Jan. 6, 2013 at 10:39 AM ET
When was the last time you heard someone say: "I am soooo stressed out right now?"
Three minutes ago, right?
Nearly three-fourths (73 percent) of workers are stressed out by at least one thing at work, according to a recent work-stress survey by Harris Interactive for Everest College.
Of course, not all job stress was created equal. CareerCast is out with its list of the Most Stressful Jobs for 2013 … and the Least Stressful Jobs.
What makes a job stressful?
CareerCast used 11 criteria, including physical danger, having your life at risk, having responsibility for other people's lives or livelihoods at risk and how much you work in the public eye or have someone breathing down your neck. Other considerations include the unemployment rate and job growth in a particular career, all things that could seriously add stress.
"There are different types of stress. It can be physical danger. Actually being in harm's way," said Tony Lee, publisher of CareerCast.com. "There can also be stress that's deadlines, competitiveness and being in the public eye," he said.
However, just like with CareerCast's "Worst Jobs" list – the people on the "Most Stressful" list don't necessarily hate their jobs. In fact, some downright love them.
"One man's stress is another man's job. Some are adrenaline junkies. Some thrive off stress," Lee said. "A firefighter may really enjoy running into burning building to save somebody."
Here are the top five:
1. Enlisted military personnel
Median salary: $45,528
"This should come as no surprise that enlisted military personnel is the No. 1 most stressful job," Lee said. "These are the folks on the front lines. Whether they're in a battle environment or here helping out after Hurricane Sandy – military personnel are always at risk," Lee said.
There's the physical risk and physical stress, plus long hours and being away from home.
"There's really no other position in which the stress can be higher as the responsibility of being a soldier," Lee said.
2. Military general
Median salary: $196,300
Military generals have all the stresses of their men and women on the ground and in harm's way, but they have the added stress of having other people's lives (their troops) in their hands as well.
"Sending troops into battle – you have to live with it if it costs lives," Lee said. "Nothing else that can measure up to that."
Median salary: $42,250
There's no question that running into a burning building is stressful, and yet these men and women choose to do it whenever is necessary – be it 3 in the morning or Christmas Day.
What's worse is that research shows quick bursts of stress between lulls is more stressful than a steady stream of stress.
"If you're the firefighter hanging around watching television and -- boom! You're on, literally in minutes in full gear running into hazardous waste situation, that's worse than if you're steadily enduring stress. It's up and down and up and and down," Lee said.
4. Commercial airline pilot
Median Salary: $92,060
The little boy or little girl in you just tends to think of being a pilot as cool (and it is) but it's also pretty stressful.
First, you have the usual stresses such as bad weather, delays (i.e., angry passengers) and long stretches away from home. But on top of that, you are responsible for the lives of everyone on that plane – even when they're being grouchy.
Plus, the job outlook for pilots has been tough lately, so there are even fewer jobs to go around.
And once again, this is a job light on the "thank yous." Of course, we all remember that time we complained about a delayed flight but quick, answer the question: When was the last time you thanked your pilot for getting you there safely?
5. PR executive
Median Salary: $57,550
A lot of people might not think of PR as a stressful job, but, in fact, it's very stressful.
"Their job is completely in the public eye, trying to manage awareness and branding for various products and services. It doesn't matter if you're in charge of toothpaste or a small nonprofit, you're still under stress to make sure the word gets out in a positive way."
On the flip side, the minute something bad happens – you're the first one they call. It could be 10 a.m. on a Saturday night or Christmas Day. If it's bad, it's your problem.
Not to mention, it's a fairly thankless job. Clients may thank you for getting them on the front page of The New York Times (if it's good news), but before you can tie your running shoes on for a victory lap, they want to know: "What about The Wall Street Journal?" And you're definitely not going to get any "thank yous" from journalists: They're more likely to hang up on you or be surly than take your call.
That's very typical of most of the jobs on the "Most Stressful" list, Lee said – you tend to not get a lot of thank yous.
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