High stress, high physical demands, and a tough or dangerous work environment, according to CareerCast. Several of the worst jobs in America involve working “in physically demanding, precarious, low-paying professions with a weak hiring outlook,” said Tony Lee, publisher of CareerCast’s Jobs Rated Report. While many college graduates remain unemployed, causing many to question the value of a college degree, the value is reflected in the lists: Nearly all
The news business has always been high stress for comparatively low pay, which makes it a shoe-in for the “worst” list. Add to that the changing digital times and you’ve got your No. 10 worst job — broadcaster, which refers specifically to on-air talent for radio and TV, not the production team. (Though I think we can all agree, the production team doesn’t exactly have it easy, either!) The broadcast industry has gone through a lot of shrinkage as much of the news is moving to digital formats including online or mobile, which has shrunk demand for broadcasters as well as salaries and compensation. Many radio and TV stations are relying heavily on young talent and interns (i.e., lower pay) as opposed to experienced broadcasters. “You get new college graduates that will do anything to work in the industry,” said Tony Lee, publisher of CareerCast’s 2012 Jobs Rated Report. “We get a lot of anecdotal information that there are year-round interns who never leave,” he said. “They’re essentially working for minimum wage, replacing experienced broadcasters.”
Independent butchers are a dying breed. What’s happening in the industry is that all of the butchering for big supermarket chains is being centralized, Lee said. That has automatically reduced the need for the number of butchers. It’s also made meat cheaper at the grocery store than at independent butcher shops, which, during the recession, was a killer for independent butchers. “If people can buy beef at the supermarket for less, there was no need to go visit a butcher,” Lee said. “It’s not a strong profession.”
Not only were people looking for meat on the cheap during the recession but they were going out to eat a lot less, which was a killer for restaurants and anyone working in them, from the dishwashers in the back to the greeters, servers and busboys in the front. Dishwasher was always a contender for the worst list, with low pay and tough working conditions. Add to that the fact a lot of dishwashing has become automated and the job outlook for dishwashers is bleak, as well.
7. Meter Reader
This refers to the men and women who read the meters for utility companies including gas and electric, another dying profession as more companies move to automate meter reading. So even though the average pay for meter readers rose 3 percent in the past year, the job outlook landed it solidly on the 2012 “worst jobs” list. “This is one of those jobs that quite possibly in five to 10 years won’t be around anymore,” Lee said. “The need for meter readers is evaporating.” Some energy companies, for example, have automated their meter-reading process and let everyone who worked in that department go, Lee explained.
The pay and job security have always been bad for waiters and waitresses. Once you reach a certain pay level, restaurants don’t necessarily want to keep giving you raises. They’re rather hire someone new for a lower hourly wage. Add to that the direct hit the food-service industry took during the recession when many people cut back on going out to eat, and waitstaff lands firmly on the “worst” list. “The competition is terrible. The physical demands are terrible. The pay is terrible,” Lee said. Plus, the outlook is terrible. “It’s difficult for waiters and waitresses to maintain jobs for a long time,” he said.
5. Newspaper Reporter
Newspaper reporter has always been a high-stress, low-pay job, but add to that the explosion of online and mobile news and newspaper reporters make a hard landing on the “worst” list. “The newspaper industry is going through a full retrenchment. There are mergers, bankruptcies and layoffs everywhere,” Lee said. “Point to a newspaper that hasn’t had layoffs – not in this country!” he said. With the move to digital, the pressures have mounted on newspaper reporters. “They are now required to tweet and do video as well as write articles,” Lee said. “They’re asked to do much more for less — and the pay is not good. “
4. Oil Rig Worker
You might be surprised to find any job in the booming oil industry on a “worst” list but these guys are the entry-level spot on the oil totem pole. Their jobs are dangerous: working on oil rigs, often far away from home or offshore, in bad weather and dangerous working conditions. And they don’t share in the wealth of the industry because they are typically paid very low. “It’s clearly the most dangerous job in the industry,” Lee said. “The fatality rate is very high.” One bright spot is this category climbed up three notches on the list, after being the absolute worst job in America for two years running. “With the surge in the energy industry, the hiring outlook improved enough to nudge them higher,” Lee explained.
3. Enlisted Military Personnel
Enlisted military personnel is new to the list but not because it suddenly became a tough job. It was hard to get solid data on the profession, according to CareerCast. “It’s incredibly dangerous. You’re on the front lines and you’re responsible for others. The stress level is extremely high,” Lee said. Plus, the hiring outlook is now weaker than it was at the peak of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “It’s dangerous and doesn’t pay well but many people thought, ‘Well, at least it’s a career where I can retire young,’” Lee said. “Now, you can’t even guarantee that you’ll maintain your job, nevermind retire from it,” Lee said.
2. Dairy Farmer
Dairy farmers weren’t in the 10 worst last year so they not only shot into the bottom 10 but they debuted at No. 2. First, it’s a low-paying job. Second, it’s very dangerous working with large animals such as cows. “Moving the animals, [farmers] could get their feet crushed,” Lee explained. “And there are more fatalities in dairy farming than ever before.” Plus, the working conditions are tough — not only the obvious manure issue (though talk to a dairy farmer and he’ll tell you he doesn’t even smell it anymore) but also the fact that you have to get out there whether it’s 10 degrees or 100 degrees. And the job outlook is tough: Dairy farming is increasingly becoming a corporate business, which is squeezing the little guys, Lee said.
Lumberjack has always been one of the worst jobs — like dairy farmers, you’re working outside whatever the weather, in dangerous conditions, with low pay in an industry that took a huge hit during the recession (hello housing bust) and is increasingly being automated. That being said, you’ll find a lot of lumberjacks who say they do it for their love of the outdoors and that they take great pride in their work. “I talked to one lumberjack who said, ‘I love my job! I’m outdoors,’” Lee explained. “I said, ‘But isn’t it dangerous?’ He replied: ‘Oh sure, I’ve broken my leg twice, my collar bone and lost my pinky finger. But it’s no big deal. Just part of the job,’” Lee said. “How many of us would give up our pinky finger for our job?” Lee quipped.