One of our biggest career-related fears is being stuck in a dead end job. While it’s completely understandable to be worried about ending up in a job that makes us miserable, dead end jobs are not only unpleasant, but can actually hurt your long-term aspirations. These types of gigs have become a serious point of contention among policymakers and economists, as more and more people find themselves taking these jobs as a measure to keep paychecks coming in.
In most cases, dead end jobs are accepted out of necessity. And if you find yourself in one, your main focus should be on a way to get out. But many of these jobs do have certain perks, and people can grow to be comfortable in them. You may end up walking away each day with a pocket full of cash tips, for example. Or get free meals. This can make these jobs hard to escape from.
But the defining variable of a dead end job is that it literally leads nowhere — these are jobs that simply need someone with a pulse to be eligible. They lack job security, pay lousy wages, provide little in the way of skill development, and give you no chance to advance.
If we look at restaurant jobs, you may think the wait staff is better-off than the cooks. In the short-run, that may be true. Waiters will probably make more money than cooks, thanks to tips. But a cook is a position that requires skills — skills that can be improved upon, and leveraged for higher wages with other employers. Waiters? There’s some skill involved, but not to the same extent. In this example, one fits the description of a dead end job, while the other doesn’t.
There are millions of dead end gigs out there, but some fit the bill more so than others. Here are seven of the most dead end jobs on the market.
Though driving is in and of itself a skill, it’s a skill that is remarkably ubiquitous — meaning that for every driver out there, there’s someone else who can easily take their job. Driving jobs come in many different forms — school bus drivers, long-haul truckers, delivery drivers, etc. — but most don’t pay very well, require odd schedules, and don’t really open doors for career growth. There are exceptions, of course.
Also, with driving set to become automated in the very near future, it’s not a career path that’s bound to last long.
2. Food service
We touched on this already, but food service jobs are pretty much synonymous with dead end work. The problem is, you can get comfortable and make fairly good money as a server, with tips padding your wages. But in the long-term there’s nowhere to go with it, as a career. This is the same issue with low-wage fast food jobs. Also, technology is probably going to start creating havoc in the restaurant industry as servers and cooks are replaced with kiosks and robots.
3. Custodial work
Anyone can use a broom, a mop, and pick up refuse. That’s why janitors and custodians are often paid little, offered late-night or odd shifts, and aren’t given much respect. Custodial work is a dead end job, as just about anyone can do it, and you’re not going to be picking up any serious skills or opening any doors for advancement. Sure, you can use it to prove your worth as a solid employee, but if you find yourself cleaning on the 11 p.m. to 8 a.m. shift for several years? You’ve hit the dead end.
4. Call-center agents
Call center jobs are notoriously awful. You end up making calls to people who don’t want to talk to you, or taking calls from people who are already angry, and are looking for a target at which to direct their wrath. For that reason, these jobs pay little, and don’t offer much in terms of advancement opportunities. And being yelled at for your entire shift doesn’t give you a chance to really learn anything new, either.
5. Care givers
There is a need for in-home care givers, but cleaning up after and feeding a person in need won’t propel you to the top of any industry. Though these jobs are important, they don’t require much in terms of skill or training, and for that reason, have lousy pay, lousy hours, and probably won’t lead you to a fruitful career.
6. Security and corrections officers
Ever wonder why TSA employees seem to be terrible? Or where they find the security staff at concert venues and sports stadiums? These are jobs that don’t require much more than a pulse, and not much skill. There is a big need for bodies, though, and a lot of people end up working in these industries to earn a living. Unlike police work, however, these jobs aren’t going to lead anywhere. They are usually part-time, and don’t pay much.
7. Farm workers
You famously hear how Americans won’t do farm work, like picking produce, which is why undocumented immigrants often end up doing it. Well, it’s largely true, and being able to pick fruit or vegetables isn’t going to leave you with any marketable skills, money, or a clear career path. Farm work is tough, and the days are long. But at the end of the day, people become stuck in it. It’s a dead end job, and one that you don’t want to find yourself in for an extended period of time.