Watch LIVE

These Are The 10 Worst Jobs For 2012


"High stress, high physical demands, and a tough or dangerous work environment."

And it’s time for another "top whatever" list!


This time around, let's take a look at CareerCast's (a job-hunting website) 2012 list of the absolute “worst” jobs someone could have in America.

But what qualifies a job as being “the worst”?

“High stress, high physical demands, and a tough or dangerous work environment,” according to CareerCast. Most 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 2012 Jobs Rated Report.

So, taken as a whole, factors such as "physically demanding" and "low paying" qualify a job as being lousy; it’s not just a list of dirty, gross jobs (that’s Mike Rowe’s gig).

“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 of the ‘best’ jobs require a college degree and many of the ‘worst’ don’t even require a high-school diploma,” CNBC points out.

Of course, it should be noted that with unemployment at “8.3 percent” (and real unemployment at 14.5 percent), lousy or not, most people with these jobs (this author included) are just thankful to have them.

Here are the worst jobs of 2012 [all block quotes via CNBC]:

10. Broadcaster

2012 pay: $27,324

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.

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

“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. “They’re essentially working for minimum wage, replacing experienced broadcasters.”

9. Butcher

2012 pay: $29,156

2011 pay: $29,150

Change in pay: flat

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.”

8. Dishwasher

2012 pay: $18,044

2011 pay: $18,053

Change in pay: flat

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

2012 pay: $35,171

2011 pay: $34,171

Change in pay: +3 percent

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.”

6. Waiter/Waitress

2012 pay: $18,088

2011 pay: $18,100

Change in pay: flat

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

2012 pay: $35,275

2011 pay: $34,275

Change in pay: +3 percent

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.

Click here to see the rest of the list.

Most recent
All Articles