When we think of high-stress jobs, many professions come to mind. Teachers, police officers, high-level executives, and stock traders are just a few. However, when it comes to jobs with the highest stress levels and the lowest rates of pay, it may seem unbelievable that anyone would want to pursue careers in these jobs that top the list.
Setting your hours, spending all day cruising the streets, and nothing but freedom. This should be a pretty low-stress job. Wrong. Taxi drivers are often victims of verbal abuse and crime, and they typically work very long hours. Add to that the fact that they deal with poor traffic and road conditions daily, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for stress. After all that, they can only expect to earn about $22,440 per year, according to CNBC.com.
Considering the amount of courage and sacrifice that soldiers are expected to endure through the course of their careers, it hardly seems fair that the average enlisted military solider is only earning, according to CNBC.com, about $35,580 per year. Many of these soldiers are on the front lines in hostile territory and facing the realities of war. Add to that the fact that many of these men and women are forced to spend long periods of time away from their families, and many would find it difficult to believe that anyone would pursue this dangerous and stressful job.
Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)
If there’s one type of professional we all want to know will be there when we need them, it’s emergency medical technicians. Society depends on these front-line medical staff to provide emergency care to those in need, and they do it for only about $27,000 per year, reports the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. That salary hardly seems fair considering the amount of stress that comes with this job. EMTs are required to work shift work, often encounter dangerous situations themselves, and are forced to deal with mortality every day.
Right up there with emergency medical technicians, society wants to rest assured that firefighters will be around whenever we need them. However, this job comes with loads of danger since firefighters are literally expected to run into burning buildings. With that comes exposure to heat, flames, smoke, and toxic materials that can negatively impact the health of firefighters. These people face life and death situations on a daily basis, and CNBC.com reports, they do it for only about $45,250 per year. Even though society looks up to these people as heroes, their paychecks don’t necessarily stack up to what one might expect.
Many who are employed in helping professions would probably agree that they are typically overworked and undervalued. According to CNNMoney, Social workers earn a median salary of $43,200 per year. Considering that this isn’t all that glamorous a job, the salary doesn’t seem to justify the amount of stress that comes with it. Many social workers assist families with some of the most stressful of situations, including family violence, child welfare, poverty, and unemployment. Add to that the fact that many of these programs suffer for lack of funding, it’s no wonder that this job is filled with stress. Ultimately, those who work in the profession tend to do it out of a sense of social responsibility and a genuine caring for the welfare of all.
Like listening in on other people’s dramas? Well, according to CNNMoney, how would you like to do it all day long for only $32,400 per year? Counselors and therapists help families and individuals through some of the toughest dilemmas they will ever face: divorce, loss, anxiety, addictions, and stress are only a few of them. Helping people through these issues is not only stressful but often lends emotional strain to the very people who are providing help to those in treatment. Add to that the fact that many therapists and counselors deal with heavy caseloads and lackluster funding, and there’s no wonder this job is a tough one. Therapists can hope to earn a slightly higher salary than counselors at about $44,400 per year, though this can hardly be considered the big bucks either.
Would you like to work with dangerous offenders for the whopping salary of $38,400 per year? Well, that’s what the average probation officer is raking in each year reports CNNMoney. Though this job comes with its fair share of rewards, there are also a number of challenges. Despite the fact that probation officers assist their clients in reintegrating into society through connecting them to jobs, living accommodations, and treatment options, probation officers are more often faced with disappointment since many former convicts re-offend. Then there is also the fact that many probation officers are often the targets of violence or anger from the very people that they try to help.
This is a job that many people see as exciting. Reporters go out into the world looking for the next big scoop, but the job comes with surprisingly little pay. According to CNNMoney, most news reporters only earn about $32,900 per year. Considering that this job comes with long hours and tight deadlines, the pay hardly justifies the amount of stress that news reporters endure in order to be successful in their line of work.
If you hate being the “middle man,” then you probably wouldn’t enjoy a job as an import/export agent. This is one job where you literally are at the very center of international deals to buy and sell goods. Much of the stresses come from the fact that there are many laws and rules that govern the import and export of materials across international borders. Add into that the fact that your income is tied to commissions, and you’re bound to feel the pressure to ensure that your deals flow smoothly. After all, is said and done, the median income for import/export agents is only about $36,700 per year, according to Monster.com which doesn’t seem like much considering all the red tape that comes with this job.
One of the main reasons why concierge staff find their jobs stressful comes from the fact that there is typically no formal job description. Concierge staff work long hours, are required to do just about anything that’s legal, and typically have to work within tight time frames. This occasionally includes sourcing unusual things or meeting seemingly impossible requests. Iva de Sousa, now a recruiting associate with Harcourt Recruiting Specialists, spent nearly four years as a concierge with some of the top hotel chains before making a career change. Among some of the strangest requests she received was being asked to help with planning the transport of a herd of buffalo. She has also had to source autographed copies of books that are no longer in print and even had custom-tailored clothing made for an extremely tall basketball player overnight. These seem like pretty big demands considering that most concierge staff only earn approximately $32,905 per year, reports cbsalary.com.
The Bottom Line
People pursue careers in various fields for a number of reasons – not only because of money. For some, it may be the desire to assist others or to be a voice for social justice. Others may enjoy the thrill of a challenge, or perhaps those in the military wish to exhibit their feelings of national pride. Alternatively, some may be forced into positions that are high stress and pay poorly as a result of not being able to secure a better job during tough economic times. Regardless of the reasons, it’s important to fully investigate the pros and cons of any job you pursue. In some cases, the benefits of being able to help others may actually be a strong enough draw to overlook the sub-par paychecks.