The Most Stressful Jobs for 2014

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Stress—gaaaaaaaah! It's everywhere these days. And nowhere do we get more stressed out than at work.

Forty percent of American workers say their job is very or extremely stressful, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Well, job site CareerCast is out with its annual list of the 10 most stressful and 10 least stressful jobs for 2014.

"We look at things like: Is it a job in which your own life is at risk or the lives of others?" said Tony Lee, publisher of CareerCast.com and JobsRated.com.

In all, there are 11 different criteria that determine the most and least stressful jobs. But, it's not just dangerous jobs or jobs with great physical demands. Some jobs also make the list because there are constant deadlines, responsibility for others or the job involves a lot of work in the public eye, he said. They also factor in job outlook, based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If the outlook is weak, that adds to the stress level.

The good news is that stress levels seem to be on the decline from a year ago.

"That's primarily due to economic conditions. As the country continues to recover, stress levels continue to fall, the hiring outlook improves a little, workload improves a little and overall job stress improves a little," Lee said.

So, did your job make the list?

1. Enlisted military personnel
Median salary: $28,840
Job growth expected through 2020: N/A

Once again, soldier is the most stressful job—and it's not surprising.

"You're on the front line. You are being fired upon. You have to negotiate land mines and other explosive devices—it's an incredibly stressful job," Lee said.

Not to mention, the stress doesn't end when your shift ends—if you are in a war zone, you are in danger even when you are eating, sleeping or taking a break.

"Even when you're doing your daily activities, you're still at risk because you never know when an enemy might attack," Lee said.

Note: The outlook is N/A because the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not release outlook statistics for military jobs.

2. Military general
Median salary: $196,300
Job growth expected through 2020: N/A

Military general is a combination of some of the most stressful jobs: They live and work in the same dangerous conditions as soldiers but like corporate executives, they have other people's lives in their hands. Literally, their decisions are a matter of life or death.

"When you send soldiers into a war zone, you may know only a small percentage will survive. You have to be willing to accept loss," Lee said—and that's a pretty heavy burden to bear.

Note: The outlook is N/A because the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not release outlook statistics for military jobs.

3. Firefighter
Median salary: $45,250
Job growth expected through 2020: 9 percent

No one can argue with firefighter being a stressful job.

"You're running into the burning building when everyone else is running out," Lee said.

And, like police officers, it toggles between extremes. "You spend a lot of time waiting and then as soon as you're on, you're on at 110 percent," Lee said. "And you have to perform regardless of conditions—imagine fighting a fire in the freezing cold! Or fighting a fire in Phoenix in August."

The amazing thing about police officers and firefighters, Lee said, is that they have this desire to do these crazy dangerous, stressful jobs to serve the public in life or death situations. To help people. And in the process, they develop a fierce loyalty for one another.

4. Airline pilot
Median salary: $114,200
Job growth expected through 2020: 11 percent

Airline pilot may be the dream of many a little boy and girl but the reality for real-life pilots is that you're carrying other people's lives in your hand.

"If you make a mistake, it's catastrophic," Lee said. "You have to consistently get it right. You can't have a bad day."

Adding to all that stress, with all the mergers in the industry, the job outlook isn't good. The fewer airlines there are, the fewer pilots that are needed.

"It's stressful all around," Lee said.

5. Event coordinator
Median salary: $45,810
Job growth expected through 2020: 44 percent

The job of an event coordinator sounds glamorous: You get to plan weddings, engagement celebrations, bar mitzvahs, corporate parties—all kinds of fun events.

But they are very important to the people you're planning them for—in some cases, one of the most important events of their lives. That means it's all on you and if it goes wrong, look out! (See also, bridezilla.)

Not to mention, you probably have to do five or six events per week, so that's hopping from one stressful event to the next.

6. Public relations executive
Median salary: $54,170
Job growth expected through 2020: 21 percent

Unless you've done public relations work, you may not realize how stressful it is. For sure, it's not police officer stressful—but the big factor that lands this job on the list every year is that it is a thankless job.

"It's very stressful whether your goal is to get positive information out about a company or product or eliminate negative information so it doesn't reflect poorly on the company," Lee said. "The expectation is, either way, that you will succeed"—that's just doing your job. No congratulations. And if the effort fails, it's pinned on you—"You fail," Lee said.

The upside is that, since PR jobs are among the first to be cut in bad economies, with the economy recovering, the outlook is good.

7. Senior corporate executive
Median salary: $168,140
Job growth expected through 2020: 5 percent

Executives may not have the dangers of police officers or the low pay of newspaper reporters but they have one big factor that makes their job stressful: They are directly responsible for the livelihoods of others.

"You can make a decision that results in huge layoffs. Or a decision that your shareholders don't like. You have to keep thinking about the consequences of every decision," Lee said.

Not to mention, a lot of the perks have gone away with the recession.

"The days of flying around in corporate jets are over," Lee said.

And, the hiring outlook doesn't pick up right away when the economy starts to recover. Fat layers of management tend to happen only in fat economies.

8. Newspaper reporter
Median salary: $35,870
Job growth expected through 2020: -6 percent

Tight deadlines and low pay have always plagued newspaper reporters, but the rise of instant news online or on mobile has hammered demand for traditional newspaper reporters.

"This is the only job with a negative outlook," Lee said. "Cutbacks are expected to continue due to lack of growth in print product."

And, for those lucky to still have jobs, salaries are down, demand is down, and with less hiring that means more work for fewer people, which equals a lot of stress.

"I don't think newspaper reporters will go away completely," Lee said. But, the stress outlook for the job doesn't look to be improving anytime soon.

9. Police officer
Median salary: $55,270
Job growth expected through 2020: 7 percent

"Police officer is an obviously stressful job. You never know what you're facing on any given day," Lee said.

And, it's one of those jobs where it toggles between periods of complete calm and extremely high stress, which is very unhealthy.

"You're never not on alert. You're always on high alert. There's no such thing as relaxed—you're just waiting for the next thing to happen," Lee said.

10. Taxi driver
Median salary: $22,820
Job growth expected through 2020*: 20 percent

"With taxi drivers, the most stressful part is it continues to be one of the most dangerous jobs—they're the No. 1 target for crime. You never know who you're going to pick up," Lee said.

Plus, the hours are long and the pay is low.

That being said, the outlook is good, thanks to the economy.

"If the economy is improving ... you need more taxi drivers," Lee said.

* According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics


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