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Most Overrated Jobs of 2012

Advertising Executive By Kyle Kensing

A common trait shared among the most overrated jobs of 2012 is allure. None are without their appeal – they wouldn't be deemed overrated otherwise.

They also share high levels of stress. Some face dwindling job markets among growing candidate pools, while others have been hit hard amid economic turbulence.

Advertising agency executive topped our most overrated list. A potentially lucrative job, there’s an aura of glamour to it that the popular cable TV show Mad Men has helped precipitate. But being an advertising agency executive isn’t all high fashion and scotches at lunch – hardly.

“It can be cutthroat,” says Dave Wetzel, an account supervisor with eight years’ experience as an advertising agency executive.

Accommodating numerous clients whose expectations can vastly differ makes for a stressful work environment. An ability to adapt and find middle ground with clients whose “expectations are sometimes out of whack,” is the greatest challenge an advertising executive must address, Wetzel says.

To be sure, the stress can be motivating for the right work personality, and for those who do handle it well the job is rewarding. The same can be said for all of our selections in the overrated jobs list. But these jobs aren't for everyone.

“I’ve seen people burn out fast,” Wetzel says. “People snap who can’t deal with the constant deadlines…and then they pursue other careers.”

Wetzel chose advertising after interning with a public relations firm. He made the transition because, he says, “True public relations is a dying art, and I was worried about getting a good job,” he says, citing the crowded landscape of job seekers in PR.

In fact, public relations manager landed at No. 7 on the most overrated list. Stress and a crowded job market characterize the industry. The 2012 Jobs Rated report scored public relations manager high on its stress scale. The pool of candidates is also swelling – a recent study finds that PR is among the top majors among new college graduates.


While our overrated and underrated distinction is subjective, we craft our rankings by using data from the CareerCast 2012 Jobs Rated report, including recent social and economical impact on specific industries, as well as data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The same criteria was used when formulating the most underrated jobs rankings.

  • 1. Advertising Agency Executive

    Median Salary: $64,107
    Projected Growth: 14%

    Turnover resulting from the pressure of high expectations and the competitive nature of the industry makes advertising agency executive one of the most stressful jobs available. Hiring outlook for the field is also low.



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  • 2. Senior Corporate Executive

    Median Salary: $166,141
    Projected Growth: 5%

    Senior corporate executives are tasked with shaping policy that impacts almost every facet of a business. So many make-or-break choices results in a lot of scrutiny, and even more stress on those bearing this responsibility.



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  • 3. Commercial Airline Pilot

    Median Salary: $103,158
    Projected Growth: 11%

    The rigors of being a commercial airline pilot make it one of the three most stressful jobs, according to our 2012 rankings. Add a stagnant job market, and the job’s inclusion on the list is undeniable.



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  • 4. Stockbroker

    Median Salary: $70,474
    Projected Growth: 15%

    Despite recent strength, up-and-down markets both domestically and internationally have upped the stress on stockbrokers, and volatility makes failure in the eyes of their clients a more likely possibility for those in the industry.



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  • 5. Surgeon

    Median Salary: $305,078
    Projected Growth: 24%

    The high stress surgeons face on a daily basis surpasses that of most any other profession. Becoming a surgeon requires exhaustive training, first at the postgraduate level, followed by a residency.



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  • 6. Attorney

    Median Salary: $112,760
    Projected Growth: 10%

    Job prospects for breaking into the field grow increasingly dimmer. The Wall Street Journal reports hiring of recent law school graduates dwindled all the way down to 62% in 2012, a drop-off from 85% a year ago.



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  • 7. Public Relations Manager

    Median Salary: $92,156
    Projected Growth: 21%

    Stress levels on public relations managers are among the highest of all careers because of demanding media, audience and clients. The pursuit of jobs is also competitive. Public relations also is among the most common majors for recent college graduates, adding more competition into the candidate pool.



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  • 8. Flight Attendant

    Median Salary: $38,156
    Projected Growth: 0%

    Free travel aside, the economic squeeze on the entire airline industry has trickled down to flight attendants, who have experienced stagnant wages and slowing job opportunities in recent years.



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  • 9. Photojournalist

    Median Salary: $40,209
    Projected Growth: 13%

    Dwindling opportunities compound the challenges posed to photojournalists. Some are thrown into difficult situations, like natural disasters or wars, making for one of the most taxing work environments of any career. Photojournalists also receive a low median pay when compared to the potential hazards of the job.



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  • 10. Architect

    Median Salary: $73,179
    Projected Growth: 24%

    The burst of the housing bubble and stagnant growth across most sectors of construction have limited the opportunities for architects in recent years. The industry’s outlook is positive per the BLS, but those who do pursue careers there must be ready for high levels of stress and a work environment that ranks poorly, according to our methodology.



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  • 11. Event Coordinator

    Median Salary: $45,260
    Projected Growth: 44%

    Event coordinators have many critics to win over with each project, namely the attendees. This lends itself to a stressful work environment – No. 6 among the most stressful jobs of 2012, in fact. The reward is not necessarily commensurate with the stress, either. The median pay is $45,260, lower than many of the positions in this list.



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  • 12. Psychologist

    Median Salary: $67,179
    Projected Growth: 22%

    Psychologists face high stress working with generally difficult clients, while the field’s median pay scale and hiring outlook are slightly below comparable positions in the health care industry.



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Most Jobs are truely overrrated

I have had a 9-5 in the past, but i must say that sometimes i feel i just shoudn't be there.  I also tried freelancing or working remotely, but that also felt like a full time job. Having to stare at my computer for 8 full hours everyday.  I usually burn out in the 5th hour and at the end of the day i started a small business. Dos not pay much but allows me flexible time and creativity.

They forgot #1 as always criminal

Besides the legalization of pot. Money just isnt like it used to be. High stress, extremely dangerous work enviroment, imprisonment, financial penalties, people just loath you, extremely difficult to keep the net yearly income worth the amount of hostile work involved. You are a lot better off working in fast food. The future self loathing rationalizations is enough to make it the worst job a person could ever to do. 

Dont go to law schoool!!!!!

Dont go to law schoool!!!!!

I second that, complete waste

I second that, complete waste of time and big chances you get corrupt. Better of working at a fast food chain and live your life in a normal and decent way!Jane

Overrated jobs

I'd put nurses in this category, too.  Very high stress, lots or responsibility with pay not commensurate with it.


I dont think nurse is a very highstress job. I was a nurse for some time. The pay is grate and the hours are a pluss. The stress is on the physician. I am now in medical school and regretting leaving my job for 300k debt.  

white and male

I like how almost every picture is a white man - except for the token black female airline pilot.  Obviously thrown in to dispel any notions of racism and sexism.  Nice try.

point taken..but

I counted a lot of females too, albeit white.  There will come a day when we don't count pictures of race and gender, and that will be true equality.  Hard to tell what race the 'hand' pictures depict, eh?  And does white skin really imply caucasian these days? What of national origin?  Where does the madness stop and reading the article begin?

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