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5 Most Regretted Jobs

5 Most Regretted Jobs

By Taylor Dupuy
Monster Contributing Writer

If you find yourself in a career path you regret, you’re not alone. Some jobs are especially likely to leave people feeling disappointed, a recent survey by PayScale found. We’re sharing the top five, along with what they typically pay.


First on the list and with an average yearly pay of $18,600, 46% of cashiers say they regret their job. As a cashier, you’re required to spend your time at work interacting with the public. If you don’t enjoy that, you’re not going to find this job very satisfying. “You need a real service mentality to deal with the general public, and to work in a space where you are willing to answer to the customer,” says Lea McLeod, a career coach and job transition expert. “Who feels good going to work every day, needing to be accountable to customers, and then not wanting to and/or not being good at it?”


43% of mechanics say they regret their job. “Without a doubt, many people adore the profession,” says training and development consultant Farah Parker, but with an average yearly pay of $36,100, mechanics are required to endure long hours of physical and often dirty labor. Resources and tools for the job are very expensive and training never ends, as mechanics are required to keep up with the latest automotive advancements.

“While it looks good to a teen who has been working on cars, there isn't much opportunity to go beyond the pay you have and you are usually working in a cold, open space, with pressure to work quickly,” says Denise Kalm, chief innovator of Kalm Kreative. “It’s a physically demanding job that as you age becomes much more difficult while generally not becoming more financially rewarding.”

Secondary School Teacher

With an average yearly salary of $43,800, the highest in the the top 5, secondary school teachers rank third in regret with 43%. They problem is that would-be teachers often don’t fully understand what the job involves until after they have started, McLeod says. “I had a friend who was a secondary school teacher and realized on day two she had made an enormous mistake. She was awash in the paperwork required of an educator, as well as the unending parent interventions and the reluctance of students to do the work. She didn’t realize the politics of working in a secondary school system.”

Parker says the challenges that face teachers are daunting. “Although teachers are responsible for preparing the next generation to lead our nation, the education profession is often marred by a lack of resources, dwindling support, and modest salaries,” she says. “Instead of simply teaching children, teachers must simultaneously parent and counsel all while navigating the stressful terrain often found in the bureaucracy of school districts. It takes a remarkable human being to become a teacher but it takes a golden human being to stay one.”

Delivery Driver

With an average yearly pay of $31,600, 42% of delivery drivers claim to regret their positions. McLeod shares the experience of one of her clients: “I had a client who was a delivery driver after leaving college. Between low pay, physically demanding work, and very little meaning, he has decided to return to school and pursue a career path in accounting. Even though he may have regretted spending a couple of years driving deliveries, it did inspire him to find something that was more desirable to him as a career interest.”

Bank Teller

Rounding out the list with an average yearly salary of $24,400, 37% of bank tellers say they regret their job. McLeod explains, “Bank teller work is another customer-facing role, and if you’re not a service oriented that will be a problem. One of the challenges is you MUST balance the money at the end of the day. If you’re not a detail oriented person, or good with money, this may completely stress you out. If a worker can’t deal with those terms, it can easily turn into a regrettable situation.”

"Once upon a time, people at low levels like this could readily step up to very senior positions, but this is less true now,” Kalm says. “And yet the requirements for the job have increased because of technology. You have to work complex systems quickly to satisfy customer demands, all while standing up all day long. You don't learn the skills you need to move to other parts of the bank unless you happen to work for one that is motivated to promote from within.  So it's a dead-end job, albeit better rewarded than fast food.”

Sarah Merrill, a recruiting consultant at Atrium Staff, says part of the challenge of regretted jobs is that it’s hard to get out of them. “I have worked with individuals with ‘cashier’ and ‘bank teller’ on their resume and it can be difficult to change career tracks as those skills are very specific and not transferable.”

But, as McLeod puts it, the good news is, “if you regret a job because it wasn’t the right thing for you, now you have one more piece of data about what is or is not the right thing for you.”

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