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Wayne Hinshaw: The best and worst jobs

By Wayne Hinshaw

For the Salisbury Post

I sure am confused about what are the worst jobs and the best jobs this year. First of all, most of you might not care what is the best or worst job as long as you have one so you can pay your bills and have a place to live.

I have spent my entire career toiling at one of the worst jobs there is, according to the CareerCast.com list released in April.  My job as a photojournalist is rated the sixth worst job of the year. That is bad enough, but Forbes Magazine has my job rated even worse as the No. 2 worst job for 2015.

All of these job ratings were announced several months ago, and I  missed the announcement at the time. It is good I missed it, or I would have been depressed to learn my job is so miserable. I can walk proudly past all those reporters in the newsroom with my nose in the air because their job is worse than mine. Being a reporter rates as the very worst job in one poll and fifth worst in the other.

The listing ranks 200 jobs. The top 10 are the best, and the bottom 10 — that is, 190-200 — are the worst jobs. One of the criteria for the ratings was the gradual decline in prospects for certain jobs like the number of jobs, promotions in the jobs and salaries. Nationwide, several thousand reporters and photojournalists have lost their jobs since 2008. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics  says the decline will continue in the publishing field. Newspaper revenue shrank during the recession at the same time the Internet zapped readership numbers.

The outlook for new jobs, the decline in old jobs, the income level and the stress level that you work under are factors that determine the worst jobs. Competitiveness and  having to deal with the public, having to make deadlines and physical risk are also elements in the survey. For a newspaper person, it just keeps getting worst. Dealing with the public and deadline pressure are what newspapers are all about. If we didn’t deal with the public, there would be no job at all.  The public is our readers, so I am thankful for having a career dealing with the readers.

Other worst top 10 jobs are: No 2. lumberjacks, 3.enlisted military personnel, 4. cooks (not chefs), 5. broadcasters, 7. correction officers, 8. taxi drivers, 9. firefighters, and 10. mail carriers. These same 10 jobs are  listed as the worst in both surveys, with some slight changes in the order but still including the same 10.

The most stressful job is firefighter, with military personnel work being almost as stressful. Lumberjacks have the most dangerous work and receive low pay.

Interestingly, the 10 worst jobs get really high ratings from the workers in these jobs. Most love their work and enjoy the challenge when they go out to face the new day. Many of these workers, myself included, feel that we are helping our fellow man and serving a public need. We look more toward helping our fellow man and not our wallets.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the  hiring rate for newspaper reporters to be a minus 13 percent between 2012 and 2022. Pay raises will be slim. Reporter jobs are the only job on the list with such a high negative hiring stamp.

However, if you are a newspaper reporter or photojournalist, and very passionate about your work and love what you are doing  on the job,  the job will not feel like the worst job. It might even feel like the best job for you. The same can be said about schoolteachers, firefighters, cooks and other relatively low-paying jobs. Your “worst job” might be someone else’s “best job.”

Personally, my obsession with photography is more than just a job. I feel that many workers in some of the less popular jobs feel the same. To some, occupations are more of a “calling” to serve a cause. I feel that I have a “God given talent” that I must use to the best of my ability. I don’t mean to sound “ big headed” or arrogant. There are many photographers with far more talent than I, who have accomplished far greater heights than I. Sometimes I see things that I am afraid others are missing and not seeing. Just passing it by in life. I then feel obsessed to photograph what I see. If I am given the vision to see the subject and don’t make the photo, then no one will ever record that sight and it will go unseen. Through my photo, others can see what I see if they choose to look.

I am passing through this life recording the visual history of my time. My real job is recording history as I see it. Salisbury Post reporter Rose Post used to say that every day, we were recording the history of Salisbury and Rowan County.Some days are not very eventful and some days are  tremendously important.

I have always felt that I was laboring at this “worst job” as a photographer  because  I had to do it. Yes, my salary always came from the newspaper, but in a broader sense, I was not working for the newspaper but for my fellow man. The newspaper job financially made it possible, and the paper benefitted from my work, but  I always have felt that I was working for something more that just the newspaper. I hope I’m not sounding silly or too philosophical. Hey, I’m truly just a local photographer in this little spot in the world doing what I do and enjoying it. (Most of the time.)

Our school system is putting extra effort into the STEM career jobs for a very good reason. The jobs in science, math, engineering and high technology are rated the best jobs with highest salaries.

Let me take a look up the jobs’ ladder from my position in one of the worst jobs. I’m looking at the top 10 best jobs.  The best jobs for 2015: 1. actuary, 2. audiologist, 3. mathematician, 4. statistician, 5. biomedical engineer 6. data scientist, 7. dental hygienist, 8. software engineer, 9. occupational therapist, and 10. computer systems analyst.

If you want a job in the top 10, you had better be good with mathematics. The top 10 jobs come with the best salaries.

I have to admit that my first job out of college was as a cost accountant in the textile industry.  I never  got a glimpse of a big salary, but I used lots of math calculating the cost of manufacturing a yard of yarn in various textile mills for the salesmen in New York.  For me it was boring, boring, boring and more boring.  The most exciting part  of the day was selecting my lunch in the cafeteria each day, and you know how exciting that can be, selecting  pinto bears or green beans. I’ll move on.

  Give me my camera and my job as a photojournalist. I accepted the low pay, long hours, working with the public and the stress  of deadlines, and I never looked back at the world of accounting and mathematics. I did sometimes wonder where the salaries ran off to.

I can think of a lot of worst jobs than mine, like sewage disposal workers, garbage collectors and …  wait a minute. Some person does these jobs, and I don’t want them to be depressed. Maybe they love their work, too.



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