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10 most stressful and 10 least stressful jobs in 2012

Posting in Technology

The most stressful occupations involve life-or-death decisions; but some 'desk' jobs may not be a cakewalk either.

CareerCast has just issued its list of the top 10 most stressful jobs, accompanied by an adjoining list of the least stressful jobs to be found in today's world.

CareerCast says it developed a ranking system for job stress that compares a number of different job demands which can reasonably be expected to evoke stress, including travel, hiring outlook/growth potential, deadlines, working in the public eye, competitiveness, physical demands, environmental conditions, hazards encountered, own life at risk, life of another at risk and meeting the public.

Of course, I've heard it said that stress is in the eye of the beholder. What may be overwhelming for one person may be an adrenaline rush for another.

Here are the top 10 most stressful jobs:

1) Soldier: Completely understandable, given the extreme risk and danger that comes with this job.  Plus, as anyone in the military will tell you, there's the stress of long hours of boredom, punctuated by moments of sheer terror.

2) Firefighter: Another occupation punctuated by life-or-death decisions.

3) Airline pilot: There's a misconception that jet planes practically fly themselves, thanks to computers. But the pressure is intense to stick to schedules, not to mention jet lag.

4) Military general: A very odd addition to the list, since there aren't too many military generals out there, and not many people go back to school or training with the goal of becoming a "general." (Does this category include admirals as well?) This kind of job, of course, is not as cushy as some may think, since thousands of lives may be at stake with every decision.

5) Police officer: As with soldiers, completely understandable why this can be a stressful occupation. The only surprise is that it doesn't rank as more stressful than military generals and airline pilots.

6) Event coordinator: Not as dangerous as the first five, of course. But having been with an organization that conducted conferences, I know the mental pain, anguish and torture these professionals are subjected to.

7) Public relations executive: Hmm. In the event of a major PR disaster, this could be a very highly stress-inducing position. Say if you were the PR manager for BP a couple of summers back. But overall, I'm surprised to see this on the top 10 list.

8 ) Senior corporate executive: ROI. ROI. ROI. Every day, ROI.

9) Photojournalist: This can be a pretty dangerous profession, especially if they're out there with number 1, the soldiers, or number 5, the police officers -- which they often are.

10) Taxi driver: Oh yeah.  Long hours, miserable pay, miserable riders, miserable traffic.

Some other stressful jobs that didn't make the list but I would vote for include emergency room physician, emergency medical technician, tax accountant (especially in April) and marriage counselor. Nurses also incur a great deal of stress -- making this one of the most burnout-prone professions.

And here are the top 10 least stressful jobs, according to CareerCast:

1) Medical records technician.

2) Jeweler.

3) Hair stylist.

4) Dressmaker-tailor.

5) Medical laboratory technician.

6) Audiologist.

7) Precision assembler.

8 ) Dietition.

9) Furniture upholsterer.

10) Electrical technician.

(Photo: US Navy, via Wikipedia.)

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Joe McKendrick

Contributing Editor

Joe McKendrick is an independent analyst who tracks the impact of information technology on management and markets. He is a co-author of the SOA Manifesto and has written for Forbes, ZDNet and Database Trends & Applications. He holds a degree from Temple University. He is based in Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure