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1. Commercial Airline Pilot

Stress score: 59.53
Average annual salary: $117,060
Hours per day: 9

The most stressful job of 2011 is a commercial airline pilot, according to CareerCast.com. Tony Lee points out that several recent events demonstrate how a pilot’s job can be stressful, as it depends on factors out of their control. For instance, a pilot must rely heavily on equipment: the incident with the damaged Southwest 737 earlier this year revealed how this reliance can cause tension during a pilot’s normal working day. In addition, a pilot’s reliance on control tower operators also increases stress, especially after the revelations that air traffic controllers are falling asleep on the job,requiring planes to land without help.

Pilots also experience big swings in stress, says Tony Lee, going from “periods of extremely low stress when they’re not flying, followed by periods of extremely high stress. And these stressful swings are not the best thing for your health.” The profession has also been affected by the economy, he says, with layoffs, high oil prices, and cost cutting in the airline industry threatening pay raises and employment levels. For these reasons, being a commercial airline pilot is the most stressful job in America this year.

Photo: Dale Wilson | Photographer's Choice | Getty Images