These Are the 10 Unhappiest Jobs in America — Is Yours on the List?
When I entered college, I had declared an education major. I loved reading and writing, and because everyone told me that the only thing I could do with an English background was teach, teaching became my calling.
Only problem? I absolutely hated the thought of interacting with kids. This was a good problem to have. It really forced me to consider what I actually wanted to do with my life, what would make me happiest. I landed on writing and editing, and I honestly could not be happier as a professional.
If you are just entering college or are re-entering the workforce with no clue what to do, you face a daunting but exciting crossroads. Of course, you will want to consider your passions and skills, but data can now also help you decide on a career that will make you happy. And with college debt on the rise, you’ll want to make sure you get the decision right the first time.
The data behind this science comes from CareerBliss.com, representing the reviews and experiences of thousands of workers across all industries. The data in CareerBliss’ study paints a picture of shared experiences in a certain career, including typical management styles, salaries and workplace cultures.
Using that data, CareerBliss assigned each job in America a BlissScore. The maximum score is a 5. Ten lucky jobs were named the Happiest Jobs in America of 2017, and ten others, well, they weren’t so lucky. If career happiness and satisfaction are important factors to you as you determine your next steps in college or your job search, you may want to avoid these ten unhappy jobs.
10. Administrative Assistant
Administrative assistants, often lumped in with receptionists and secretaries, spend their days doing clerical work, often the things that the boss doesn’t want to be bothered with. U.S. News’ research seems to suggest that low job satisfaction is in part due to the high levels of stress paired with the low salary.
Though this job ranks poorly, you may love it if you enjoy interacting with others, getting a unique vision into a company or are trying to determine if a traditional office is a good setting for your career.
- PayScale.com’s reported median salary at time of publication: About $15.00/hour
- BlissScore: 2.829 out of 5
9. Project Engineer
Project engineers’ main goals are to ensure engineering projects stay on budget and on schedule. Rather than doing the engineering they might have originally been passionate about, they instead are bogged down by administrative work and communication.
- PayScale.com’s reported median salary: About $67,000
- BlissScore: 2.811 out of 5
8. Data Analyst
Data analysts fill their time collecting and — you guessed it — analyzing data. My company is largely known for its research and data, so I interact with data analysts a lot. To me, they seem plenty happy and passionate, but that could be because my company is pretty legendary for good culture.
- PayScale.com’s reported median salary: About $58,000
- BlissScore: 2.709 out of 5
7. Field Service Engineer
Field service engineers are the dedicated folks who troubleshoot and fix products and technologies in the field. I couldn’t find much about reasons behind job satisfaction — or dissatisfaction — for these employees, but the amount of customer interaction that these tech-minded workers have to face could play a part.
- PayScale.com’s reported median salary: About $65,000
- BlissScore: 2.593 out of 5
6. General Manager
I’ve worked enough retail/food jobs to know general managers put up with a lot of crap: long hours, unmotivated teenage workers and entitled customers who have been trained to believe they are always right. It’s no surprise to see GM on this list; the real surprise to me is that it’s not ranked higher.
- PayScale.com’s reported median salary: About $50,000
- BlissScore: 2.556 out of 5
5. Sales Account Manager
The role of sales account managers can vary from company to company, but these workers tend to blur the line of salesperson and customer service representative — meaning double the stress, more accountability and the rantings of dissatisfied clients.
- PayScale.com’s reported median salary: About $55,000
- BlissScore: 2.413 out of 5
4. Registered Nurse
In an interview with TravelNursing.com, Marcia Faller, an RN and chief clinical officer for AMN Healthcare, explained that while nurses love what they do, “they are not as happy with their job for a number of reasons.” Among those reasons are low pay (especially compared to doctors), too many hours and a heavy workload.
- PayScale.com’s reported median salary: About $29.00/hour
- BlissScore: 2.317 out of 5
3. Retail Salesperson
I recently spent a day at several furniture stores shopping for a mattress, using the help of the salespeople to make a decision. But did I buy a mattress from one of the stores? Of course not; I got a better price online after testing out my favorite.
Retail salespeople are constantly battling the ease and affordability of the internet. To add to that, U.S. News reports that stress levels are above average, despite low pay.
- PayScale.com’s reported median salary: About $10.00/hour
- BlissScore: 2.203 out of 5
2. Cashier Retail
Anyone who has worked retail can vouch: the hours are crappy, the pay is abysmal, the customers are rude and the line of work can be very unfulfilling. A select few may enjoy the opportunity to interact with customers on the front line, but most are counting down the minutes until they can clock out.
While this job is ranked low, it is well-suited for workers who enjoy interacting with wide varieties of people and don’t mind putting in stressful hours to take care of their families.
- PayScale.com’s reported median salary: About $10.00/hour
- BlissScore: 2.201 out of 5
1. Customer Service Representative
Last and, well, arguably least, is the dreaded customer service representative. Next time you are on hold, cursing the name of the customer service representative who put you there, just remember that they are dealing with above-average stress and below-average flexibility, per U.S. News, and they probably want to be on the phone even less than you do.
Though customer service representative is ranked as the number one unhappiest job, in the digital age more workers are finding satisfaction in the position’s flexibility, such as the ability to work from home.
- PayScale.com’s reported median salary: About $13.00/hour
- BlissScore: 2.198 out of 5
Of course, take this with a grain of salt. I’m sure many find fulfillment in these careers. You wouldn’t believe the number of people who have gagged at the thought of writing and editing for the rest of their lives when I tell them what I do for a living, yet I love it.
Timothy Moore works happily as a full-time editor and freelance writer based in Nashville. He thinks his jobs are pretty cool.