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The 10 Most and Least Stressful Jobs in America

Betcha' didn't know that April is National Stress Awareness month. Then again, that seems sort of beside the point when you've probably got plenty of stress front and center 12 months of the year, especially when it comes to work. If you're looking for a job, well, enough said on that count. And even if you're gainfully employed, a new poll says there's a 77 percent chance you've got some sort of job stress.
Any interest in a career switch to audiologist? According to job search site CareerCast, audiologists top the 10 least stressful white collar jobs for 2011. And even though it's low on the stress meter, audiologists still managed to rank in CareerCast's overall top 10 list of the best jobs for 2011.

CareerCast's stress ranking is based on its assessment of 11 different stress factors including competitiveness, hazardous work environment, travel, income opportunity, and whether or not your life is at risk or you've got other lives in your hands. Here's a list of the least stressful jobs:

1. Audiologist (average income: $63,144)

2. Dietician ($52,127)
3. Software Engineer ($87,140)
4. Computer Programmer ($71,176)
5. Dental Hygienist ($67,107)
6. Speech Pathologist ($65,143)
7. Philosopher ($61,221)
8. Mathematician ($94,178)
9. Occupational Therapist ($70,193)
10. Chiropractor (68,358.00)
Clearly, math whizzes have it best; a low-stress job with an annual salary that is nearly double the national median household income. Software engineers aren't far behind, pulling in an average of $87,140 a year in an even lower-stress job than the mathematicians (if you want to test the software engineer waters, be sure to check out Kathy Kristof's spin through How to Build an iPhone or iPad app in 6 Easy Steps).

Here are the most stressful white-collar jobs in America, according to CareerCast, along with their average income:

1. Commercial Pilot ($106,153)

2. Public Relations Officer ($90,160)

3. Senior Corporate Executive ($161,141)

4. Photojournalist ($40,209)

5. Newscaster ($50,456)

6. Advertising Account Executive ($62,105)

7. Architect ($73,193)

8. Stockbroker (67,470)
9. Emergency Medical Technician ($30,168)

10. Real Estate Agent ($40,357)

The commercial pilot makes a lot of sense, especially when lately you've got to be worried about losing big chunks of your fuselage mid-flight, or having to figure out a workaround when the air traffic control tower is napping or watching a movie. The rest of the list has some head scratchers. PR flack? Well, maybe if you're repping Charlie Sheen or Bernie Madoff.

Then again, it's sort of interesting that the most stressful list is full of client-facing jobs: PR, ad account exec, architect, stockbroker, and real estate agent. By contrast, the least stressful list is dominated by jobs where you're helping diagnose or treat medical conditions (audiologist, dietician, chiropractor), or your work requires below-average interaction with others (mathematician, computer programmer, software engineer.) Hmmm. Maybe it's better to be social on your own time and go for the career that requires the least socialization/interaction?

Where to Focus Your Job Hunt
If you've got some flexibility or a case of wanderlust, you might want to focus your job hunt in the states that are reporting the biggest jumps in job growth. (If you're stuck where you are, MoneyWatch's Amy Levin-Epstein shares some great stress-relieving tips for the job you've got.)

The good news is that according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 38 states added jobs in March. Here are the states that reported the most hiring in March:

  • Texas (+37,200)
  • Missouri (+24,300)
  • Florida (+22,600)
  • North Carolina (+13,900)
  • Oklahoma (+13,200)
And here are the states with the biggest percentage gain in hiring in March (over February):
  • Missouri (0.9 percent)
  • Oklahoma (0.9 percent)
  • Kentucky (0.7 percent)
  • Nevada (0.7 percent)
Finally, here are the states reporting the largest one-year gains in hiring:
  • North Dakota (4.2 percent)
  • Vermont (2.8 percent)
  • Alaska (2.4 percent
  • Texas (2.4 percent)
Granted, North Dakota, Vermont, and Alaska are working off of a small work force base. North Dakota, in fact, added just 15,500 jobs in the last year, bringing its workforce to a still teeny 386,700. In terms of pure jobs added, Texas is the strongest state right now with 251,100 new jobs added over the past year. Any interest in being an audiologist deep in the heart of Texas?

Photo courtesy Flickr user alancleaver_2000
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