Sometimes when you’re stuck at work, watching the minutes tick by, bored out of your mind, you may be asking yourself if you’ve somehow landed the worst job in the U.S.
But… have you? What even is the worst job in America? What are the parameters? Of course, there are subjective needs and wants. Different things make different people happy, so what I would consider a horrible job could be somebody else’s dream job, as the saying goes ‘one man’s junk is another man’s treasure’.
So, let’s try to look at this objectively! Using statistics and data from CareerCast, 24/7 Wall St. made a comprehensive list. Where do you think these jobs fall on the spectrum of employee satisfaction?
Let’s break it down together! From public scrutiny, dangerous tasks, and high levels of stress, here are the 12 worst jobs in America.
Firefighters risk their lives to protect us in case of emergencies. It’s no surprise that this particular job is ranked as the most dangerous and difficult job in the U.S.
As wildfires are becoming more frequent, this means they have to put up with those on top of saving people from burning buildings. Now, imagine doing that for 24 hours straight- that’s because their schedules aren’t even remotely similar to what most people working in office environments are used to.
In most cases, they’re typically on call for 24 hours, so they only get to rest and eat at the station instead of staying in the comfort of their own home in order to get ready for emergencies as fast as possible.
Firefighters see median annual wages of $49,620. Between 2016 and 2026, their projected job growth is at +7.2%
11. Pest control worker
How often do you think about the people that deal with pests such as roaches, termites, and rats? For a median annual wage of $35,610, these workers often have to crawl into uncomfortable places to search and take care of pest problems.
And how do they eliminate pests? By using pesticides that are toxic and harmful when not handled properly. Considering all of this, how do you feel about the fact that they receive around $2,000 less than the median American job?
Between 2016 and 2026, it is estimated that their projected growth rate will be +8.2%.
Painters make around $38,940 annually, on average. From a distance, it may not seem like these jobs are all that demanding, but you have to consider the physical aspects too.
Painting is a physically demanding job that requires you to crouch, bend, twist, reach and kneel in order to reach different areas of a canvas, be it a building or a bridge. Ask yourself, are you comfortable working high up in the air for extended periods of time?
Between 2016 and 2026, the prospected job growth for painters is just +5.7%. Could you do it? Would you let your creativity flow?
9. Advertising salesperson
Here’s an interesting fact. Despite the average job in this category being projected to grow by 7% between 2016 and 2026, the labor force is actually projected to decline during that period.
Let’s talk about what advertising salespeople do for a median annual wage of $51,740. They sell space in print media outlets such as magazines and newspapers. The catch here is that these outlets are slowly disappearing, meaning that fewer and fewer agents will be needed in the near future.
Add the pressure of incredibly high sales quotas to the possibility of losing one’s job at any moment, and you’ve got an incredibly stressful working environment that leaves little time for an individual to pick up new skills in order to find other opportunities.
If you want to work as a broadcaster, most radio and television broadcasts will ask for a bachelor’s degree at the very least. Considering the fact that they barely make more than the U.S. median wage for all jobs (which sits at $37,690) by bringing home around $40,080 annually, it’s clear that this job is not ideal for a lot of people.
What’s more, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the broadcasters’ labor force in the U.S. will drop by 3.2% in 2026, compared to 2016.
Fewer and fewer networks will be able to afford hiding broadcasters full time as ad revenue in this sector increases, so a lot of people in the industry live with a constant worry over losing their jobs.
7. Disc jockey
Disc jockeys, or DJs, were once sought out to work at radio stations in record-breaking numbers. But, much like broadcasters, they’re seeing a severe decline in jobs too. Between 2016 and 2026, experts say that we’ll lose about 11.6% of these jobs.
This is in part due to the rise of music streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music Unlimited, and Tidal. The more consumers use these services in order to curate playlists for themselves, the less DJs are sought out by radio companies.
To make matters worse, disc jockeys are paid an average of $33,220 per year.
6. Corrections officer
In 2009, there were 1.6 million prisoners in the U.S. That number fell to 1.5 million in 2016. This decline, in tandem with budgetary issues, may be the reason why the number of jobs for corrections officers is on the decline. Experts say that between 2016 and 2026, we will see a 7.7% drop.
The median annual wage for a corrections officer sits at $44,330. When taking into consideration how they have one of the highest risk of injury and illness compared to other jobs, largely due to violent inmates, it’s no wonder that not a lot of people consider this a viable career option.
5. Enlisted military personnel
The fact that millions of people chose to enlist in the military in order to serve their country is commendable. But despite that, we can’t shy away from the truth: it’s not an easy job. It comes with high levels of stress, known as one of the most difficult working environments in the U.S., if not the entire world.
While we know that many people earn less than $30,000, we don’t have any data as to the median annual wages for enlisted military personnel, nor do we know what the projected job growth rate is at.
What we do know is that, for those who heroically serve in combat zones, it is not an easy job.
4. Retail salesperson
Most people who work in customer-facing jobs know that people are very difficult to work with. Having to deal with rude, often violent customers while having the lowest-paid jobs in the country is not an easy thing to do. After all, the median annual wages in this sector sit at just $24,200. Meanwhile, the U.S. median is at $37,690.
That being said, it is projected that in terms of job growth, retail salespeople will see a 1.7% increase between 2016 and 2026. Still, this is below the growth rate of the average job, and this is partly due to the increase in online shopping.
3. Newspaper reporter
As fewer and fewer people read newspapers, revenue drops. Revenue drops will lead to a projected job growth of -10% for newspaper reporters between 2016 and 2026.
It’s a far more stressful job than people realize, especially because reporters have to meet tight deadlines while also getting heavy scrutiny from readers. Those two factors, combined with an incredibly polarized political environment really don’t make their median annual wages look any better, sitting at $41,260.
Some newspaper reporters don’t just get a few angry messages on social media, though. More often than we’d like to think, they’re also sent death threats.
It’s no wonder that logging, the second most dangerous job in the U.S. also made it second on the list of worst jobs in the U.S. In 2017 alone, 350 nonfatal injuries and 55 fatal injuries were recorded among loggers.
In part due to this, companies nowadays are far more interested in automation than hiring new loggers, which is why experts expect these jobs to fall by 12.6% by 2026.
Currently, there are around 37,400 loggers in the U.S., making an average of $40,650 despite the physically strenuous and dangerous job. The future doesn’t look too bright for loggers.
1. Taxi driver
Taxi drivers with a median annual wage of $25,980, have what is known as the worst job in the U.S. Not only is this an undesirable work environment, but the long hours combined with unpleasant customers have made many taxi drivers question their jobs.
Surprisingly, experts say that we will have 5% more taxi drivers by the end of 2026. Currently, there are 207,920 taxi drivers in the U.S.
This growth, however, has been reduced due to the rise of ride-sharing apps such as Lyft and Uber. A lot of taxi drivers have also moved to these platforms, too. It’s unclear what the future holds for the people in this sector.
So, do you work any of these jobs? Which of these surprised you the most? Let us know by commenting below!