The 25 Worst Jobs In America

Many Americans work in jobs with long hours, low pay, few benefits, clueless managers, or all of the above. Some types of jobs come with an exceptionally poor combination of low pay and higher incidences of injuries, from carpal tunnel syndrome to serious spinal injury. On top of that, many of these are declining in numbers, which adds to job insecurity.

To find the worst jobs in America, 24/7 Wall St. constructed an occupation index comprising three measures — projected employment growth, wages, and nonfatal injury and illness rate — using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The three measures were weighted equally, resulting in an occupation index score between zero and 100. The lower the score, the worse the job based on these measures. A total of 495 occupations with data were considered.

Take, for instance, welders. People who weld, solder, or operate related machinery have the highest incidence of nonfatal workplace accidents, with 1,338 injuries per 10,000 workers, according to government figures. They earn a median annual wage of just $32,300 — well below the median of $45,760 for all workers. And on top of those issues, demand for these workers, currently numbered at about 32,000 nationwide, is projected to fall by nearly 8% by 2031, as robots continue to replace people in many manufacturing positions.

As the U.S. population ages, demand for nursing assistants and orderlies is growing, but the workers needed to fill these positions barely earn a median annual salary of $30,000 (less for orderlies). Their rate of musculoskeletal injuries is comparable to firefighters and is way higher than police officers, construction workers, and even registered nurses, thanks to repeatedly lifting patients without assistance or protective gear. (Also see the labor laws your boss doesn’t want you to know about.)

By 2031, the BLS estimates there will be 4.7% more jobs in these occupations than the 1.34 million nursing assistants and 46,000 orderlies in the workforce as of 2021. However, the projected growth for all jobs is even higher, at 5.3%

The largest number of workers in these 25 professions are nursing assistants, followed by licensed vocational nurses (entry-level health care providers), correctional officers, and paramedics. The fastest growing jobs with high nonfatal injury rates are athletes, occupational therapy aides, and psychiatric technicians (aides who work in mental health facilities). (While these are jobs with high nonfatal injury rates, here are the 23 deadliest jobs in America.)

All but four of these professions pay less than the $45,760 median wage for all workers, and all jobs except for athletes pay less than $49,000 annually at full time. Ambulance drivers earn the least among these occupations, at $29,120. Three other jobs earn less than $30,000: tire repairers, florists, and orderlies.

Here are the worst jobs in America.

Click here to see our detailed methodology.

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