Caution: These Jobs Are the Most Harmful to Your Health
Are your trips to the doctor becoming more frequent? Are you edgy or blue when you get home from work for reasons unknown? Well, it could be the result of your chosen career path. Higher levels of stress and feelings of unhappiness can negatively affect your overall health.
Blue collar or white collar, desk jockey or roofer — every profession has its own apparent health risks. Some are expected when considering the exposure to injuries and dangerous working conditions. But other vulnerabilities go unseen while slowly chipping away at your mental and physical well-being. If you’re tired of feeling so glum, it could be time to get a job that positively influences your health.
Using data on job stress, happiness, danger, and overall health-related metrics, we’ve created an ultimate list of careers that could make keeping a healthy lifestyle pretty difficult. In no particular order, we’ve narrowed down the field to the worst possible careers for your health. If you’re working an unhealthy job, we suggest a career change immediately.
1. Sales representative
A job as a sales representative can be both physically and mentally demanding. Long work hours combined with a competitive environment and inconsistent pay when working on commission are the perfect combination for stress and fatigue. Careerbliss.com considered all areas that typically influence an employee’s job-related happiness, such as work environment, culture, management, and rewards, and ranked both sales reps and sales managers as one of the unhappiest jobs in America.
What’s more is the American Heart Association found sales employees are at a greater risk for heart disease and stroke. It examined key health metrics for workers age 45 and older and found 69% of sales employees had bad cholesterol, which usually leads to other potentially dangerous complications.
Next: See which profession has the most overweight employees.
Those who run into burning buildings top almost every list that examines overall employee health. For obvious reasons, firefighters face high rates of injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. But they’re also at risk for other complications. Dr. L. Casey Chosewood tells Health.com, “Emergency responder jobs are very stressful. More firefighters actually die of heart attacks on the job than they do from going into burning buildings.”
The American Heart Association reports that 90% of firefighters were likely to be overweight or obese and had less-than-ideal cholesterol levels and high blood pressure.
Next: Court room brawlers
Lawyers and other court-related professions are listed as one of Health.com’s worst careers for your health. Studies show lawyers have higher rates of alcohol, abuse, stress, and depression than most other careers and the general public.
A 2007 survey found lawyers report a high degree of career dissatisfaction and only 4 out of 10 lawyers would recommend the career to others. In an industry that’s known for its cutthroat environment and serious subject matters, it’s no surprise court room brawlers strongly correlate with poor overall health.
Next: This profession scores ironically high for poor health.
4. Health care shift worker
Ironically, those who are charged with keeping the rest of us healthy are at risk of harming their own bodies just by choosing this career path. Health care workers are prone to long, irregular hours in which other people’s lives are in their hands. Therefore, stress skyrockets in this profession. Although heightened exposure to diseases is part of the territory, workers are also around more sickness, trauma, and death than the general public, which often leads to higher rates of depression.
Next: The job with an alarmingly high rate of injury
5. Transportation driver
The transportation industry covers many careers, including taxi drivers and delivery and truck drivers. Yes, they get a front-row view of America’s countryside, but they are also prone to serious risks. A high amount of danger and a low salary is the perfect recipe for unhappiness and poor health. The American Heart Association study showed 22% of employees in this occupation were smokers, the highest smoking rate among all groups examined.
In addition, they have some of the greatest rates of occupational injuries that result in missed work days. Bankrate suggests drivers pump the brakes on this career choice as 880 occupational deaths occurred in 2014 as a result of traffic-related fatalities.
Next: A respected career choice that’s also prone to danger
This is a career that needs no explanation. Health.com lists military professions as one of the most stressful for obvious reasons, including extreme physical demand, frequent travel, and exposure to hazardous and volatile work environments.
Regardless of whether soldiers see combat, psychological abuse from peers and supervisors are more common in the military than in other industry. Soldiers can also be prone to post-traumatic stress disorder and other problems. Sadly, this leads to an extremely high suicide rate among U.S military members.
Next: A thankless and unrewarding profession
7. Food service
Anyone who’s worked in the service industry knows it’s often a thankless job. People are more than ready to bark orders at their waiter or demand better service at the retail clerk swiping your credit card. Add in the stress of low pay, and cashiers, retail salespeople, and restaurant servers commonly trudge through a pretty unrewarding profession.
Service workers — wait staff in particular — also experience higher rates of depression. Even more, this group had the worst diet profile, according to the American Heart Association study, with 79% having poor diet quality.
Next: See which bad habits are most common with desk jockeys.
8. Office/administrative support
Some might view administrative professionals as irrelevant, but we all know they’re secretly masking as magical office-like ninjas who expertly guard the front line. Unfortunately, such a title often warrants poor health ratings for career professionals in this industry.
The American Heart Association revealed 82% of office and administrative support workers received unhealthy scores related to physical activity, and 68% also succumb to poor eating habits. Desk jockeys rarely see ideal scores for physical activity. And a lower-than-average median salary of $34,020 doesn’t do much to brighten the outlook.
It’s a well-known fact that roofing and other construction-related industries are prone to injuries and fatalities. Swinging a hammer in the hot sun gets rough, but it’s the potential danger of fatal falls that made Bankrate rank this profession as one of the most dangerous jobs in the U.S.
Builders and grounds keepers are also one of American Heart Association’s unhealthiest jobs. These professions have a history of higher blood pressure, body mass index, and total cholesterol.
Given the danger involved, roofers see a median annual salary of $37,760, which doesn’t leave much room to cover medical bills, should they need it.
Next: The risk of being Mr. Fix-it
10. Maintenance manager
Acting as a resident Mr. or Ms. Fix-it can take a toll on an employee’s health and well-being. They are paid very little for a demanding job that usually includes cleaning up other people’s mistakes. Therefore, it should come as no shock that CareerBliss awarded low happiness scores for these workers across many metrics.
In regard to depression threats, Dr. Christopher Willard tells Health.com, “There is also higher turnover. In terms of co-workers, they are often isolated, and it can be dangerous work,” Add in odd working hours, seasonal schedules, and frequent night shifts, and you see why maintenance professionals gamble with poor health.
Next: Destination: Doctor’s office
CareerCast ranks airline pilots as one of the worst jobs for your health due to demanding schedules and frequent travel — both of which are contributing factors of high stress. Flight attendants are also susceptible to infections and diseases after working all day or night in an enclosed cabin.
Bankrate also listed this career as dangerous with 82 total fatalities in 2014. Yes, pilots are often compensated generously for their work, but the danger might outweigh the pay.
Next: Emergency-response professionals
12. Emergency medical technician
Business Insider ranked health safety information from the Occupational Information Network to determine the jobs in which workers were most susceptible to certain health risks. EMTs see a heightened risk of minor burns, cuts, bites, and stings, as well as exposure to disease, infections, and other contaminants.
Long work hours and demanding environments do nothing to ease the mental and physical effects emergency-response workers put on their bodies. But when someone else’s life is in your hands, health hazards are to be expected.
Next: Repair workers
13. Equipment repair (elevator, refrigerator, medical)
Similar to maintenance repair results, workers who make a living repairing elevators, refrigerators, or medical equipment are at a higher risk of danger and overall unhappiness. Not only are they often working in perilous work environments, elevator installers have a higher risk of on-the-job fatalities. And anyone working in the medical field is obviously more prone to infectious diseases and work-related injury as they prepare, sterilize, or install health care equipment.
Next: Hospital workers with high vulnerability to disease
14. Surgical assistants and technicians
You’d have to imagine it’s not easy for surgical staff to make life-and-death decisions with a tired brain and less-than-ideal proximity to dangerous medical conditions. Exposure to disease, infections, contaminants, and other hazardous conditions are the top health risks for employees in this industry, according to Business Insider’s rankings. Surgical assistants, like other health care professionals, are highly susceptible to health dangers, as well as depression, fatigue, and poor diet choices.
Next: How the public eye affects health
15. Public relations
Reporters, newscasters, and other PR professionals rank as one of the worst jobs for overall health due to the stress level associated with the profession. Careercast.com ranked these careers on its list of most stressful jobs of 2017 due to the pressure that comes with being in the public eye.
The demands, deadlines, fact-checking needs, and overall career profile will likely negatively affect your health in the long term. Unfortunately, with a median salary of $37,820, newscasters in particular are unable to justify their poor health outlook with high pay.
Follow Lauren on Twitter @la_hamer.