Top 15 Most Physically Demanding Jobs in the World
to work usually isn't fun, unless you are one of the few fortunate ones who
truly love what they do. For the majority of people who fall into the less fortunate
category, maybe you should stop and think if your job is all that bad. White
collared jobs are what everyone seems to desire and these jobs also have their
negative aspects. One major drawback of a white collared job is that the only
physical elements may involve getting up to refill a cup of coffee, chatting
with coworkers about what you did in the weekend and walking in from the parking
lot into the office.
While nearly all jobs are valuable, useful and have a purpose (or they
wouldnít exist), you have to admit that some jobs require a different kind of
fortitude. The kind that makes you strong enough to punch a hole through a wall,
lift heavy weights like the Hulk and stand on your feet until all you have left
are numb, unfeeling stumps inside your shoes. And then you finally go home, drop
dead on the bed and fall asleep ó just so you can wake up the next day and
repeat the process from the start.
Consider some of the jobs listed among the most physically demanding in the
world and after reading this article, you will most certainly find a new found
appreciation for those who have made these types of jobs their chosen
15) Retail Sales
If you donít think working retail is a physically demanding job, then you
obviously have never had this type of job. As underrated and underappreciated as
this job already is, it also requires a lot of physical effort. You can find yourself lugging
around house appliances, furniture, and other really heavy and really big
objects, depending on what kind of product the store you work at sells. Imagine moving furniture into and out of your house, and doing this
every single day of your life. When you work in a store, you have to constantly
set up the displays and put merchandise up on shelves and tables all while
staying on your feet. Dealing with customers is another potentially stressful
aspect of the job and just because you m ay be off the sales floor for a moment
doesn't mean that you actually have any time off. Good luck moving heavy boxes
around and doing inventory, and sorting new items for future
display is often necessary. If you donít have back problems after a
few months of this, then chances are you've married a chiropractor or you are
taking some really good painkillers.
14) Waiting Tables and Making Food
Waiting tables is a lot like retail, but with the addition of preparing and
serving food. Both are jobs that are not very valued. The pay is often
ridiculously low; many servers are paid below the minimum wage.
Just as in retail, when serving tables, you have to stay on your feet all day, walking non-stop
and sometimes even up and down stairs.
And there is nothing fun about walking up or down some stairs while carrying a
heavy tray full of delicate glass, pointy cutlery or things with the potential
to spill at your feet and make you slip.
Aside from all that, as a restaurant employee, there are hot stoves and
grills, steam from dishwashers, flames, and the threat of grease fires to worry
about. Working in food service can be one of the most dangerous jobs as well.
Your hands will be burnt and cut. Your back will ache from standing over tables for hours
on end. Your legs and feet will feel like rubber at the end of every shift. Even
washing dishes can be a potentially hazardous job in a restaurant. Using industrial dishwashers
can burn your hands, destroy the skin on your hands, face, and arms.
Moving day is every day when you work as a furniture mover. Just imagine all
the frustration, murderous intent towards stairs and lifts, and tons of back
pain to go with it. Now imagine it every single day. If you just did and
you still haven't had a nervous breakdown, then you are naturally a mover. For
those that are not, make a quick mental list to all of the health hazards of the
There is the obvious back pain from lifting heavy weights. Add muscle
strain and tearing from days of heavy, strenuous lifting and last but not least
the possibility of dropping some of those heavy objects on your foot. Then there are arm injuries, shoulder and elbow
injuries, and the constant potential of slipping and falling. You have to be really strong and really careful to be able
to do this job every single day and not end in the hospital at least once a
12) Flight Attendant
Flight attendant sounds like a really nice job to have at a glance. You fly for free all
around the world, stay at fancy hotels, visit interesting countries and cities,
eat exotic foodÖitís traveling, but instead of costing you your life savings,
you get paid for it!
This notion would be true if you had any time to rest and enjoy yourself
between flights. If you have ever taken a plane, you can remember how tired you
were after the fact, even if it was a short flight. Imagine that same feeling
that you felt after sitting back and relaxing during the entire flight to how it
would feel if all you did was wait on customers and stand during the entire
flight. If you are a female, add standing in high heels to the mix.
Now add walking up and down the plane to attend to the passengers, bring them
drinks (added bonus for waiter duties!) and the constant stress your body goes
through from being more than 11 thousand feet above the ground for most of your
waking hours. Studies show that flying for such long periods of time can affect
your heart and circulatory system. Changing time zones constantly encourages jet lag,
which can lead to mental exhaustion and fatigue.
11) Truck Drivers
Being a truck driver is another deceptively difficult job. There is much more to
driving all day long than meets the untrained eye. Sitting in the same position
for hours takes a serious toll on your circulatory system. Then
after driving all day, when you reach your destination, suddenly you have to get
down off the truck and unload really heavy pallets, usually with a manual
pushcart. Doing heavy physical work when your muscles are cold is never a good
idea, so injuries are sure to happen.
Driving for any amount of time also requires a lot of focus and attention,
which is pretty draining all by itself. When you are driving a vehicle that
weighs several tons often loaded with dangerous substances, can make even the
most zen drivers on edge constantly.
10) Construction Workers
Building a house is not easy no matter the size or purpose of the structure. Again, it involves moving and
lifting a lot of heavy things (wood planks, bricks or cement sacks, for
example). Lifting up walls and working on high places like the roof or the
dangerous and precarious top of stairs is something that requires you have a
very good sense of equilibrium. Construction workers also have to
deal with possibly toxic products that require them to wear heavy safety clothes
and even respirators. A construction day is long, with some jobs starting at
first light and going until the sun starts to set. It gets even worse in the
summer, with longer days and higher temperatures, wearing even the strongest
workers down to weaklings.
9) Cocoa Farmers
If you are one the many who loves chocolate and other products made out of
cocoa, then you might want to go and buy yourself
a healthy reserve stash of it because in a few years cocoa may be impossible to
find. Cocoa, as it happens, is really hard to produce, so much that cocoa
farmers are slowly ceasing production. The job is so hard that itís not worth it
for them as cocoa production is barely a cost effective endeavor.
Cocoa is mostly produced in plantations in West Africa under extremely trying
conditions. Cocoa trees take five years to grow and produce beans, all while
needing constant care and attention under the murderous African sun.
As if cocoa production wasn't difficult enough, the labor to collect the beans
has to be done manually, because the trees are very tall and you need to climb
them to collect the cocoa beans. Often, children are the ones working under
these difficult conditions. While a world without chocolate would be a grim one,
considering that a good portion of todayís cocoa is produced thanks to child
slavery, perhaps it wouldnít be such a bad thing to move away from.
Itís not only cocoa farmers that have a hard life but an everyday farmer can
probably beat you in any kind of physical contest, even if you are at the prime
of your youth and he is a retired old man with white hair and no teeth left.
Farming is back-breaking labor, no matter how industrialized your farm is.
Planting crops, irrigating them, working the soil, harvesting. Itís one kind of
hard work after the other, all year round. If your crops come from trees like at
a fruit plantation, then you are forced to climb up a ladder and
take care of them individually.
Maybe your farm has more animals than trees, this still doesn't mean you will
be getting off easy. You have to constantly clean
them, feed them, clean their living space, take them out if they need exercise,
watch out for sick ones, and harvest whatever product you get out of them every
Fishermen enjoy the vastness of the sea and long days attaining all the riches
the ocean can provide. Fishing is usually done either in shallow waters or in the deep sea,
and both options are unfortunately very taxing.
Workers unload seaweed kelp from the boat to shore
For starters, managing a boat is not that easy, even if itís a small one.
Itís a constant pulling of handles, ropes and levers, then constant maintenance
to keep the deck clean. Once you do find what you're fishing for, things can get really difficult. Luckily for you, nowadays a motorized
winch can help you take care of lifting heavy nets full of fish out of the
water. What motors and nets wonít do for you is separate the catches, clean them and put them in
boxes with ice. That privilege is all yours. And all of this is usually done at
night or really early in the morning so you can get your fish back to the port
to sell it at the market place first thing in the morning.
Mining is not only one of the most physically taxing jobs in the world but it is
also one of the most dangerous. You have to stay deep underground for long
shifts that can last more than twelve hours, sometimes even days. Using heavy
machinery that requires you hold it against hard rocks while you drill is an
everyday thing, and you also have to move the ore you mine up on carts to be
transported back to the surface. Crouching when you need to fit through low
ceilings and small tunnels will definitely harm your back as well. Many coal
miners develop "black lung" from breathing in coal dust over the years. There is
always the threat of a cave-in or chemical reaction that could cause an
explosion while you are inside the mine. Medical attention wouldnít arrive any
time soon, as mines arenít located exactly in the middle of cities with easy
access to hospital and doctors.
Lumberjacks have been a symbol of manliness for many years and for good reason
as this line of work requires an insane amount of physical fortitude. Whenever you imagine a lumberjack
an image of a giant of a man with arms wider than your leg swinging an axe all
day readily comes to mind. After all, you canít be a lumberjack if you donít
have some serious physical strength as well as some insane endurance. You have
to do repetitive moments while holding heavy machinery all day cutting up
branches and the fallen trees into logs and pieces that you can lift and carry
to a skidder or forwarder (vehicles that
take away the logs).
Even if you are used to all of the above, you also have to keep in mind the
weather conditions that are going to work against you. Rain, wind, the cold and
snow are going to fight against you to make you as sick as possible for as many
days of the year as it can, too, further weakening your body and taxing your
4) Oil Rig Workers
Working at an oil rig can be just as dangerous as working in a coal mine.
You have to work all day with some of the biggest, heaviest and most dangerous
machinery known to man, in extreme conditions, and nearly every little thing
around you can cause a fatal accident. You have toxic
substances that will cause you respiratory problems and flammable
products at very high pressures that can explode at any minute. Oil rig workers
have to be very careful not to loose their footings, as a slip on one of these
death machines could very well mean certain death. To
ratchet up the stress and tension, oil rigs are often the culprit of slicks and
spills, so on top of the physical strain, there's emotional and mental strain as
As a firefighter, often your job involves hours of inactivity punctuated by
intense stress, fear, and physical exertionóall while wearing suits that can
weigh more than 35 lbs. Its like being in the military as far as gear weight
goes and also performing a job surrounded by fire. You have to pass highly demanding physical tests and
constantly keep in shape as lives truly depend on your ability to
perform. You need to be fast, strong, and have quick reflexes. The hoses and
equipment used in fire trucks are bulky and heavy, and the water pressure when
you use a hose would send any normal person flying. For this reason alone,
firefighters are required to be able to bench-press at least 200 pounds. They
also need to have perfect sight and hearing and be trained to stand against
extreme conditions, especially against high temperatures and under pressure.
Firefighters must be in excellent shape and be emotionally stable as any
moment could be a potential call where they have to be ready to respond. Long
hours and time away from family goes without saying.
There is pretty much no physical activity that a soldier canít do. Jump, run,
drive, crawl in difficult terrain, and use heavy and complicated machinery. You have to battle against all sorts of
people and obstacles meant to kill you, so you need to be on your toes and
willing to act whenever is necessary. Most people don't have the strength or
mental fortitude to become a soldier as the physical requirements to be a soldier
are extremely demanding. Many drop out of training due to physical fatigue,
psychological issues, or they begin to see that they just can't cut it.
To be a soldier, you have to be strong and flexible, fast and agile, and know
your body better than anyone. You also need to know how to administer first aid
in case of injury, and of course, you have to learn how to use weapons. Guns are often heavier
than they look, even the smaller ones especially when it comes to handling them
all day long. Your arms must hold a weapon without
shaking, and of course you also need perfect vision.
The reason astronaut is the number one job in this list is that itís such a
physically as well as mentally demanding job, that not even past experience as soldier can guarantee
a job well done as an astronaut.
You're not just moving and working as all of these other jobs require on earth,
but you're doing it in outer space which has the many physical disadvantages of
zero gravity. That automatically puts this job into a whole category of its own.
While astronauts often do come from the military, soldiers aren't always the
best candidates. Astronauts must undergo a series of intense training that puts
the human body through things it doesn't experience on Earth. Often, the people
who make the best astronauts are also scientists or engineers. Unfortunately,
neither career path is typically known for its physical prowess. Fortunately for
those who oversee space missions, every single aspect of a mission is insanely
trained for where any mess-ups can be left on the earth.
A zero-gravity environment causes many strains on the body. It affects your
heart, circulation, stomach, equilibrium, and even your bone density can suffer.
Because your body doesnít do any of the work that supporting its own weight
every day, it forces astronauts to continue working out every day even when in
space, so their muscles don't atrophy. Good astronauts also need to be really resilient against other ailments, like
space motion sickness and orthostatic intolerance. OI is the sensation of
dizziness, faintness or banishment some people feel when getting up, and that is
never fun, either on Earth or in space.
This list is not meant to make anyone feel guilty about complaining because
you have a sore back after sitting for too long, or being stressed about your
job because customers are just the worst sometimes. All jobs are tiring in their
own way, and not everybody is cut for every task. Thatís perfectly fine and you
donít need to beat yourself up over it.
However, itís a good thing to look at some of these jobs and marvel at the
people that pull through them every single day for years, because all of these
tasks, from cutting up trees to serving tables to spending time in outer space;
they are all things that need to be done by someone. And if that someone canít
be you, it has to be another person, a person that is on a whole new level when
it comes to physical strength, willpower and perseverance.
It doesnít hurt to be a bit grateful, so maybe next time you see a harried
customer service worker stacking books, remember that they are working hard to
keep their customers happy. Or leave a nice tip for your waiter when you eat
out, especially if it's on a busy night. Someoneís got to do the hard jobs, and
if you acknowledge and thank them for their efforts, they will feel stronger and
work even harder for you. That way you can feel like you are a little part of
their awesome strength, and that's always a good thing.