The 10 Most Miserable Tech Jobs

Despite the portrayal of tech jobs as challenging, highly paid, interesting and generally cool, some spots are simply tedious, dehumanizing and sometimes deadly. At least that’s what InfoWorld says. Its rundown of the worst tech jobs includes positions in retail, manufacturing, IT support, services and, surprisingly, management. Admittedly, many of these positions are somewhat on the periphery of tech, but all in all, the list illustrates how sometimes our cutting edge industry isn’t all so cutting edge after all.

Here’s a look.

The Most Miserable

Having a corporate role — and getting better pay — doesn’t always make for a happy worker. In a tally of reviews, the website CareerBliss reports that IT directors despise their jobs more than anyone else. Long hours and a separate office, apparently, aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, especially when you combine them with responsibilities like personnel management, deadline management and budget accountability.

Generally Miserable

Technical support specialists are some of the unhappiest workers in the U.S. These call center employees are the bored folks on the other end of the phone when your computer or software goes awry.

But Amazon mechanical turk probably tops the list for the most tedious and menial job. Named for an 18th century chess machine secretly run by humans, mechanical turks get pennies to input data from surveys and other sources.

Then there are Google’s content cops, contractors who face the dehumanizing task of continuously poring through and eliminating offensive material such as images of child porn (ick) and bestiality (more ick).

Tech Retail

Microsoft Store FrontThe retail world topped InfoWorld’s list with a number of jobs, including Microsoft store employee, RadioShack store employee and online retail fulfillment center worker. Dealing with customers is never an easy thing to do, but Microsoft store employees have the tough role of hawking products that aren’t as shiny and desirable as iPhones and Macs. RadioShack staff might have it even harder, working long hours with low pay and big pressure to hit sales targets. Employees at fulfillment centers for online retailers like Amazon face grueling overtime, backbreaking work and a demanding point system for moving boxes.

The Woes of Semiconductors

A number of manufacturing positions don’t bring much joy, either. While semiconductor processors may get pretty good pay, they’re also watching jobs dry up as people are replaced with robots.

The Most Dangerous

Cell tower climbers have it much, much worse. According to a report from ProPublica and PBS’s Frontline, cell tower climbers die at 10 times the rate of construction workers. The head of Occupational Safety and Health Administration once called cell tower climbing the most dangerous job in the U.S., says InfoWorld. These folks work long hours for low pay, and receive relatively little training before they take on the most dangerous job in tech. Why include this? Well, these are the folks who make sure all of that development work gets to the people who take advantage of it.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

11 Responses to “The 10 Most Miserable Tech Jobs”

  1. Who would want to work at the Microsoft Store? I don’t know why someone would want to take the brunt of complaints for Windows 8. It’s like when gas prices go higher. It’s the gas stations that get yelled at by the customers and the Corporation rolls in the dough.

  2. I don’t think its right to Label any job as Miserable or Menial.I personally started off working in tech support and worked long hours,however we never regret doing it as it all depends on the employer one gets to work with. We had a great team,were always having fun at work and every call was a challenge. I remember there was 3 hour long call from one of our client in Brazil and no one was able to find the solution. We finally resolved it and the whole center was watching for how the call will end . It was more exciting then watching grand Slam final for us. It important that people doing these jobs have respect for their job and needs to believe that they will not be doing this for life. Your experience always takes you places as long as you strive to be best at what you do.
    Here is quick tip, none of the people who were in my team are doing the same job now, we were all out of college freshers and had no tech know how. however most of they make 6 Digit salary and few are heading very high profile positions in tech firms.

  3. Yes, yes, it’s all very sad but the truth is that the entire field of IT is nothing more than the 21st century version of an auto mechanic, Important but nobody’s going to put up any statues of you. It’s become an over-certified, commoditized industry where it’s perfectly acceptable to use the words “skill” and “tool” interchangeably. That’s wrong but the industry accepts it. Why else would anyone discount a candidate for not working with the “right:” brand of router if they’ve worked with another? It’s just a brand and the rules are the same no matter who’s logo is on the hardware.
    You need “skills” to use “tools.” You can still get the job done without tools but not without skills. The list of the worst jobs is a bit short and gets a bit lazy by the end. I mean c’mon, Cell tower climbers? Not exactly what I think of when someone says IT. If you want to really know what’s behind today’s IT workforce check here…

  4. Jack Butler

    IT Directors have it the worst? Doubtful, in my experience they dump their stress downward and still receive great pay and benefits. IT in general has become a crappy field IMHO to work in. I’ve been in the business for over 15 years and all I’ve seen is responsibility and knowledge requirements for Network Engineers go ballistic yet the pay has dropped so low it generally rivals that of a Fast Food Restaurant Manager Position.
    If the knowledge requirements where the same with doctors, most of them would have been able to cure cancer by now!
    Maybe if the IT Directors actually started listening to their engineers we would see more effective and secure networking being done.

    • I actually agree wit Jack and the article. The IT Director has the most control over his own destiny but at the same time really has no power. It’s the lowest level of executive and usually answers to the accounting department head so everything he/.she does has to first justify its price tag. It’s literally the tail wagging the dog.

      Still, it’s IT Directors that set the tone for the department and I can count on one hand the examples I met that could both manage people and understand what they were managing. I actually had one IT Director that had a degree in botany of all things with 5 years of IT experience.

      I guess he came cheap because we never got anything done and he was good at passing the buck and using ITIL buzzwords.

      That’s just how IT is these days though. They’ll wring the enthusiasm right out of you if you’re not careful. It’s a revolving door position like most IT jobs these days.

  5. I worked tech support for a software firm for many years and although one can get burned out listening to the frustration a software program is causing a user, and trust me, no user calls to say “I just love the way my software is working today, thank you for creating such a time saving program”, they only call when they have a problem. However, as I matured in my support role, I learned that my attitude highly affected my job performance. I looked at my support role as “I help my users to be successful in their everyday business life” and not “I can’t believe my users can’t fix their own problems”. If I had the latter instead of the former attitude, then yes, my job would have been a “miserable job”. As in life itself, it’s all about attitude.
    Some of my clients used to say to me “I can’t believe I am so dumb regarding computers” and I would tell them “Well, I am dumb when it comes to installing HVAC products and you are the expert, don’t sweat it, I’m here to help”… That usually made the client my friend because I did not put them down for their lack of knowledge, I recognized their strength, and that went a long way at calming them and making them less frustrated over the phone.

  6. Problems with the IT department seems to stem from poor management. You need a person that has 1 foot in IT and the other in management. Companies seem to think anyone can manage IT professionals. The miserable workers may need to be challenged and turned loose at work. Micromanaged workers are the least productive

  7. Michael Muegge

    I am an analog and power supply circuit design electronics engineer. I was laid off five years ago. I am lucky to be in bad enough health to qualify for disability. I don’t know how else I could survive.

  8. Sorry for the long comment, but you might be entertained….Strange how the tech world has changed. When I started out in 1980 we had big aspirations and everything was exciting. We could be first to invent things left and right because few people understood digital electronics or software except for relatively small, smart group of people. It was so small that you would run into people doing interesting things all the time. Steve Jobs parked 4 cars away from me when he started Next in Redwood City (87-’90), and across the street from me when he was at Apple (81 – 85) in Cupertino. He “borrowed” the GUI concept from people I worked for at Xerox Research Parc in Palo Alto to make the Mac and save Apple. I worked in the Silicon Valley during what I call “the age of enlightened capitalism”, in R&D, Field Engineering (high end tech support), and it was a lot of fun. We worked long hours but got decent pay, stock options and health insurance. We invented VOIP, IP power meters, and IP access over cable TV coax (1.5 Mb to the house) by 1985…all too far ahead of the market….Computer animation systems, graphics hardware & software, digital video recording systems, and lots more. Companies appreciated their employees and didn’t pit HB1 Visa immigrants against American workers to keep wages down. We were respected by employer and client alike. Now that every company uses computers and all of these kinds of products, and there is a whole generation of people who grew up on them and got CS degrees, it has all become a labor commodity. But as Jack said, the amount you have to know and keep learning is akin to what a physician has to know…And tech changes faster than medical breakthroughs. All this with average pay and no job security.

    On the other hand my brother is a construction contractor who makes $500 – $1000 / day building and remodeling homes and chains of stores. He doesn’t have 1 boss who can bring his income to a complete halt or give him grief every day. He can turn down work and take off for a month. He’s 65 and just got another contract to remodel a chain of women’s clothing stores across the U.S. He’ll pull $150K + this year for working when he wants with little stress. Another friend who was in sales quit the corp world to go into real estate and she makes a nice 6 digit income.

    Try getting a tech job if your 60 and have 30 years experience in tech. LOL, I’ve been out of corporate jobs for 5 years now and I doubt I’ll ever work for one that I don’t start myself, or one started by a close friend. They look at you as if you couldn’t possibly be up to speed on current technologies, and forget about valuing your people/managerial skills; the employees aren’t even #2. They are just drones in the eyes of upper management. It has been made clear that Eric Schmidt, Bill Gates, Carly Fiorina, Meg Whitman and the heads of all of these SV companies care less about providing good jobs for anyone, mentoring, building a community or supporting their fellow American than they do about quarterly stock valuation. (Hewlett & Packard are turning in their graves because they believed in the opposite; it was as much about the people and community as the exciting products.) And that my friends is one reason why America is going down the drain fast. While other nations have cultural and national identities with politicians and business leaders who value their people, America is just a place, a geography devoid of any sense of self and self worth. Its all dog eat dog, and squeeze as much capital gains out of stock portfolios as you can. They sold us that as “freedom”. Good luck to you all….Wish it hadn’t gone this way.

    • Your Comment is about the most intelligent piece of writing I have read all year. If there were a lot more people like you standing up the corporate and I.T. world would be a much better place. May be you should publish some articles and books, etc. so that people would be more informed. I thank God for your great knowledge and perspective, it was refreshing and comforting to read your article.

    • What Tim said in 2013 remains true today but exponentially worse in all fields, even my job working for hospitals as a Systems Analyst was a nightmare and any day could be layoff day and you are out of work until your next interview, which could be a month or longer. No job security, disposable as a plastic bottle apparently but you need to know as much or more than a Physician in his respective field.