When parents look at their young children and imagine what they’ll be when they grow up, many different possibilities come to mind. They dream of little Junior growing up to be a surgeon, or perhaps a commercial airline pilot, or maybe a banker, and they imagine a rewarding future of power, prestige, and high pay.
The reality is actually a little different. The job search portal CareerCast.com, created a list of 12 jobs that are traditionally believed to be great occupations, but that actually look a lot better on paper than they might be in reality.
Despite the public perception of some of these jobs as impressive and rewarding, some have less-than-stellar salaries and frankly lousy hiring prospects. Others come with so much on-the-job stress that the six-figure income barely seems worth it, particularly when the work involves the safety and well-being of others.
Whatever the case, CareerCast.com characterizes all of the following jobs as overrated, but with important caveats: “A job that’s overrated doesn‘t mean it fails to serve an important function in our society. In fact, these jobs play an integral role in our workplace,” says the website. “It’s just that the hype surrounding them sometimes makes these jobs sound much better than they really are.”
What are CareerCast.com’s 12 most overrated jobs? Click ahead and find out.
By Daniel Bukszpan
Posted 08 November 2011
Income Average: $62,105
An advertising account executive “negotiates to procure accounts, and supervises advertising campaigns for products, companies, and organizations,” according to CareerCast.com.
The executive earns an average annual salary of $62,105 for these services, but the position has several overrated factors, including “high stress, weak hiring demand, and an unstable economy,” according to the job search site.
Income Average: $40,184
In a less enlightened era, flight attendants were known as “stewardesses.” But times have changed, and a vocation once solely populated by pretty young women now is practiced by people of both genders and all age groups.
The average salary of a flight attendant is $40,184 – a not-so-sky-high compensation that’s slightly lower than the national average. Flight attendants also have to endure long and exhausting hours, cramped working conditions, and occasionally rude customers -- making the behavior of former Jet Blue employee Steven Slater, who used profanity, and an emergency slide, to escape a customer dispute, somewhat more understandable.
Income Average: $40,209
Photojournalists take pictures for news outlets, which requires them to travel and document events in real time. For the average person, who slaves away at a repetitive and unchallenging desk job, that life must seem like an exciting adventure.
The job requirements of a photojournalist, however, might convince desk dwellers to stay put. Photojournalists are required to travel to where the action is and take pictures, sometimes in extremely hazardous locations ravaged by war, earthquakes, and radiation. Then, they have to deal with the stress of meeting a deadline. For risking their lives to get some good pictures, a photojournalist earns an average salary of $40,209.
Income Average: $40,357
Americans purchasing a new home will frequently do so through a real-estate agent. The agent acts as a liaison between the buyer and the seller of the property, with the ultimate goal of negotiating a price on which both the seller and the buyer can agree.
The average salary for a real-estate agent is $40,357. Anyone wishing to become an agent in the U.S. has to earn a license, and the time and cost associated with accomplishing that may give pause. CareerCast.com describes this job as overrated due to the decrease in activity that the profession has undergone since the housing crisis began.
Income Average: $67,470
It’s impossible to walk into a convenience store to buy a bottle of water, a lottery ticket, and 100 shares of stock in Groupon. While many self-directed investors choose to buy and sell stocks online on their own through discount websites such as ETRADE.com, many people instead choose to consult a stockbroker, who coordinates the sale of these and other securities.
The average annual salary of a stockbroker is $67,470, according to CareerCast.com. The primary stressor that makes the job overrated is the burden of being responsible for the financial well-being of multiple clients. This holds particularly true in today’s volatile and unpredictable stock market.
Income Average: $73,193
An architect designs and oversees building construction. Lately, there has been an effort on the part of software designers to co-opt the term and re-christen themselves “software architects,” but for most people, the term remains associated with people who design buildings.
An architect earns an average salary of $73,193. CareerCast.com cites “decreasing employment opportunities tied to the unstable construction industry” as a factor making the job overrated. The amount of education that aspiring architects must undergo to earn a license may be off-putting to potential candidates, as well.
Correction: A reference in this slide to "landscape architects" has been removed.
Income Average: $113,211
Attorneys have been painted in an unflattering light in much of popular culture, but the fact remains that at some point, many people who don’t understand the law will need counsel. This is where the attorney comes in, and without his or her advice, businesses and individuals might find themselves in a legal bind.
An attorney earns an average salary of $113,211 a year, according to CareerCast.com. The search firm cites “lack of job stability in a poor economy, long hours, and deteriorating hiring prospects” as factors that make the job overrated.
Income Average: $106,153
Those wishing to get paid to travel would have a hard time finding a better way to do it than by becoming a commercial airline pilot. Commercial pilots operate airplanes to transport cargo and passengers.
The average salary of a commercial airline pilot is $106,153. While the six-digit sum sounds attractive, pilots have to handle the stress of being responsible for the lives of hundreds of passengers, and must also endure very long hours.
Income Average: $160,242
People suffering from depression, delusions, or dissatisfaction with day-to-day life need not suffer silently. Psychiatrists treat these kinds of behavioral, emotional, and mental conditions.
The average salary of a psychiatrist is $160,242. According to CareerCast.com, the factors that make the job overrated are “the responsibility of managing the mental health of others, long hours, and increased regulation.”
Income Average: $192,065
Whether a patient has a lingering cold or suspects something more serious, the first line of defense is a consultation with a physician. This medical professional performs examinations, produces diagnoses, and recommends methods of treatment. The average salary is $192,065.
While the level of stress that a physician encounters may be slightly less than that encountered by a brain surgeon, that doesn’t mean the job is easy by any means. CareerCast.com cites “increased regulations, lower compensation, and the required need to stay abreast of medical developments” as factors that make the job overrated.
Income Average: $365,258
No matter how many miles you jog every day, or how closely you stick to your low-fat, high-fiber diet, there is still the chance that at some point in your life, you may need the services of a surgeon. Surgeons are compensated for their considerable expertise, earning an average salary of $365,258.
In addition to performing procedures that can last for as long as 20 hours in some cases, surgeons often experience intense on-the-job stress. Surgeons may be well-paid, but the salaries that they earn come at a high personal price.
Income Average: $161,141
A senior corporate executive would seem to have it all. He or she is responsible for the operations, people, and policies of private and publicly traded companies. It’s hard to imagine more complex or prestigious responsibilities than those, and the average salary of $161,141.
Despite the positive attributes of the job, it earns the top spot on CareerCast.com’s list of Most Overrated Jobs. The firm cites “high stress, shaky stability, and long hours that affect family time” as factors that come with the territory, and make the position much less rewarding than it may seem.