It may seem glamorous to be a slick advertising executive like Jon Hamm on the TV show “Mad Men” or like Michael Douglas’s power broker character in the movie “Wall Street.”
But times change and the professions that seemed alluring in the 1980s may not be so glamorous now.
Job listing and advice site CareerCast.com has come out with its annual listof the most overrated jobs – and the most underrated jobs.
We’ve all been to a restaurant we’d deem “overrated,” or met that guy in the office we’d call overrated. So what makes a job overrated?
“Poor outlook for future growth, long hours, stress, and a multitude of new candidates entering the industry make it especially challenging to break into many of our overrated careers,” said Tony Lee, publisher of CareerCast.com. “We find jobs that are perceived as being really great for one reason or another and kind of show -- they’re not as great as you think.”
So, the next time you encounter a woman who boasts, “Well, my son is a ______,” maybe you say, “Hmmm. Not so much.”
Click ahead for the 12 Most Overrated Jobs of 2012.
See the 12 Most Underrated Jobs of 2012.
By Cindy Perman
Posted 27 Sept 2012
Median Salary: $67,179
“The perception of a psychologist is a person sitting in an office listening to people’s problems all day and you think, ‘How hard could that be?’” Lee said.
In fact, it’s pretty hard. First, you have to work long hours – and often nights and weekends, given that many of your clients are 9-to-5-ers. Second, unless you work for a hospital or clinic, you’re also a small business owner, which means you have to do your own marketing – and you have to deal with changes to what’s covered or not covered in your patients’ health-care plans.
Median Salary: $45,260
It may sound like nonstop fun, planning parties and weddings all day – “Sorry, I’ve got a 10 a.m. appointment tasting cake” – but in fact, it’s quite grueling and high stress.
“You’re responsible for all aspects of the event, so if the weather or the food doesn’t go right, that’s on you,” Lee explained. Plus it’s competitive, which keeps salaries low, and, like psychologists, you’re also a small business owner, so you’re constantly having to look for your next client.
Oh, also, one word: Bridezillas!
Median Salary: $73,179
This hybrid left brain/right brain career may seem appealing and the perception is that you get to play with models all day. In fact, it’s always been grueling work, full of long hours, but it took a huge hit when the housing bubble burst — many architects had to go out of business because there isn’t enough demand for their services.
But the housing market is starting to turn, finally, so stay tuned for next year – maybe it will change teams and be on the underrated list!
Median Salary: $40,209
It may seem like a thrill to be on the front lines of the fire and every police report, or photographing Lindsay Lohan or sharks for “Shark Week,” but “a lot of those perceptions are based on movies and television,” Lee said.
In reality, it can be a dangerous job, there’s a battle royale with the rest of the paparazzi to get “the shot” and, Lee said, the pay isn’t that great.
“It sounds cool, but the reality is it’s a lot tougher than it seems,” Lee said.
Median Salary: $38,156
“Being a flight attendant is much more demanding than the perception of having a glamorous job involving travel around the world,” Lee said.
With fuel prices high and cutbacks at many airlines, flight attendants face weak job security — if they’re lucky enough to have a job. They have to do the same amount of work with fewer attendants than there were a few years ago.
Median Salary: $92,156
Public relations has become one of the most popular majors on college campuses, Lee said: “A lot of kids think PR is going to be fun.”
“They don’t realize the level of stress. You’re responsible for an event. Getting the word out on a new product release. And if you fail, there’s no comeback for that,” he said. “Plus, the turnover is high and it’s long hours.”
Not to mention, you’re at the mercy of the media, wooing journalists to write about your clients or put them on TV. You’re also at the mercy of your clients. You got the front page of The New York Times? Great! How about The Wall Street Journal?!
Median Salary: $112,760
“The perception is that just be a lawyer and you’ll be in great shape,” Lee said. In fact, the legal profession took a huge hit from the recession. Turnover is high and the work is grueling. It’s not all golf and coming down hard in court with an Oscar-worthy “You can’t handle the truth!”
“You don’t expect when you’re in law school that you’ll be spending 70 to 80 hours a week reading contracts!” Lee said.
Median Salary: $305,078
So the next time a woman brags, “My son is a doctor!” you can smile knowing it’s not all that.
It’s not just the pure joy and mastery of surgery. For sure, surgery has always been stressful – it’s long hours on your feet, patients’ lives are in your hands, and you’re on call 24/7.
“Your life’s really not your own,” Lee said. “And now, with health-care regulation and insurance requirements, many surgeons spend most of their time handling administrative stuff,” he said.
And don’t even get the nursing staff started on the God Complex!
Sorry, surgeons, you’re overrated.
Median Salary: $70,474
Michael Douglas made it look like it’s all king making and raking in the dough in the movie “Wall Street,” but if it’s one thing we learned from the financial crisis, it’s that this is a high stress, highly competitive, highly stomach-churning job. Sure, you could make millions, but you could also lose millions.
Layoffs have ravaged the industry and those lucky enough to still have jobs on Wall Street are now faced with tougher regulations and requirements.
Median Salary: $103,158
Sure, it may seem like soaring through the clouds and traveling the globe, but the airline industry has been devastated by cost-cutting efforts, which means on top of passenger safety, terrorism, and bad weather, many pilots now face lower salaries and budget pressures.
“Maybe they’re sitting on a tarmac too long and burning fuel, or the weather forces them to go out of their way and all of that is going to cost more – they now have many more concerns than just safely flying a plane,” Lee said.
Median Salary: $166,141
“Most people think of it as flying on a corporate jet and a nice dining room every day,” Lee said. “The real issue with executives is that you’re responsible for the careers and lives of everyone who works for the company. Any wrong decision is on your head. And if the company is publicly-traded, you’re responsible to shareholders.”
There has always been stress to perform and meet budgets, but never is that stress higher on executives than during a recession.
“Any time you have an economic downturn, it puts the squeeze on more senior level executives who have to manage revenue against a poorer environment and it’s hard,” Lee said.
Median Salary: $64,107
Oh, Jon Hamm makes it look so easy and so glamorous on the hit show “Mad Men,” but the truth is, advertising is a very stressful, high-turnover business, Lee said. It’s not all about how you hold a glass of Scotch or woo a beautiful woman.
“You might perceive it to be a really cool job, but in fact, it’s overrated,” Lee said.