Careers on the Way Out
"My job is the WORST!"
How many times have you or your friends said that? Usually it's uttered in a moment of frustration or annoyance when everything seems to be going wrong at work. But for the employees who work in the fields included on this list, it very well might be the truth.
The website CareerCast.com recently published it's list of the Worst Jobs of 2013. They analyzed several hundred jobs and categorized them by four "core criteria" with which almost every job deals -- environment, income, outlook, and stress. Using data from the US Census and the Bureau of Labor Statistics to name a few, they came up with a scoring system that narrowed down the "worst" jobs of this year. So if you've been thoroughly unhappy at work and you spy your job on this list, maybe it's time to start looking around for greener pastures.
9. Flight Attendant
MEDIAN ANNUAL SALARY: $65,599
Although it used to be an extremely sought after and glamorous job in which you're whisked to different locales on a daily basis, being a flight attendant seems to have lost some of its luster.
The airline industry in general changed drastically after Sept. 11, 2001. People became more hesitant to fly, and the people who continued to fly were subject to much more intrusive and extensive security measures, which made airports and airplanes a nuisance for many. Several airlines went bankrupt and most of the others slashed personnel in the face of declining revenue. That led to flight attendants having to deal with passenger fallout from increased fees for food, baggage and other amenities that used to be free.
Add to all of that a fairly high burnout rate and it's no wonder this stressful job landed in the top 10.
MEDIAN ANNUAL SALARY: $32,097
Miserable conditions that are fraught with disaster? Welcome to roofing.
Until you've been up on a searing hot roof for 11 hours a day breaking your back all the while trying not to go over the edge (literally and figuratively), you probably can't understand why this job makes the list. But throw in the relatively low pay for the amount of hard work you put in, you start to get the picture. And that's not even taking into account the recession and the construction industry coming to a screeching halt several years ago, which has not fully recovered.
7. Mail Clerk
MEDIAN ANNUAL SALARY: $26,791
We're stretching a bit here as CareerCast technically named "Mail Carrier" on their list of worst jobs, but since we don't have postal carrier in our database, we're going with mail clerk because the story is essentially the same.
Mail clerks collect incoming mail and disseminate it accordingly throughout an office, as well as gather all the outgoing mail, put the proper postage on it, and then make sure it gets sent out. The only problem is mail ain't what it used to be. Living in the age of technology means "snail mail" and paper hard copies in general are about as useful and relevant as encyclopedias and rotary phones, because everything is done by email and text.
Think about it, when's the last time you handed in a written report instead of a PowerPoint? There's no need to send a letter when you can FaceTime or Skype, and Facebook wall posts with "happy birthday" messages have replaced greeting cards.
6. Meter Reader
MEDIAN ANNUAL SALARY: $26,824
Another victim of technology.
In days gone by you might've been home during the day and seen someone walking up to your house. No need to be startled, it's just the "Meter Man." Employees who periodically drop by your house to check water, gas, and electric meters on the outside of your home for billing purposes, and to ensure it hasn't been tampered with just so you could save on your bill.
But unfortunately for the friendly face traipsing through your yard, he/she is quickly becoming unnecessary. Thanks to automated and wireless technology, your meter can now be read by machines. Companies like that because it's faster and cheaper than paying someone to do it manually. But even if you haven't been replaced yet, you still face inclement weather and a lot of walking around to get all the readings -- all for relatively low pay.
5. Oil Rig Worker
MEDIAN ANNUAL SALARY: $48,581
Forget the dangerous conditions, hazardous materials, and accident prone nature of working on an oil rig. If those aren't the downfall of derrickmen, societal changes might be.
Although the world still relies on oil to a large extent, the buzzword lately is "green." Everything has turned to energy efficient as things like solar power and wind energy have become popular and viable sources of alternative energy. The focus on sustainable energy sources might be the start of a severe downward spiral for oil rig workers, who already work 14-21 consecutive days in remote areas far from home.
MEDIAN ANNUAL SALARY: $51,132
Lights, camera, not a lot of action.
Considering many people believe the word "starving" should precede "actor" in most job descriptions, this is one career that is extraordinarily trying.
Sure, big-time actors make more money in a year than most of us will see in a lifetime. But they're the exceptions. Most actors have to work multiple jobs just to keep auditioning and hoping for that one big break. The competition for even the smallest of parts is fierce, and a career in acting is the antithesis of steady work. For every Leonardo DiCaprio and Julia Roberts, there are 1,000 despondent Hollywood hopefuls that never made it.
3. Enlisted Military Personnel
E2 - ARMY PRIVATE
MEDIAN ANNUAL SALARY: $17,987
This one is pretty self-explanatory.
We want to be very clear -- this isn't a knock on the brave men and women who serve in the US Armed Forces. They work very hard and their efforts are invaluable in supporting our very way of life, so placement on this list in no way means this isn't a worthy occupation. And yes, the military will pay for college and you could make an argument enlisted soldiers get to travel.
But they're traveling into war zones and combat. Whether it's the desert in Iraq or the mountainous terrain in Afghanistan, this is a job that not only risks the lives of employees -- it is a job requirement. If need be, military personnel literally die for one another and for all of us. That's why it ranked #1 in stress on the list. But it's also worth noting that as the US pulls slowly pulls troops out of current war zones, demand for active duty soldiers will decrease.
MEDIAN ANNUAL SALARY: $33,989
It's not just environmentalists who think loggers have one of the worst jobs.
Remote work locations, working with heavy machinery, trudging through potentially horrendous weather -- you name the bad condition and loggers face it. Throw in hazardous working conditions that up the potential for injury and slower than average projected job growth, and that's why logger lands at #2 on this year's list.
1. Newspaper Reporter
MEDIAN ANNUAL SALARY: $37,638
Why does the Fourth Estate top the list and manage to beat out those in war zones for the worst job? Lots of reasons.
First of all, journalism is a noble profession. Providing the public with information and keeping elected officials honest is vital, and even though it's popular to "blame the media," think about where you'd be without the information they provide.
But a number of factors are working against print news. First of all, newspapers haven't figured out a good way to make money in the Internet age. They're experimenting with pay walls and charging for online stories, but it's a work in progress. Also, most papers were slow in adapting to the changing needs of their readers as everyone went digital. That led to a huge loss in advertising revenue, massive layoffs, and even newspapers closing up shop. But just because there is less money to pay reporters, the news hole still has to be filled. Which means most papers can no longer devote resources to long-term, investigative reporting as they struggle to fill pages with fewer people.
And finally, most readers don't bother distinguishing between real journalists and people on Twitter and Reddit tossing around theories. The good news is more people than ever are consuming news, but until newspapers can successfully monetize their product and convince people to pay for content delivered by trained professionals, the doom and gloom surrounding journalism is here to stay.
Salary.com Can Help You
Whether you've got one of the best jobs or the worst on this list, you'll want a fair salary. And Salary.com can help.
The first thing you should do is research, so you're able to come to the table armed with the knowledge of what your job is worth. Use our free Salary Wizard below to find out what's a fair salary for your position. You can enter your location, education level, years of experience and more to find out an appropriate salary range before you negotiate.
How much are you worth?
- Search US Salaries
- Search Canadian Salaries
- Browse Job Openings