Special Report

The Worst Jobs in America

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25. Photographer
> Median annual wages: $34,000
> Projected job growth, 2016-2026: -5.6%
> Total employment: 49,560

Photographers earn a median wage of $34,000 per year, slightly below the median wage for all U.S. jobs of $37,690. The average U.S. job is projected to have employment growth of 7% from 2016 to 2026, but photographers employment is projected to decline more than 5% in that same time frame. Thanks to camera-equipped smartphones some aspects of photography are more accessible for nonprofessionals. Other photography jobs could be eliminated as companies choose to hire freelancers rather than keeping salaried photographers on their payrolls.

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24. Food server
> Median annual wages: $23,290
> Projected job growth, 2016-2026: +10.2%
> Total employment: 266,190

Food service is a difficult job, requiring servers to spend hours on their feet and interact with many customers in the space of one shift. Servers also depend on tips from customers, as opposed to earning a standard wage or salary like most other jobs. This is one reason servers have one of the lowest median annual wages at $23,290.

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23. Roofer
> Median annual wages: $39,970
> Projected job growth, 2016-2026: +11.1%
> Total employment: 128,680

Roofers install, repair, and replace roofs. They have a difficult working environment. Unable to work in bad weather, roofers often have to work all day in the summer, contending with heat and the relatively dangerous conditions of working on sloped, elevated surfaces. Despite these conditions, most roofers earn less than $40,000 per year, in part because it is an unskilled occupation that does not require a specific level of education.

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22. Welder
> Median annual wages: $41,380
> Projected job growth, 2016-2026: +5.6%
> Total employment: 389,190

Welding is often a physically demanding job because welders often have to work in awkward positions and lift heavy metal objects. This makes for a challenging — and potentially dangerous — work environment. As U.S. infrastructure continues to age, welding jobs should grow steadily nationwide to repair and rebuild structures like bridges, buildings, and roads.

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21. Water transportation worker
> Median annual wages: $54,400
> Projected job growth, 2016-2026: +7.6%
> Total employment: 79,860

Water transportation workers are in charge of directing and maintaining the ships and boats used to move people and cargo across rivers, lakes, oceans, and other waterways. Piloting a boat of any size requires at least some expertise and experience. Any mistake or mechanical failure can be disastrous and even fatal, making this a stressful career. Most water transportation workers make over $54,000, well above the median income for all American jobs.

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