How bad is a job if it qualifies as one of the careers with the most miserable workers in the country? Most people aren’t fortunate enough to work their dream job, but the average career is usually a potpourri of good, fair, mildly irritating, bad . . . and just a few times when you really just want to choke the life out of a boss or coworker.
But of the hundreds and hundreds of different jobs, how on earth do you get enough workers to agree that “these” are the most miserable jobs? After all, Americans can’t agree on whether A-Rod should be suspended, Tony Romo should be cut, or Coke tastes better than Pepsi. So a job that may appeal to one person may be a total turn-off to the next individual.
You may think that the most miserable workers probably have the most dangerous jobs. For example, loggers – who have to dodge falling trees and out-of-control chainsaws, have the highest fatality rate. Fishermen have the second highest fatality rate, and if you’ve ever seen “The Perfect Storm,” you understand why. However, neither one of these jobs made the list.
Well, what about salary? Surely, the lowest-paying jobs would have the most miserable workers? Actually, two of the jobs on the unhappiest list pay poorly, but none of the very lowest-paying occupations are reflected in the results. Now this doesn’t necessarily mean that workers with low pay are particularly happy. However, it proves that salary is just one factor in determining job satisfaction.
To compile the list of the unhappiest workers in America, CareerBliss analyzed 65,000 company reviews that were submitted by employees. The workers were asked to rate several factors, including daily tasks, amount of control over work, compensation, relationships with bosses and coworkers, work environment, compensation, job resources, company culture, company reputation, and growth opportunities Each feature was assigned a number from 1 to 5, with 1 being terrible and 5 being excellent. The happiest workers had scores there were either above or around 4. The unhappiest workers scored their jobs as follows.
6 Marketing Coordinator - Happiness Factor: 3.31
Marketing coordinators earn an average annual salary of $44,000. However, CareerBliss notes that they usually need a bachelor’s degree, and sometimes an MBA is preferred. That’s not a lot of money for an MBA, especially since marketing coordinators usually report to marketing managers . . . who earn an average annual salary of $71,000 for the same bachelor’s degree in marketing.
In fact, CareerBliss doesn’t even state that marketing managers need an MBA to improve their chances of employment. In addition, the marketing manager oversees the department, but the marketing coordinator handles all of the minute details, often serving a dual role functioning as a member of the marketing department while also performing many secretarial duties. It’s not hard to see how this arrangement could prove less than satisfactory to many marketing coordinators.
5 Teacher – Happiness Score: 3.22
The average teacher earns an unimpressive $39,000 a year, according to CareerBliss salary data. And a MetLife Survey of the American Teacher reveals that job satisfaction has reached a 25-year low. In fact, there’s a lot of vertical movement in the teaching profession. For example, stress levels are going up, budgets are going through the floor, and opportunities for professional development and collaborating with other teachers are all way, way down. In addition, teachers don’t feel that the new core standards will adequately prepare students to succeed in college or in the workforce. As a result, teachers don’t have a lot to cheer about.
4 Registered Nurse – Happiness Score: 3.22
Registered nurses earn $60,000 a year; however, the nursing shortage seems to be taking a toll on these Florence Nightingales. A survey of nurses conducted by a healthcare management organization reveals that 33 percent of them are not happy with their jobs and are planning to either leave the profession entirely or accept other types of nursing jobs that limit their interactions with patients.
Also, almost 50 percent of the RNs said that their job negatively affects their personal health, and 64 percent said they would not recommend nursing to young people considering a career path. Interestingly, the RNs said they loved nursing as a profession, but other factors, such as not having enough qualified help, feelings of being disrespected, and having too many patients, all contribute to their overall dissatisfaction.
3 Clerk – Happiness Score: 3.18
For $27,000 a year, clerks are sometimes subjected to the same type of stress and abuse as customer service associates, especially mail clerks, and municipal and license clerks. Hotel and motel clerks, stock clerks, counter and rental clerks, and shipping and receiving clerks are also in this category, in addition to information clerks, file clerks, office clerks, and billing and rate clerks.
These employees must cheerfully provide excellent service, while quickly resolving discrepancies. They’re also expected to maintain a zero error rate while rapidly processing large amounts of administrative applications, various forms and other types of documents. And this entire process is made much more difficult by customers who never bring the documentation necessary to process their requests, but refuse to relinquish their space at the counter.
2 Customer Service Associate – Happiness Score: 3.16
Customer service associates earn an annual wage of $26,000, and barely missed making the list of the lowest-paid occupations. Customer service associates are subjected to above-average stress levels and below-average opportunities for upward mobility. Since “the customer is always right,” these associates have to remain pleasant, professional, and patient with consumers who may call or show up in person to complain about skyrocketing cable bills, dropped phone calls, service workers who never arrived for an appointment, and a variety of other issues.
In addition, some companies require customer service associates to aggressively pitch additional products or services while talking to these irate customers. Good luck with that.
1 Associate Attorney – Happiness Score: 2.89
According to CareerBliss, associate attorneys are the unhappiest workers in America. With an annual wage of $111,000, they earn one of the highest salaries in the country, but apparently wealth is relative. According to an article in the Washington Post, many associates are unhappy, because although they’re making more money for their firms, they’re not seeing the fruits of their labor.
For example, in 2009, associates at large law firms were making as much as $160,000 a year, whereas they’re now in the $130,000 to $145,000 range. These attorneys feel that they’re getting paid less money to do more work. Also, some associates are concerned that their jobs may be downsized. And all of these factors combine to produce some very unhappy legal eagles.