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The Most Stressful Jobs of 2012

NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- If the goal of life is indeed the pursuit of happiness, we should all strive to avoid the causes of anxiety in our daily lives. While stress can and does come at us from a number of angles, most people probably point to their jobs as the primary source of stress, since the struggle to be financially comfortable and day-to-day reality of some jobs mean we spend the majority of our days on edge.

Some people (psychologists?) may be drawn to life's dirty drama, but for the rest of us who prefer to avoid stress, job Web site CareerCast crunched the numbers on 11 metrics to determine which jobs came with the most inherent anxiety for the average employee.

In terms of stress levels, it's surprising how some desk jobs stack up.

Using CareerCast's stress scores (see the methodology here), we took a look at the top 10 and what makes them so stressful:

10. Taxi Driver
Stress score: 46.25
Average income: $22,440
Anyone behind the wheel of a car in a traffic jam knows driving can be stressful. So driving for a living must be extraordinarily stressful -- passengers in a rush will blame the driver for traffic, and just a little bit of reckless driving can cause severe bodily harm to anyone inside the vehicle. Drivers must be alert, so a 12-hour driving shift must be quite taxing mentally. Add that to the taxi driver's low average income (a hair more than the $22,113 poverty line for a family of four in the U.S.) and it's no surprise the job ranks as the 10th-most stressful.

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9. Photojournalist
Stress score: 47.09
Average income: $40,000
Photojournalists catalog history from the front lines, a reality that frequently puts them squarely in harm's way. Their work is invaluable though -- Tim Hetherington, a British photojournalist who was killed covering the war in Libya last year, produced an Oscar-nominated documentary, Restrepo, about a group of soldiers at war in Afghanistan in 2010.

8. Corporate executive
Stress score: 47.41
Average income: $165,830
Most people probably won't shed too many tears over the stressful life of a corporate executive, a job that comes with significant financial rewards despite the anxiety it causes. It's said money can't buy happiness though, and that seems to be true of the corporate executive, who must balance the needs of investors with the needs of the customer while keeping costs as low as possible throughout.

7. Public relations executive
Stress score: 47.56
Average income: $91,810
Public relations executives have a very clear mission at work, which is to make their clients look good, but the media scrutiny that seems to intensify every year means many are on permanent damage control. And that is stressful. Just imagine being the PR representative of any presidential candidate during primary season or any financial firm during the ongoing Occupy movement and think how you would put a good face on the latest round of corporate bonuses.

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