Being an architect or an event coordinator may seem glamorous, but long hours and low pay make them among the most overrated professions of 2015, according to a report released Friday by job-search site CareerCast.com.
"These jobs have a positive public perception but a less attractive reality," said CareerCast content editor Kyle Kensing. "While they may have high-salary potential, excitement and glamour, there are trade-offs ... that can include long hours, high pressure and stiff competition for positions or clients."
"Often it's a trade-off between how much stress you want and how much income you want," noted Nicole Smith, chief economist at Georgetown's Center on Education and the Workforce. "Unless you have the appropriate level of interest, the late nights and weekends you have to work will be unsatisfying."
Accountants, engineers and human resource managers may lack the same cachet, but they also tend to lack the stress and long hours, making them among the most underrated, according to CareerCast's report.
Overrated professions were chosen from a CareerCast ranking of 200 jobs that factored in job-related stress, competition, industry volatility and high job turnover, among other factors. Underrated jobs all share potential for advancement, a favorable hiring outlook, job security and low stress.
Here are the five most underrated and five most overrated jobs of 2015.
—By Jessica Dickler, special to CNBC.com
Posted 25 September 2015
Annual median salary: $63,550
Growth outlook: 13 percent
Accountants work with individual clients and large and small organizations to prepare financial records and ensure that taxes are paid properly and on time. It's a job that isn't going anywhere and, despite the stress around tax deadlines, pays well and has plenty of employment opportunities.
"It is portrayed as one of the most boring jobs," said Glassdoor's Dobroski, "but with an increasing number of multinational companies on the scene and more companies going public, I know some accountants that would argue against that."
Annual median salary: $80,890
Growth outlook: 15 percent
With a background in engineering and science, environmental engineers can work on everything from recycling, water and air pollution to public health. "Environment engineers tie into the future of energy and are necessary for everyday life," Kensing said.
Annual median salary: $90,890
Growth outlook: 16 percent
These days, expertise in the composition and structure of the Earth is highly sought after, particularly from energy companies with a growing interest in fossil fuels. That makes geology a gig in "high demand from firms with deep pockets," said CareerCast's Kensing.
Annual median salary: $79,340
Growth outlook: 20 percent
Civil engineers design, supervise and maintain large infrastructure projects from railroads to roller coasters. It's exciting but highly technical, so the competition for talented candidates is stiff.
"Engineering firms lure employees with generous benefits, like childcare and gym memberships, in hopes of attracting the best and the brightest," said Georgetown's Smith, making this career a win-win for qualified candidates.
Human resource manager
Annual median salary: $99,720
Growth outlook: 13 percent
Human resource managers work with top executives on strategic planning and spearhead the recruiting, interviewing and hiring of new staff—all in a typically 40-hour workweek.
"None of your favorite characters in movies are human resource managers, but it's certainly a great job to have going forward," said Glassdoor's career trends analyst Scott Dobroski, "especially now as many companies staff up after the recession."
Annual median salary: $73,090
Growth outlook: 17 percent
Architects design and plan the construction of houses, offices and public buildings for clients large and small. "It requires a lot of pricey schooling but pays relatively little," Kensing said. "And it's very much tied to the ebbs and flows of the economy, particularly construction, which was the hardest hit during the recession."
Advertising account executive
Annual median salary: $115,750
Growth outlook: 12 percent
Advertising account execs work with clients to generate interest and sales for a product or service. But it's not all Super Bowl ads and clever commercials, Dobroski noted. It's a highly strategic, high-pressure job. And if an ad campaign misses the mark, the ad exec is left holding the bag.
Annual median salary: $45,810
Growth outlook: 33 percent
Behind that invite comes a host of decisions, from food to transportation, all precisely predetermined by an event coordinator. Coordinators work on location and at night, on weekends and even over holidays—all while turning a bare-bones vision into a tangible event that must go off without a hitch, CareerCast's Kensing said. Talk about stress.
Sales representative (wholesale)
Annual median salary: $51,670
Growth outlook: 9 percent
Often on the road, most sales representatives in a wide range of industries work long hours with extensive travel and earn the bulk of their salary from commissions.
"If the economy is in a downturn and you don't make your numbers, that will be reflected in a lower salary through no fault of your own," cautioned Georgetown's Smith.
Annual median salary: $29,790
Growth outlook: 2 percent
Reporting the news at 4 a.m., 11 p.m. and anytime in between, broadcasters can work long and unpredictable hours—especially as they're rising up the ranks—for little pay. They also face intense pressure and extremely tight deadlines. And it's a very competitive field with few job openings.
"This is a job that's glamorized to the nth degree," Glassdoor's Dobroski said. "But for 95 percent of the people in this job, it is anything but."