The very nature of a job is that you do it for money, not love. Though some people are fortunate enough to have the two things blur into one, the majority of us work mostly because we have to. But while we likely complain from time to time (read: every day) about how tough our jobs are, it’s worth remembering that there’s probably someone out there who has it worse. Each year, CareerCast.com compiles a comprehensive list of American jobs and ranks them – based on information from the Department of Labor – on factors like stress, outlook, income, and environment. The jobs that landed on the bottom for 2014 might surprise you.
These are jobs that tend to be pretty crucial to society. And yet, thanks to their high stress and relatively low pay, they’re some of the least desirable. As a side note, these aren’t jobs ranked by how disgusting they are, though that surely constitutes its own list filled with abattoir workers, sewage tank repairmen, and those unfortunate folks who clean up everything from porta-potties to hospitals to crime scenes; instead these are common careers which make the list due to how dangerous or stressful they are coupled with their comparatively low pay rates.
Without further do, 8 of the worst jobs in America.
Imaging being out in a forest all day, freezing cold, pouring rain or blazing sun, the constant deafening roar of a chainsaw filling your ears, having to dodge falling branches or – worse – the potential of being crushed to death by a huge, heavy tree trunk. If you actually think about what a lumberjack has to do on a daily basis, you start to grasp that it wouldn’t be a very nice way to spend your life, day in and day out, due to the danger, the physical demand, the stress and the working conditions. Not to mention the low pay, which doesn’t do much to make up for the hard work: the median annual salary for an American lumberjack is $24,340.
2. Taxi Driver
Drunk people vomiting on your seats. Angry customers threatening violence. Having to sit in traffic literally all day, something most of us can barely stand to do for ten minutes. Taxi drivers don’t get a lot of sympathy from the general public, and perhaps that’s part of the problem: they tend to be viewed as hapless immigrants or anonymous robots there to serve, rather than as real human beings doing a job. At a low median salary of $22,820, taxi driving really in a rather thankless job. Still, expect there to be room for more cabbies in the future: the job is anticipated to grow by 16 percent by 2022.
3. Head Cook
If too many episodes of Master Chef have given you big dreams of running your own fancy kitchen, maybe you should reconsider. The hospitality industry is notorious for being difficult in practically ever way. There’s the extreme high stress, the ridiculously long hours and late nights, the fact you’re rushing around a small space filled with hazardous objects like sharp knives, scolding hot oil, fire and, well, onions. Then there are all those stories you hear about the stressful environment causing Gordon Ramsay-esque levels of rage – seems working in a kitchen turns almost everyone into a stressed-out, angry monster that dishes out expletives faster than they dish out hors d’oeuvres. The median annual salary is relatively good, at $42,480; but not good enough to completely cancel out all the stresses of the job.
4. Flight Attendant
What ever happened to the Golden Age of air travel? Those days when being a flight attendance was the most glamorous, most coveted job out there? Back then, luxury ruled the skies. Air hostesses were like supermodels, fitted with gleaming white smiles and perfect ’60s hairstyles, tall frames and cute outfits. Those avian goddesses were, or so we suppose, ceaselessly cheerful and charming, and well respected by travellers, too. These days things are a little different. Flight attendants have to deal with difficult customers who make wild demands, fail to pay attention to safety messages, and still haven’t switched off their device despite being told six times now. They have to deal with the exhaustion of strange hours, timezone shifts, and constant travel (which has lost the lustre it used to have – now it’s just kind of a pain). Thanks to the level of stress, the low pay (with a median salary of $37,240) and declining job market, flight attendants end up on the worst jobs list.
5. Garbage Collector
Yes, it was always going to end up here. Those poor guys who are lumped with a bad job and an even worse reputation. They hang out with trash all day, literally, and come home smelling like garbage, also literally. Perhaps one of the worst parts is that the job has never lost the stigma that’s always been attached to it: there’s nothing nice about the looks you get when someone asks what you do for a living, and you’re forced to reply, “I’m a garbage collector.” The work environment is unpleasant, the job carries little satisfaction, and the pay is paltry at a $22,970 median salary per year. It’s no great wonder the job of collecting waste lands on the list.
When they’re not posing for hot shirtless calendar pics, firefighters spend a bit of time doing some pretty dangerous stuff. Well ok – it’s what they do most of the time. Many firefighters have a high level of job satisfaction because their work is so needed, and they’re happy to have such a positive impact on society and the lives of the individuals they help. Still, despite the nobility of those involved, the job itself isn’t exactly easy or safe. Firefighters must be in peak physical condition to be able to carry grown men and women from danger. They have to deal with heights, hazardous materials, and of course, burning buildings. It’s a stressful job for them and their families, who pray for them to come home safely at the end of each working day; and while their median salary of $45,250 isn’t bad, it doesn’t quite reflect the importance of the work they do, either.
7. Corrections Officer
You know you’re in an intense job if you have to harden yourself up to maximum toughness before you leave the house each morning. That’s what corrections officers have to do, since dealing with the most dangerous, hardened criminals all day means you can’t show any signs of weakness or diminished authority. Their work environment isn’t exactly the nicest one, and they’re faced with a high level of danger courtesy of the people they deal with on a daily basis. The median salary for being on constant alert, spending your day inside a locked-down building filled with dangerous individuals? $38,970 per year. At only 5 percent projected growth by 2022, the career also fails to offer all that much job security.
8. Newspaper Reporter
Seems Lois Lane’s job no longer holds the glamour it once did. Jobs in the print newspaper field are dwindling thanks to the rise of online, meaning the job market is tough for traditional print journalists. Newspaper reporters have to take what they can get, which often means pay and conditions aren’t the best. While it may not seem like the worst job, being a newspaper reporter can – depending on the publication and topic area – mean getting sent around to risky or dangerous scenes. It can also mean late nights meeting deadlines under high stress and pressure. And the median annual salary of $37,090 isn’t exactly the most plush going. Projections for the newspaper reporter job market predict it will shrink by 13 percent by 2022.