10 of the most stressful jobs in SA

Whether you have a well-established career or looking for new opportunities and jobs on Job Mail, we wanted to give you the lowdown on some of the most stressful jobs in South Africa. Are you in one of these careers? Tell us about it in the comment section below!

Researching the most stressful jobs

Employment, for most people, is necessary to sustain their financial well-being. However, a lot of jobs can be very stressful. In some instances the stress levels that come along with a particular job are so overwhelming that they have a detrimental effect on an individual’s health and well-being.

most stressful jobs

According to research carried out by Mariska van Aswegen, a spokesperson for Pharma Dynamics, a pharmaceutical firm that specialises in central nervous system medication for the treatment of depression and anxiety, while not all jobs appear stressful to an observing outsider it is often difficult to truly assess the stress levels associated with jobs you are not actively engaged in.

Cosy, white collar office jobs that are well paying, may appear to be stress free but the reality is these jobs come with a lot of responsibilities and expectations. These jobs contain a lot of stress triggers such as mental demands, deadline, and an enormous amount of travelling and dealing with conflict.

All of these triggers add an enormous amount of pressure on people engaged in these jobs. In fact certain people even have to take some form of medication to alleviate stress levels associated with their jobs.

10 Most Stressful Jobs in SA

Here is a list of the ten most stressful jobs in South Africa:


Medical jobs are one of the most stressful jobs and they come with a lot of responsibilities. As a doctor you have to take on a lot of professional and personal responsibility while dealing with the health and lives of other people.

medical jobs in sa

Generally speaking it is not an easy thing to deal with sick people, it becomes even more difficult when you constantly have to make quick, life changing decisions while working long hours under psychological pressure from the families of the sick. From a salary perspective, these medical jobs in South Africa has a salary expectation from anywhere between R476 000 and R616 000 per annum.

CEO Jobs

There is no surprise that CEO jobs appear on the list of some of the stressful jobs in South Africa. From a global perspective we only need to look at the work schedules of top CEO’s to realize how stressful these jobs are.

CEO’s such as Elon Musk have reported to have worked for 100 hours per week while heading PayPal. The stress does not come from the long working hours alone, as a CEO there is a lot of pressure to deliver results to investors and to ensure the company continues running competitively and has the financial ability to pay all its employees on a monthly basis.

ceo jobs

This pressure certainly puts a lot of stress on CEOs. The biggest problem is that, as a CEO you have no peer to turn to when you are facing problems, easily sliding onto the list of the most stressful jobs in South Africa.

With CEO jobs in South Africa you can expect to earn anything up to a R49 million yearly base salary depending on which company you head and its profitability

Working as a Pilot

While being a pilot may seem like a glamourous and high paying position, flying a 75 to over 450 tonne aeroplane at 30 000- 40 000 feet above sea level is not easy. Although much of the job is automated, mistakes you make while landing or taking off can cost lives.

This is a huge burden for anyone to carry and adds to the stress levels of the job. Travelling and being away from home for much of the year does not make pilot jobs any less stressful. A commercial pilot in South Africa can expect to earn an average of R360 000 per year.

pilot jobs

Interested in pursuing this career? Read our “How to become a Pilot in SA” to learn more about what you will need to be successful.


SAPS jobs are generally high risk jobs. Having a job as a police officer in South Africa makes you the constant target of a lot of criminals. You have to be constantly on your toes and ready to defend yourself and the public against criminal threats. The stress levels of saps jobs are worsened by the fact that as a police officer your actions are under constant scrutiny. You must act with careful consideration that your actions will be put under the microscope- you must be able to justify your arrests in any acts of aggression you meet.

The relatively low annual pay of between R98 000 and R271 000 does not make the job any less stressful, but if you feel that public service is your calling, you can learn more by reading our “SAPS careers: How to become a Police Officer in SA” post on the blog.

working as c level executives

C Level Executives

Much like CEOs other C-Level Executives go through a lot of emotional, and mental stress. There is a lot of pressure to deliver results regularly and as a top executive you carry a lot of responsibilities and obligations.

Employees generally look up to you for guidance. While this amount of recognition can be fulfilling it does not do well to alleviate your stress levels, if anything this adds to stress triggers that make your life more difficult. As an executive director in South Africa you can expect to earn an average of R880 000 per year.


If you thought being a singer was easy and relatively stress-free you thought wrong. Being a singer is very stressful and if you are an unknown, you have to face the financial stress of not being able to sustain yourself financially.

If you are lucky enough to get a lot of shows and grow a substantial fan base the stress comes in the form of making performances under a tight schedule. As a musician you do not have a fixed monthly salary and you can expect to earn anything from a few thousands to a few millions depending on how in demand your music is.

stressful jobs as musicians

Browsing for new opportunities and jobs on Job Mail? Why not create your Job Mail Job Alerts and get informed of the latest vacancies in your industry and area.

Nursing jobs

Much like Doctors, nurses face a lot of work stress from dealing with sick patients under high pressured conditions and working very long hours. Nursing jobs generally attract a yearly salary of between R147 000 to R314 000.

Interested in these medical jobs on Job Mail? Learn more about the career by checking out our Nursing Jobs Blog Tag on the Job Mail Blog.

Film Directors

Also making the list of the most stressful jobs, working as a film director you can expect to work long, irregular and unsociable hours. Sometimes movie production will be slower than other days as you have to deal with unknown variables on a regular basis. Additionally you will have to work under strict deadlines, budget concerns and balancing different personalities and responsibilities in order to deliver on your production.

There is a lot of potential to earn good money as a film director, the average yearly wage running between R98 000 and R616 000.

most stressful jobs

Agriculture jobs

Agricultural jobs are known for being physically taxing. The physicality of agriculture jobs adds a certain risk element of the jobs. More often than not the work conditions of these jobs are not very stimulating, mentally challenging or rewarding (and offers little room for flexibility).

All these factors add to the stressfulness of agriculture jobs. Farmers’ average pay probably adds to the stress factor of agricultural work as they can expect to earn around R260 000 per year.

Want to learn more about the career opportunities in agriculture? Read the posts under our Agricultural Job Vacancies Blog Tag on the Job Mail blog.

Hair Stylist

Beauty jobs can be quite stressful. As a hair stylist you are likely to work in an environment where you will be forced to communicate with a lot of people. You must have great communication skills and the flexibility to interact with people of differing temperaments.

Unfortunately for most this, along with the tight schedules a lot of professionals, creates a highly stressful work environment. For all the stress of this job, hair stylists earn between R25 632 and R120 000 per year.

If you are not intimidated by the stress factor of the jobs in this list, you can apply for jobs on Job Mail by registering your CV today!

10 of the most stressful jobs in SA
Article Name
10 of the most stressful jobs in SA
Whether you have a well-established career or looking for new opportunities, we wanted to highlight some of the most stressful jobs in South Africa.
Publisher Name
Job Mail
Publisher Logo

You may also like...

3 Responses

  1. Amanda says:

    It is interesting that Real Estate Agents and in particular Leasing Agents are not at the top of the food chain when it comes to high stressed jobs.

    Not only do real estate agents and brokers work long, erratic hours, they also have to handle sales quotas and deadline pressures. It is an extremely competitive field and an agent need to be on their toes all the time.

    Rental agents deal with different scenarios. From negotiating rental contracts to dealing with delinquent tenants on almost a daily basis and ignorant landlords. Showing tenants properties can be from walking into a mansion to walking through hip high fields showing off farmlands. Then the prospect of being bitten by dogs and attacked by cats and other domestic animals or even worse being chased by a bull or stepping on snakes and other critters is always at the back of your mind. The possibility of maybe showing a house to a thug or rapist is always a risk.

    Countless sleepless nights thinking about rentals not coming in or properties that might be destroyed by tenants. Rental agents must be able to do anything from renting to financial administration. Receiving calls at night from tenants with broken pipes is not unfamiliar. Don’t even think about switching off the phones, because then you have to deal with irritated tenants the next morning.

    It is not uncommon to have tenants curse you and being bullies. Demanding landlords can emotionally drain you.

    The worries about whether the contract that you drafted is watertight or have any loopholes can be quite nerve wrecking.

    Then the personal financial side worries that keep you awake – what if the car break down, how are you going to do your work and all that kind of things run through an agent’s mind.

    The worst thing is when you know the tenants are beautiful and honest but they have a financial setback and there is nothing you can do to help them. After all it is just business and money talks. No pay – no house!!

    This is just the tip of the iceberg.

    • Hi Amanda, thank you for your response and for giving us a bit more insight into the day of a real estate agent. It will definitely help some job seekers make an informed career decision. Have a nice day! 🙂

  2. Des Erasmus says:

    How about the least stressful jobs?
    I.e. Government jobs?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

seventeen − sixteen =