Take this job and shove it!
At some point we all want to say this, but in some professions more warranted than others. The fact is there are a lot of jobs that are flat out not worth the money.
Before we get to the list, there are a couple of “dishonorable” mentions we should point out. First, Administrative Assistant – for a select few the pay is good and there is growth, but this is the exception; for most this is a high-stress position responding to the demands of others. Also, any type of restaurant server or waiter. Quick tips may sound nice, but that may be your primary source of income because employers typically pay minimum wage or worse. On top of the poor pay, you can expect non-stop complaints and looking for work often – 70% of restaurants close with their first year of opening.
Some of the jobs listed are highly sought, while others take years of education and learning. None of them are worth the pay in the end. I remember a time when going to medical or law school was no doubt the right move. Now, not so much, or at least you need to choose the field you practice very carefully. Okay, here we go, from government positions to Wall Street to even writers (can you believe it?)… Here are 15 jobs you should avoid because the pay simple doesn’t add up.
There was a time not so long ago when being a writer for the New York Times, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune or a major newspaper was a badge of honor. Oh, how times have changed with the Internet. The whole way we receive our news has changed, leaving the “dailies” in the dust and looking like dinosaurs. Most big-time scribes have been laid off or have moved to the digital platform.
The forum CareerCast put this job in perspective, ranking it dead last (200th) in their list of top future careers. To make matters worse, the Internet provides an opportunity for writers of all flavors, leaving fewer jobs for the traditional writers to transition into. For the few that still keep their newspaper “beat,” the stress hasn’t changed and the insane deadlines are constant. Given the environment as well as the drop in readership, salaries for journalists have dropped drastically, leaving journalists with their pens in their hands and little else to show for it.
14. Taxi Driver
Driving a cab has never been “the greatest job,” but it provided an opportunity for many to make a living. You work long hours, have to deal with many types of people and sometimes the conditions are not safe; however, it has always been an honest living. There is often a love and hate relationship with taxis and their drivers, but they were an alternative. Now, there are other options and that hurts taxi drivers.
Ever since the arrival of Uber, Lyft and other car services, taxis have felt the impact financially. It hits them in two ways, first, more options which is always bad for a service provider and secondly, these new car services can utilize the latest technology without costly upgrades. What this all means is that taxi drivers that used to scrape away to earn $30,000 to $40,000 a year are now struggling. To make matters worse, they have to often jump through hoops to be certified more than the new services. As you probably guessed, there is a cost associated with that as well.
So this is one of those careers you really should know what you are getting into. A Gastroenterologist is a doctor that works with all areas of the digestive system. These doctors are elbow deep into stomachs, intestines, livers and all those really “messy” areas. To diagnose specific problems can be tricky and the treatment is often very unpleasant for their patients.
Given the vital organs these doctors deal with their patients often face life threatening issues that creates a lot of stress for the Gastroenterologist. This is multiplied given the other areas of the body and even environment that can greatly impact a diagnosis. Making assumptions or going down a wrong path of treatment could hurt the patient more and that’s a lot of weight on one person’s shoulders. The pay is average in the world of doctors ($150,000), but the stress and difficulty is much higher than average. You really need to have a “calling” to go into this area, and if not, it may be wiser to stick with primary care of another area of the body.
12. Mail Carrier
Another case of out with the old and in with the new, fact is, a lot of people question if we even need traditional mail anymore and that’s bad news for the U.S. Postal Service and their carriers who once earned a good salary and future putting in long and hard day of work. Once a noble profession, mail carriers have become somewhat of a joke, being replaced with email and even in some cases drones to do their job. I mean, what percentage of “junk mail” was your mail versus now? I bet it’s much higher, with less useful documents actually arriving in a traditional mailbox.
Unfortunately for mail carriers, they still work in all weather conditions and their routes are getting longer and longer due to cost cutting. Being a mail carrier always had its drawbacks, but it also had security, now that is gone as the U.S. Postal Service is in a constant flux of downsizing, reducing their head count and carriers that deliver mail.
11. Stock Broker
Hollywood has showed us the ups, downs and perils that come with being a stock broker on Wall Street. It’s easy to get caught up in the potential, especially when you are playing with someone else’s money. For the greedy, time usually catches up with you. The long-term players are consistent and patient and even they have to deal with unhappy customers whenever an unpredictable economy takes a downturn.
It may be surprising, but many stock brokers don’t make a lot of money. Yes, some do make hundreds of thousands with bonuses in the seven figures, but these brokers are far and few between. The average salary is about $72,000 and that’s after a few years of getting coffee and learning the ropes. For every Gordon Gekko, there are tens of thousands of brokers hustling to make rent. The job is high stress and always volatile as financial companies are very quick to fire and find someone who delivers. Factor in the SEC and new government controls, and this job just got a lot harder. Hollywood doesn’t really show that side, and for good reason – it’s not really that glamourous.
10. Divorce Attorney
The money isn’t bad, with the median at $130,000 a year and much higher for senior lawyers in big firms, but the work takes a toll. Given all the areas someone with a law degree could pursue, going into divorce law should really be a last resort. A good divorce attorney can help, but many can’t afford one and there are laws in place to ensure settlements are fair (provided no prenuptial agreements in place).
Divorce itself isn’t a good experience for anyone involved and that includes the lawyer who often has to settle fights between two angry parties. When it’s personal, such as divorce, no one is rational and cooperation is tossed out the window. Difficult cases often end up in front of judge whose ruling never satisfies the client, leaving them angry with their lawyer despite the time put in to fight their cause. The biggest issue with being a divorce attorney is the mental toll it takes on personal relationships and how it impacts their personal lives (mostly negatively).
9. Commercial Airline Pilot
There was a time when being an airline pilot was a very lucrative job with captains bringing in $300,000 a year. Now, it’s much closer to $100,000 due to an industry in flux that continues in a downward spiral. It goes without saying, the job is strenuous, with the lives of hundreds at stake should the pilot make a mistake – that doesn’t seem like a job salary should be cut, but that’s the airline industry today.
In addition to the stress of the passengers on board, the pilot has to deal with scheduling issues (some which are random), route changes and long layovers. Of course, the worst part of any job is what you can’t control and that is weather for an airline pilot. For a pilot, bad weather can change your whole week, moving your schedule and having an impact on your personal life. For any of us that have flown, this seems to happen often. Not to mention how about bad weather still deemed “flyable?” This puts added stress on a pilot having to navigate storms, high wind or icy conditions.
8. Coal Mine Worker
We know being a coal miner is hard, dangerous work. It is also a type of work that someone without much education can get and make a good living on. On the average, a coal mine worker will make $65,000 a year. That’s good change for someone that didn’t have the means or want to go to college. The work though, is constantly dangerous. Mining tragedies appear to be happening more and more as the workers are forced to go deeper and deeper to extract the coal.
The implosions, collapses and traps are only half the danger. Being a coal miner means spending a lot of time underground, doing manual work and breathing in a lot of materials that often lead to a shorter life. Something to consider when looking at that 65K salary; there may be price for health and longevity, but I don’t believe this is the number for most.
7. Long Haul Trucker
How would you like to drive 11 hours a day, sleep 3 hours and then drive another 11 and then repeat? Sounds almost impossible, right? Well, think about this, the 3 hours is actually a regulation that was added not too long ago. That’s how difficult a deadline is for a trucker – they would drive without any sleep to make their destination. At an average salary of $38,000 a year, this is a job that is clearly not worth it.
With the work being hard enough and having to worry about “staying awake” you would think that’s enough, but there is more. Truckers have to deal with many uncontrollable items including the weather, accidents, and construction. Oh my God, can you imagine the construction and how it impacts? We live in a time when every road is under construction every day (or at least seems this way). Having to drive through this everyday would be my number one deal breaker.
6. Corrections Officer
Entering the field of sociology usually has the best of intentions such as making society a better place and helping humanity. The most challenging of these areas is the position of corrections officer. Working in jails and prisons brings some obvious issues with the people you are supporting, mostly criminals that may or may not want rehabilitation. For just under an average salary of $40,000 most correction officers would probably wish they too were on the outside looking in.
Being a corrections officer means having the ability to relate, reason and react when a situation occurs. All of these skills take time and the pay off financially doesn’t justify what the good ones are able to achieve. With few opportunities for career advancement your best bet is to try and move in social worker or an area where although still stressful, the environment is more conducive to having a normal personal life.
5. Event Planner
Working in hospitality is an exciting job a lot of people aspire to get into. A few are very successful, but most have difficulty finding work and when they do find the stress does not equal the monetary reward. As an event planner you can expect on average to make $55,000 a year. That’s an average with much lower as well as higher opportunities (for the select few).
Event planners typically have degrees and debt so trying to find work and then working under major stress trying to “make it happen” is trying. The hours are very long and there are always last minute fires that must be put out by the event planner – it’s their responsibility after all! A good plan would be to shoot for a job in the luxury market because trying to build a business with small event from the ground up is a recipe for years of hard work with little to show for it.
Everyone wants to be healthy and nutritionists often spend years in school learning about how to properly keep the body operating at an optimal level. You would hope that would pay off, but guess what, it doesn’t. An average annual salary for a nutritionist is around $56,000. That’s much lower than primary physicians and even nurses for that matter.
Health care in general is an area on the rise related to job growth, but nutritionists have an uphill battle. For starters, their job overlaps that of other doctors (primary physicians is one example) and there are many options and alternatives to classically trained nutritionist on the market. There is also the notion that people think they know best, which although isn’t usually the case, makes it difficult at times to bring in new business. Studying nutrition is a good thing, but as a career it’s wise to also look into other areas of medicine and combine that training with that of nutrition.
Raking in around $45,000 a year isn’t bad for many, but I challenge you to find a job that’s messier than this one. An embalmer takes a deceased body and prepares it for a funeral. This entails draining the blood and adding an embalming fluid that preserves the body, and also allows the embalmer to shape and make the body more lifelike.
So there’s the work itself which is time consuming, very hard and well, messy; however, the real difficulty is the fact that this body will be the lasting image for family members. When people die, especially of old age or disease their body takes a toll at the end, but the family members want to remember that person before they were sick. How do you do this? It’s really an impossible task and you could definitely make the case that an embalmer is doing God’s work. Yeah, I don’t know what the value is, but it’s definitely a lot more than 45K, that’s for sure.
2. Hostage Negotiator
Being a hostage negotiator is definitely and exciting job to have and takes a very specific skill set to be good at it. That’s why it’s very surprising to me that you can expect on average to make only 60,000 a year doing this job. Typically lives are on the line and you need to think quick – your job is saving lives on the spot, without medical history or a team to bounce your ideas off of.
When called to action, this job is the highest of stress tests one could have. You are dealing with irrational people who often want unrealistic actions and it’s your job to change their mind, negotiating a solution. You need to be able to read people immediately and find a common ground, not easy when dealing with the unstable or desperate. Oh, and this may be obvious, but you really don’t have time off because no one knows when they will be called into action. This can be especially stressful for families as well those that stay in this career for any length of time.
So, let’s start with the cash! It’s good, surgeons make on average just below 300K a year. However, there are a lot of factors to consider whether making this kind of dough is really worth it. Being a surgeon is one of the most stressful jobs of all time. In most operations you hold your patients life in your hands. Even small, routine surgery could lead to infection and then watch out, because you can expect a lawsuit.
Surgeons work long hours, most up to 80 hours a week at some point in their career. That means you have zero time for any personal or family time. That’s a big cost to consider. Factor in the patients stress, the hostile family members and overworked staff that not only don’t assist much, sometimes question your judgment and you have a lot on your plate. Oh, and let’s talk about lawsuits again. Essentially surgeons have zero room for error because the slightest mistake or mishap is how many lawyers make their living, ready to pounce on anything questionable. Think about the impact over years on the job, for many, it’s not pretty and takes a toll on their mental and physical health.