These 6 Industries Make People Burn Out the Fastest, According to Experts

Stressed woman at work


Profile Picture
Rachel Montañez84
I help you embrace a fulfilling career.
June 21, 2024 at 3:16PM UTC
Burnout is not a cut and dry condition; there are a few things that can contribute to it. I talk about burnout a lot with individuals at leading organizations in my job as a career coach. So, I like to keep my burnout data bank full. 
Here's some data behind why the folks in the some industries can sometimes be more prone to burnout. Randstad U.S. carried out a survey of 2,000 people and found the following things cause burnout at work:
  • The pressure to be 'always on' and therefore check work emails late at night or on weekends, 
  • The pressure to get more done than is possible in the work day, 
  • Not making progress in your career, 
  • Your boss not appreciating what you do, 
  • A lack of staff to do the work, 
  • Inadequate pay and benefits
  • and a lack of work-life balance.
As a career coach focused on helping career-driven individuals, I know that ambiguity around goals, performance expectations, a lousy manager and even a long commute (especially for moms) are significant stressors at work, too. Let's chat about the industries where these stressors impact the workforce the most. 

1. Social work 

Social workers have my respect. Imagine listening to traumatic stories for your entire work day. If you're a social worker, thank you for all you do. Your work is appreciated. Social workers typically work in emotionally stressful environments and often experience secondary traumatic stress. In fact, it’s been stated that roughly 75% of social workers experience burnout or a high level of stress during a point in their careers.

2. Emergency response

Long hours, a disrupted circadian rhythm and lack of sleep are pretty usual in the emergency and first responder professions. Burnout among nurses is common. One-third of nurses in the U.S. report an emotional score considered to be extremely burnt out. Firefighters and police officers face similar long hours and similar sleep disturbances.

3. Design

Research by Comparably showed that 51% of people in design jobs say they feel burned out. When I've worked with professionals in this industry, they tell me it's sometimes due to unrealistic expectations, changing priorities and not being sure of expectations.

4. Business development and sales

That same research by Comparably revealed that 44% of workers in business development say that they're expected to work while on vacation. That's a really high percent seeing work conflict with their personal time. Sales related jobs can also require a lot of travel — sometimes up to 75% of work hours. 

5. Retail 

Feeling like you’re not making progress in your career, being undervalued and not being fairly compensated impacts retail's high turnover and burnout culture.

6. Medicine

The American Medical Association  previously shared that almost 50% of physicians experience symptoms of burnout. However, not all physicians experience burnout at the same rate. Specialists, like cardiologists and oncologists, aren't as likely to burn out as emergency medical professionals (which we touched on earlier) and family physicians.
Public accounting and law are also industries where burnout is common due to high workloads and the difficult nature of the work. Add a senior position in one of those industries and the chances of burnout increase.
Here's the key thing, though: burnout can happen in any industry. The safest way to prevent it or beat it isn't necessarily avoiding a particular sector. It's possible to have a friendly organizational culture in any industry. You deserve to be energized and connected to your work. I'm here for you, lady. Find a work culture that values your personal time. 
And if you work in one of these industries or know someone that does, make it your priority today (and everyday) to make some time for self-care or encourage them to do so. Get some affirmations if you need to or let someone know that you're burnt out and ask to use them as an accountability partner. Starting really small and building on your choices and actions is what leads to change and momentum. As the old saying goes, you can't pour from an empty cup.
Rachel Montanez is a career coach and career development speaker. Check out her website here and connect on LinkedIn here

Why women love us:

  • Daily articles on career topics
  • Jobs at companies dedicated to hiring more women
  • Advice and support from an authentic community
  • Events that help you level up in your career
  • Free membership, always