The list is pretty obvious. Jobs with high burnout rates are workplaces that expect too much from their employees. For certain jobs it is even a requirement to always give more than is anticipated.
Burnout is on the rise and it is affecting a large part of the population. Yet, strangely, this condition is still not that well-known and it is often brushed off as “badly handled stress” and “come on, you’ll get over it”.
If you are not sure what burnout is, please check my article How to Heal from Burnout. Compare a human being to a candle. This candle’s flame has come to its end, and as much as you try to light it, it won’t light anymore. The candle has burnt out and is utterly useless. It cannot function as a candle anymore. It can no longer emit that bright shine, light up the room with that brilliant flame like it used to do.
The term burnout was first coined in the 1970s. It is rumored to come from “burn until fuel is exhausted”, which is an old phrase that was used in the 1590s (centuries before burnout even existed). The more direct link may be an expression that refers to electrical circuits that “cease to function with overload” (source: etymonline) The reference to mental exhaustion was finally created in 1975.
Jobs With High Burnout Rates
- Social Workers
- Animal rescuers
- School principals
- Police officers
- Public accounting
- Fast food
Doctors and Nurses
That goes without saying, especially now during times of covid-19, but even before this pandemic began the medical profession stood high in the list of jobs with burnout. Patient care with its high demand and stress, long hours, and administrative work has caused burnout for nearly 50% of doctors, according to the American Medical Association. Nurses are also at a high risk of burnout.
It is especially high in the areas of emergencies, family physicians, and internists.
Social workers handle a lot of terrible issues and heartbreaking realities on a nearly daily basis. Compassion fatigue is a preoccupation with absorbing trauma and emotional stress of others, and it is common among social workers. Compassion fatigue is not the same as burnout.
While symptoms are very similar, compassion fatigue is caused by the above mentioned causes and burnout is an emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion that is caused by excessive stress over a long period of time.
Just because these volunteers deal with animals doesn’t mean that they do not suffer compassion fatigue. When you rescue animals; dogs, cats, birds, monkeys, horses, animals used for consumption, or any kind of animal that comes from abuse, you deal with a lot of cruelty. The cruelty is so intense at times that it causes serious traumas in the rescuer. I speak from personal experience, because I rescued and fostered animals for 20 years.
Saving and caring for animals also doesn’t stop when we decide to call it a day, it’s a 24/7 job, 365 days a year.
Not only cruelty and abuse, but also negligence, terrible diseases, and witnessing slow, agonizing deaths are all part of this hard work, and the only things that keep rescuers going are the happy endings we do achieve. Many years ago, for several months I dealt with an extraordinary amount of heartbreaking deaths, and it got so bad that I went to see a therapist. I could not handle it anymore.
Yes, that’s me too. I have been a teacher for 14 years, but you do not need to read about my experience to know that teaching is a high stress job.
According to THE Journal, teaching has the “highest burnout rate of any public service job”. The demands are high, superiors have many expectations; you do not have only one boss, you have a whole bunch of bosses who all have demands of you; and you have to constantly pay attention not to step on anyone’s toes (this last point applies more for private schools). Sorry, I do not mean this in a bad way, but this is our side of the story 😉
There are too many people to please and it takes the focus away of what we are here for: the children.
The only reason a teacher remains in his job is love. No one would do this kind of work if he or she did not love teaching. One can do many jobs without love, but teaching is not one of them. It is the reason why I have been doing it for so long.
Teaching is a very important profession – if you think about it, we are forming the adults of the future – but it seems constantly unappreciated and underpaid, combined with high workloads that demand our attention even when the working day is over and on weekends. According to THE Journal, the rate of burnout is higher among young teachers, and there is also a high job turnover, which is not good for the students either … So, nobody wins … 🙁
That does not come as a surprise. I often tell my boss that I do not envy him his job, because most of what he does is deal with complaints. Some are justified, but others are … just not. It’s a good thing that nothing ever fazes him, but even he who usually has a smile on his face often looks stressed and solemn.
School principals also have to deal with constant demands, an endless amount of meetings, and the point I mentioned in the previous paragraph.
Most people know a good lawyer joke, but it is also a job that handles many problems. Moreover, there is high competition for clients among different law firms, many demands to meet, high expectations as well, deadlines, long hours, keeping up with changing laws, over-commitment, lack of help, chronic fatigue, etc.
In the movies, attorneys are always shown as either sleazy or rich or both, and they are usually portrayed as having thick skin and only caring about winning, disregarding their client’s guilt or innocence. I think that the movie industry has given lawyers a bad rep 😉 and it makes us forget how demanding their work can be and how it can lead to burnout.
Police officers also have a high stress job and deal with many difficult situations. They are exposed to extremely high risks and they often witness the worst of human nature. It must get to you at some point … Burnout happens to the officers who are the most committed to their jobs. Makes sense …
Lately, we have all seen the appalling images and videos of police brutality. I did not want to include current incidents in my post, and it is possible that because of recent events police officers may not get as much sympathy as they used to … However, there are good and bad apples everywhere, and right now, the good apples remain forgotten due to the bad ones that make it to the news …
This post is purely informational and it relates to burnout, which is why I am including police officers in this list.
Does this one come as a surprise? Well, burnout seems to be common in accounting, due to heavy client loads, impossible deadlines, crazy tax season schedules, and so on. All of this can lead to prolonged stress.
Have you noticed that most fast food places have a high employee turnover? You order a burger one day and a week later there is a different person with a new name tag. A high turnover has an effect on employees who are permanent, having to adapt to new colleagues all the time, having to train again and again, over and over the same thing … It can get to you.
The work in fast food joints is pretty monotonous, there is always someone looking over your shoulder (and that is very stressful) and the pay is known to be low. Job-related depression is also an indicator for burnout.
A quote from a fast food worker (source vox: fast food worker burnout): “Fast food is intense! And it’s stressful! You’re always feeling rushed, you’re on a time crunch for literally eight hours straight, you’re never allowed to have one moment just to chill.”
This area also has a high work turnover.
According to an article on Talking Retail, the factors that cause the most anxiety among employees are:
- pressure from the manager
- demanding customers
- long hours
- excessive workload
- tight deadlines
Workers have reported feeling undervalued and being treated as if they are expendable.
I have worked in retail for a while, to make extra cash, and although it was an interesting experience at first, after a while I began to feel similar things that were mentioned in the previous paragraph. I can certainly relate.
The jobs that I mentioned (animal rescue is actually voluntary work) are all high risk places for burnout. If you find yourself in one of these jobs or another one that is also causing you prolonged and severe stress, then please make sure that you have a balance in your life. Set limits.
For example, as a teacher, do not answer any more emails after 6pm (or the time that you deem adequate). Do not take work home during weekends.
For lawyers, I advise a similar method. Draw your lines. Until here and no further, you need time out.
Social workers, you can’t just stop caring, this is different … but you can do things for yourself, relax with some music, take yoga classes, meditation,
Animal rescuers, I recommend the same; yoga classes, meditation, moments for yourself, …
The bottom line is: we must keep a healthy balance in our lives. There is time for work, time for giving, and then there is time for us.
For any more tips on how to deal with burnout, please feel free to check out the following articles:
- How to keep stress under control
- How to prevent burnout at work
- Emotional burnout recovery
- Top 5 meditation apps to help you relax
I hope this helps. Thank you for reading!
16 thoughts on “11 Jobs With High Burnout Rates”
Thank you very much for your fantastic website. It is amazing that you show people where to start and what steps to take towards their healthy living and positive mindset. I hope more people will know about your website and follow your guidance.
Thank you, Andrey! I’m really glad you find this helpful, and I hope to reach many people with my articles 🙂
A fabulous list, plus I must say the candle analogy certainly made a lot of sense.
Possibly not a job/career that many would consider, and also not one on your list, but I worked in the Banking sector for a number of years.
I’m not entirely sure if “burnout” is what I suffered, but I had certainly come to the end of my tether.
I worked for an extremely high-profile bank in London, UK during the early 2000s and the pressure put on us to perform was extreme.
I managed to get out at the end of 2007, so just before the global economic recession (please don’t blame me), and I cannot tell you the wave of relief that washed over me afterwards.
However, I definitely could not compare my own feelings to that of our keyworkers during covid-19. What a wonderful job they have all done, although I’m sure the mental and emotional effects may be long-lasting.
Thanks for an enjoyable read.
I can understand how banking is also a high stress job, so much responsibility, pressure; and maybe you either had or were close to burnout, it is certainly possible … I see people in banks now during times of covid and it is true, they are doing a wonderful job.
Thank you for your comment!
Thanks for shedding a light on the jobs with high levels of burnout! Really informative 🙂
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As a teacher myself, I can greatly relate to this post. I also worked in the nursing field and retail before becoming a teacher. So I know all about burnout. I burnt out in both of those jobs and needed a change. Which is how I decided to become a teacher. And as a teacher, I often find I take my work home with me, because there just isn’t enough time in the school day to do it all. How do you manage to stay on top of all your work without bringing it home? I would greatly appreciate suggestions! Many thanks for this lovely article.
When I first started out as a teacher, I used to take a lot of work home, but after I went through burnout I decided to limit that drastically. I set limits to how late students can contact me when they have questions. I sometimes get emails at 11:45 pm, to ask me a question, and I do not reply to it, it is late, and it is my free time. I will reply in the morning. I tell my students that they can contact me until 7 pm if they have questions, but I still end up receiving messages after 8 or 9 pm … I do not reply to messages I receive on Sundays either. I do have a life and I need to pay attention to that too. I cannot be on call 24/7.
I do not give homework every day, I limit it to once a week, which gives me time to correct the assignments, and in this way I also do not add to students’ stressful lives. Instead of homework, I also assign many projects which they can work on at home and in class time. It gives students the opportunity to research for their topics and still learn, it is fun for both students and teacher, and less stressful to grade. It’s a win-win situation 🙂
I focus a lot on classwork and team work.
When my boss suddenly dumps extra work (usually it’s administrative) on me, I always ask him what the deadline is, and I work it into my planned schedule for the week, to avoid stressing about it. If I can’t finish certain tasks at work, I sometimes stay half an hour or an hour longer to get it done, and then I go home.
The only time I take work home with me is during exam periods, because that’s impossible to avoid then. During school time I also use as much of my free time as possible to get work done, to avoid taking it home. I hope that helps 🙂
Yeah, I can see how all these jobs can cause burnout, but that can be said of many other jobs no the list either. For example, I was an amazon driver for a few months and that was during the holiday season. Each driver had over 110+ packages per run and we had to get them delivered before 9pm.
I worked from 7am to 9pm even 10pm and had to do the same thing over again the next day. It was brutal, and since I live in an area with really cold winters, that didn’t help much either. I had no time for myself, but thankfully things died down a bit afterwards. During that time though I felt like I aged 10 years too early.
Thanks for this post, it really rings true that you have to draw a line somewhere and somehow. If you can’t then you just have to get out as soon as you can or risk turning to ash.
This list is definitely not exclusive. So many jobs cause burnout nowadays; everywhere it is expected to deliver more all the time. Taxi and delivery drivers are also prone to burnout, having to deal with a lot of stressful factors. Delivering over a 110+ packages is a lot of work and stress, I believe it. You certainly had long work days. I am glad you’re not doing that anymore, you need to have time for yourself.
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Awesome information about health, I have really enjoyed reading about this post and have bookmarked this page to visit later for more update on health. Thank you very much and I think your audience will appreciate you very much for this informative article. I am a teacher myself and have experienced all these burnout
Thank you very much! It’s always nice to meet a fellow teacher 🙂
Have a nice day!
As a doctor, I can relate! Not only burnout that we suffer from this job but also depression and bad social life too. That is because, as you mentioned, we spend almost all our life in the hospital trying to do our best and even more to help patients. Unfortunately, few people actually understand all the things we go through. An example of that is that I worked for a whole year as an internship GP for 120 hours a week without even a salary. As you can notice here, I had no motivation to work, depression, and I suffered from burnout for a long time that it is affecting me until this day. Burnout syndrome is a well known and dangerous condition people should be aware of. Thank you for mentioning this post as it is essential for people to know this!
Wow, 120 hours a week for a year without pay! That must have been hard. I think “hard” is not even the right word to describe it …
Please take care of yourself, find time for some meditation, for yourself, it’s so important. Getting over burnout can take months, even years, so I hope that you are making time for yourself in your hectic schedule.
You know, I was doing some research on jobs in general because I was looking for a new job since I lost my prior one with this pandemic but I’m very glad that along the way, I’ve run into this article. Very ironic because now I have a better idea of what I should also try to avoid because of the burnout rate. This has definitely been out of what I was expecting from my research but I’ve definitely had some valuable information with this so thank you for this!
I hope you find a good job soon. It’s probably a good idea to avoid high burnout jobs and doing something you really enjoy. 🙂
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