10 Most Stressful Jobs

CareerCast has issued its report on the ten most stressful jobs, ranking 200 professions that are on the Jobs Rated report using 11 stress factors: (CareerCast’s methodology can be found here.)

  1. Travel required;
  2. Growth potential
  3. Deadlines
  4. Working in the public eye
  5. Competition in the field
  6. Physical demands
  7. Environmental conditions
  8. Hazards encountered on a regular basis
  9. Own life at risk
  10. Life of others at risk
  11. Meeting or interacting with the public at large.

And here are the 10 most stressful jobs:

CareerCast has issued its report on the ten most stressful jobs and the ten least stressful jobs. To make this determination they ranked 200 professions that are on the Jobs Rated report using 11 stress factors

CareerCast’s 10 Most Stressful Jobs

To no one’s surprise, the four most stressful jobs are enlisted military personnel, firefighters, airline pilots, and police officers. These are all people whose lives may be on the line at any time and who take responsibility for the lives of others. It’s why we have such respect for soldiers who march into harm’s way and first responders who go running into crisis situations while the rest of us are running away.

Surprisingly Stressful Jobs

It’s stressful jobs number five and six that surprised me. I’ve done them both so I’m familiar with the stress levels; I just didn’t realize they would score so high. CareerCast attributes the high scores for event coordinator to meeting high expectations and achieving a successful result. For public relations executive it’s tight deadlines and handling crises. Those criteria are all true and valid. But a few other factors come into play as well. Here are some that I’ve experienced while coordinating corporate events.

  • Executive Delays: You know how long it takes to set up a sales meeting, trade show exhibit, reseller conference or customer roundtable. You know the advance time needed to find a suitable venue for the type of conference, the size of the audience, the season of the year, the weather conditions, and available off-hours entertainment. But your boss is just not sure what he wants or whether he prefers Florida or Arizona.
    You know how long it takes to set up a sales meeting, trade show exhibit, reseller conference or customer roundtable. You know the advance time needed to find a suitable venue for the type of conference, the season of the year, the weather conditions, and off-hours entertainment. But your boss is just not sure what he wants or whether he prefers Florida or Arizona. You present multiple venues in a variety of locations. He dithers. He’s convinced that he can make a decision at the last minute and everything will come off just fine. Time slips away while you’re acutely aware of the million details and myriad decisions that need to be made between now and opening day. But you can’t make up his mind for him. You present multiple venues in a variety of locations. He dithers.

He’s convinced that he can make a decision at the last minute and everything will come off just fine. Time slips away while you’re acutely aware of the million details and myriad decisions that need to be made between now and opening day. You also know those delays will increase costs. But you can’t make up his mind for him.

  • Unreasonable Expectations: Your boss has a vision in mind of what she wants to see. The problem is that her vision is completely out of whack with reality. In her mind, bringing 180 people to Disney World entitles her to first-class treatment and the hotel of her choice. In reality, 180 attendees is a drop in the bucket for most major conference venues. They laugh at your demands because a much larger and more profitable group just booked the facilities you want. Refusing to admit that her expectations are inflated despite written evidence of what’s available, she blames you for not getting what she wants. 
  • Lack of Common Sense: Should you book a conference in Boston in February? Well, you can but you run the risk of delayed flights, bad traffic and impassable streets. These problems will affect how many people can get to the event on time, whether vendors can deliver their goods on time—or at all, and whether attendees will be able to go “out on the town” at night.

. Florida in July will present problems of its own: high heat and humidity, rain, air conditioning cranked to Arctic levels to dry out the air, etc. The result: delayed flights, uncomfortably cold meeting rooms, closed swimming pools, soggy golf courses, and unhappy people. But your boss has always wanted to have a meeting in Miami so . . . Florida in July will present problems of its own: high heat and humidity, rain, air conditioning cranked to Arctic levels to dry out the air, etc. The result: delayed flights, uncomfortably cold meeting rooms, closed swimming pools, soggy golf courses, and unhappy people. But your boss has always wanted to have a meeting in Miami so . .

  • Cost Overruns: You know your budget and you work to keep the event on track as well as on schedule. You choose affordable meals, a motivational speaker within your price range, and a venue with reasonable costs. You limit the amount of free liquor, print materials locally to avoid shipping costs, and order affordable but attractive give-away “swag.” So far, so good.
    Then your boss decides on an open bar for two nights, a leather-bound portfolio instead of plastic, a speaker who’s a household name, full breakfast instead of Continental, and steak or lobster instead of chicken. He wants a three-screen mega audiovisual extravaganza with narration by Morgan Freeman. He suddenly needs a hotel suite with separate living area for private meetings and a fully stocked bar—with a bartender for three critical meetings. And hors d’oeuvres. He decides to stay over for a round of golf with customers after the meeting and wants you to set it all up. Of course, it all goes on the company tab.

After the Event

You respectfully show him the budget, the bill for the changes he wants and the delta between them. You show him the estimated cost overrun and how that will affect the year’s marketing budget. He smiles and nods, picturing the perfect event. It’s all good until after the conference. Then the CFO storms into his office and you get called on the carpet. He ordered the changes, he approved the decisions, he enjoyed the perks but now, somehow, you’re the one who is unprofessional and incompetent. You’re the one who can’t plan correctly or stay on budget.

Cost Overruns: You know your budget and you work to keep the event on track as well as on schedule. You choose affordable meals, a motivational speaker who is in your price range, and a venue with reasonable costs. You limit the amount of free liquor, print materials locally to avoid shipping costs, and order suitable give-away “swag.” So far, so good. Then your boss decides he wants an open bar on two nights, a leather-bound portfolio instead of plastic, a speaker who’s a household name, and steak or lobster instead of chicken. He realizes that he needs a hotel suite with separate living area for private meetings with a fully stocked bar—and a bartender for three critical meetings. And hors d’oeuvres. He decides to stay over for a round of golf with customers after the meeting and wants you to set it all up. Of course, it all goes on the company tab. Stressful? Yeah, just a little. Especially since you know what’s going to happen. You can see that bus coming right at you and, despite your best planning and detailed documentation of the revisions, additions and upgrades that broke the bank, there’s just no way to avoid it. It’s his job to protect you, of course. As an executive, he’s the one who’s supposed to stand up and say, “I did it. I ordered all this extra stuff and it cost money. Don’t worry; we’ll economize somewhere else.” But that’s a scary thing to do and it might mean he doesn’t get that promotion he’s angling for. So you take the heat.

Is it any wonder that event coordinator is so high on the list? Sure, it’s not the same as going into a burning building or getting into a firefight but it sure does raise the adrenaline levels. The next time you attend a conference or company meeting, take a moment to thank the event planner who put it all together. A little appreciation can go a long way toward reducing some of that stress.

2 thoughts on “10 Most Stressful Jobs

  1. As a career event planner I know all of this to be true! The job comes with a high level of stress, but for those that embrace it the perks are wonderful and we love what we do…the whackos come with the job! Some of us have rooms at the Betty Ford Clinic when the pressure gets to be too much 🙂

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