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5 stressful jobs – and why they’re worth doing

teacher - CopyWork always comes with some form of stress, but some jobs seem to supply considerably more pressures than others. From teachers to PR executives, we reveal five stressful ‘everyday’ occupations, the reasons they made the list and why they’re still worth pursuing.

The pressures of the classroom combined with ever-more demanding targets and work needing to be done at home makes teaching one of the most-stressful jobs in the UK.

According to the Health and Safety Executive, teaching and education professionals suffer one of the highest work-related stress records (2,340 cases for every 100,000 employees each year) – with only nursing faring worse.

Why it’s worth it: Though stressful, teaching is one of the most rewarding professions going. Few other jobs allow you to shape and inspire young lives in the same way – and seeing children progress under your care lets you appreciate first hand the difference you’ve made.

Average salary pay: Secondary education teaching professionals: £36,789*

Nursing has always been a stressful job (with by far the highest rate of stress-related sickness) – and the demands on the profession are now perhaps the highest ever.

According to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), nurses are experiencing “unprecedented” levels of stress and ill health as a result of staff cuts and overwork, forcing them to choose between their patients’ wellbeing and their own. A survey of 2,000 nursing staff suggested bullying by managers and a widespread blame culture only adds to the pressures of the job.

Why it’s worth it: Nurses often describe having a “calling” to the profession, especially those who enjoy caring for others and want to feel they’ve made a difference. Nursing also offers the opportunity to take courses, improve your skills and specialise throughout your career.

Average salary pay: £31,065*

Social worker
According to the HSE, social workers are another group that report high levels of work-related stress – and it seems those who empathise with their clients are at greatest risk.

A study of over 300 social work trainees found that the more empathic social workers reported higher levels of stress, anxiety and depression than their colleagues – particularly if they were unable to manage their emotions and reflect on their practice effectively.

According to a 2010 report, one-in-10 social worker posts in local authorities in the UK are vacant – with many industry experts blaming the high staff turnover on a combination of negative public perception, low morale, high caseloads and spending cuts.

Why it’s worth it: Social workers come into contact with people from all walks of life, many of them vulnerable, who require support or protection. While the job can be emotionally challenging, social workers are rewarded in the knowledge that they make a real difference.

Average salary pay: Starting salaries range from £19,500 to £25,000 a year. With more experience and responsibility, this can rise to between £26,000 and £40,000 **

PR executive
Organising fancy corporate events and spending your evenings schmoozing clients may not sound particularly demanding, but according to a US survey by, the role of PR executive is the fifth most-stressful job going (after enlisted military personnel, military generals, firefighters and commercial airline pilots).

When things go wrong, PR execs are at the front line. They need to think on their feet and make important damage control decisions (that could cost a company billions) – fast. And with constant scrutiny from the public eye, as well as clients, no mistake goes unnoticed.

Why it’s worth it: If you’re not phased by tight deadlines, demanding clients and public speaking (giving presentations and representing the company at events), the job comes with great scope for creativity – and, of course, opportunities to schmooze.

Average salary pay: £30,142*; Account directors and heads of corporate affairs can earn £80,000 to £100,000**

You might expect soldiers or firefighters to appear on a list of most stressful jobs – but journalists? Yet according to, photojournalists rank seventh in terms of stress. While photojournalists who take beautiful travel shots may have an enviable lifestyle, spare a thought for these who go into war zones or record natural disasters.

Other aspects of the role add pressure too, such as working to strict deadlines, which helps to explain why news reporters rank in eighth place on the list. The pressure to get the story, recent staff cuts and the public’s negative perception only adds to the stress of the job.

Why it’s worth it: If you enjoy writing and have an enquiring mind, the job of newspaper reporter will allow you to investigate all kinds of stories – giving you access to people and places the average person never gets.

Average salary pay: Journalists, newspaper and periodical editors: £31,960*


* Salary information taken from the ASHE 2012 Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (available from the Office of National Statistics).

** Salary information taken from the National Careers Service (available from Direct Gov)

Image:  © monkeybusinessimages –

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