Slideshow: 8 of America’s Most Demanding Jobs

There are lots of lists about jobs: the most and least stressful, the best and worst paying, and the dirtiest and the most dangerous. But what about the most demanding jobs? You know—the ones that require you to be in the moment for the most amount of time? Here’s our unscientific opinion about what the eight most hands-on, mind-on jobs might be.

1. Physicians and surgeons

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, physicians and surgeons have the highest percentage of workers who report working 60 hours or more a week. And, it’s intense since they hold life in their hands. We sure hope they’re not daydreaming.

2. Firefighters

This one ranks as both as one of the most stressful jobs and one of the most dangerous jobs. According to, firefighters typically work shifts up to 48 hours straight, which seriously cuts into other aspects of life. (And the rate of heart attacks in this profession is high at 44 percent.) Firefighters are physically on-call to fight fires every day, and they too have life in their hands.

3. Small business owners

Most small business owners may not have life itself in their hands, but they do hold their future and the futures of their employees in their hands. That’s a big responsibility because If they fail, others fail. Even momentary failures – such as losing a big account – can cause stress if it means they may not make payroll. It’s a false belief that small business owners own their own future, because in reality they don’t have that much control. Just responsibility–a truth hardly any business owner would deny.

4. Funeral directors

Like other jobs that deal with life or death, funeral directors don’t work by the clock. They work when their customers need them. That can be any time of day or night, and jobs almost always start with a very sad call. They face physical and emotional realities day in and day out. It takes a strong person to do that. (Some funeral directors handle the embalming part of the job, too, which ranks as one of the dirtiest.)

5. Restaurant owners and food service managers

Food is the basic sustenance of life. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 20 percent of food service managers report working more than 60 hours a week. Often times it’s for much lower pay than other occupations working similarly long hours. But people need to eat, and they’d like to know the food they’re buying is safe and meets food service regulations. (After all, messing up on this job could mean more work for those physicians.) It’s a responsibility that good restaurant owners and managers take seriously, and it takes time and effort.

6. Plumbers

This one ranks as one of the dirtiest jobs and also as one of the most on-call, all-the time types of jobs. Pipes froze at 2 a.m. or the toilet exploded at 6 a.m.? Lots of plumbers get those middle-of-the-night calls, and the best ones are there ASAP to help.

7. Veterinarians and vet techs

Like physicians and surgeons, these professionals have life in their hands. They’re both hands-on in the sense they’re literally working with animals every day and minds-on as they have to plan for the animals in their care. And like funeral directors, they’re often the first call in a sad story.

8. Insurance claims adjusters

Insurance claims adjusters don’t have life itself in their hands, but they’re often on the list of people who help when tragedy strikes. Whether a tree falls on your roof or your car crashes, you can count on a claims adjuster to get you back to how you were (or as close as normal as possible). At ERIE, our claims adjusters are locally based to help you when you need it most.

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