10 Depressing Jobs That Aren't Worth the Money

By Tim Lemke on 2 November 2015 69 comments

So you think your job stinks.

We've all experienced a depressing job before. There are good jobs out there for those who need them, but there are also lot of bad jobs that few people are eager to do. Here are 10 of the most depressing jobs, based on career prospects, pay, and safety on the job.

1. Newspaper Journalist

I worked for newspapers for more than a dozen years and had the time of my life. But the Internet era has crushed newspapers, leading to high stress and low pay for reporters and editors. And there are few journalists out there who haven't been laid off at least once. CareerCast placed this job dead last in its ranking of 200 careers, and photojournalists don't fare much better.

2. Lumberjack

It's hard work and not particularly lucrative, and much of the work is now being done by machines. It's also a deadly job; the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 91 out of every 100,000 logging workers suffers a work-related fatality. They are 30 times more likely to die on the job than the average worker.

3. Taxi Driver

It's never been the safest profession, and you'll be lucky to make $30,000 a year doing it. The arrival in many cities of Uber and Lyft, which have completely disrupted the pay-to-ride industry, have hurt the prospects and earning potential of taxi drivers even further.

4. Data Entry Clerk

You sit at a computer all day and enter information into a database. It'd be one thing if the information you were entering was something cool, like a list of every Led Zeppelin concert in history. But it's often just names, addresses, and other banal data bits. And God help you if you make a mistake. The average annual median wage for data clerks is less than $30,000, though you usually don't need a college degree.

5. Security Guard

When you're in private security, you're either seriously bored because nothing is going on, or you're involved in a possible struggle with a criminal. There's not much in between. Pay is low (less than $25k annually, on average), but there is some growth in job opportunities.

6. Door-to-Door Salesman

Kiplinger evaluated 784 jobs based on their prospects for the future, and this job was in the bottom 10. These days, pushing a product by knocking on someone's door is amazingly inefficient, when you consider the technology available to salespeople. There was a time in America when door-to-door salesmen were welcomed by housewives and others looking to test out the latest products. Those days are long gone; the number of jobs in this field is expected to drop 18% by 2024, after dropping 23% between 2004 and 2014.

7. Mail Carrier

Let's face it, no one likes the U.S. Postal Service. And as a mail carrier, you often deliver nothing more than a bunch of junk mail, as technologies like email and texting have taken over. Career Cast's best jobs report noted that mail carriers have one of the worst 10-year outlooks in terms of job growth.

8. Administrative Assistant

You have virtually no power over your own existence, as you simply respond to the demands of whomever you work for. The high stress, no control environment has been known to cause higher rates of depression. The good news for administrative assistants is that pay is about average, along with job growth.

9. Meter Reader

Technology is making it less and less necessary for someone to come around and check your electricity usage. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects job demand to decline by 10% by 2020, and the pay is middle-of-the-pack, at best.

10. Restaurant Server

Your boss can get away with paying you less than minimum wage, because there's an expectation you'll get tips. But we all know that's hit or miss. Waiters and waitresses are on their feet all day, often fielding complaints about food that they didn't cook. The average mean wage is under $20,000 each year, assuming the restaurant you work for will even be around in the future. The Bureau of Labor Statistics said 70% of restaurants close within the first year.

Did we miss any depressing jobs? Let us know in the comments!

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10 Depressing Jobs That Aren't Worth the Money

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Guest's picture
Guest

Not worth the money? You should sit around until somebody comes to your door and offers a job as a CEO? Those may not be careers, but they'll pay some bills until you can get in a position to find something better. My sister loves being a meter reader, a job she took out of desperation - she's out and about, gets plenty of exercise, and has flexible hours. I drove a cab for a while until I figured out something else to do. My job in data entry opened the door to a 40-year career in software development. You left Apprentice Tile-Setter off the list - that was the worst job I ever had. But any legitimate job is better than no job.

Tim Lemke's picture

If I had the chance to add one line to this article, it would be to say that any job is better than no job, and that every job is important and needs to be done by someone. There is respect in any work. And I think you raise a very good point that many jobs that seem unpleasant may open a door to something better. There are a lot of entry-level jobs that fit this bill.

Guest's picture
Guest

I SO AGREE!

Guest's picture
Guest

How about telemarketer? You work really hard to make people angry and the pay is not even worth mentioning.

Guest's picture
Guest

I totally agree with you. I was a telemarketer for a month and was fired because I found out I was pushing a scam on un-expecting senior citizens. You sit in a cubicle with multiple people, tell lies, and are expected to smile as you lie your butt off. If you ask about the validity of a product you may never see, you're told not to do so by another employee as a warning and if you investigate further.. you're out the door. I hated it, and absolutely no doors were opened at all. In interviews, I always have to explain why I wanted to be a telemarketer. I was desperate and needed money to pay my bills.

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Guest

Freight salesman!

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mike1533

Freight railroader

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mike1533

Freight railroader

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Guest

Honestly, I'm surprised that caregiver didn't make the list - from my experience, it's been one of the toughest jobs I've ever had, as the demands can and often do take their toll physically, mentally, and emotionally. And the pay is notoriously stingy. I have been working since early 2015 as a private, in-home, round-the-clock caregiver, for a 93 y.o. dementia patient, as opposed to her family allowing her to waste away in a nursing home. Despite my best efforts, she is now unable to do anything on her own, and is thus completely bed-bound and requires maximum assistance for everything. It can be very exhausting, let alone very lonely, as she has lost her ability to speak. Knowing she will eventually pass away is both a blessing and a curse, because her suffering will have ended, and she will be in a better place. As for myself, I will be out of a job. Definitely not for the faint-of-heart, and not something I would ever choose to pursue again, if I can help it. Nevertheless, I am grateful for the job, and take a certain degree of personal satisfaction in knowing I helped bring comfort to a fellow human being at the end of her life. But I would never want to trade places with her, that's for sure!

Tim Lemke's picture
Tim Lemke

Caregiver is a tough job, no doubt. I think it just missed being placed on this list because at least there is some growth opportunity there. Baby Boomers are getting older and there will be a need for skilled people to take care of the aging population. Thank you for the work that you do!

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Guest

so true, same here

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Chester Field

Welcome to the new economy.

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James Pollard

Being a door to door salesman is extremely tough. However, if you're good at it, it will set you up with skills that will benefit you for the rest of your life. Courage, tenacity, and the like. I've found that one of the best ways to do door to door sales is to just be straight up with people. You say, "I'm selling vacuums, are you interested?" You'll get a TON of "no" answers, but the people who tell you no won't waste any of your time.

Guest's picture
Guest

retail jobs

Guest's picture
GuFed-Upest

Dental Assistant-Slave Job!!!!

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Tami

Yes...see my comment! I'm 30 years in this job (RDA)

Guest's picture
Guest

Add correctional officer in there. Low pay, shift work and dangerous.

Guest's picture
Guest

You are right I work in corrections now and it sucks. Where I work the pay is nit bad at all

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Guest

I like the US Postal service.

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chas

you must be in mgt, after 30 years, how things have changed and now with new hires who don't care, misdeliver constantly, and are only keeping the job until something better with benefits comes along, I cant wait to retire in 5 years. I wish they would offer a early out for carriers. An early out for carriers will never happen, because we are the ones that the public trusts, we are the face of the post office. My customers don't even bother to complain anymore, just leave notes and misdelivered mail in the box for me to cleanup after my day off. I don't have the "hi, how are you today", anymore, just the "this was misdelivered, when you were off". Volumes double and triple, and they still want you done before dark and back on time. STRESSFUL, YES

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liz

You guys forgot the retail that they ask for too much and pays 9$ hour.

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Guest

Where do they pay $9... sign me up. Here it's $7.25 and you're told it's at least 30 hours a week, when it's really between 6-24 (if management likes you) and the job is only temporary.

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Elizabeth

Compliance officer can be a depressing career if you work with non-compliant employees.

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Guest

Don't forget Secretary. Even worse than being an Administrative Assistant.

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CMK

I'm a receptionist and feel like the office servant. I take everyone's calls , who answer only if they want to, open and distribute hundreds of pieces of mail and have to jump up many times a day to greet visitors and let my co workers into the mail room plus fetch their supplies. But it was tough rejoining the work force after staying home with my kids for several years .

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Deanne

Call center agent... So depressing. All you do is absorb other peoples stress, anger, and frustrations all day. And the big shot companies that they trust won't empower us to do much of anything to turn things around for them. It's boring, sedentary, redundant, robotic, tedious, micro managed, and frustrating. (every detail of your calls are scrutinized and if you deviate from the script - even if the customer takes you off script, we'll too bad. You have to get back on script even if it makes things awkward). Is it worth the money? Only if it's temporary. Most companies pay more than starvation wages, but not enough to get you ahead.

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Mama Boo

I wish i had that depressing job of delivering mail so I can quit the depressing job of cutting lunch meat for thankless unhealthy people who make enough to afford twenty-dollar-a-pound "lunch meat".

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Dumisani Lucky

One of the most boring jobs is housekeeping because you earn the small amount of money. Belief me when I say, it's the most depressing job for a human being to work for that kind of a job. Hotel services or maintenance is so embarrassing especially when you know deep inside that the company you are working for pay less than it earns. My advise for everyone who work for this kind of a job to resign or let it go of that company because you will always be in stress and being depressed. Most those employees who work in those companies, some of them end up stealing within the company, because they don't earn what they want, even if they request for increase they don't get it at all. It takes a lot of time for some to get promoted or an increase within industry or job. Before applying for a job think first what kind of the job do you want, then apply for it, but be very careful when applying or first make some research before everything so that all may go well with you

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Guest

cashiering.... on your feet all day and constantly repeating the same phrases over and over again. Not to mention the toll it takes on your neck and wrists...

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Guest

Bank Teller. Very high stress, lots & lots of responsibilities, LOW pay, and virtually non-existent raises. Long work days and hours, and the list goes on.

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Guest

Bill collector. Hated by all. Did it for 13 years, learned nothing whatsoever.

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Guest

Lifeguard. Pay is next to nothing, at least where I worked. Absolutely no chance in advancement. Plus it was terrible being told what to do by people half my age who had only been there a few months where I had been there at least nine years. I was only making $8 an hour with no benefits worst job I have ever had.

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Guest

Call center jobs where you try to help people all day and never get appreciated.

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jules

Nurse/slave

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Marie

How about Mental Health Counselor? To be licensed you need a Master's degree and a ton of internship hours. The pay is only between 30k to 40k in many states with 40 being on the high end. It is a lot of work. Sometimes it can be dangerous depending on the type of population you work with. It can sometimes be rewarding, but you can't live too comfortably on a counselor salary.

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Jenn

I am applying to graduate school this fall for Mental Health Clinical Counseling. They are offering scholarships and graduate assistantships with monthly stipends. The place I am going to do my internship is also where I work at already. I am just a pion here working in a group home for the mentally ill but, I love my clients like family. I would be VERY happy to make more than $20,000.

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Guest

I have to tell this to everyone do not get into security no matter what you do. It is not worth it and a waste of money. They all say its simple to get in and anyone will hire you with a security card but the deal is, if you dont live in a major city tough luck getting one. If you dont live in a major city you better have some good security experience if you want to be considered. It costs 300$ to get your prints and guard card, and its only a 10 dollar at hour job at average. Its not worth it at all.

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Guest

High volume production line worker. Repetitive movements in the hundreds or thousand times per shift leave your hands and arms hurting daily. Being too exhausted day after day for any meaningful intimacy except for occasional weekends have a way of ruining a relationship with spouse.

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riverdweller

Social Worker...It is very rare for things to get better with a family. I worked with mentally ill children for years and it is so difficult for the parents to want to change how they do things. They just want the problem child gone or fixed without their effort!

Guest's picture
Guest

Jobs are pretty much what you decide to make them. I was poor, so starting in high school, I waited tables to help put myself through college and grad school. I made good money and gained self-confidence from doing a difficult job. No, I didn't work in a fancy restaurant. Yes, people were rude at times and I learned how to react politely anyway. Many, many more people were kind and interesting. I probably made more money than you cite here back in 1983---I just found the right restaurants and I was not afraid to work hard. Serving the public taught me respect for those who serve.

Guest's picture
Guest

Love Wise Bread usually, but disappointed in this article. Any job is a good job until you get a better one. Unemployment is likely to create depression before earning wages. The article has a somewhat "entitled" tone to it--believe me, not the attitude that built this country.

Guest's picture
Diane

You forgot Caregiver. Lists as one of the highest rate of depression. Cleaning up after sick, elderly people who are not real happy seems noble, but they often suck the life right out of you and can be very demanding. Plus they tend to die after you get attached.

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Michael @ NTPNW

Everyone should do something when starting out.

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Guest

I inspected home exteriors for a regional insurance company for the better part of a year. Belligerent, defensive homeowners. Angry dogs. Shady neighborhoods. Snow, rain, heat, cold, and mud. Wrong addresses. And the worst: DOG POOP.

On the plus side, I got to see some absolutely stunning properties, met some nice cats (and a few friendly dogs), and have some great stories to tell, courtesy of some crazy homeowners.

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diane

You missed TEACHER in a poverty level area....these parents and teachers are the worst to deal with, and you can't just fire them like trump would...you have to be a superperson just to do the job, let alone, you would never get enough money to compensate for the ptsd you would leave with everyday!!!!

Guest's picture
Guest

Although any job is better than no job and I am one of those people who believe you should never quit one job until you have another, there are many depressing jobs out there that don't pay much. Production worker in a factory, fast food, customer service, para-educator, etc. But, one job you didn't list is teacher and, in particular, special education teacher. Salaries are lousy for the amount of higher education required, requirements to "teach to the test" rather than teaching what students need to learn and taking the time to make sure they have learned new information is frustrating for all involved, the amount of paperwork required is mind numbing, and, best of all, all of that "time off" teachers have (with pay, haha) is generally spent taking more classes (to be considered "highly qualified"), making curriculum changes, and doing a myriad of other job-related things generally paid for out of their pocket.

Guest's picture
Guest

Nurses

Guest's picture
Guest

At least they make decent money. I am a medical assistant and I hate it. I have to do so much, I actually do what a nurse should be doing for a miserable $16 an hour, and then have to put up with stuck up doctors that look down on you!

Guest's picture
Joye

Maybe this should have been called 'jobs that technology is phasing out'. Any entrepreneur will tell you that grunt work is vital to success. Toilets don't clean themselves, and some time in a humble job will teach you life lessons. It's also true that some jobs take such an emotional toll that they are not healthy, but often those jobs pay very well. And the idea that you have all this power in a non-admin job is a joke. I learned that the higher up you go in business, the more chapstick you need, if you know what I mean. And your day won't end at 5pm--those hoity toity jobs will demand nights, weekends and holidays.

But I will admit there is one job I would NEVER take--lost luggage call center for an airline. My luggage was lost once, and I felt so bad for the operators because all they get are tired, cranky, stinky people who can't change into clean underwear. I made sure to stay polite, but I can only imagine other calls.

Guest's picture
Guest

Amazing...I've had 4 out of 10 these jo
bs

Guest's picture
Boogie

Yes Behavioral health or Mental Health Technician. Notoriously low pay and horrific work conditions.

Guest's picture
Brandon

I have a part-time second job as a Restaurant Server that yields me about $37,500 per year (gross).. My hourly wage is $21/hour.. On average I work 7 hours per shift and only 82 shifts per year (Baseball Season), so that's $65/hour (most of it comes from tips).... and it's barely a hard job, I'm relaxing most of the time.. and that's my second job.. and the company has been around since 1978 so I don't think it's going anywhere.. so it's not all black and white... If anything, be strategic and you can be very successful..

Guest's picture
Guest

Public school teacher has got to be right up there near the top.

Guest's picture
Yvette

Daycare worker.. You watch 20 to 35 kids a day, sometimes 12 hours each day, some come in hungry, their clothing and blankets smelling like smoke or weed. Bruises and hungry for attention. And there isn't a damn thing you can do for that kid at home to make their life better. You can only make their school life as amazing as you can.

Guest's picture
Hank

"Your boss can get away with paying you less than minimum wage, because there's an expectation you'll get tips. But we all know that's hit or miss."
If your restaurant worker minimum wage of $2.13 + tips do not equal at least $7.25, the restaurant business must make up the difference.
Restaurant workers, then, must make at least $7.25/hr. If they get more due to tips, well and good. Of course, tips are pooled with all the servers and the kitchen workers. And, despite the customers not being obligated to tip at all, the IRS considers tips wages, not gifts. So out of their miserable earnings comes 6.2% FICA (Social Security), 1.45% Medicare tax and 1040 withholding tax.

Guest's picture
Guest

Claims adjuster. No doubt.

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Tami

Yes,
You forgot my job. A dental assistant. Dentist are more likely to commit suicide, (I know one personally who did) hearing time after time how people hate going to the dentist. All these negative comments every day all day makes "me" depressed. The dentist gets in a bad mood then takes it out on his staff ( or in my case me) they yell and throw instruments. The pay is low and all you do is hold a suction and suck up spit sitting in a chair twisting your body in contortions to "assist" the dentist who makes it impossible to see what you are supposed to do. He can see in the patients mouth just fine. He will make sure of that,trust me, you will then go home with back and neck problems, you will eventually need to see a chiropractor, a therapist, and probably get carpal tunnel syndrome.

Guest's picture
Carey @ wiserdollar.com

I would think most telemarketing jobs would be tough to do as well.

Guest's picture
Mark Loehrer

Newspaper Carriers.
This is not even a job. You are a private contractor. Responsible for your own vehicle, insurance, fuel, maintenance, healthcare and taxes. As well as paying the Newspaper rent on a place to fold your papers and purchasing all necessary supplies such as rubber bands, plastic bags etc. All for a measly payment of .10 -.25 cents per customer.
When the paper runs late for any reason such as weather or even sporting events (posting final scores). You can be charged up to $2.00 per complaining customer.
There is no such thing as vacation or a sick day. You and you alone are responsible for delivery of those papers. Seven days a week 365 days per year. You must prearranged someone to cover your route then train them and pay them in the event you might get sick or want to go somewhere. That is if you are lucky enough to find someone. In the event you are seriously ill or incapacitated. You will be considered in breach of contract. Whereas you will be terminated and must forfeit your final paycheck to cover all the fines you will be levied.
In my case I did it for two years. I was unlucky enough to have a rural route where some of my customers where miles apart and seperated by poorly kept streets or non exsistant roads or house numbers. Most rural carriers need to replace there vehicles once a year do to wear and tear. You can't get by with an economy car either because the Sunday or holiday papers can be huge. The average route is between 250 - 300 papers an average monday you can fold all the papers in a laundry basket on your front seat. However one Thanksgiving the papers weighed over 6 pounds each. 300 X 6 = 1800 pounds enough to fill a truck bed. Sunday papers are so big that most people give up their Saturday afternoons to prefold all the inserts so that when the front section is printed you won't need to spend 2 hours folding them and make you late.
Now the worst part of all is the fact that the customer base is quickly declining due to the internet and social media. Let alone the high cost of fuel. I calculated in my case that when the cost of gasoline reached $3.00 per gallon I was no longer making a dime of profit. I was in effect paying them for the privilege to deliver their papers. Adding insult to injury you work nights and sleep days which is hard on any relationship.

Guest's picture
Guest

House cleaner could be on this list. Employers promise flexibility but do not deliver! Often, parents work overtime and miss being available for the family when bosses over-book clients and other employees call-off. Also, it is very physically demanding, low-paying and the customers rarely have anything positive to say about the cleaning. Mostly, they complain in an effort to get free or discounted services on their next visits. Very shady indeed!

Guest's picture
Guest

Concrete form pin counter.

Guest's picture
Guest

Insurance claims adjuster- People you deal with are already mad that they've been in an accident. The caseload is usually overwhelming and every person you speak with thinks that they should be your top priority.

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Guest

I disagree with the mention of the Administrative Assistant. I've filled this position several times with several different companies, and have never experienced any of the negatives mentioned. If anything, I've felt quite pampered. Perhaps it depends on the company you work for.

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Subrina

I like the Postal Service too!!!
And thank God for the security guards of Washington DC

Guest's picture
Guest

How about dishwasher now that is a depressing job. People yelling at you from all directions want this want that,and not a single thank you. You're a slave pretty much.

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Guest

I'm a recruiter for a staffing agency- I place people in every type of job you can imagine, from minimum wage service jobs to execs. My experience is that all jobs CAN be great and ALL jobs CAN be bad. They are like relationships (or used cars ha-ha-ha), they all have issues- the secret to being content is finding one with issues you can deal with.

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Stuart Cofield

Veterinarians. Who come out school with debt far above their incomes and euthanize sweet little animals.

Guest's picture
Guest

how about a daycare worker? You do nothing but either kiss butts or wipe them for dirt pay.

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Guest

Retail lol

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Mary V

U're trying to make me leave my job, whereas I found it just last September?! (Just kidding)