The 25 Worst Jobs in the World

Illustration of an angry man sitting at his desk in an office

Work life satisfaction is sometimes overlooked when it comes to finding a job. Many people often end up working just to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads. This can result in them taking on challenging professions that others often avoid.

If you think your cubicle-sheltered job is bad, then these professions will help you put your 9-to-5 grind into perspective. From unfavourable conditions to gruesome tasks and challenging work environments to low wages, these are the 25 worst jobs in the world.

1. Telemarketer

Telemarketers get paid to make cold calls to the general public in order to sell various products and services. They’re a huge annoyance to many people, and receive endless abuse and constant hang-ups as a result. Having to endure this on a daily basis can be quite demoralising. They receive a mediocre salary, too, despite the scope to earn more based on performance.

2. Cleaner

Cleaners are often mistreated in the workplace and often end up doing horrendous tasks. Unfortunately, many in-house cleaners are also taken advantage of by their bosses and are not given fair wages. To get on in this job, you need to have thick skin and be comfortable to say ‘no’ when needed.

3. Lorry driver

Besides the fact that lorry driving is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, it’s also one of the worst. It can get quite boring and lonely on the long trips up and down the motorway, and many consider it a dead-end profession with no room for progress and development.

4. Soldier

This profession can be rewarding as you are working for your country, yet many military personnel have to battle with mental health conditions and other health-related issues. Spending extensive periods of time away from your loved ones can be challenging, let alone having to have your bed and uniform inspected numerous times a day.

5. Social worker

­­People who choose a career in social work are often faced with awful and demoralising situations. While it can be a fulfilling job, the circumstances and situations social workers must deal with can be gruelling and their mental health could take a toll, particularly when working with orphaned children, victims of abuse and homeless people.

6. Customer service advisor

Do you know the saying ‘don’t shoot the messenger’? This is too close to home for customer service advisors. They get the brunt of angry complaints and deal with abusive customers who are dissatisfied with the company they represent. On the plus side, they can really make a difference when they’ve helped solve a solution, especially if the company has a great culture.

7. Miner

Coal mining is one of the most despised careers that can greatly affect workers’ health. Miners are known to have a considerably short life expectancy as they work in incredibly dusty and toxic environments; they are also at great risk of a gas explosion or a tunnel collapsing.

8. Slaughterhouse worker

This job isn’t one for the faint of heart. Killing animals for a living can be extremely depressing. In fact, slaughterhouse work has been linked to numerous mental health problems.

Speaking to the BBC, one former abattoir worker went on to describe the less-than-ideal working conditions in slaughterhouses: ‘They are filthy, dirty places. There’s animal faeces on the floor, you see and smell the guts, and the walls are covered in blood. And the smell... It hits you like a wall when you first enter, and then hangs thick in the air around you. The odour of dying animals surrounds you like a vapour.’

9. Promotional mascot

Any list of the worst jobs in the world wouldn’t be complete without promotional mascots. Whether it’s dressing as a pair of testicles in the name of testicular cancer awareness or promoting a new fried chicken restaurant in a giant chicken costume, you’re bound to attract attention – usually ridicule and bullying.

10. Traffic warden

Traffic wardens are strongly hated amongst the general public; I mean, who likes getting a parking ticket? Their day-to-day lives involve a lot of abuse and shouting, so you will need to have thick skin to be able to do this job. Dennis Sarpong, who works as a traffic warden in London, says: ‘You get verbal abuse all the time, but I never take it personally’.

11. Pet food taster

Although some people actually enjoy eating pet food for a living, it’s fair to say that most of us are repulsed by it. This job involves eating really bad batches of animal products and the risk of severe food poisoning. To be successful in this role, you will need a highly developed palate and the presence of mind not to swallow anything but your pride.

12. Portable toilet cleaner

These brave workers tackle cleaning portable toilets on a daily basis. Using a tank and a vacuum wand, cleaners must suck up all the waste in a portable toilet. After picking up any stray toilet paper, they also wash down all surfaces that could possibly be soiled, including the walls. This is when a high-pressure hose comes in handy, and as you can imagine, hosing a wall off in a closed space results in a lot of spray back. Nevertheless, some cleaners grin and bear it – and take home, on average, $51,000 a year.

13. Roadkill collector

Roadkill collectors are faced with the gruelling task of collecting and disposing of animals that have been struck or killed by vehicles from the road. They never know what they’re going to face (including oncoming traffic). They also don’t know how long the animal has been lying on the road, so the stench they’re faced with can really make you hurl.

14. Animal masturbator

I didn’t believe it, either, but this is a legitimate job. There are times when semen needs to be collected from an animal for fertilisation or a study. This is where the animal masturbator comes in; their role is to extract sperm from the animal, either manually or with an electric stimulator.

15. Sewer cleaner

Some jobs are lousy, and some just plain stink. Being a sewer inspector falls into both categories, but the decent salary could make you reconsider. Their daily duties involve inspecting sewers and flushing out problems.

However, there is a relatively high chance of contracting diseases, especially gastrointestinal, respiratory and skin conditions.

16. Crime scene cleaner

A job for only the most hardened, a crime scene cleaner is responsible cleaning up and restoring areas where homicides, suicides and accidents took place. Performing this job includes removing blood stains, body parts, bodily fluids and other gory things from the scene.

This job requires high endurance, as it can take hours to clean up everything, depending on how bad the crime scene is.

17. Fast food cook

Fast food cooks work in overheated and fast-paced kitchens to produce a limited menu of fast food items. Beyond the burns, cuts and minor injuries that can occur from working in a kitchen, this job often comes with one of the lowest wages in the food industry, as well as long hours during evening and weekend shifts.

18. Broadcaster

Perhaps surprisingly, broadcasting is considered a challenging job, mainly due to the terrible work-life balance. This highly stressful job also involves working extensively in the public eye to tight deadlines. If you fancy spending most of your time at work and if you think you can handle the pressure, then it may not be so bad.

19. Paint dry watcher

These folks literally watch paint dry for a living. The purpose is to check how the colour of matt and emulsion changes over time and to make sure that they’re durable. I mean, what can be more boring than staring at a blank wall for hours?

20. Guard at Buckingham Palace

‘Guard duty at Buckingham Palace is regarded as one of the worst jobs in the British Army’, according to military documents obtained by the Telegraph.

Soldiers spend several hours each day cleaning and pressing their uniforms and polishing their boots in preparation for one of the many kit inspections that they’re likely to face before taking up their positions outside one of the royal palaces.

Perhaps the worst part, though, is obnoxious tourists treating you like an animal in a zoo, as well as the terrible accommodation.

21. Pest control officer

The job of a pest control officer is to exterminate insects and vermin such as spiders, cockroaches and rats. Their work environment can range from houses to sewers and ditches to basements.

As if dealing with vermin and roaches isn’t enough, pest control officers must also work with toxic and poisonous chemicals in order to fumigate and treat infested areas, which could be extremely dangerous if not handled with caution.

22. Logger

Logging has a reputation for being a dangerous job that can often result in serious or fatal injuries. It’s also a physically demanding job which requires you to cut down and load logs of trees onto trailers. According to BLS data, the most frequent nonfatal injuries involve getting struck by equipment, falling or slipping and overexertion. Meanwhile, between 2006 and 2015, an average of 66 loggers died every year due to fatal injuries.

On top of the hazards and physical strain that is involved with this occupation, the pay isn’t great, either.

23. Taxi driver

From traffic jams to working unusual hours and low pay, taxi drivers have to endure a lot of unfavourable conditions. They also often need to deal with rude or unruly customers, who also contribute to the high stress levels associated with this job.

Plus, your physical integrity could also suffer due to the elongated periods of sitting and potential traffic accidents.

24. Retail sales associate

Sales associates often face long hours and low wages, and with the rise of online-shopping, opportunities in this sector are becoming quite slim. Excellent customer service skills are essential, and when faced with dissatisfied or rude clients, sales associates must maintain a cool and pleasant exterior despite the customer’s unpleasant demeanour and behaviour.

There’s often also a lack of work-life balance, having to work during weekends and holidays, without any overtime compensation, either.

25. Odour tester

Getting a whiff of bad body odour can make most of our stomachs churn, but odour testers spend days sniffing people’s armpits, breath and feet. Depending on the company you work for, you could also be testing the fragrance of scented candles, packaged food and perfume. According to Totaljobs, ‘On a good day, you might be testing the smell of a new frozen dinner after its cooked; on a bad day, you might be testing the effectiveness of a new deodorant, [which] could involve smelling quite a few armpits’.

So, there you have it – a list of puke-worthy, spine-chilling, ghastly jobs that people do for the money (or because they actually enjoy it!).

Would you consider doing any of these jobs? Join the discussion in the comments section below and let us know!


This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 9 November 2017 and was written in collaboration with staff writer Melina Theodorou.