Personal Finance

The most and least stressful jobs

How does your job rank?

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Life-threatening ... check. Long hours ... check. Strict deadlines ... check.

While most jobs entail some stress, the most extreme cases all share an element of danger, coupled with massive responsibility and unpredictable schedules, according to a report released Thursday by job-search site

Enlisted military, firefighters and airline pilots topped the list of most stressful jobs this year. On the flip side, tenured professors and hairstylists may lack some of the sex appeal, but thanks to a set schedule and job security, came out on top of the least stressful jobs around.

But regardless of the gig, "stress is unavoidable, no matter your line of work," said Kyle Kensing, CareerCast's online content editor.

"Stress is being felt a little bit more across all jobs, because all of us are connected 24/7," noted Glassdoor's career trends analyst Scott Dobroski. "You are one finger swipe away from work at any moment. It's a blessing and a curse when it comes to the workplace," he said.

The most and least stressful jobs were chosen from a CareerCast ranking of 200 jobs that took into account travel, growth potential, deadlines, physical demands and environmental conditions, among other factors.

So did your job make the list? Click ahead for the top 5 most stressful jobs and top 5 least stressful jobs for 2016.

— By Jessica Dickler,
Posted 9 January 2016

The 5th most stressful job

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Event coordinator

Annual median salary: $46,490

While they don't face danger, event coordinators do face massive deadlines, last-minute requests and lots of moving pieces, all to achieve a client's vision for their most important — and expensive — occasions, such as a wedding or conference.

"There is a lot of stress with making sure that many pieces of a project fall in place at a required time," said Nicole Smith, chief economist at Georgetown's Center on Education and the Workforce. Plus, it doesn't pay particularly well, she added.

The 4th most stressful job

New York City Police Department Counter Terrorism Unit officers patrol in Times Square.
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Police officer

Annual median salary: $58,630

With the potential for physical danger at a moment's notice and an unpredictable workday, police bear the burden of stepping up under uncertain circumstances to protect others with no exceptions.

"You have the ability to help people in times of need," said CareerCast's Kensing. "There are inherent risks, but that's not going to deter someone that's wired for that kind of work."

The 3rd most stressful job

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Airline pilot

Annual median salary: $103,390

Although these jobs have a high salary potential and appeal, airline pilots work very long hours and shoulder massive responsibility ensuring the safety of others.

"You have hundreds of lives in your hands, traveling hundreds of miles of hours, and you must always be alert," said Georgetown's Smith.

The 2nd most stressful job

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Annual median salary: $45,970

Firefighters face extreme environmental conditions, battling heat, flames and high levels of carbon monoxide in times of intense stress.

They also have the potential to be on the clock any day of the year and any time of day or night, Glassdoor's Dobroski noted.

The #1 most stressful job

US troops patrol village in Afghanistan's Logar Province.
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Enlisted military personnel

Annual median salary: $27,936

With military bases in combat zones like Afghanistan and Iraq, the job of enlisted military is so risky that those who work in special ops, infantry and field artillery regularly face life-or-death situations, and long after their tour of duty, many veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

They're "fighting for freedom with human lives on the line," said Glassdoor's Dobroski. "The stakes could not be higher."

The 5th least stressful job

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Medical records technician

Annual median salary: $35,900

Medical records technicians organize and manage health information for patients, which requires a lot of attention to detail and a technical degree, but they work under a set schedule and often in a comfortable doctor's office.

This is also a profession with little drama, a lot of growth potential and increased efficiency through cloud-based technology, noted CareerCast's Kensing.

The 4th least stressful job

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Annual median salary: $23,200

Although hairstylists are on their feet all day and have to interact with the public as part of their livelihood, they often work in an upbeat, social environment, and the repercussions of a mistake are much less significant than for those in the most stressful jobs, noted Georgetown's Smith.

The position doesn't require a bachelor's degree and has limited earning potential, but stylists can set their own schedule and never have to take their work home.

The 3rd least stressful job

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University professor (tenured)

Annual median salary: $70,790

Professors work with college students and on independent research in an attractive setting conducive to higher learning. "There can be long hours developing coursework or grading papers, but it doesn't necessarily equate to stress," Glassdoor's Dobroski said.

But this type of gig doesn't come easy. Tenured positions are highly competitive, hard to find and require a post-secondary degree or, in some cases, a doctorate.

The 2nd least stressful job

Sonographer and young woman looking at ultrasound scan on computer screen.
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Diagnostic medical sonographer

Annual median salary: $62,540

Although sonographers must have an associate's degree to operate special-imaging equipment to create images or conduct tests for physicians, they often work in a doctor's office with a set nine-to-five schedule.

As well, there is limited interaction with patients, even though they are in the exam room, noted Georgetown's Smith. "They take the picture, but the doctor takes it from there."

The #1 least stressful job

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Information security analyst

Annual median salary: $88,890

Information security analysts protect sensitive information within a company, which is important but rarely requires overtime or any sort of physical strain.

"They put proactive measures in place, and that requires planning but can mostly be done in a nine-to-five environment," Glassdoor's Dobroski said.

"If there is a breach, then it becomes stressful, but that's unusual and very unlikely," he added.