10 of the most high stress jobs in the U.S.―some pay as much as $208,000 a year

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Stress on the job is pretty common and can have spillover effects into the rest of people's lives. Four in five employees say workplace stress affects their various relationships, according to Mental Health America's Mind the Workplace 2022 Report.

And it's not just the jobs that pay a low wage that can be stressful. "There could be intensely stressful jobs that go across the spectrum of salaries," says Vicki Salemi, career expert at Monster, adding that, "It's almost like it's the great equalizer. There are jobs that are stressful that pay less and jobs that are stressful that pay more."

The Occupational Information Network, or O*NET, part of the Labor Department, ranked 873 occupations by level of stress, noting the importance of accepting criticism and dealing calmly with high-stress situations in each role.

Here are the 10 most stressful jobs on the list, including their median annual salaries according to O*NET, requirements, and stress level out of 100.


Urologists are doctors who specialize in the genitourinary system, or the urinary and genital organs. They diagnose diseases and disorders such as infertility, incontinence and bladder cancer. This job requires a medical degree and extensive experience.

Stress level: 100

Median annual salary: $208,000

Film and video editor

These professionals edit footage according to scripts or the film or video's narrative. They follow instructions from the project's producer or director and add music, sound effects and whatever else the piece needs. These positions sometimes require a bachelor's degree and some experience.

Stress level: 99

Median annual salary: $62,680

Anesthesiologist assistant

These assistants help anesthesiologists administer anesthesia for procedures such as surgery. They monitor patient status and provide care as needed. Most of these positions require an advanced degree and extensive experience in the field.

Stress level: 98

Median annual salary: $121,530


Judges arbitrate and administer justice in courts of law. They sentence defendants in criminal cases, write decisions and sometimes officiate wedding ceremonies. Many of these positions require graduate school and experience.

Stress level: 98

Median annual salary: $148,030

Phone operator

These service workers assist customers by listening to their requests and providing information, assisting with billing needs, and helping children or those with disabilities make phone calls. The job usually requires a high school diploma.

Stress level: 98

Median annual salary: $37,630

Acute care nurse

These nurses tend to patients with severe conditions like heart attacks by performing cardiac life support; managing pain relief and sedation; diagnosing conditions; and administering blood transfusions. These positions require training in vocational schools or a relevant associate's degree and experience on the job.

Stress level: 97

Median annual salary: $77,600

Obstetrician and gynecologist

These medical experts specialize in the female organs and reproductive system. They provide pregnancy and childbirth care; diagnose and treat diseases; and perform relevant surgeries. These positions require a medical degree and extensive experience.   

Stress level: 97

Median annual salary: $208,000

Public safety telecommunicator

These phone, radio or other communication system operators receive calls for emergency police, fire and ambulance services. They collect information from callers regarding crime, threats, acts of terrorism and so on. These jobs usually require a high school diploma.

Stress level: 97

Median annual salary: $46,670

First-line supervisor of retail sales workers

These professionals supervise retail sales workers in stores and coordinate their activities; manage budgeting and accounting of the establishment; and assist customers. The job usually requires a high school diploma.  

Stress level: 96

Median annual salary: $39,230

Nurse anesthetist

These nurses often assist anesthesiologists, surgeons and physicians by administering anesthesia and monitoring patients. They must have a relevant graduate degree and be registered by the state.

Stress level: 96

Median annual salary: $195,610

When it comes to these positions, "There's one common thing," says Sinem Buber, lead economist at ZipRecruiter, "the importance of the decision they need to make every single day. All of them are high stakes decisions."

"For public safety telecommunicators, 911 operators, or urologists, physicians and obstetricians, they need to make that life and death decision within seconds and the highest precision," she says. Though judges don't have to make those kinds of decisions within seconds, the choices they make could have drastic effects on people.

"They feel the burden of the human life as much as doctors," she says.

And when it comes to customer-facing jobs like retail supervisors and phone operators, "All they do is pick up the phone or have this face-to-face conversation with an angry, frustrated client or a customer," she says. Film editors may deal with clients or in-house bosses, but often face tight deadlines and the subjective nature of the client or boss's satisfaction with their work.

Finally, many of these jobs pose a direct threat to the lives of the people doing them. When it comes to the medical fields, "they're there to save human life," she says, "But when you're doing it, they have a high risk of getting infected."

Though this level of risk was usually relegated to people in health care, as of the onset of the pandemic, frontline workers like those in customer-facing jobs have been at high risk for infection themselves.

Check out:

10 low-stress jobs that pay more than $100,000 per year and how to get them

The least stressful job that pays over $100K, according to data—and how to get it

21 in-demand remote jobs that pay more than $100,000 per year—and where to find them

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