9 Careers with the Worst Work-Life Balance

Job seekers who have been chewed up and spit out by the daily grind aren’t only looking at pay and benefits when searching for a career these days. Many workers are discovering that having a less stressful job that allows plenty of time for leisure, family, and spiritual pursuits is just as important, if not more important, than the amount of money they make. If maintaining a good work-life balance is a priority to you, you may want to steer clear of the following nine careers:

  1. Advertising and Public Relations Workers. Not only is advertising and public relations often stressful, but merely entering the field is highly competitive. Since there are far more job-seekers in this industry than there are job openings, keen competition is part of the game, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Adding to the stress of such jobs is the fact that layoffs are common, the BLS notes, a factor that drives those working in advertising and public relations to work even harder to show they are valuable enough to be retained. A Bloomberg Businessweek article highlighted a Austin-area couple who ditched the advertising industry after overflowing email inboxes, crack-of-dawn conference calls, limited vacation time, and increasing responsibilities pushed them to the breaking point. The BLS explained that "being creative on a tight schedule can be emotionally draining."
  2. Journalists. Part and parcel to being a journalist is being on call for breaking news stories, constant deadlines, and irregular hours that make it difficult to maintain much of a social life and often cut into leisure and family time. Journalism is also highly competitive, making it difficult to move up the career ladder. Add to that the fact that shrinking news staffs equate to dumping more work on already overburdened workers, and it’s no surprise that Monster Excelle listed this fast-paced job among the worst careers for love because of all the time you’ll spend away from your loved ones.
  3. Nurses. While helping patients regain their health is rewarding, many bemoan the long hours on your feet, the pressure of patients’ lives being on the line if you screw up, and dealing with difficult patients. It’s not uncommon for nurses to work nights, weekends, and holidays, not to mention being on call, which can seriously cut into leisure time. While nurses are high in demand and garner a respectable income, they are unfortunately more likely to get depressed than those in other careers. It’s all too easy to take "work" home with you. PFhub lists the nursing profession among the top 10 most depressing jobs.
  4. Social Workers. Pressures on social workers include understaffing and large case loads, according to the BLS, not to mention the potential for evening and weekend work. The stress of dealing with the crises of the less fortunate day after day coupled with relatively low pay for heavy work makes social work a bad bet for work-life balance. Many find it difficult not to think about work in their off time when they are constantly dealing with emergencies and seeing people slip through the cracks in social safety nets.
  5. Teachers. Having summers off makes teaching seem like a peachy job, but the nine months spent in the classroom can quickly change your mind. The work day does not end when the school bell rings, and teachers spend many of their evenings grading papers and preparing lesson plans rather than enjoying a thrilling social life. Other after-school activities for teachers include talking with grouchy parents over the phone and scheduling special tutoring sessions for children struggling with school.
  6. Sales Representatives. Sales can be a high-pressure, stressful job, particularly when a commission-driven income leaves many individuals scrambling around the clock to push the sale at the expense of their free time. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer recently listed sales representatives among the 10 most dissatisfying jobs in Washington due in part to many in the sales field feeling like their work-life balance was out of whack. The BLS points out that 24% of sales representatives worked more than 50 hours a week in 2008, and evening and weekend work is routine.
  7. Night Shift Workers. Whether you’re working night security at a jail or stocking shelves during the graveyard shift at Wal-Mart, working the night shift in any occupation can cause you to be too sleepy in the day time to have much of a social life outside of work. After all, you must get your sleep while life goes on as normal for the rest of the waking world.
  8. Military Personnel. While those in the military have an important job that they take pride in, all service men and women know it’s a life of sacrifice. Months-long deployments overseas and keeping busy on base while you’re stateside cuts significantly into time with family and friends. Those in the various branches of the military have had to push back weddings, miss the births of their children, and communicate with family and friends solely via video conferencing while they are serving active duty.
  9. Business Owners. It may seem desirable to be your own boss, but when you’re getting a business off the ground, it can mean back-to-back 12-hour days at the start while you manage inventory, hire employees, and get the word out about your new endeavor. New businesses often take entrepreneurs years of constant work before they can take their first vacation. The continuous financial stress you experience when starting a new business can put a strain on your personal relationships as well, often upsetting your work-life balance.

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