Five Low-Paying, High-Stress Jobs
By Lauren Leonardi
What makes a job miserable? Unsupportive, lazy colleagues? Lousy growth potential? A controlling boss? Online salary database PayScale.com surveyed workers in a variety of industries and discovered that high stress or low pay by themselves do not make a job awful but having both does. The combination of being stressed out and broke trumps all other career-related gripes.
Certainly there are higher-stress jobs out there, but if the pay is good, workers seem willing to bear the anxiety. Likewise, for the totally stress-averse, there are plenty of jobs that won’t ruffle feathers, but also won’t likely pay well.
The following is a list of jobs and their annual salaries from PayScale.com that have the double-whammy of high stress and low pay:
1. Residential Counselor
Median Annual Salary: $27,100
It’s not hard to imagine that running a residential home for the mentally ill or physically disabled would be demanding and stressful at times. Add to that the challenge of maneuvering through the tangled bureaucracies that often accompany any public-service infrastructure, and you have all the makings of a stressful job.
Just ask Paula S. Gilbert, a licensed mental health counselor who held a full-time supervisory position in a residential home for mentally ill adults ages 18 to 23. At the time, Gilbert had more than four years of work experience, and earned around $38,000 per year. She quit after about a year, but not because of the salary.
“The staff was very difficult to manage, and no one was really helping me,” she says. “There was an overall lack of support and training. I pieced things together day by day. It was very high-stress.”
2. Import/Export Agent
Median Annual Salary: $37,000 per year
Import/export agents are typically found at the center of deals where goods are bought and sold internationally. They act as mediators and sometimes facilitators between the buyer and seller. Agents must abide by a strict set of rules and guidelines on international trade. The job is highly stressful, in part, because it’s commission-based. If you’re not able to get all parties to come to an agreement, your paycheck disappears with their deal.
3. Chemical-Dependency Counselor
Median Annual Salary: $39,200 per year
These counselors deal with addicted individuals who are often in the throes of a calamitous life event. And rather than accepting the help of a counselor voluntarily, many of these people are legally required to take it. While the work can be compelling, it ranks as one of the most difficult social work jobs due to its emotional challenges. Watching clients relapse and sometimes become ill or die can take its toll.
4. Probation Officer
Median Annual Salary: $40,200
Probation officers spend the majority of their time working in prisons, courthouses and detention centers. They supervise and follow up with sentenced offenders, often working with social workers and other care providers to ensure that offenders are attempting to live lawfully. They need strong knowledge of the legal system as well as plenty of patience to deal with those system’s’ challenges and troubled people.
5. News Reporter
Median Annual Salary: $41,200
Digging up details on the latest news story is hard work. The financial struggles that have plagued the newspaper industry in recent years make this role even more stressful. Still, many news reporters would not be quick to embrace a change to a lower-stress career because the work wouldn’t feel as important.
Source: All salary data provided by online salary database PayScale.com. Salaries listed are median, annual salaries in CAD for full-time workers with five to eight years of experience and include all bonuses, commissions or profit-sharing.