Special Report

The Best (and Worst) Jobs in America

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10. Taxi driver
> Annual median wage: $23,510
> Projected job growth (including chauffeurs), 2014-2024: 13%
> Total employment: 188,860

Like many jobs on this list, taxi driver ranks among the worst occupations due in large part to low pay. The typical taxi driver earns only $23,510 a year, well below the $37,040 median salary across all occupations. Taxi drivers are also facing increased competition in recent years, with the introduction of new ridesharing companies including Uber and Lyft. The emergence of these companies may also offer taxi drivers new job opportunities as chauffeurs. Like many of the nation’s worst jobs, the taxi driver profession may also be vulnerable to technological developments. Self-driving cars, while a long way off, may reduce employment opportunities for taxi drivers.

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9. Retail salesperson
> Annual median wage: $22,040
> Projected job growth, 2014-2024: 7%
> Total employment: 4.5 million

While the proliferation of online shopping has created high demand for quantitative professions such as statistician and data scientist, it has hurt brick-and-mortar retail. The number of retail salespeople is projected to grow 7% over the decade ending 2024, in line with the average for all U.S. occupations. Regardless, pay for retail sales workers has traditionally been among the lowest in the United States. The typical retail salesperson earns just $22,040 per year, far less than the $37,040 average wage for all jobs, and the lowest wage of the jobs on this list.

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8. Firefighter
> Annual median wage: $46,870
> Projected job growth, 2014-2024: 5%
> Total employment: 315,910

Some of the most important occupations in the United States happen to be some of most stressful and dangerous jobs available. Firefighters face some of the most dangerous work conditions of any occupation, and often work 24-hour shifts.

Thanks to improvements in building codes and materials there has been a decline in building fires and fire damage, and as a result demand for firefighters has not kept up with overall job growth. On the other hand drought conditions and the elevated risk of wildfire may increase demand in some parts of the country. The number of firefighters is projected to grow by 5% in the decade ending in 2024, slower than the 7% average for all U.S. occupations.

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7. Advertising sales person
> Annual median wage: $48,490
> Projected job growth, 2014-2024: -3%
> Total employment: 141,100

Advertising sales is one of several occupations to rank among the worst jobs due in part to the decline in traditional media forms such as newspapers and television. Employment in advertising sales is expected to decline by 3% over the decade through 2024. This decline will track closely with trends across the newspaper publishing industry. However, because advertising will still be sold on digital formats, the decline in ad sales workers will not be as severe as in other areas of print media.

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6. Disc jockey
> Annual median wage: $30,080
> Projected job growth, 2014-2024: -11%
> Total employment: 37,230

The disc jockey profession, like several other jobs, have a poor hiring outlook as a result of the proliferation of technology. Radio station consolidation and online music streaming services such as Spotify and Pandora have decreased the demand for disc jockeys. The number of disc jockeys is projected to decline by 11% in the decade ending in 2024, while the total number of U.S. occupations is projected to increase by 7%. While disc jockeys require outgoing personalities and some technical skills, the job has few formal educational requirements and pays relatively little. The typical disc jockey earns $30,080 a year, less than the $37,040 average for all jobs.