stressful jobs report. Click here for the most stressful jobs of 2013 report.

Stress. We’ve all experienced it in our working lives. It’s that pressure we feel in response to particular situations, whether real or imagined.

Though our response to stress is an inherent part of our biology and was a key factor to our ancestors’ survival in the wild, we rarely have to worry about being eaten alive these days. The stress we encounter at work is very different and is felt more consistently.

“One of the differences between us and our ancestors is that we can mentally and emotionally live as if the tiger never goes away. It can lead to a nervous system that’s in a near-constant state of arousal,” says Karen Sothers, a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) expert in San Diego. “This is one of the reasons why mediatation is essential because it teaches us to regulate our thoughts and emotions so we can skillfully respond to challenges.”

According to a recent study commissioned by the American Psychological Association, more than one-third (36%) of all workers say they typically feel tense or stressed out during their workdays, with 20% reporting that their average daily level of stress is an 8, 9 or 10 on a 10-point scale.

Sothers is not surprised that most workers feel stressed. She points out that “the level of uncertainty in the workplace increases people’s stress levels exponentially.”

Not all jobs are created equal when determining their level of stress, though. There are many environmental factors that can’t be compared, such as a soldier guarding a base, a police officer chasing a mugger or a firefighter running into a burning building. In our Jobs Rated study, all three professions rank in the top 10 of the nation’s most stressful jobs.

"Being in the military is physically and mentally demanding, and it can be very stressful, especially if you're in combat." says Jack, an enlisted military soldier whose real name is withheld for security reasons. "While being in the military does have its stresses, there are also a few benefits. We have a stable pay check and health care benefits, plus 30 days of paid vacation a year to help combat the stress."

Of course, stress is in the mind of the beholder. “Compared to a soldier, police officer or fireman, there’s no way my job is as stressful,” says Stratis Zervos, an award-winning photojournalist. “My job is not stressful on a day-to-day basis. It can be for an individual story, depending upon the circumstances and the subject you’re shooting, but, for the most part the job isn’t as stressful as other jobs. It is exciting and fun to go to every day!”

To better understand the jobs that were rated the most stressful, review the following summaries and see if you agree with our methodology:

Enlisted Military Soldier

1. Enlisted Military Soldier

Overall Rating: 1,703Projected Growth: 1.61%Stress: 84.61Median Salary: $36,261

There are a variety of duties an enlisted soldier may perform as a part of his or her job. 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. However, on aggregate, the Enlisted Soldier takes our top spot for most stressful.

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