10 Jobs That Make the World a Worse Place

A worker at a gun manufacturing facility, one of the jobs mentioned in the report

A employee poses at a gun manufacturing facility, one of the jobs mentioned in the report. | Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images

You may hate your job, but have you ever had a job that you actually felt guilty about? A job, for example, that required you to do things day in and day out that actively made the world a worse place? A lot of people work in industries or businesses that are inherently “dirty,” and call for some sort of questionable action. But there are gigs out there that employees feel are actually hurting the world at large.

This can be difficult to grapple with on a personal level and can make it easy to want to quit. When it comes to making and selling guns and ammunition, tobacco, and even pesticides, a certain level of guilt can wrack the conscience of just about anybody. You know what they say, however: “Somebody’s gotta do it.”

A recent report from PayScale digs deeper into this topic by naming specific jobs that workers feel actively make the world a worse place. Over the course of two years, PayScale’s team asked nearly 468,000 workers whether they felt their job made the world a better place and gauged the responses. There were several factors that played into how workers felt (median pay, for example), but overall, only 1% responded that they felt their job made the world worse.

The report revealed a lot of interesting data and is worth taking a few minutes to read through. But if you want to see the specific jobs that PayScale’s team found make the world a worse place? Here are the top 10.

10. Bartenders

Bartender pouring a drink

A bartender pours a drink. | iStock.com

PayScale lists this category as “drinking places,” but we’re basically talking about bartenders. Bartenders, of course, funnel liquor and beer to patrons. That’s not an inherently bad thing — but alcohol is destructive, and people under its influence can be even more destructive. Median pay for this job is a measly $31,000, and 5.3% working it say it makes the world a worse place.

9. Paper bag manufacturer

Identical twins Bobby and Jerry enjoy hiding in paper bags

Those in the field aren’t too happy. | Nocella/Three Lions/Getty Images

As oddly specific as “paper bag manufacturer” is, it tallied enough responses to make the list. About 5.5% of those working in the field said it makes the world worse, which makes you wonder where plastic bag manufacturers ended up. And we wonder just what is going on at paper bag factories to make it so awful. Median pay in the field is $49,500.

8. Clothing accessory retail worker

People shopping for clothes and accessories

People shop for clothes and accessories. | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Retail jobs are notoriously toxic, and evidently, those working them feel they aren’t doing the world any favors. Roughly 5.5% of clothing and accessory store employees feel their job is making the world worse.

7. Liquor store clerk

A customer picks out a six pack at a liquor store

A customer picks out a six-pack at a liquor store. | Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

If bartenders aren’t confident they’re helping the world, those working in liquor or beer stores are in the same boat. In the field, 5.9% of those working in the industry say they’re making the world a worse place.

6. Movie distributor

Seats in a movie theater

They’re part of distributing graphic content. | Thinkstock

This is another oddity — 8.3% of the world’s movie distribution workers say they’re making the world worse. It’s unclear why, however. If we were to levy a guess, it’s probably because they’re distributing material of a violent and sexual nature across the country. But we can’t be sure.

5. Gun manufacturing

Parts of Beretta 92S semi-automatic pistol series stored before the final touches at the Beretta manufacturing company

Parts of Beretta 92S semi-automatic pistol series are stored before the final touches at the Beretta manufacturing company. | Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images

Unlike movie distributors, this one makes a bit more sense. Gun manufacturing is booming like never before, but the workers in the industry don’t necessarily feel great about it. About 9.1% of those working in gun manufacturing say they’re making the world worse.

4. Mortgage broker

house models on coins, mortgage rate trends

There’s an ugly side to housing. | iStock.com

You’d think that helping people buy a house would be a positive thing, right? Well, as we’ve seen with the housing crisis and Great Recession, there’s an ugly side. Apparently, that ugly side still exists, given the sentiment from mortgage brokers. An estimated 9.3% of them say they’re making the world worse.

3. Pesticide manufacturer

A farmer spraying pesticides

A farmer sprays pesticides. | Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Pesticides help farmers protect their crops and produce more food, but they have plenty of downsides as well. Those who produce pesticides feel that they aren’t helping the world much — 9.4% say they’re making the world worse.

2. Ammunition sales and manufacturing

A worker weighs a box of 5.56mm cartridges as she packages them for shipping

A worker weighs a box of 5.56mm cartridges as she packages them for shipping. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Ammunition manufacturing makes the list along with gun manufacturing — two peas in a pod, really. Those that produce bullets and ammo for America’s 350 million or so guns don’t feel great about it, either. About 10.9% of ammo manufacturers say they’re make the world worse.

1. Tobacco sales and manufacturing

A laborer works at an automated cigarette packaging machine in a Philip Morris tobacco factory

A laborer works at an automated cigarette packaging machine in a Philip Morris tobacco factory. | Jay Directo/AFP/Getty Images

At the top of the list? Tobacco manufacturers. We know that smoking kills, but that hasn’t stopped everyone from taking it up. Where there’s demand, there’s a business model, and many large companies still dominate the industry. But the workers making cigarettes, cigars, and chew know they’re hurting people. In the report, 11.9% say their job makes the world a worse place.

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