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The 10 most stressful jobs

By David Schepp

Stress. It's a big part of our daily lives, and much of it derives from the kind of work we do. Some jobs, naturally, involve more stress than others for obvious reasons, including the potential for physical harm. But just because a job doesn't appear to be stressful, doesn't mean it isn't. A desk job may seem laid back, but there's no shortage of white-collar jobs that produce tons of stress.

To get a better idea of which careers are the most stressful, CareerCast examined 200 professions to compile its latest Jobs Rated report. The job search website found that many of the most stressful jobs share two key characteristics: the presence of stress is nearly always existent, and spikes in periods of high stress are unpredictable.

CareerCast weighed 11 factors to rank the most stressful jobs: travel; deadlines; working in the public eye; competitiveness; physical demands; environmental conditions; hazards encountered; the life of oneself or others at risk; meeting and interacting with customers or the public; and the potential for job growth.

Check out these latest rankings to find if your current job -- or the job you want -- is among the most (or least) stressful.

10. Taxi Driver

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Chauffeuring passengers hither and yon isn't a job suited for everyone. Being a taxi driver requires dealing with all manner of frustrations, including grumpy (or drunk) clients, rush hour traffic and spending hours behind the wheel. On top of all that, earnings for the profession are modest, making tolerating all that stress less than rewarding. On the plus side, becoming a taxi driver isn't difficult, with most usually needing only brief training. Though some state and local governments require a taxi or limousine license.

Jobs Rated Stress Score: 46.33

Median Annual Income: $23,210

Growth Outlook: 13%

9. Newspaper Reporter

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The glamour once associated with being a newspaper reporter has faded as publishers continue to cut jobs in the face of declining advertising revenues and competition from online news sources. A competitive occupation, a reporter's stress is driven by tight deadlines, interviews with strangers and the potential for encountering dangerous situations. Still, many reporters find their work to be immensely rewarding even if the pay is only modest at best.

Jobs Rated Stress Score: 46.76

Median Annual Income: $37,200

Growth Outlook: -9%

8. Broadcaster

Peter Doherty

Another journalism job that's seen better days, broadcasters have to deal with many of the same stressors as their print counterparts: deadlines, scooping the competition on breaking news and working in the public eye. Many in this field also do all that for underwhelming pay and the specter of a declining job market.

Jobs Rated Stress Score: 47.30

Median Annual Income: $29,010

Growth Outlook: -11%

7. Senior Corporate Executive

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Who wouldn't want to be the boss? Many are, of course, but the job brings with it much more than the responsibility to delegate who does what. Employed in nearly every industry, senior executives are responsible for making the decisions that can make or break a company. Moreover, competition for within this occupation is fierce, with no shortage of wannabes lining up behind you to take your job. But at least you'll make a good living while you have it.

Jobs Rated Stress Score: 47.46

Median Annual Income: $102,750

Growth Outlook: 6%

6. Public Relations Executive

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Working in public relations is typically an office job, but as the name suggests, it involves working with all kinds of people, from angry customers to unhappy clients to prying journalists. What's more, the job may involve long hours, lots of travel, delivering speeches and doing a lot of glad-handing. But the pay is decent and it's a growing profession, as more and more companies see the value in managing well the problems they encounter in doing business with the public.

Jobs Rated Stress Score: 48.46

Median Annual Income: $55,860

Growth Outlook: 6%

5. Event Coordinator

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Thinking of becoming a wedding planner? If you value your peace of mind, think again. Arranging meetings, conventions and events of any sort requires myriad organizational and people skills that can raise just about anyone's blood pressure. The job often requires lots of travel and an acute attention to detail. On the plus, the pay is good and their are plenty of jobs, with nearly 10,000 positions expected to be added over the next eight years.

Jobs Rated Stress Score: 49.93

Median Annual Income: $46,490

Growth Outlook: 10%

4. Police Officer

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Any job involving public safety can be stressful, but none more so today than perhaps being a police officer. Recent deaths blamed on racial profiling and inadequate police training have put many officers' actions under the microscope -- itself stress-inducing. But beyond the public's now warier eye, police officers also continue to face all the things that made policing stressful to begin with: potentially dangerous or life-threatening situations, physical demands and interacting with the public. In exchange, police officers often earn solid wages, enjoy generous benefits and have better job security than most occupations.

Jobs Rated Stress Score: 53.82

Median Annual Income: $58,630

Growth Outlook: 4%

3. Airline Pilot

Matus Duda

As anyone who's flown for a living can tell you, routine travel gets stressful rather quickly. Now, just imagine you're the person in charge of getting people to their destinations -- it's no wonder airline pilots are near the top of the list of most stressful jobs. In addition to always being on the go, airline pilots also must deal with weather delays, disgruntled or unruly passengers and a danger of terrorist actions. Further, despite expected job growth, competition for jobs at the major airlines is fierce, making it difficult for many to jump up the ladder from a regional airline to working for a top carrier.

Jobs Rated Stress Score: 60.46

Median Annual Income: $103,390

Growth Outlook: 5%

2. Firefighter

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Firefighters, like police officers, face life-threatening situations routinely as a fundamental part of their jobs. Eighty firefighters died while performing their duties last year, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Also like their law-enforcement cohorts, firefighters' duties frequently involve interactions with the public and can be physically demanding. Also, many firefighters work as volunteers, facing many of the same dangers as their paid counterparts without compensation. On the upside, the public's perceptions of firefighters is generally more positive than police officers -- and you do get to ride around in that awfully big truck.

Jobs Rated Stress Score: 60.59

Median Annual Income: $45,970

Growth Outlook: 5%

1. Enlisted Military Personnel

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As recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have shown, performing on the battlefield is grueling work that can lead to life-altering injuries and possibly death. So it's little wonder that being a member of one of the armed services topped this year's list of most stressful jobs. From working in special operations and infantry to armor and field artillery, many troops face psychological problems and post-traumatic stress disorder, with 30 percent of them developing mental problems within three to four months of being home. Further complicating for military personnel is the difficulty many face in transferring their skills to the civilian job market once their service is completed.

Jobs Rated Stress Score: 84.78

Median Annual Income: $27,936*

Growth Outlook: N/A

*Source: United States Army. Refers to E4 specialist or corporal with four years of experience.

Least Stressful Jobs

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Based on the 11 factors evaluated to determine the CareerCast's jobs rated stress rankings, these 10 are the least stressful for workers:

10. Librarian

Jobs Rated Stress Score: 10.58
Median Annual Income: $56,170
Growth Outlook: 2%

9. Dietitian

Jobs Rated Stress Score: 10.23
Median Annual Income: $56,950
Growth Outlook: 16%

8. Audiologist

Jobs Rated Stress Score: 9.30
Median Annual Income: $73,060
Growth Outlook: 29%

7. Jeweler

Jobs Rated Stress Score: 9.10
Median Annual Income: $36,870
Growth Outlook: -11%

6. Medical Laboratory Technician

Jobs Rated Stress Score: 8.98
Median Annual Income: $49,310
Growth Outlook: 16%

5. Medical Records Technician

Jobs Rated Stress Score: 7.55
Median Annual Income: $35,900
Growth Outlook: 15%

4. Hair Stylist

Jobs Rated Stress Score: 7.47
Median Annual Income: $23,200
Growth Outlook: 10%

3. University Professor (tenured)

Jobs Rated Stress Score: 6.94
Median Annual Income: $70,790
Growth Outlook: 13%

2. Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

Jobs Rated Stress Score: 4.00
Median Annual Income: $62,540
Growth Outlook: 24%

1. Information Security Analyst
Jobs Rated Stress Score: 3.80
Median Annual Income: $88,890
Growth Outlook: 18%

Note: Median annual salary and projected hiring growth through 2024 are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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