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Is pilot the most stressful job?

Is pilot the most stressful job?

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Top 10 Most Stressful Jobs in America
Everyone who earns a wage pays for it with some level of stress. Some professions are lower in pressure, and some are off the stress-o-meter charts. Which jobs are the most stressful? Here are 10 that top the list.
10: Miner Miners spend long, physically demanding hours in dark, cramped conditions, unable to see the sun or get a breath of fresh air. The danger of being trapped or killed is ever-present, as is the fear that the mine will close and the workers will lose their jobs.
9: Corporate Executive Long hours, cutthroat competition, highly visible and closely scrutinized successes and failures, and few work-free moments define the life of the corporate executive. These lucrative, white-collar jobs might seem highly desirable, but those at the top are under constant pressure to increase revenues, satisfy stakeholders and pass public scrutiny.
8: Newspaper Reporter Most reporters work long hours meeting firm deadlines for relatively low pay. Their schedules are apt to change with little notice; when news happens, reporters race to the locations regardless if it is day or night, weekend or holiday. The job is now even more stressful as newspapers struggle to enter the Internet age and layoffs abound.
7: Those Who Fly, and Those Who Help Them The stakes are high for pilots, with each takeoff demanding that they fly planes safely or die — taking a lot of other people with them. Air traffic controllers, too, work under intense pressure, sitting for long stretches at their equipment and making split-second, potentially life-or-death decisions.
6: Emergency Personnel Accidents from minor to catastrophic command the immediate presence of firefighters and emergency medical technicians, both working long hours for not a lot of money. Often in physical danger themselves, they deal with people who are injured or frightened, and they must live with the reality that no matter how well they perform, they can’t save everyone.
5: Medical Professional Those expected to fix people’s ailments are under constant pressure to focus and execute. Surgeons must concentrate on precision for hours at a time, psychiatrists listen intently, dentists are on their feet for hours, and medical interns work hard without much sleep. Medical professionals are often under additional pressure to do their part to make the business profitable.
4: Teacher Many people think that teachers have good working schedules, but teachers take a lot of work home since there are always lessons to plan, papers to grade and records to keep. The pay isn’t much compared to professions with similar educational requirements, and teachers are under constant scrutiny to improve test scores year after year.
3: Police Officer Whether they work for local police, county sheriff’s departments, the highway patrol or other agencies, law-enforcement officers must be ready to put their lives on the line every time a call comes in. They must be hyper vigilant to potential danger at every moment, yet at the same time must practice restraint to ensure excessive force doesn’t cause harm to others; split-second judgments may be second-guessed for a long time.
2: Deployed Military Personnel Military personnel may have job security with excellent benefits, but they have little freedom of choice when it comes to assignments, and orders change with little warning. When deployed, they’re separated from loved ones while under constant threat of explosives and attacks. When they come home, they may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, and those in the reserves have the added concern of whether their jobs will be available when their tour of duty ends.
1: Working Parents There’s often no line of division between time spent working and time spent parenting, and it’s a stressful combination in which balance is nearly impossible to achieve. When a child needs attention, the time spent taking care of his or her needs may conflict mightily with daytime duties and overtime deadline crunches. Many parents are also teachers, soldiers, doctors, police officers and any of the other stressful jobs on this list. Imagine that.

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Being a Pilot is Even More Stressful Than Being a Passenger

Terry Deitz placed third on the twelfth season of the long-running television show Survivor, living on a remote beach in Panama with little access to food and shelter, and competing in a series of challenges. Being on the show was stressful, but a fun kind of stress, he says. Compared to his day job as a pilot, it was a walk in the park.

Pilot often tops the list of most stressful careers, both in the amount of perceived stress and on quantifiable metrics of stress, like rates of burnout and health issues, says Erin Bowen, chair of the Behavioral and Safety Science Department at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.


For pilots, the basic requirements of the job are a major source of stress. “Number one, it’s what we call a high-consequence industry,” Bowen says. “When pilots make mistakes, the consequences can be catastrophic.”

Deitz first flew F-14’s off of aircraft carriers in the Navy, and now he flies commercial airplanes for American Airlines. He says the consequences of error are always in the back of his mind. “There are 150 people sitting behind me,” he says. “But that really means 15,000. Because 100 people are going to go to each one of those people’s funerals. That’s how I think about it.”

The day-to-day work of a pilot is unstable, and often unpredictable. They’re away from home, and from their families, for long stretches of time. The job isn’t a typical 9-to-5— instead, pilots fly overnight from timezone to timezone, at strange hours. “The ups and downs are constant, and we fly at all different times of the day,” Deitz says. “It’s a stress on your body.”

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Takeoff and landing are the trickiest parts of a given flight, requiring all of a pilot’s attention and mental energy. Heart rate increases during those windows, studies show. “You’re ready for the worst thing that can happen,” Deitz says.

For the rest of the flight, it’s usually smooth sailing, watching the monitors and making sure the autopilot is on track. But it’s also hard to stay alert and ready throughout the flight, even when there isn’t much going on, and that toggle from high- to low-demand can also take a toll, Bowen says.


Psychologists think about stress on a curve: At the bottom, without stress, it’s hard to perform with excellence. As stress and arousal start to creep up, performance does too. “The anxiousness and butterflies means your spidey senses are tingling,» Deitz says, «and your adrenaline is going, and that’s a good thing to have.»

But if stress creeps past that midpoint, performance starts to drop off. Too-high levels of stress mean exhaustion, panic, and blunted brain power. That’s when mistakes happen. “There are some pretty significant consequences to having that level of ongoing stress,” Bowen says. “You’re more likely to make errors.”

Stress is a catch-all for the body’s response to any sort of demand, ranging from a psychological pressure to a physical, tangible aspect of the environment. Some amount of it is beneficial, and can keep pilots tuned in and ready to go. Too much, though, can hamper their performance. For airlines and industry groups, preventing accidents means devising tools and programs to keep pilots from tipping over that line.

To reduce fatigue, which is linked to stress, rules and regulations from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) limit the number of hours a pilot can fly and how much rest they need. During a 24-hour period, a pilot flying alone can’t log more than eight hours, for example, and they have a ten-hour minimum rest period before taking off.

A system called Crew Resource Management (CRM), implemented in the 1970s after a series of accidents, also operates as a check on stress and human error in pilots. CRM training is designed to help pilots and crew members develop efficiency communication and decision-making skills. “It was also saying, this is what fatigue looks like, and this is how to recognize it in your co-pilot,” Bowen says. From that point on, she says, the airlines worked to develop a culture where pilots would hold other pilots accountable when they weren’t fit to fly. “It was about not protecting their buddy, but protecting overall safety,” Bowen says.


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One of the biggest barriers was changing the culture, Bowen says. At the time, most pilots were ex-military men, and were reluctant to acknowledge when they weren’t operating at 100 percent. “But now it’s acceptable to talk about the stress,” she says. “It’s not the days of the tough guys anymore.”

Many airlines, along with the FAA, are also implementing anonymous reporting systems, Bowen says. “It’s for early intervention, for if you see something, and you don’t think it’s a problem now, but it might become one later.” Pilots could also report their own screwup. “They could say, I realize I shouldn’t have been flying, but no one stopped me,” she says.

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In 2016, the FAA established a center of excellence around technical training and human performance. Research through the center will look at everything from age and mental decline, to the best ways to train pilots, Bowen says. “It’s to figure out what we can do that balances the efficiency needs of the airline with what’s optimal for the pilots.”

Pilot mental health is another big issue to tackle, says Quay Snyder, a former Air Force flight surgeon and a member of the Aerospace Medical Association Working Group on Pilot Mental Health. Pilots are often reluctant to acknowledge the effect that emotional stressors might have on their ability to fly, he says.

“They’re slow to recognize mental health issues,” he says, “and they might think there’s a stigma against asking for help.” Pilots are required to go through medical certification every few years, and part of that process is reporting any visits to any doctors—including mental health professionals. “They might view that as a barrier, and think that asking for help might stop them from being certified,” Snyder says. “But it’s not a black-and-white decision.”


Unaddressed depression or anxiety, though, can compound the already-high levels of stress pilots experience, and might make them more likely to make errors. Many airlines are starting to implement peer-support programs to talk about mental health issues, which Snyder says is a good strategy to use with pilots. “Pilots trust pilots,” he says. “Hearing from a peer could help a pilot recognize that they may not be fit to fly. Hearing it from a physician doesn’t carry much weight, but hearing it from a peer does.”

Airlines and industry groups, Bowen says, have a vested interest in ensuring the emotional and psychological health of their pilots, and are actively involved in the ongoing research. “When mistakes happen, it’s splashed all over the news,” she says. “They’re great to work with. They have a lot to gain from these projects, and they recognize that.”

Is pilot a stressful career?

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Being a pilot is sometimes stressful. It requires intense focus, quick decision making and a lot of patience. A pilot is responsible for the health of all crew members and passengers on board an aircraft, and they sometimes have to fly in unpredictable conditions.

How stressful is being a pilot?

An airline pilot can be an extremely stressful job due to the workload, responsibilities and safety of the thousands of passengers they transport around the world. Chronic stress levels can negatively impact a person’s health, job performance, and cognitive function.

Is an airline pilot a high-stress job?

40% of pilots feel the most “stressful” when working with management, with rotation – the number of airport trips they have to make in a day – the second biggest cause of stress. 59 percent feel their employer doesn’t care about their well-being.

Is the life of a pilot hard?

The lifestyle of a professional pilot can be quite challenging. Pilots often have to work long hours and are often away from home for long periods of time. However, pilots also enjoy many benefits such as flexible schedules, private respite and above-average income at the airline level.

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Is being a pilot a happy job?

Pilot is a great profession. It’s varied, fun and exciting. The average salary for a pilot (according to is $106,627 per year. It is an environment where you will never stop learning and there are many opportunities to diversify in the industry.

What was the most stressful part of being an airline pilot?

What are the downsides of being a pilot?

Disadvantages of a pilot career

  • You need a deep bank account. While you’ll make a lot of money as an airline pilot for many years, in the first few years you can expect to pay up to $100,000. …
  • A steep learning curve. …
  • Miss the holidays. …
  • Too much pressure. …
  • Lose your career immediately for medical reasons.

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Pilots are only for the rich?

“You certainly don’t have to be rich, but you have to have a plan,” he says. Like most larger expenditures, you need to be smart and know what your goals and objectives are.”

Do pilots have a lot of free time?

question and answer. Is the pilot free? Yes, pilots have free time. Young pilots get a minimum of 12 days off per month, while average pilots get 15 days off per month and older pilots get up to 20 days off per month.

Can you fail as a pilot?

Failed the exam and didn’t have enough time to fly

Failure to pass all the practical and written tests may prevent you from earning your pilot’s license. And because you will need to have a certain number of flight hours to get this permit, failure to do so is also disqualified.

What is the divorce rate of pilots?

Just like flight attendants, the divorce rate for pilots is up to 30.5%. Divorce is so common among pilots that there’s an industry term for it: Airline Divorce Syndrome.

Do pilots have a work-life balance?

Being a successful airline pilot is not the same as a 9 to 5 hour job. Pilots can’t wait to get to work, come home and expect a cozy meal every day. Even the hours of the pilot schedule are subject to change. Some days, pilots will work for five hours.

Why are pilot salaries so high?

The huge demand for pilots creates a very fierce market for pilots. That’s why airlines offer pilots attractive salary packages, just to keep pilots from joining their competitors.

What is the hardest part about being a pilot?

1) Aircraft system

One of the most difficult topics for private pilot trainees is aircraft systems.

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Are pilots aging?

Chou did the math, and it turns out that frequent flyers actually age a little faster than those of us with both feet on the ground. The plane is traveling at a high enough altitude that the weak gravitational field speeds up the ticking of the onboard clock more than the high speed slows it down.

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Pilots work 40 hours a week?

Airline pilots fly an average of 75 hours per month and work overtime 150 hours per month performing other tasks, such as checking weather conditions and preparing flight plans. Pilots have a variable work schedule that may include some work days followed by some days off.

Can you be a pilot if you have anxiety?

The FAA encourages pilots to seek help if they have a mental health condition because most, if treated, do not disqualify a pilot from flying.

Why do pilot trainees quit their jobs?

The transition from flying with an instructor to the first few solo flights is a major hurdle faced by trainee pilots. A number of problems can arise: students don’t feel ready, teachers become hesitant, or the weather isn’t favorable.

Do you need a good GPA to become a pilot?

GPA depends on your career path to becoming a pilot

If your GPA is between 3.0 and 4.0 and you have other significant qualifications and experience, you will likely be appreciated. If you want to be a hobby pilot, your GPA shouldn’t matter too much.

Is an unhealthy pilot?

Pilots are required to perform complex procedures with physical requirements that can directly affect their physical/mental health. In this demanding profession, pilots are likely to suffer from reduced sleep, unhealthy eating, etc.

How long does it take for the pilot to go home?

As for the actual number of days, some publications say most short-haul pilots would go home every day if possible, or work for five days and then stay home for three or four days. Long-haul pilots are said to spend more time away from home, even though they are given 10 to 15 days off each month to visit family.

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Pilots can fly for free for life?

The short answer is yes – most airlines offer free flights as an employee benefit to pilots and often to their immediate family members.

Do pilots go home every night?

Short-haul pilots get to go home every night, while long-haul pilots typically work 15 days a month and get 15 days off. Keep reading to learn more about the often punishing schedule that pilots keep.

How rare is it to be a pilot?

In any case, the position is a rare privilege in the United States, with commercial pilots making up just 0.05% of the population. With this in mind, how exactly can you join this rare club?

What kind of pilots make the most money?

High-paying pilot job

  • Helicopter pilot. Salary: $52,000-$115,000 per year. …
  • Private pilot. Salary: $51,500-$100,000 per year. …
  • Company pilot. Salary: $55,000-$100,000 per year. …
  • Flight lieutenant. Salary: $64,000-$100,000 per year. …
  • Pilot Assistant Chief. …
  • Airline chartered pilot. …
  • Pilot. …
  • Commercial pilot.

What does the life of a pilot look like?

Pilots are responsible for a variety of time-consuming tasks before and after a flight, including weather assessment, flight planning, performing pre-flight checks of the aircraft, and preparing post-flight reports, to ensure ensure that each flight is operated at the highest level of safety .

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