Are certain jobs healthier than others? According to the experts, there are characteristics of a job that have been scientifically shown to produce big health benefits.


Are some jobs healthier than others? Well, yes, and we’re not just talking about extremes, like how a macrobiotic chef job might be healthier than, say, that of a matador or bomb defuser.

According to this piece by Maria Hanson on Yahoo HotJobs, there are certain characteristics of a job that have been scientifically shown to produce big health benefits. The characteristics are:

  1. Autonomy/Personal Control — The more personal control people have in their lives, the less their chances of depression and heart disease and the better their health in general.
  2. Mentally Demanding — If you use more brain power on your job, you’re less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
  3. Low Stress — Research shows that stress can contribute to problems like heart disease, headaches, chronic pain, lowered immunity, and even obesity.
  4. Social — Hanson says jobs that require social interaction can lower blood pressure, decrease heart disease, prevent depression, keep you cognitively fit, reduce stress, and increase lifespan.

This data made me wonder about what specific job characteristics could contribute to poor health. And it occurred to me that three out of the four examples above could, if experienced in the extreme, also be detrimental.

For example, if you have too much control, as in ownership of a company, you might be under extreme stress. I’m the type of person who perfers autonomy, but some people are very uncomfortable with that type of freedom.

Also, if a job is too mentally demanding, you could be so preoccupied with it that you neglect other activities that keep you healthy. Have you ever been so drained from thinking too much that you’re “too tired” to exercise?

I understand that having some social aspect to a job is healthy, but I can also see how the nature of the people you have to interact with could alter your stress level for the bad. Can you say “Help Desk”?

What do you think? What job traits do you think are healthier or unhealthier than others?