Most and Least Stressful Jobs

Numerous studies have shown that job-related stress is associated with reduced productivity, impaired mental well-being, and physical problems, including increased illness and obesity. Needless to say, The Great Recession has only made the problem worse. Many people are working harder for less money and with less job security than they had before. Add the fact that new communications technologies allow us to be connected 24-7 and you have the recipe for the highest levels of stress in history.

Recently, CareerCast, an Internet job board that aggregates listings from newspapers and other sources, released the results of its 2010 Job's Rated Report. Assessing numerous factors for over 200 professions, the study produced lists of most and least stressful jobs as well as the best and worst jobs.

The most fascinating aspect of this study is certainly the methodology. First, they ranked the jobs by five core criteria: Environment, Income, Outlook, Stress, and Physical Demands. They measured two basic factors of every work environment: physical and the emotional components.

They computed the Income score by adding the estimated mid-level income and the income growth potential. Outlook was comprised of Employment Growth, Income Growth Potential, and Unemployment. Twenty-one stress factors were assessed to determine this score, including mental and physical factors.

The most stressful jobs of 2010 were found to be, Firefighter, Senior Corporate Executive, Taxi Driver, Surgeon, Commercial Pilot, Public Relations Officer, Advertising Account Executive, and Real Estate Agent.

At the same time, the least stressful jobs were found to be Musical Instrument Repairer, Medical Records Technician, Appliance Repairer, Actuary, Forklift Operator, Librarian, Medical Secretary, Bookkeeper, Piano Tuner, and Janitor. Interestingly, the high-stress jobs tend to have the lowest unemployment, whereas most of the low-stress jobs have the highest unemployment. The exception for low-stress jobs is Actuary with high-income potential and low unemployment; the exception for high-stress jobs is Taxi Driver. The unifying factor for income potential is of course education.

Expect the low-stress jobs that require some education, e.g., Medical Secretary, Medical Records Technician, and Forklift Operator to continue to be popular among young people for whom life-work balance is very important.


Ms. Gioia is a workforce futurist concentrating on relationship aspects of the future. This arena includes workforce and workplace trends, as well as consumer, education, and business-to-business trends. She is also CEO of Employer of Choice, Inc, a distinction earned only by companies whose leadership, culture, and best practices attract, optimize, and hold top talent. Employers of Choice® enjoy "a higher level of performance, greater workforce stability, and the level of continuity ...

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