Most Stressful Jobs and What They Pay

If you’ve ever had a job, you’ve likely experienced stress related to that job. And, most of us expect to deal with some level of work-related stress. It’s inevitable, isn’t it? However, work stress can lead to some serious consequences for both workers and employers.

For example, health care expenditures are nearly 50 percent greater for workers who report high levels of stress, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Plus, studies also show that stressful working conditions are associated with “increased absenteeism, tardiness, and intentions by workers to quit their jobs – all of which have a negative effect on the bottom line,” according to NIOSH.

Online salary and career database recently conducted a survey and asked workers about their stress levels at work. Those jobs considered “high stress” were rated as “extremely stressful” or “fairly stressful” by at least 60 percent of the respondents in the survey. Some of the jobs that made the list may surprise you, but the most stressful jobs, as it turns out, are not always the most obvious.

According to NIOSH, “conditions that commonly lead to stress include unrealistic deadlines and workloads, lack of control over the working environment, lack of supervisory support, and poorly defined work roles.”

1. Financial Aid Counselor
Median annual salary: $38,000
People in this job reporting high stress: 75%

Not only does Financial Aid Counselor top PayScale’s list of most stressful jobs, it doesn’t pay that well, which can be stressful enough. As college tuition costs climb and U.S. wages remain relatively flat overall (see The PayScale Index for U.S. compensation trends), it can’t be easy to help prospective students and their parents find ways to pay for school.

2. Account Manager, Sales
Median annual salary: $61,000
People in this job reporting high stress: 73%

Account managers in sales are typically held to a sales quota by day/week/month/quarter, depending on the company. If you’re routinely not meeting that quota, not only will you likely be stressed, you could be out of a job. Job performance is measured by a number of factors, but when you’re in sales, your future at the company is pretty closely tied to how much money you’re bringing in the door.

3. Restaurant Assistant Manager
Median annual salary: $33,000
People in this job reporting high stress: 72%

Managing a busy restaurant can be rewarding, but it’s also most certainly stressful. There are employees, vendors and customers all demanding your attention. And, the long hours and low pay don’t help. The most difficult tasks for this job “may be dealing with irate customers and motivating employees,” according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

4. Registered Nurse
Median annual salary: $58,000
People in this job reporting high stress: 70%

The specialties and work settings for registered nurses vary greatly, but regardless of what type of registered nurse you are, the job requires that you provide both medical and emotional support for patients and their families. That’s a big responsibility. If you can handle the stress, there are plenty of jobs to go around. “Employment of registered nurses is expected to grow by 22 percent from 2008 to 2018, much faster than the average for all occupations,” according to the BLS.

5. Probation Officer
Median annual salary: $40,000
People in this job reporting high stress: 70%

Probation officers work closely with convicted criminals sentenced to probation, their families and the courts. They often have very heavy workloads, due to court-imposed deadlines, according to BLS. Some additional requirements include extensive travel, carrying a firearm or other weapon for protection and collecting and transporting urine samples for drug testing. “All of these factors make for a stressful work environment,” according to the BLS. “Although the high stress levels can make these jobs very difficult at times, this work also can be very rewarding. Many workers obtain personal satisfaction from counseling members of their community and helping them become productive citizens.”

6. Management Consultant
Median annual salary: $97,000
People in this job reporting high stress: 62%

Management Consultants “analyze and propose ways to improve an organization’s structure, efficiency, or profits,” according to the BLS. This is a job that constantly puts you into new situations where something’s broken. The company hiring you wants a fix, and you’re on the hook to provide it. Because, 26 percent of management consultants are self-employed (more than three times the average for all occupations), according to the BLS, your success or failure has an immediate impact on your personal bottom line. Talk about stress.

7. Elementary School Teacher
Median annual salary: $41,000
People in this job reporting high stress: 62%

People generally go into teaching to make a difference, but the day-to-day realities of dealing with a roomful of children doesn’t always match up with the vision of being an educator. Teachers often find themselves playing babysitter and disciplinarian in addition to trying to get Johnny to learn fractions or Suzy to memorize the state capitals. Despite all of that, however, 78 percent of elementary school teachers report they are satisfied with their job, according to

Source: All salary and stress data is from The salaries listed are median, annual salaries for full-time workers in the United States with 5-8 years of experience and include any bonuses, commissions or profit sharing.