5 Worst Jobs in America — Is Yours One of Them?

Happy waiter cleaning the tables at a restaurant - food service occupation.
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We spend most of our lives working, so ideally, you have a job that you somewhat enjoy — or that at least pays the bills. Unfortunately, not everyone is so lucky.

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While the idea of “best” and “worst” jobs is definitely subjective, My Perfect Resume asked over 1,000 Americans to rank a list of popular jobs to find out what most people deemed the worst — here’s what it found out.

Americans Think These Are the Worst Jobs

Among the 25 most common jobs in America, voters selected truck driver, laborer, janitor, waiter and cleaner as the “worst.” Some commonalities between these five jobs are that they don’t require a college degree, and they all pay below the national average wage, which is $55,628 as of 2020, according to the Social Security Administration.

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Here’s the annual mean wage for the “worst” jobs:

  • Cleaner: $29,580-$38,530
  • Waiter: $29,010
  • Janitor: $31,860
  • Laborer: $31,440-$44,130
  • Truck driver: $42,630-$50,340

What Makes a Job the Worst?

When asked what makes a job bad, most Americans said the deciding factor is the pay, with 42% stating that low earnings are a characteristic of a bad job. Other factors include working with customers (39%), a negative work atmosphere (37%), a job that’s meaningless (37%), monotony (36%), no chances for growth (31%) and unpleasant tasks (29%).

The nature of the job also factors into what makes a job undesirable. A quarter of Americans said they consider working at night the worst working condition. Other job dealbreakers include shift work (20%), working weekends (20%), a very early start time (17%) and contract work (16%).

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How Pay and Benefits Factor In

Low earnings aren’t the only financial factor of a job that makes it the “worst.” Other financially undesirable traits of a job include an income that depends on external factors such as the season (32%), an inability to negotiate salary (13%), no bonuses (10%) and no paid time off (10%).

In terms of benefits, more than 1 in 5 Americans (21%) said they would consider a job that doesn’t come with health insurance to be the worst. Americans also don’t want jobs that don’t offer flexible working options (19%), don’t offer retirement plans (16%), don’t provide the option to work remotely (15%) or don’t offer wellness programs (13%).

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There Is No ‘Worst’ Job

At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that what makes a job “good” or “bad” is completely subjective, and one person’s dream job would be another person’s nightmare. Kyle Kensing, online content editor at CareerCast, said to take rankings like these with a grain of salt.

If you’re interested in one of the worst jobs, its ranking shouldn’t dissuade you, he told CNBC about past rankings. “Just because it ranks near the bottom doesn’t mean it’s not a great job. A lot of them are vital to our society. This just gives you an educated look at the challenges that come with them.”

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About the Author

Gabrielle joined GOBankingRates in 2017 and brings with her a decade of experience in the journalism industry. Before joining the team, she was a staff writer-reporter for People Magazine and People.com. Her work has also appeared on E! Online, Us Weekly, Patch, Sweety High and Discover Los Angeles, and she has been featured on “Good Morning America” as a celebrity news expert. 
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