These Are The 10 Most Stressful Jobs In America

By Chris Kolmar - Mar. 16, 2017

Find a Job You Really Want In

Stress in the workplace is about as expected (and accepted) as beer at a tech startup. Anyone who has rolled into work after an extended weekend, greeted by an ever increasing inbox, can tell you that. However, there are some professions that make their work out of that traditional Monday morning stress, but amplified by a few dozen notches.

Curious what those professions are? We at Zippia were, and with that curiosity came a thought followed by research and heaps of objective data to bring us the top 10 most stressful jobs in the nation.

In sifting through the data, it seems many of the highest-stress jobs have the highest-concentration in densely packed states–California, New York, and Texas. Whereas, the more industrial jobs–like mining operations–are located, unsurprisingly, in the Rust Belt.

Bookmark this article for those hectic Monday mornings to remind yourself that it could be worse. You could be responsible for an entire prison full of inmates, or for finding a cure for cancer. It might make that mid-week meeting with your CEO a little less stressful.

How did we decide?

Each job on this list has a high stress index. What makes for a high stress index? A series of factors went into deciding the stress level of each profession.

Among these factors are:

  1. Consequence of error
  2. How often this profession deals with physically aggressive people
  3. How often this profession deals with unpleasant or angry people
  4. The duration of a typical work week
  5. Common exposure to hazardous conditions
  6. The importance of being exact or accurate
  7. Time pressures placed upon the individual

After mapping out all of the elements that make a job particularly stressful, numbers were then assigned to each category from a scale of 1 to 5.

The totals were crunched and re-crunched to give us a stress-index figure. The higher the figure, the higher the stress of the profession. From that data gives us the most stressful jobs in America for 2016.

10. Job: Medical and clinical laboratory technologists

Average starting salary: $59,060
Stress index: 3.571

What’s that?
These people are responsible for completing complex medical laboratory tests for diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease. They collect samples of fluid, tissues, and other substances for analysis to help solve important medical queries. Basically, they help keep the world from breaking out into hives or other more serious conditions.

Most highly concentrated areas: Texas, California, Florida

9. Job: Rotary drill operators, oil and gas

Average starting salary: $48,110
Stress index: 3.576
What’s that? They set up drills to remove underground oil and gas, and remove core samples for testing. These folks drill for gasoline underground, and provide samples of previously unexplored areas for gasoline and oil testing. It’s a tough, messy job, but someone’s got to do it–and it’s mostly Texans.

Most highly concentrated areas: Texas with about 9,390, and then Oklahoma with 3,170, closely followed by Pennsylvania.

8. Job: Continuous mining machine operators

Average starting salary: $42,740
Stress index: 3.62
What’s that?
This, like our last stressful job, is a tough, messy job. Their job is to man self-propelled mining machines to remove coal, metal and nonmetal ores, rock, stone, or sand from a mine face and then load it into shuttle cars that drive away and keep the whole operation “continuous.”

Most highly concentrated areas: Nevada, Virginia, Kentucky

7. Job: Nurse anesthetics

Average starting salary: $167,930
Stress index: 3.63

What’s that?
Nurses that administer anesthesia, monitor patient’s vitals while anesthetized, and oversee recovery from anesthesia. This profession requires a specialized graduate degree and allows the nurses to assist surgeons and other physicians during procedures. It’s a hefty stress load that is matched by an equally hefty starting salary.

Most highly concentrated areas: Florida, Texas, North Carolina

6. Job: First-line supervisors of police and detectives

Average starting salary: $89,100
Stress index: 3.664

What’s that?
This crowd is exactly as the job suggests–they are responsible for supervising and coordinating the activities of members of the police force. On top of supervising, they also expect to offer guidance to investigators of criminal cases and ensure procedures are properly followed, as well as assist subordinates in performing certain job duties. It’s a job within a job on top of a job.

Most highly concentrated areas: New York has the most with 12,150, followed by Massachusetts at 6,030

5. Job: Correctional officers and jailers

Average starting salary: $38,030
Stress index: 3.67

What’s that?
These are the people responsible for guarding inmates in jails, prisons, and rehabilitative institutions. They also guard prisoners in transit to the courtroom, penal facilities, or any other transfer. They have a responsibility to keep order, follow protocol, and make sure everyone is safe and protected. They’re mostly found in states with large prison systems, like Texas and California.

Most highly concentrated areas: Texas, California, Florida, New York

4. Job: Emergency medical technicians and paramedics

Average starting salary: $32,310
Stress index: 3.676

What’s that?
Most commonly referred to as EMTs, this profession is responsible for responding to medical emergencies, assessing injuries, administering emergency medical intervention, and transport injured people to hospitals or other medical facilities. It’s a profession that seems like a constant race against the clock.

Most highly concentrated areas: Texas, California, New York, Pennsylvania

3. Job: Hoist and winch operators

Average starting salary: $40,130
Stress index: 3.683

What’s that?
Again, as the job title suggests, these people operate hoist and winch drums. What that involves being precise and watching a lot of bells, whistles, and gauges. They are responsible for starting and stopping the speeds of hoist and winches to pull loads using power-operated cable equipment. Timeliness and accuracy are fundamental to their success–how’s that for pressure?

Most highly concentrated areas: Pennsylvania, Texas, Illinois

2. Job: Subway and streetcar operators

Average starting salary: $60,580
Stress index: 3.804

What’s this?
The profession responsible for getting people from point A to point B in the morning, afternoon, and all the time. These are subway, elevated train, and electric streetcar operators. Unsurprisingly, the eastern United States, where mass transit reigns supreme, has the highest concentration of this career.
Most highly concentrated areas: Maryland, Illinois, Colorado, Pennsylvania

1. Job: First line supervisors of correctional officers

Average starting salary: $52,680
Stress index: 3.936

What’s that?
The men and women in charge of supervising and coordinating activities of correctional officers and jailers. These people maintain order and security within penal institutions, supervise the direct work of correctional officers, and have to respond to emergencies (like escapes and riots).

Most highly concentrated areas: California, Texas, New York

Rank Job Title Score
1 First-Line Supervisors Of Correctional Officers 3.94
2 Subway And Streetcar Operators 3.8
3 Hoist And Winch Operators 3.68
4 Emergency Medical Technicians And Paramedics 3.68
5 Correctional Officers And Jailers 3.67
6 First-Line Supervisors Of Police And Detectives 3.66
7 Nurse Anesthetists 3.63
8 Continuous Mining Machine Operators 3.62
9 Rotary Drill Operators, Oil And Gas 3.58
10 Medical And Clinical Laboratory Technologists 3.57
11 Transit And Railroad Police 3.54
12 Service Unit Operators, Oil, Gas, And Mining 3.53
13 Police, Fire, And Ambulance Dispatchers 3.49
14 Furnace, Kiln, Oven, Drier, And Kettle Operators And Tenders 3.48
15 Elevator Installers And Repairers 3.48
16 Respiratory Therapy Technicians 3.48
17 Aircraft Structure, Surfaces, Rigging, And Systems Assemblers 3.46
18 Psychiatric Technicians 3.46
19 Explosives Workers, Ordnance Handling Experts, And Blasters 3.46
20 Pest Control Workers 3.46
21 Anesthesiologists 3.46
22 Phlebotomists 3.44
23 Radiation Therapists 3.44
24 Railroad Brake, Signal, And Switch Operators 3.43
25 Mobile Heavy Equipment Mechanics, Except Engines 3.42
26 Pharmacists 3.42
27 Electronic Equipment Installers And Repairers, Motor Vehicles 3.41
28 Surgeons 3.41
29 Roustabouts, Oil And Gas 3.4
30 Petroleum Pump System Operators, Refinery Operators, And Gaugers 3.4
31 Private Detectives And Investigators 3.4
32 Transportation Security Screeners 3.39
33 Metal-Refining Furnace Operators And Tenders 3.39
34 Electric Motor, Power Tool, And Related Repairers 3.38
35 Millwrights 3.38
36 Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists 3.37
37 Nurse Practitioners 3.37
38 Respiratory Therapists 3.37
39 Fish And Game Wardens 3.37
40 Airline Pilots, Copilots, And Flight Engineers 3.37
41 Cooling And Freezing Equipment Operators And Tenders 3.35
42 Orthotists And Prosthetists 3.35
43 Physician Assistants 3.35
44 Forensic Science Technicians 3.35
45 Chefs And Head Cooks 3.35
46 Embalmers 3.35
47 Tank Car, Truck, And Ship Loaders 3.35
48 Animal Control Workers 3.34
49 Judges, Magistrate Judges, And Magistrates 3.34
50 Pesticide Handlers, Sprayers, And Applicators, Vegetation 3.33

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Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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