10 Stressful Jobs That Are Worth It

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I don't know anyone who goes a day without feeling a tinge of stress, but rarely do we all pull our hair out for the same reasons. I'm panicking that my DVR failed to record my favorite TV show; a friend is celebrating her birthday and realizes she hasn't achieved any of her personal goals; another friend is worrying about his sick child.

Not exactly the same kinds of stress, but our blood pressure rises nonetheless.

At work, the causes and amounts of stress are just as varied. Every job comes with some level of stress, but some people seem to get more than their fair share. That's not to say it's a bad thing. Some people thrive on stress -- without it, they don't feel challenged. Others like to keep it to a minimum.

We've put together a list of jobs that have quite a bit of stress, and in our opinion, these jobs are worth the gray hairs and momentary bouts of anxiety. There are more stressful jobs than we can possibly list, so these aren't the only occupations that deserve recognition -- they're just a sample. The next time you're looking for a job, ask yourself if you have the strength to pick one from this list. (And even if you're not up to the challenge, say thanks to these workers for doing what you can't.)

Here are 10 jobs that come with equal amounts of stress and satisfaction (in alphabetical order):


1. Assistants

Why it's stressful: Whether you're an administrative assistant or a personal assistant, people rely on you ... maybe too much. Make this copy, schedule this meeting, distract these clients, get me notes to prepare for a meeting. People bark orders at you and expect snappy results because, after all, you've got nothing better to do. Right?

Why it's worth it: You're important. Whether or not you get the proper amount of appreciation, other people depend on you and businesses wouldn't function as smoothly if you didn't do your job so well.

How much you'll earn:*Administrative assistant - $36,466; Executive assistant - $47,188


2. EMTs

Why it's stressful: The only thing more nerve-racking than fighting to save a life is doing it on wheels. Emergency medical technicians respond to critical situations at different locations using mobile resources. First you have to get to the patient as quickly as possible, and then you have to administer emergency care.

Why it's worth it: Whether you've resuscitated a person or treated an injury, you know that you've had a positive impact on a life.

How much you'll earn: $28,628


3. Farmers

Why it's stressful: Physical labor plus anxiety about Mother Nature equals stress. You start work early and stay late, all while being outside. That is if bad weather doesn't ruin your crops. Not to mention the variety of economic pressures for small farms who face competition from large businesses and manufacturers.

Why it's worth it: Farmers are some of the few workers that every person in the country relies on for survival. How's that for job satisfaction?

How much you'll earn: Varies


4. Flight attendants

Why it's stressful: In much the same way paramedics' jobs are made more difficult by being on wheels, flight attendants' jobs are complicated by being in an enclosed space, thousands of feet above land. As a flight attendant, you carry out the obvious tasks of bringing food, drinks and blankets to passengers, but people forget that you're also prepared for emergencies and are trained to keep everyone calm and safe.

Why it's worth it: Not only do you have the satisfaction of making people's experiences better, but you also get to travel more than most people do (and for far less money).

How much you'll earn: $48,501


5. Military personnel

Why it's stressful: Serving in the Armed Forces involves physical and mental demands regardless of your specific role. You might be in danger on the battlefield or supporting other people from a base. Maybe you have regular contact with your family or maybe you don't see them for months at a time.

Why it's worth it: Knowing that what you do makes a difference in your unit and all over the country is something you can't find in any just occupation.

How much you'll earn: Varies


6. Police officers

Why it's stressful: Fighting crime and safeguarding citizens (all while protecting yourself, no less) is not easy. You never know what danger might come with a call.

Why it's worth it: You're partially responsible for what makes the city a safe place to be. It's gratifying to know that your job constantly makes a difference for the better.

How much you'll earn: $47,205


7. Real estate agents

Why it's stressful: Many real-estate agents work on commission, so relying on a sale to earn a paycheck is already stressful. Home buyers don't like to commit to mortgages unless they're positive it's the right move; between their timid nature and the fickle economy, you never know what kind of client you're dealing with.

Why it's worth it: Aside from having freedom from a regular office job, real-estate agents get to fulfill that quintessential dream of adulthood to own property. People save for years to invest in a home, and you get to be part of that process.

How much you'll earn: $39,968


8. Social workers

Why it's stressful: When you work in a shelter for abused women or for an agency with endangered children, you experience heartache and frustration on a daily basis. Plus, these agencies often find themselves strapped for funding and adequate help, so you have other stressors distracting you from your job.

Why it's worth it: You're improving lives, and the success stories help balance out the painful ones.

How much you'll earn: $49,340


9. Stock brokers

Why it's stressful: Dealing with stocks has always been stressful -- it's basically written in the job description. But recent months have been particularly rough for anyone in the financial sector as banking giants topple and the industry struggles to withstand the aftermath.

Why it's worth it: Money and trade has an unparalleled effect on the economy. Sure, when the market has a bad day, millions of people do too, but the opposite is also true. You are part of the system that helps the economy move forward.

How much you'll earn: $58,147


10. Teachers

Why it's stressful: You can teach kindergarteners to graduate students and you'll still be dealing with a bunch of pupils who need your attention, guidance and wisdom. Teaching duties are never confined to traditional office hours, either.

Why it's worth it: It's a cliché, but it's true that you're changing lives every day. Plus, you can see students mature and learn right before your eyes -- that's pretty amazing.

How much you'll earn:Elementary teacher - $31,814; high school teacher - $45,269; postsecondary teacher - $63,219


*Salary figures based on data from CBsalary.com, powered by SalaryExpert.com


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