How would you answer if someone were to ask you what the most boring jobs in the world were? You would probably look back to your youth and think that working at a supermarket or being employed at a cannery was perhaps the worst experience of your life. And you would probably be right. However, when you think long and hard about the question, you can generate a long list of jobs that are even more tedious, sterile and mind-numbing. Imagine if this were your career.
We’ve compiled a list of the 30 most boring jobs in the world. You might need to grab a cup of coffee before you start going through this list, though – we wouldn’t want you to fall asleep!
1. Project manager
You might think that the role of a project manager is to walk up to employees’ cubicles, coffee up in hand, and inform personnel in a slow tone that they’re going to need them to come in on Saturday. The project manager does so much more, though, like ensuring the assignments get done on time and making the team members look like a million dollars. Oh, and trying to look busy when everything is done ahead of time.
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2. Telephone customer service representative
Imagine being berated every day over the telephone by irate customers. Well, that’s the life for eight hours a day for telephone customer service representatives who are cussed out and threatened because the consumer didn’t know how to turn on the computer. At first, it can be upsetting. But by the eighth time you are called the worst names in the book, it gets a little tedious.
3. Sales associate
Why do shoppers think sales associates create the company’s policy? It’s absurd to think that someone making minimum wage and folding sweaters or dusting shelves dictates what the business does or does not do. That said, sometimes employees may welcome some good old-fashioned tussling after filling in slips and organising a shelf.
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4. Security guard
Security guards may think that a shift could quickly metastasise into Die Hard. However, for the most part, the role of a security guard is killing time, particularly during graveyard shifts. Staring at computer monitors, accepting packages and feasting on doughnuts isn’t exactly John McClane.
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5. Waste collector
Rubbish in and rubbish out. No, this is not the description of Hollywood movies – it is the daily task of a waste collector. It’s not exactly the most exciting job since you are only removing rubbish from a bin to a truck – and then arriving to the same property a week later to do the same thing.
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6. Factory worker
Be it standing at an assembly line or putting together children’s toys, working at a factory is physically taxing, but it’s also one of the most boring jobs in the world. This is the case for most repetitive manual labour positions: performing the same task repeatedly can lead to pain in your back and boredom in your soul.
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7. Lift operator
A lift operator can be fun the first few times you operate a mountain chair lift. However, the longer you work a lift, the novelty eventually wears off. After a bit of time, you realise that all you are doing is loading and unloading lifts. Is it the worst job in the world? Hardly. But it isn’t exactly something that stimulates your little grey cells.
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8. Truck driver
For people who are confined to a desk job for 8 to 10 hours a day, the position of a truck driver can seem fresh and exciting. Indeed, you’re traveling the country and seeing new sights every day. As time goes by, the route becomes the same and the pressure of sitting on your bum for 14 hours seems less appealing. The only difference between a desk jockey and a trucker is that the latter operates a vehicle.
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The dishwashing profession is a job you take out of necessity. Nobody expects it to be glamour that will lead to a six-figure income. But even with the bar set as low as possible, a dishwasher is one of those boring jobs that make you want to become a Buddhist monk, sitting on a frigid mountain with a wet blanket and trying to use your mind to stay warm.
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10. Parking lot attendant
Unfortunately, not every visitor will be driving a Lamborghini or a 1967 Shelby Mustang GT 500. For the most part, a parking lot attendant will be forced to drive a patron’s Honda Civic or Ford Escape from the restaurant entrance to the back of a parking lot.
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11. Sign holder
Five-dollar footlongs! Shoe repair! Buy insurance here!
When a candidate applies for this job, they should not expect anything more from this position than simply what the employment title states: holding a sign.
12. Pork scratching spotter
What does a pork scratching spotter even do? For five days a week and eight hours a day, your responsibility will be to ensure no hairy pork scratchings make it into the packaging. That’s it. At least your employer can let you have a bit of pork for lunch, right?
13. Soil infiltration tester
Step aside watching paint dry. Here is perhaps one of the next most boring jobs: soil infiltration testing. This involves watching water infiltrate soil through a pie and measuring how many sinks per hour.
14. Computer programmer
A computer programmer makes a nice chunk of change each year, working for some of the biggest companies in the world. But just because you earn a handsome paycheque, it doesn’t mean you have the most exciting position in the world. In fact, how computer programmers survive this job for 20 or 30 years is amazing, considering they stare at a screen and a digital language every day.
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15. Data entry coder
If you ever worked in a call centre, you may have wished that you were back on the phones and not completing data entry coding. This is ranked as one of the most boring jobs in the world for a reason: you input information from a sheet of paper to a computer screen. That’s it. That’s the job.
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Writing down what someone is saying verbatim? That’s a paddlin’. In all seriousness, a transcriptionist, depending on the field they’re employed in, can earn a decent living. This does not remove the fact that it is a repetitious profession unless the people speaking are sharing information about a galactic federation or the next big stock.
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Like sales associates, cashiers are on the frontline handling a perturbed public. But that is the least of their problems since cashiers’ only task is to take money from the customer and place it in the register or operate the POS system.
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A telemarketer is lucky to generate at least one sale per shift. The entire four-, six- or eight-hour shift consists of dialling numbers and being hung up on or rejected by the person on the other end of the phone. It is a Sisyphean tragedy, one that is also quite vulgar since you’re upsetting the person’s dinner.
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19. Legal assistant
Unfortunately, the legal profession is not an episode of Law and Order. It’s more like watching a snail venture from one destination to the next. Unless you are the district attorney or you are working on a case against Big Pharma, legal jobs can be rather hebetudinous.
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20. Online captcha typist
Is online captcha typing ethical? We’ll leave that up to you, but thousands of desperate freelancers will take on the role of captcha typing for bots looking to evade this security apparatus. It is also one that is remarkably boring since your only task is to type funny-looking characters into a database. Now do this hundreds of times. If you choose to rip out your hair, we’d understand.
21. Technical writer
If you’ve ever read an IKEA instruction manual and then gotten into a fight with your spouse, you now know who to direct your anger at: the technical writer. The good news is that technical writers command excellent fees. The bad news is that it’s an overly complicated and dull occupation that attempts to simplify an intricate process of putting together bookshelves or hiding details that your smartphone emits ample amounts of radiation.
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It’s true: pharmacists always look busy behind the counter. But they’re not discovering a magical cure by experimenting with various compounds. Instead, they’re filling prescriptions, completing paperwork and ensuring they’re complying with government rules. This is a job that pays well, but is it something you could envision doing for 30 years?
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23. Compliance officer
Speaking of compliance...
A compliance officer consists of making sure your company or office is following the rules and regulations laid out by either the government or the corporation. You’ve heard the expression of reading your list and checking it twice. Well, a compliance officer reads a list, checks it twice – and three times, and four times, and five times every day of the workweek.
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24. Olympic swimming lifeguard
Are Olympic swimming lifeguards necessary? Aren’t they superfluous? Well, not according to the Olympic committees who keep these trained men and women on the sidelines to rescue some of the world’s fastest and most trained swimmers from, uh, drowning?
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25. Building doorman
Accepting packages, opening the doors for rude tenants, and answering the telephone. Like a security guard, a building doorman is essentially holding the fort. But good luck trying to be a doorman in the middle of the night – you’ll need a few cups of coffee to stay alert. You never know when somebody may leave their apartments to enjoy some Chinese takeout!
26. Queen’s Guard
Sure, the Queen’s Guards are sublime tourist attractions. Everyone has a little bit of fun with them. But aside from the novelty of appealing to tourists’ worst tendences, your job is to merely stand outside of Buckingham Palace for several hours a day.
27. Cannery line worker
One apple good. One apple bad. That’s how you could explain what a cannery line worker does. The employee monitors apples all day long and transfers the good ones to one beltline and the bad ones to another. No matter how much you love apples, this can be excruciatingly exhausting for the sheer amount of boredom this inflicts.
It would be great if you could apply your artistry skills to this employment opportunity. Unfortunately, however, households would not appreciate your rendition of Edvard Munch’s The Scream or Cassius Marcellus Coolidge’s Dogs Playing Poker on their walls. So, because of this, every day all you do is paint the wall. It’s a good thing you don’t have to watch it dry!
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29. Movie theatre attendant
Ripping up tickets and cleaning up popcorn for cash may be a great job for a teenager. But doing it after college can be draining, both physically and mentally. And there are only so many times that you can watch the end credits for a Hollywood blockbuster that may or may not have cut scenes.
30. Substitute teacher
For a moment, think back to your school days. Did you ever learn anything when a substitute teacher was around? If so, it would be a rare occasion. The substitute teacher would take attendance, ensure you’re in your seats and request that you re-read chapters four to six in your geography textbooks (which nobody did). For the remainder of the period, the substitute teacher would sit at their desk and prevent mischief from running wild. How fun!
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When you’re choosing a career or a temporary job to put groceries on the table, your primary objectives are salary, benefits, hours and potential career advancement. Do you stop to think about how exciting or boring the job would be? Probably not.
But while most jobs possess some level of predictability, repetition and monotony, some positions are slightly worse than others. And this could be something you can consider as you search for a career and identify your interests.
Can you think of any other boring jobs? Let us know in the comments section below!
This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 4 November 2016.