Firefighting: Number one most stressful jobs

Researchers said most of the stress was due to the physically dangerous and psychologically taxing nature of the job


CARLSBAD, Calif. — The most stressful job in the United States right now is being a firefighter.

To compile its annual most- and least-stressful jobs list, CareerCast relies on a team of two University of Wisconsin researchers. They rank according to more than 100 criteria ranging from income and growth potential to the degree of competitiveness to the physical demands and work conditions.

The team draws its information from the Department of Labor, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Census Bureau, trade associations and private survey firms.

Firefighting, with a median annual salary of $45,600, was given 71.59 as its stress score with a 7 percent projected growth by 2022. Researchers said most of the stress was due to the physically dangerous and psychologically taxing nature of firefighting. For some, the job's challenges can be a deterrent.

"The fire academy is almost like going through boot camp," said David Barckhoff, a career firefighter and former enlisted military specialist. "They take you from the beginning stages, and then through all the hazards you could possibly face, with experts teaching from their real-world experience."

Learning from the experience of others is invaluable in any career, but in the most stressful jobs of 2015, it’s critical. The conditions faced in such stressful jobs as firefighter, enlisted military personnel and police officer constantly change. The most important lesson from the experience, Barckhoff said, is to avoid complacency.

Not all of the most stressful jobs find workers responsible for public safety. Check out the full list of the most stressful jobs in 2015.

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