Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Stressful Jobs That Pay Badly

For many workers, stress is part of the job description. And sometimes, the compensation doesn't match the pressures. Here are some of the most high-stress, low-paying jobs.

ThinkstockMedian pay: $20,300
% who say their job is stressful: 50.3%

Who would have thought that life at a coffee shop could be so stressful? Baristas, though, quickly learn that dealing with customers before they've had their morning (or afternoon or evening) cup of coffee isn't always as pleasant as a vanilla spice frappuccino.

Lines can swell as indecisive customers mull choices. Some come in with massive orders. Others complain about coffee being too cold, too hot, too sweet, not sweet enough... The sheer volume of sales insures that some customers will be unhappy -- and will let the barista know about it.

And the tension can build since company policy at most coffee bars is that the customer is always right -- even when they're wrong.

Special education teacher's aide
Median pay: $22,700
% who say their job is stressful: 59.3%

These teacher's aides get great hands-on experience working with students with physical, learning or behavioral challenges. But the stress levels can run high.

Since many aides come to the classroom with little experience, they end up learning on the job, said George Giuliani, executive director of the National Association of Special Education Teachers. And sometimes their working relationship with the teacher -- who is effectively their boss -- can be strained.

"[Aides] work under direct supervision of teachers and they may have a different sense of what their roles are," said Giuliani.

Most find it very rewarding, however, he said, although the monetary rewards tend to be very low. Median pay is less than $25,000 a year.

Loss prevention officer
ThinkstockMedian pay: $23,000
% who say their job is stressful: 54.3%

Loss prevention officers typically monitor retail floors for shoplifters, watching video screens or walking the aisles.

"The most stressful part of the job is to decide when to apprehend and when not to," said Gene Smith, a veteran of 35 years in the industry and president of the Loss Prevention Foundation. "You have to be right 100% of the time."

A wrong call could bring a lawsuit, but being too hesitant could mean lost inventory.

Safety is another concern. They never know when a shoplifter will pull out a knife or gun.

Yet, wages fall well short of the judgment and guts required of the job. The median pay is only $23,000.

Day care teacher
Median pay: $24,200
% who say their job is stressful: 60.5%

Working with two-to-six-year olds in public schools or daycare centers, these teachers can put in up to 12-hour days.

"Young children are demanding physically, mentally and emotionally," said Debora Wisneski, President of the Association for Childhood Education International.

But the most stressful part is "the precariousness of the job market."

While the long-term outlook for the profession is strong, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the current high unemployment rate means more moms and dads are staying home and taking care of the kids themselves.

Veterinarian's assistant
ThinkstockMedian pay: $25,500
% who say their job is stressful: 72.6%

Lori Asprea is a veterinary assistant at New York's Animal Medical Center, the largest facility of its kind in the world.

The animal hospital often gets the hardest cases, the ones regular vets can't handle.

"We see a lot of very ill animals and many are here a long time," said Asprea. "Emotionally, you get very attached."

And with a national median salary of under $26,000, the financial toll can be just as steep.

But helping animals makes up a lot of the difference. "I love all my patients," said Asprea.

Job coach
Median pay: $31,400
% who say their job is stressful: 84.8%

Job coaches help people with physical, emotional or mental disabilities get and keep jobs.

They have to juggle field work with a ton of paperwork, said Thea Noel, who works for Goodwill Industries in Atlanta. A pressure-packed part of the job is negotiating with employers on behalf of her clients.

The pay is often low, especially for job coaches dealing with emotionally unstable clients, said Kim Mueser, executive director at the Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation in Boston.

"The way our mental health system works, job coaches are paid at low rates compared with others in the rehab field," he said.

ThinkstockMedian pay: $34,200
% who say their job is stressful: 81.9%

Concierges do for hotel guests, apartment dwellers and independent clients what they don't have time to do for themselves.

"The stress is pleasing the client and doing that in a way that makes you happy as well," said Katherine Giovanni, founder of Triangle Concierge.

The public is not always "warm and fuzzy," however, said Giovanni. Many clients are demanding. One concierge had a client so harsh she had to retreat to the bathroom every day for a good cry.

Giovanni advised her to leave the client. The economics of the job can make that tough sometimes, however. Concierges had a median income of less than $35,000 in 2012, according to PayScale, so every paying customer counts.


No comments:

Post a Comment