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The 10 Worst Jobs of 2011

roustabout - the worst job of 2011 By Andrew Strieber

This is our 2011 Worst Jobs report.
See the 10 Best and Worst Jobs of 2012

From bad to worse: thanks to upheaval in the oil industry, Roustabout ranks as the Worst Job of 2011 – its second straight year in last place.

Twelve-hour shifts, exposure to the elements in hostile environments, low pay, high risk of injury and isolation from loved ones for weeks at a time are just some of the factors that combine to make Roustabout the worst job of 2011.

As the key providers of maintenance for oil rigs and pipelines, Roustabouts routinely perform backbreaking labor at all hours of the day and night in conditions that can range from arctic winters to desert summers to ocean storms. They even face the threat of attack in unstable parts of the world. Braving these inhospitable surroundings, Roustabouts work on the front lines, getting hands-on with dangerous drilling equipment and risking serious injury or worse – as last year’s explosion at the Deepwater Horizon facility in the Gulf of Mexico illustrates.

Why does Roustabout rank as the worst job of 2011, as opposed to other worst jobs such as Lumberjack or Construction Worker? Surveying 200 different jobs, the Jobs Rated report ranks professions according to five core criteria: Work Environment, Physical Demands, Outlook, Income and Stress. Last year Roustabout finished in the bottom 20 for nearly every category, and now thanks to a seven year suspension of offshore drilling in America’s eastern Gulf and Atlantic coastlines, the hiring prospects for oil rig workers have gotten even worse. This decline in employment opportunities has dropped Roustabout’s Outlook ranking seven spots in 2011, to 195th overall. Despite being part of the still-booming oil business, the Outlook for Roustabouts in 2011 is similar to jobs like Photographic Process Worker, Shoemaker and Bookbinder – all professions that are part of fading industries.

That said, Roustabout isn’t the only career on the 10 worst jobs list that is facing an employment crisis. Jobs such as Lumberjack, Roofer and Construction Worker rank poorly in part because of the recent housing bubble and economic recession, which have significantly slowed the pace of new construction. On the other hand, jobs like EMT have considerably better hiring prospects, but rank among the 10 worst jobs of 2011 due to harsh working conditions, high stress and inexcusably low pay given the extremely important nature of the work.

While working as a Roustabout may require little more than physical strength, not all of the professions that rank among the 10 worst jobs of 2011 are simple unskilled labor. Becoming a Welder or Ironworker, for example, requires extensive training and apprenticeship, and experienced workers can earn a very good salary. However, each of these professions does suffer from at least one "fatal flaw" that makes it rank lower than the rest, whether that be high stress, low pay, unpleasant working conditions, increased risk of injury, or a combination of the above:

Performs routine physical labor and maintenance on oil rigs and pipelines, both on and off shore.

  • Overall Score: 892.00
  • Income: $32,143.00

  • Work Environment:
  • Stress:
  • Hiring Outlook:

Raises the steel framework of buildings, bridges, and other structures.

  • Overall Score: 887.00
  • Income: $34,127.00

  • Work Environment:
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Fells, cuts, and transports timber to be processed into lumber, paper, and other wood products.

  • Overall Score: 868.00
  • Income: $32,109.00

  • Work Environment:
  • Stress:
  • Hiring Outlook:

Installs roofs on new buildings, performs repairs on old roofs, and re-roofs old buildings.

  • Overall Score: 863.00
  • Income: $34,168.00

  • Work Environment:
  • Stress:
  • Hiring Outlook:

Operates a taxi cab over the streets and roads of a municipality, picking up and dropping off passengers by request.

  • Overall Score: 821.00
  • Income: $21,127.00

  • Work Environment:
  • Stress:
  • Hiring Outlook:

Attends to situations which demand immediate medical attention, such as automobile accidents, heart attacks, and gunshot wounds.

  • Overall Score: 814.00
  • Income: $30,168.00

  • Work Environment:
  • Stress:
  • Hiring Outlook:

Joins or repairs metal surfaces through the application of heat.

  • Overall Score: 811.00
  • Income: $35,126.00

  • Work Environment:
  • Stress:
  • Hiring Outlook:

Prepares surfaces, and applies paints, varnishes, and finishes to the interiors and exteriors of houses and other structures.

  • Overall Score: 798.00
  • Income: $34,152.00

  • Work Environment:
  • Stress:
  • Hiring Outlook:

Monitors public utility meters, and records volume of consumption by customers.

  • Overall Score: 798.00
  • Income: $34,171.00

  • Work Environment:
  • Stress:
  • Hiring Outlook:

Assists construction trade workers by performing a wide variety of tasks requiring physical labor.

  • Overall Score: 798.00
  • Income: $29,211.00

  • Work Environment:
  • Stress:
  • Hiring Outlook:

The annual Jobs Rated rankings seek to determine which professions provide a positive experience for a majority of workers, not just a select few. While there will always be exceptions – Roustabouts with fulfilling careers or unhappy Software Engineers (2011’s Best Job), for example – these rankings use comprehensive data to project the typical pluses and minuses that an average worker will experience day-to-day on the job.

Want to know how your job stacks up against the competition? To see comprehensive research on the best jobs and worst jobs from Agriculture to Zoology, continue to our Complete Rankings of 200 Jobs for 2011.

im an ironworker

In 2011 i made almost 80,000.Been union since mid 90's,the only time i havent worked is when i turned jobs down to take time off EVERY SUMMER.I can tracel 50 states at a moments notice,and have a job waiting for me when i arrive. My idea of a bad job is waitress,janitor,reporter,sanitary.

Non-Union Rigger

I have been working as a Rigger since i was 17. I am now 26 years old and can not find a company around me that pays $15/hr. Its hard getting into a union and paying for courses to get qualified to work in nyc. I am living paycheck to paycheck wondering if i am goin to make it or not. I have recently been looking into this field as a oil rig roustabout. I wish i made a move years ago. If anyone has any helpful tips on how to get on a rig please email me at I have love rigging and will love it till the day i die. There is nothing like dealing with the elements and using your brain while getting payed to be in shape. I cant sit behind a desk for 20-30 years looking at the same computer. No way no how! Rigger for Life!

roustabout-12 hour shifts? bullshit. its sun up to sun down

You office people need to get off your asses and go work the shit for yourself rather than pull facts out of a book. I'm a roustabout in north Dakota. We build tank batteries, assemble pump jacks, tie into pipelines. Pretty much you learn to love huckin pipe all day and turnin a 48 inch pipewrench. I'm 20 years old, make 28/hr usually 16 hour dayss 6-7 days a week. I wouldn't trade it for nothing. I'd rather be bustin my ass than turn into a fatass like u stupid Fuck sticks. Oilfield trash baby!

Yah, and I'll still be alive when you're

You people make me laugh, honestly.  If you live to see 60, then you will be one of the rare instances.  20years old and bragging about working on an oilfield?  People like you never amount to anything other than just another forgettable idiot.I'll take my degreed position anyday over your putrid job. 


Enjoy your "degreed" job. I have worked in the Bakken shale in ND, Eagle Ford in South TX, and the Permian Basin in West Tx. I make over $100,000 a year, and have 6 months of vacation every year. I wouldn't trade the rig life for anything. I would die for my crew and them the same for me. Yes, it's dangerous, but so is being a bank teller, or a
Business man on his daily commute to work. I see things few people will ever get a chance to see. But what would I know, I'm just oil field trash. With two degrees in engineering and political science, no financial problems from school because of a football scholarship, and I gaurantee I have a nicer house, ranch, truck, woman, and people respect me a hell of a lot more than they do you. Slap dick!


I am a roustabout in mt. We do pipelines,tank batterys,when I first started I was told that we do everything that a rig does is true we make everything and maintain it all. When the rig leaves we run the pipeline to the treater,then to the tanks and pumps..then we maintain all the old stuff like cleaning out treaters and tanks..we deal with all the weather from -70 to +100..rain,snow,wind..all of it and have to lift shit that weighs more then us..we work sun up to down...all days of the week and away from our family a lot..

not even close

I roustabout i got my own truck i set batters and treators. And do all the plumbing now days all the labor is taken out of the job, due to machines and tools verry little lifting n wie shut down in storms. Heavy wind lightning and icey roads our lives aint worth the money. And i cleared $100000 last year. And im home every night and weekend n every major holiday off

Iron Worker??

34k?? Really?? Who made this seat of the pants survey?

So first of all would you work 50 or 100 stories in the cold and risk your life or work at a pizza hut or mcdonalds for the same money?? All the iron workers i know are very profitable and make 120k+

I wouldn't trade it.........

You must live in NYC. :) I am a union ironworker in LA and in good times make around $70k. Some of my compadres make more... but I choose to work 40 hours a week when I can.

The difference in pay scales reported (34k)are probably union vs non-union. Ask yourself this... what would you pay a person who works in the 4th (some figures show 2nd) highest death rate of any occupation in the USA?

But honestly looking back after 34 years of structural ironwork.... I would never trade it for anything else. The survey may call it the 2nd worst job... I call it home.

Yea I made 70k last year as a

Yea I made 70k last year as a first year apprentice Ironworker in Alberta Canada. So that's 60 percent of journeyman rate. Plus I took a month off in August and a month off during Christmas. Journeyman make six figures a year without even trying. ( these are union figures) plus 6.50 an hour pension. Yea it's a hard job and not many can do it, but that's why we get paid so well.
Also it has welder, rig worker, and lumberjack as making low 30s. Those are all 90k a year jobs. Union welders make more then ironworkers. Maybe those are all non union poor southern state figures.

Fast Food

Eh, I'm only nineteen and only have a few years experience as a waitress. I did towing back when I was a kid, I hauled up the dollies to hook on the tires of cars, and some pallets, but neither of those jobs sucked liked Fast Food does. Sure, it's EASY. Mentally. I mean, anybody could do it, but the real sticker is that you make minimum with no benefits and my bills are too high to keep this up. Of course, they only let me work part time too. At least with Waitressing, I could live or save my tips.

Personally, I'd actually prefer a more physical-based job. I'd be tired more, but I'd get some good muscles. Hauling pallets got me in great shape, I'm sure some of those jobs up there would help as well. I'm going in for a Nursing degree, or hopefully get in as a Paramedic. Already going through training as an EMT and Firefighter, so even though the EMT is on this list, I'm still going to do it. Have I mentioned that Fast Food kills brain activity? Going to work ten hours at Burger King tomorrow. Fries and burger grease. Awesome.

life is a bitch then u die

it doesn't matter what job you work at, they all have good aspects and bad. i have worked in many jobs, from the worst to the best. my attitude was always to do my best at what i worked with. i became the best toilet cleaner or the best manufacturing worker i could be and that rewarded me with promotions and wage increases i never expected. i am now retired and living a good life because i saved what i could for this time in my life. if work is to tough for you, do what some have done lie, cheat, steal and live off others. you may be lucky enough and end up in a state paid jail cell.

my job not listed

what about people that do national public opinion surveys where do we it in considering we get yelled at cursed at hit on and hey complain to us bout things we have no control over like not many jobs the economy he president the people running for office

sounds like...

"Twelve-hour shifts, exposure to the elements in hostile environments, low pay..." Sounds like security forces


Try being a farmer. I'm 14 years old and have a crap load of chores to do around the farm. My family works around the clock. As soon as I get home I go to work. It's exhausting, and stressful. We farm pigs, and after feeding them and raising them we sell them for 90 CENTS PER POUND. The last time you bought a pound of pork how much did it cost. $4.99? Ha, welding...

teacher in Finland

A Math Science teacher has crap pay in US, I don't care about the rest of the subjects.
If these folks go for engineering they make way more money.
And being off all summers is not true either.
So here is the deal: Teachers are the ones who educate the next generation who will take over when we are in our nursing homes. Not doctors, policemen, firefighters, but educationists.
And you think it is ok to have modest salaries for teachers?
It's time that the teaching job becomes more competitive.
That means, way higher pay, academic protection for what they doand if you can't teach, obviously get out!
Here in Finland we don't have much openings for teachers, and plenty of people who want to become teachers. But it takes as lot to get there.
Not good enough? Sorry pal. Are you good? Then you make good money.
And that's why we rank so high in education. You may not agree with my findings, doesn't matter, still won't change our rankings.:)

EMTs vs. Paramedics

People! Please stop combining the pay scale of an EMT Basic with that of a Paramedic! Doing so is like comparing the wage of a certified nursing assistant with that of a registered nurse. There is a large gap in education and responsibility and as such, a large gap in compensation. EMT basics can expect to make approximately 25 to 30 k per year. However a paramedic with a few years of experience, plus the extra schooling that comes with it can expect to bring home about $50 to $60 k per year, before overtime. This formula of calculating wages needs to be updated to better reflect the specific jobs in each field. Continuing to use this formula is archaic and wrong.

Paramedic pay

I'd like to know where you work. As a Paramedic with 12 years experience I'm making about 45K.

I'd like to know where you

I'd like to know where you work, because as a Paramedic with 12 years experienc, I'm making about 45K.

What a load

How angry I should be that all of the jobs that both made this country great and also inspired young men to look forward to their future are now the "worst jobs" in this country. It's really a total reflection of how misled people are - Because of crap like this, the majority of us have been duped into paying $60k for our qualifications on a piece of paper and in turn became 50 hour a week desk riders in exchange for healthcare benefits and PTO. It sucks we traded our cowboy and balls for love-handles and a fat-@$$ so we could sit around all day at a desk working for a company that makes it's money selling crappy services and products that people don't even need. But I guess that's the way it is. I would rather do any of those jobs then be a sell out sucking the company 401k pipe and waiting for it to bust for the next 50 years.

Spot-on assessment

Amen are so right!

re: what a load

couldnt of said it better my self!!

Next time...

When u make an article stating top 10 , dont put the numbrr one thing at the top , make it atleast supencefull

exchanged charts

Funny how the two charts in Italy are exchanged. Historians and biologists are usually out of work and if not, the income is very low (20/25000 EUR / year). Construction worker, welders and painters but have a secure job and well paid. Italy is a country on the other hand!

Curioso come le due classifiche in italia siano scambiate. Storici e biologi sono di solito senza occupazione e se non lo sono, il reddito è bassissimo (20/25000 euro/anno). Muratori, saldatori e imbianchini invece hanno un lavoro sicuro e ben remunerato. L'Italia è un paese al contrario!

Becominig an EMT was the worst mistake ever!!

Been working as an EMT for 2 years and I believe it's the worst job I ever had. The shifts are long and the pay is horrible, lol that 30,000$ a year is inaccurate the actually pay is 20,000$ 25,000$. No one in the medical field respects EMTs, nether Dispatchers, Nurses, Doctors, Paramedics, or our own company. The job is empty to me, theirs no future in this industry. In my opinion any other job is better then this. The only problem I have is that I'm only half way through college. I don't want to work as an EMT for another two years until I graduate so I'm just going to look for different type of job. Shoot anythings better then being looked at as a twerpy little EMT.


Yup, suck job...

Also an EMT...

I can relate to you in that, I actually planned during high school to get my EMT license. No one thought I could do it or would do it so a part of getting it was to prove everyone wrong. I finally landed a job to where I could gain some experience and it was not even close to what I had expected. My partners always gossiping and throwing people under the bus. My supervisors & dispatchers always looking down at most of us & treating us like s*** or trying their best to make our lives hell. Being scheduled 12 hour shifts but ending up working 14-16 instead. Made $10 an hour but that's not much when you only get scheduled for 3 days a week. You're right. No one respects EMT's. They look at us as if we didn't work hard to get where we are or like we collaborate with the stereotype of police officers at the donut shop & do nothing all day. I was really disappointed with my experience. I won't be making a career out of it. We're underpaid & disrespected on a regular basis & too much is expected of us. We deserve more credit than what we get for the type of stress we endure & the type of work that we do. Its a sad world.


a construction worker making 30,000$ a year? yeah right buddy. n a welder try 45 to 70..the only thing u had right was meter reader buddy

Health care jobs

I have been an RN for 30 years now, pay is decent but working conditions leave a lot to be desired. Long hours, it is difficult to be on your feet for 12 hours at a time when you are in your 50's even if you are in decent physical shape. Also, as a nurse you catch it from everyone - the docs, the families, the administrators, etc. Everybody you deal with is in a crisis situation. Grateful to have a job in this economy. However, for all you read about how there is such a shortage of nurses, it is difficult to find a nursing job nowadays in my experience. Hospitals have no money to orient new grads, so they want experienced nurses, but want to pay them peanuts. Also there are so many new regulations and requirements as a result of health care reform, mostly just a bunch of red tape we have to implement. Seems like for every person that does something useful (like provide direct patient care), there are 3 or 4 people who make sure you have the dozens of different competencies, certifications, etc to do all the procedures we do, make sure your paperwork meets the guidelines for the hospital to be reimbursed, etc. etc. It's absolutely ridiculous. Not to mention that so many hard working honest people don't have any health coverage while any teenager that wants to can have a kid out of wedlock, have the medical bill paid for by medicaid and get foodstamps, WIC, subsidized housing, etc. Seems to me it doesn't pay to work nowdays, you sure are eligible for a lot more govt. aid by being a lazy bum that knows how to play the system. Anyway, that's my rant, I really feel for all the folks out of work nowadays.

I Agree

Recently I was feeling the same way about people who have kids and live off of assistance. I am a nurse as well and a single parent first. I worked hard without getting any government assistance. Everything you said I was feeling...thanks for your posting.

health care jobs

wow 12hrs is a long day... try 24hrs on a ambulance at a station where you can run up to 20 calls in that shift, and eat cold meals when you can cause we dont get breaks, try having a mom run up to you and throw her dead baby in your arms and say help her, try saving someones life and having a having someone say you did it wrong even though they are alive, try having no sleep and do that and much much more for $25,000 bring home. I would love to be a nurse for 12hrs and stay inside out of the heat and rain and cold and people driving by watching you and not the road, getting meal breaks and going home everynight. i will trade you any day nurse making about 50grand or more working inside 3 days a week 12hr days, stop crying about being a nurse, try going on the street for 11years at a station that runs you in the ground where you go to work for 24hrs get no sleep and then when you get off for the 48hr you sleep most of your first day off so you get nothing done and then you have to do everything the 2nd day off so now you have had no relaxation time and its back to work so cry me a river nurse.

Shame on you

I am a nursing assistant, Iclean shit all day. and only make 9.000 an hour. some times i cant sleep because i am so tired. we are all in the same boat. and we do this because we care.

Shame on you! No one should put someone's opinion down

If you havent worked as a nurse you cannot possibly know what all it involves....I can say many days I do not get a sit down break until my 12 hours of patient care is done and I give report to the oncoming nurse......then I am there for another 1 to 2 hours doing required paperwork!

Health care jobs

EMT .. I would not have your job! You never know what you are getting into when you are called out to a persons home..especially if something like a gunshot wound.....HOWEVER you should not try to ridicule a nurse for saying how stressful the job is! Like you, I many times do not get a lunch break because I am the go to person..doctors want their orders (human error) sometimes misses orders and the nurse has to call them to get them right.. management, physical therapy, radiology, special procedures...they ALL call on the nurse for answers and we are expected to be available NOW. If the patient wants something that is not ordered, or if the doc forgets to order something or if the nurse sees a change in status we have to call the md....when you have 6 patients and are expected to be available in 3 or more places at the same time and still be passing you meds out in a 60 min can be VERY stressful. You cannot say how stressful a job is unless you have done it yourself....and even if you have things can vary greatly from place to place.....THANK GOD WE HAVE A JOB!

Welder and Ironworker

I'm a Welder. I average $55,000/year. This article is entirely misleading! Welding and Ironworking are high-stress professions, on both the mind and body. But it is my passion, not just my job!

Who made these scales?

I'm going into the oilfield and starting pay out here is normally 40k. I have a family member who is a "boss man" / drill consultant and does fairly well.

I worked road construction and it sucked. Pay was determined by the county, e.g: prevailing wage. Sometimes you made $20 / hr, most times you made $14.35 /hr - freezing wind, dangerous conditions.

It was my choice to not go to school. I didn't want to end up in a office. I like to smoke when I work. I like to spit. I like to swear and tell people to fuck off - w/o losing my job. I like to make derogatory remarks about women while working. What can I say, I like the outdoors, and so far, I'm liking the oilfield. Out here in OK, if you ain't oilfield, you ain't shit. All the hot chicks go for the ones who are strapped with cash.
Cash for ass. haha


i cant believe what you get paid in the U.S. Here these jobs pay a minimum of A$40,000 per year. And a lumberjock or oil worker up to 100,000. Poor yanks.


Submitted by Anonymous on Wed, 01/11/2012 - 05:01.
i cant believe what you get paid in the U.S. Here these jobs pay a minimum of A$40,000 per year. And a lumberjock or oil worker up to 100,000. Poor yanks."

Well, Australia, the Yanks are the dumbest people in the world and the poorest people of the western world, but they thing they have real good!
My sister was working for a so called leading bank in the US as a staff accountant and got paid $46,000 a year. Just enough to keep food on the table. She left this country and move to one of the poorest countries in the caribbean and got the same job for $90,000 a year, a brand new BMW and paid gas, lunch, etc... you name it. She could barely afford a one bedroom apartment in the US, now after 2 years working overseas she bought a 200,000 vacation home in Florida by the beach... go figure. By the way, I am on my out as well. AMERICA IS A COUNTRY OF SLAVERY. NOT MORE NOT LESS.


Stress at work...

The day you take your job home is the day you need off.. JT

Teachers vs EMT's

Compared to any public safety job, a teacher works in a stable environment. Yes, stressful and challenging. Yes, important. But you don't deal with traffic or weather all day.

Most classrooms are pretty tame and stable. Almost every call isn't. In fact, on almost every call, you deal with people don't understand your job as an EMT.

Your students don't usually fight or spit.

They may share their colds, but rarely carry TB, HIV, Hepatitis, and other life changing diseases.

You may have to carry some books, but we carry people. Police and firemen often assist in doing so. Sometimes we have to pull off doors, other people, and re-arrange houses like movers to get patients out.

Do you have to report to work on snow days? Ha! We do. And do all of the above while you sip hot chocolate.

There are no holidays. Weekends are when we can get them. Schedules are often changing every few months, and of course the pay is low. No amount of overtime pay really makes up for this.

The next time a teacher wants to make a complaint about low pay, please take a look at the parking lot of an ambulance, fire or police station. You won't see many new cars by comparison.

I can go on and on, and I'm sure that firefighters and police officers can make a similar list. In fact, when was the last time you heard a teacher shot or killed on the job?

So. While I respect teachers and the job you do, any complaint you have is garbage. I've scrutinized teacher's contracts, and I've seen them fight for their pay in the name of students. Sorry, but I don't see it. Get your EMT cert then I'd like to hear if you complain.

- an EMT / paramedic




I am an EMT. The hours are rough and the job kicks my ass sometimes, but I consider it to be the best job on earth. I have been in the back of an ambulance with a 5 week old baby in cardiac arrest and got a heartbeat back.
No amount of pay in any other field would ever make me feel like that. I am a lucky girl. Keep your 100k+, I am rich in so many other ways and I still love going to work in the morning.
I have the best coworkers I could ask for, and while I get that it is stressful at times and sometimes physically and mentally exhausted I am so grateful to love what I do.

Worst Jobs

Immigration enforcement agent. The politicians will not allow you to do your job.

Work? haha more a way of life,

Most people don't have respect for the oil and natural gas industry for those on the front lines of it, as myself its not work, its a lifestyle with how much commitment is given to this job. Like the article states we put up with a lot of bull sh*t.

I combined two

I was a paramedic working on offshore oil construction for over 15 years, so I kinda combined the roustabout and the EMT. Hard work but it paid a hell of alot more then what was said on this list. You do spend a lot of time away though...

Best Computer Job

Can anyone tell me what's best computer job to go to school for? I love computers but I don't know what I am most interested in. I'm not a math genius either.

what the hell

my bro in law makes alot of money for construction... this list is totally wrong !!!! dont believe this crap!!!

it's on average

This list is not totally wrong, it shows average salaries, etc. It's great that your brother in law makes more than the average, but there are many others who are not so lucky.

Come to Alberta

Any Oilfield job your looking at a minimum 40000 g a year

north dakota

same out here. talkin 100k, entry level, EASY. lotta work but you haters tell me if its worth it. moved here for this.

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