15 Low-Paying Jobs Americans Don’t Want To Work Anymore

NEWS & TRENDING - JOBS & CAREER NEWS
Stress, low pay, and other hazards make these professions some of the worst.
Updated April 11, 2024
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Not all jobs are created equal. Some career paths do not pay well, making it difficult to move beyond living paycheck to paycheck. Other jobs involve high-stress levels or are simply uninspiring.

Then there are jobs that combine the worst of both worlds: They don't pay well, and they can make people miserable.

Here are 15 low-paying jobs that nobody wants anymore. All salary figures come from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

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Auto mechanic

HBS/Adobe mechanic using wrench to perform repairs.

Median annual salary: $46,970
Projected growth through 2032: 2%

Mechanics keep our cars happy and running, but the career has stalled for some people. Mechanics frequently find themselves handling greasy components and tools.

Most work full-time, with overtime being common. Due to the nature of the job — dealing with heavy parts and tools — mechanics are prone to workplace injuries.

Bus driver

Syda Productions/Adobe Bus driver accepting passenger's tickets

Median annual salary: $44,440
Projected growth through 2032: 3%

Driving buses for a living offers an unfortunate combination of low pay and high stress.

Making your way through heavy traffic or bad weather while dealing with unruly passengers can be headache-inducing. City bus drivers, particularly, have high injury and illness rates, primarily due to traffic accidents.

Butcher

BlueSkyImages/Adobe butcher presents the raw meat.

Median annual salary: $36,930
Projected growth through 2032: -1%

Butchers prepare meat for retail sale, often in grocery stores and specialty shops.

The job is physically demanding, involving repetitive motions, dangerous equipment, and cold environments. High injury and illness rates are associated with using slicing tools and walking on slippery floors.

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Cashier

pressmaster/Adobe cashier giving grocery bag to customer.

Median annual salary: $28,240
Projected growth through 2032: -10%

Cashiers make up a massive part of the American workforce: They held about 3.4 million jobs in 2021. But automation is a major threat to these jobs.

The tasks of a cashier are repetitive, and they spend most of their shifts standing at counters or checkout stands. They also often encounter cranky customers, which can lead to loads of stress.

Construction laborer

Tomasz Zajda/Adobe carpenter constructing wooden frames.

Median annual salary: $39,520
Projected growth through 2032: 4%

Every building we live and work in needs to be built first. That is where construction laborers come in.

It is a physically demanding career. Some laborers work at tremendous heights or outdoors in adverse weather conditions.

Loud and heavy equipment means workers need earplugs and safety gear. The job also has high rates of injury and illness.

Corrections officer

Anna Kosolapova/Adobe guards standing near criminals cell.

Median annual salary: $49,610
Projected growth through 2032: -7%

Correctional officers guard individuals in penal institutions and during transport. These roles can be stressful and dangerous.

Correctional officers work various shifts, including weekends and holidays. Due to confrontations with detainees, correctional officers and jailers have high injury and illness rates.

Hand laborers and material movers

WavebreakMediaMicro/Adobe employee standing near production line.

Median annual salary: $34,960
Projected growth through 2032: 5%

Hand laborers and material movers make little pay for demanding work. The job combines long hours of strenuous labor (shifts longer than eight hours are common) moving cargo. High rates of injury are common.

Food server

fizkes/Adobe waitress accepting orders from customers.

Median annual salary: $28,130
Projected growth through 2032: 2%

Working in food service is many Americans’ first taste of a career. It is a massive employment field: 1.9 million people work as waiters and waitresses.

The job can be hectic and harried. During busy periods, food servers can find themselves under intense pressure to get food to customers quickly. Many rely on tips to make ends meet.

Logger

Robert Kneschke/Adobe Two lumberjacks carrying felled tree.

Median annual salary: $46,580
Projected growth through 2032: -5%

Loggers work in physically demanding and dangerous conditions, harvesting forests for raw materials. They face hazards such as falling branches, rough terrain, and handling heavy logs.

The use of machinery has improved safety, but risks remain. Chainsaws and power equipment require careful handling. Logging workers still experience injuries and fatalities.

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Painter

Milan/Adobe painter coating wall with fresh paint.

Median annual salary: $46,090
Projected growth through 2032: 1%

Painters work indoors and outdoors, engaging in physically demanding tasks that involve frequent bending, kneeling, reaching, and climbing.

Those who paint bridges or buildings may often work at extreme heights or in uncomfortable positions. Hazards include falls from ladders, muscle strains from lifting, and exposure to drywall dust and other irritants.

Pest control worker

Studio Romantic/Adobe pest controler eradicating cockroaches.

Median annual salary: $38,310
Projected growth through 2032: 3%

Pest control is a rough profession that has nothing to do with the bugs.

Pest control workers tackle indoor and outdoor problems in all types of weather. They often kneel, bend, and crawl in tight spaces to inspect sites.

There are health risks associated with pesticide use — workers in this field have high rates of injury and illnesses.

Roofer

Volodymyr Shevchuk/Adobe man is working to cover the roof.

Median annual salary: $47,920
Projected growth through 2032: 2%

You stay cozy and dry inside your home thanks to the workers who replace, repair, and install roofs on buildings. But it is a tough field.

Roofing requires substantial physical effort. Roofers climb, bend, kneel, and do heavy lifting. They also often have to put in overtime to complete specific projects, including during the hot summer season.

Security guard

Andrey Popov/Adobe security guard stands in position.

Median annual salary: $34,770
Projected growth through 2032: -1%

Security guards work in diverse settings. Due to round-the-clock operations, they frequently work overnight and early shifts.

Guards may patrol on foot or remain stationed at a post — such as a guardhouse or a vehicle — to monitor entrances and grounds. They may need to stand or sit for extended periods.

Taxi driver

New Africa/Adobe young man driving his taxi.

Median annual salary: $32,440
Projected growth through 2032: 14%

Taxi drivers don't know where they might have to go next or how much money they will take home. And they work at all hours of the day.

They sometimes handle heavy luggage and packages, which can lead to strains. Taxi drivers may own or lease their cabs, and ride-hailing drivers use their own vehicles. Both bear expenses like fuel and maintenance.

The ever-present threat of vehicle crashes is the leading cause of injury.

Welder

Konstantin Z/Adobe worker engaged in welding in factory.

Median annual salary: $47,540
Projected growth through 2032: 1%

Welding is a profession focused on using equipment to melt and fuse pieces of metal to form a permanent bond.

Welders have to endure all kinds of weather outdoors. Working in confined indoor spaces can be tricky too. Working on elevated scaffolds or platforms is not uncommon, further adding to the job's complexity.

The job is also physically demanding, and the hazards — fumes, intense light — are numerous.

Bottom line

alfa27/Adobe couple standing with cleaning tools

A job that pays well can help you get ahead financially. Other jobs offer modest pay but provide workers with a sense of purpose and fulfillment.

However, many jobs on this list have few redeeming qualities. Maybe that is why few people want them anymore. Regardless, that could create some opportunities for you if you need work now or during retirement.

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Author Details

Will Vitka Will Vitka is a D.C. area reporter and writer. He previously worked for WTOP, The New York Post, Stuff Magazine, and CBS News.

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