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Marketplace Scratch Pad

Somebody’s gotta do it

Scott Jagow Jan 6, 2010

What’s the absolute worst job in America? The best job? One career search website has crunched the numbers and spit out the answers.

200 jobs were rated in five categories by CareerCast.com: Environment, Income, Outlook, Stress and Physical Demands. There are many subcategories, and you can read about the methodology here. But the winner is…


For starters, the position ranks especially well for its low physical demands and stress levels, finishing 2nd and 3rd, respectively, out of all 200 jobs. But more importantly, it is actuary’s consistently strong performance overall that helped the job rise to the top of the 2010 Jobs Rated list. While we may admire the exceptional – famous stars, successful billionaires and life-saving heroes, for example – top careers in the Jobs Rated report typically don’t stand out as the most glamorous, highest paying or most noble. Instead, they are the jobs that offer the greatest chance of enjoying a combination of good health, low stress, a pleasant workplace, solid income and strong growth potential.

The rest of the top ten are dominated by math, science and computers:

Software Engineer
Computer Systems Analyst
Paralegal Assistant
Dental Hygienist

The worst job in America is described this way:

You wake up at 5a.m. (or 5p.m. for the night shift) and head to the dining hall for a breakfast of cafeteria food. Next comes a 12-hour shift working outdoors in either the desert heat, an ocean storm or the bitter cold of an Alaskan winter. There may even be armed groups nearby eager to kidnap you for ransom. As for the work itself, it’s backbreaking physical labor with a high risk of injury or death. And when the day is over, you still can’t go home because you work in an isolated location that you’re able to leave only every two weeks or so. And when it’s time to sleep, you head to your shared dorm room and crash until 5a.m., when work starts all over again.

If you haven’t guessed, this is the life of an oil rig maintenance worker, otherwise known as a roustabout. The next worst jobs include lumberjack, dairy farmer, garbage collector, taxi driver, construction worker, meter reader, and mail carrier.

I didn’t see investment banker on the list, but bank officer came in at #14. Blogger wasn’t listed either, so I guess that’s not a real job. Newspaper reporter, however, ranked 184 out of 200, just a tad ahead of butcher.

Wherever your job ranks on the list, hopefully you enjoy what you do. And if you’re out of work at the moment, I hear the hiring prospects for philosopher are quite good. It ranked #11.

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