The 5 Worst Industries to Work In—Ranked

Updated: Jul. 19, 2018

Worried about getting trapped in a dead-end job? Check out this survey on the five worst industries to work in, and learn where to look instead.

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Most job search websites trumpet the benefits of working for the top-paying companies, and there are plenty of high-paid jobs out there. But a recent survey by career and jobs website Zippia looked at the opposite end of the scale. Content strategist for the site and co-author of the report McLeod Brown puts it this way: “We thought it would be interesting to see what the other end of the spectrum looks like.” Here, in descending order, are the five worst industries to work in.

Healthcare support

Healthcare support workers include home help aides, occupational and physical therapist aides, and general healthcare assistants—not doctors and nurses. One of the most significant reasons this field is one of the worst to work in is the difference between the average pay of men and women. “Women dominate this industry, making up about 75 percent of the workforce,” says Brown. “However, the average male in this industry makes around $32,000, compared to the average woman who makes about $25,000,” he explains.

Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance

This industry has a high concentration of older workers (mid-40s to mid-50s), although the reasons why aren’t clear. Qualification levels are low—around one third of workers don’t have a high school diploma—and fair pay is an issue. “Once again, the gender pay gap is especially visible in this industry. Women make $9,000 less on average than their male counterparts,” says Brown.

Personal care and service

Low pay is a significant factor in this industry. “The bottom 10 percent of workers, they’re making just above $18,000 a year,” said Brown. “This is barely above minimum wage, so once again this is just a low-paying industry.” This could be due to the fact that women make up 75 percent of this industry. Check out these weird jobs you didn’t know you could apply for.

Farming, fishing, and forestry

“Overall, it’s just a low-paying industry heavily dominated by males,” says Brown. The average pay increase between the ages of 25 and 40 is a mere $4,000, and there are limited job opportunities, especially for women. Personal safety is another issue here. Despite the fact that logging is one of the most dangerous jobs, many workers are uninsured.

Food preparation and serving

This sector has the unenviable position of paying the lowest of the low, and there’s little in the way of long-term career advancement. Waiting tables means poor hourly pay and over-reliance on tips; the average wage increase between ages 25 and 40 is just $5,000. High turnover is also a negative factor in this field, mainly because it’s a popular choice for students seeking short-term work in the vacations. Brown says the combination of poor pay and high turnover puts the industry at the bottom of the scale.

Here is Brown’s advice for people seeking a career with prospects: “Education is very important, and there’s plenty of studies that show that the more education you get, the higher salary you get. It’s important to be passionate about what you do, but you also need to get a good education and make sure that you’re able to finance your standard of living as well.”

Now that you know which industries are the worst, find out the highest-paying jobs in the country. Of course, not every “good” job is a walk in the park. Here are 9 high-paying jobs that definitely aren’t for everyone.