When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Keep a Sense of Humor

Don Tennant

According to newly released survey data, U.S. workers in privately held companies tend to be less stressed than their counterparts in other countries around the world. Other recent research suggests that IT workers in particular are less stressed than workers in other professions. So the survey mavens would have us believe that if you're a U.S. IT worker, your job is relatively non-stressful.


These survey results don't surprise me, because I've been around IT professionals for 20 years, and I have a good sense of what those findings really mean. What I've learned is that it's not the case that IT jobs in the U.S. are inherently less stressful. It's just that U.S. IT workers tend to be particularly good at handling the stress.


Let's look at the data. The results of a November survey released yesterday by Grant Thornton International, an accounting firm based in Chicago, show that the five most stressful countries for workers in privately held companies are China, Mexico, Turkey, Vietnam and Greece. The global average stress index was 56, and the U.S. came in at 50. By comparison, the index for China was 76, and Sweden, the least stressful country on the list, came in at 23.


Moving to IT workers in particular, according to the 2009 Jobs Rated Report produced by CareerCast.com, not one of the top eight most stressful jobs lies within the realm of IT. Those jobs are:


Commercial Airline Pilot
Advertising Account Executive

Real Estate Agent
Physician (General Practice)
Reporter (Newspaper)
Physician Assistant


On the other end of the scale, the eight least stressful professions include two IT jobs: computer systems analyst and software engineer. And the only two jobs you could have that are less stressful than computer systems analyst, according to this research, are actuary and dietician. Here's the list:


Computer Systems Analyst
Software Engineer


Computerworld's 2009 Salary Survey of 5,000 IT professionals at all levels, meanwhile, found that less than half (47 percent) consider their jobs to be either "stressful" or "very stressful." And despite the economic craziness of the past year, only 25 percent of respondents said their job was less stressful a year ago. Sixteen percent said it was more stressful a year ago.


Next page: We should get more credit for our great senses of humor


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