Avoid These Dead-End Careers: 7 Jobs That Ask Too Much and Pay Too Little

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No one can object to starting out at the bottom and working their way up, but there are some “dead-end” jobs that have little or no upward mobility.

As our economy evolves, some jobs are being be phased out as viable career choices. When selecting a path to follow it’s important to make sure you pick one that can take you someplace you can grow financially. If there is no room for advancement or better pay, you’re better off doing something else. Career website Zippia defines dead-end jobs as professions that offer few or no pay hikes, little chance of learning new skills, little opportunity for promotion and high turnover. What follows are seven jobs in which the demands often outweigh the benefits.

Taxi driver: Odd hours and difficult conditions

Taxi sign on car roof
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There are few occupations that demand as much for as little in return as driving a taxi. In its 2018 report on terrible jobs, the website CareerCast ranks driving a cab at the top of its list of occupations to avoid. The job can be stressful, and there is little potential for increasing pay. Competition from ride-share providers such as Lyft and Uber is casting doubt on the future of the traditional taxi business. Also, taking fares to isolated areas at night puts taxi drivers at risk. According to a report by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the homicide rate for taxi drivers was “between 21 and 33 times higher than the national average for all workers.”

Food service worker: Low pay and little opportunity

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The Zippia career website this year singled out the food preparation and serving business as one of the worst industries for employees. One of the reasons is low pay. The median wage nationally is only $22,730, according to Zippia. The industry also has a high turnover rate. Working in a restaurant may be a great summer job for a teenager, but it’s often a professional dead-end for adults. Tips can provide a substantial income boost to waiters and waitresses, but fast-food workers generally don’t receive gratuities.

Journalist: Chaos and decline in the industry

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According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of print and broadcast reporters is expected to drop 9 percent from 2016 levels by 2026. That signals an uncertain future in this field. The median annual pay for reporters and correspondents was $39,370 in mid-2017. With many newspapers closing or downsizing, and the internet giving voice to hundreds of competing sources of information, the profession is in turmoil. Falling advertising revenue for newspaper, radio and television is expected to severely limit employment growth.

Logger: Job hazards and decline

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Logging is one of the most dangerous occupations. In addition to working in harsh weather and driving long distances between work sites, logging workers face a high probability of injury from machinery or falling trees. According to federal jobs data, the media annual wage is less than $39,000. The pay can be unsteady — depending heavily on the market for new housing construction. Overall, logging jobs are disappearing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2016 projected that these jobs would decline by 13 percent by 2026. This is due, in part, to increased mechanization.

Fisherman: High risk and low reward

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Fishing is a hazardous job. The federal government says most on-the-job deaths among industry workers occur from drowning. Workers also must guard against injuries from malfunctioning equipment, slippery boat decks and rough waters. Faulty navigational equipment and malfunctioning communication devices can lead to shipwrecks. There were 334 fatal occupational injuries among fishing workers from 2003 to 2009. Meanwhile, the pay in this industry remains low. The median annual wage was less than $29,000 in mid-2017.

Agricultural worker: A demanding industry

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You may view work on a farm as a chance to get close to nature, but be prepared for the drawbacks. Many workers labor long hours during planting and harvesting seasons and find themselves temporarily out of work after crops come in. Farm work also can be dangerous. Exposure to pesticides, dangerous farm machinery and livestock are all risks. People who work with large animals must stay alert to avoid getting kicked, bitten or trampled. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median wage last year was less than $24,000.

Home health aide: Plenty of work and little money

Old woman playing chess, with caregiver helping
JPC-PROD / Shutterstock.com

With millions of Americans reaching retirement age each year, there are lots of jobs available in home health care, but the pay often is very low. According to the federal government, the median annual wage for personal care aides was $23,100 in May 2017 and the lowest 10 percent of workers earned less than $18,160. That’s not very much, considering how demanding personal care can be. The job can be physically and emotionally draining. Workers often suffer back injuries from moving their clients in and out of beds. And many clients suffer from declining mental health that make them difficult to work with or even violent.

What’s the toughest job you’ve done for too little pay or opportunity? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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