It’s not difficult to figure out how the job market works. The most secure, best-paying positions are the one’s with the least amount of applicants because either too few people are qualified, or nobody wants to take them. As anyone with an established career knows, there are times when you have to weigh salary versus general happiness, as the two don’t always coexist. To some, making $90,000 in exchange for putting in long, arduous hours in a terrible work environment is worth it; others are content with $45,000 and a mostly stress-free 40-hour work week. The following jobs have more characteristics pertaining to the former than the latter, which is why they probably aren’t worth the (relatively) high pay. Note: Salaries from payscale.com are for workers with 10 to 19 years of experience in the profession. Salaries from simplyhired.com are averages from all workers, regardless of experience.
1. Gastroenterologist, $122,339-$397,317
Being a Gastroenterologist comes without the usual glamour that’s associated with being a doctor, as, well, the job requires examination of the digestive system, specifically the intestines, stomach, esophagus, gallbladder, pancreas and liver. Dealing with the problems associated with those areas can be messy and quite unpleasant for the patient, with whom the gastroenterologist becomes intimately acquainted.
2. Surgeon, $96,204-$364,895
Routinely ranked as one of the most stressful jobs in existence, surgeons are afforded minimal margin for error during their unpredictable, tedious hours of work. In addition to the possibility of witnessing death and even facing lawsuits, they have to deal with hostile patients and family members, and sometimes embittered hospital staff workers who offer little help. Because they spend roughly 80 hours per week in the hospital, their social lives and family lives leave a lot to be desired, negating a lot of the benefits that come with the high pay.
3. Stockbroker, $32,549-$241,902
The unpredictability of the stock market and the economy make this job one of the most unstable. Responsible for their clients’ money and their own salaries, stockbrokers are expected to take full advantage when the market is strong and weather the storm when it’s weak. Both decisiveness and patience are needed for success, two qualities most people aren’t fortunate enough to possess at the same time — especially during times of crisis.
4. Divorce Attorney, $61,069-$186,850 (general lawyer salary)
Divorce is never a pleasant experience, particularly for the divorce attorney, who’s tasked with enduring and settling the sometimes bitter fight between two parties. In many cases, rationality is tossed out the window in these disputes, leaving the lawyers with unreasonable and uncooperative clients. Finding satisfactory alimony and custody agreements can be like pulling teeth, and time in court is always a possibility.
5. Commercial Airline Pilot, $30,410-$120,805
Before the industry took a nosedive, international captains were making upwards of $300,000. Today, captains still command a hefty sum in the low end of the six-figure range, which is justified by their extremely random schedules that include strict time constraints, different routes, layovers and poor weather that can add unneeded stress to a routine flight. As with those in the medical profession, pilots’ margin for error is minimal, as one mistake can end the lives of hundreds of people.
6. Coal Mine Worker, $75,328 (payscale.com industry average for 10-19 years experience)
The jobs from this point down aren’t necessarily high-paying compared to the previously listed jobs, but for those who aren’t college graduates, the salaries are very appealing. That explains why people enter the coal mining industry, even though the work is accompanied with constant danger. Extracting coal from dark, oxygen-deprived mines that have barely been explored is risky business, as evidenced by the months-long drama surrounding the Chilean mining accident in 2010, a rare mining fiasco that ended well.
7. Long-Haul Trucker, $29,229-$72,956
Fortunately for truckers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates their hours of service, so they can’t drive more than 11 cumulative hours during a 14-hour period. Even still, they have strict deadlines to meet amid the typical hindrances that may arise, such as traffic, an accident, engine trouble and trouble with the load. Most people struggle with their 1.5-hour daily commutes, but imagine doing it for half a day, dealing with the numerous lousy drivers who disregard the truck’s presence on the road.
8. Embalmer, $33,935-$61,475
When the surgeon or gastroenterologist can’t do any more, the embalmer likely enters the picture. With a fraction of the pay of the aforementioned professions and more of the disgustingness, they prepare the body for the funeral and burial by removing its blood and adding embalming fluid for preservation, performing additional tasks such as waxing and shaping to make it appear lifelike. Mistakes and sloppy work can ruin a family member’s lasting image of their loved one — and nobody wants to be responsible for that.
9. Hostage Negotiator, $55,000
Much like divorce attorneys, hostage negotiators deal with irrational people on a regular basis, and the success or failure of their tasks hinges completely on whether or not they’re able to reason with those irrational people. Given that hostage takers’ personalities vary, negotiators must formulate strategies for dealing with each one, handling them in a way that won’t worsen the situation. Of course, if they fail, loss of life is a possibility, which is way more responsibility than most people are willing to volunteer.
10. Bomb Squad Officer, $54,000
Not only is the loss of life a possible outcome of failing to properly defuse a bomb, but, if you’re a bomb squad officer, the loss of your life is a possibility. A nerve-wrecking job that’s certainly not good for your blood pressure, no amount of pay, let alone $54,000, is enough for these gutsy individuals.