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The worst jobs in the UK

Updated February 21, 2019

Whenever you're feeling fed up with your boss, take a moment to remind yourself of some of the worst jobs in the UK. Some people spend every day taking abuse from the public, cleaning up unspeakable things, putting their life at risk -- or simply doing a horrible job for a tiny salary. There are even some jobs that come with a bulging annual pay packet, but put their workers through living hell to earn it. Remember these jobs the next time you have to work late; it might just make you feel better.

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Traffic warden

Nobody likes to be hated, and traffic wardens are no exception. Yet time and again these workers find themselves topping lists of "most hated" people in the UK. Take a 2004 report from the BBC, for example, which ranks traffic wardens as the "most irritating" in Britain. That's more irritating even than telephone sales reps, politicians and estate agents. With so much hostility, plus 12-hour shifts often in the pouring rain, traffic warden easily comes high on another inauspicious list: the worst jobs in the UK.


Forget the images of flamboyant, tanned artistes teasing the locks of Hollywood stars; most hairdressers make terrible salaries and listen to boring holiday stories all day. The average UK hairdresser in 2011 made just £12,219, according to The Guardian. That's even less than other much-maligned jobs, such as cleaner, shelf stacker or kitchen hand. So, next time you pop in for a quick trim, consider dropping a tip in the jar.

Sewage workers

Working among the filth and excrement of city sewers can't be anyone's idea of a good time. And the next time you pour any oil down your sink, spare a thought for the "flushers." These poor folk have to scrape out the fatty build-up underneath the streets of London. Imagine, for a disgusting moment, 1,000+ tonnes of smelly, greasy fat deposits that need to be scooped off the wall with a spade. Not very pleasant at all -- and surely making "flushers" and sewage workers qualify for worst job in Britain.


Commercial fishermen in the UK have the unhappy honour of working in the UK's most dangerous non-military job. In fact, over the course of their working lives, one in 20 fishermen will be killed while doing their job, according to a 2010 report from the BBC. On top of that, many fishermen spend weeks at sea in pursuit of the perfect catch. They must also endure heavy storms that would turn the stomach of most land-lubbers. The final insult is that fishermen come home smelling of, well, fish. Not most people's idea of an ideal job.


Yes, teachers get much more annual holiday than the average Brit. However, teaching consistently ranks as the most stressful career in the UK. As much as 41 percent of teachers say that they are "highly stressed," according to the National Union of Teachers. Violent pupils, angry parents, high workload and constant assessments all contribute to the stress. If you find yourself teaching in a school that doesn't support you, it may well feel like one of the worst jobs around.

Waiter or waitress

Waiting restaurant tables is officially the worst paid occupation in the UK in 2011. Waiters and waitresses earned a median salary of £12,117, or around £233 per week, according to The Guardian. Along with poor pay, waiters often work unsociable hours in the evenings, have to deal with rude customers and spend most of their time on their feet. It all adds up to one of the worst jobs around.

Sick collector

On the scale of disgusting jobs, "sick collector" must be off the charts. Yet, at roller coasters in some of the UK's leading theme parks, such as Thorpe Park, people are employed to do just that. Armed with a mop and bucket, sick collectors remove all of the stray vomit after queasy riders fail to hold down their breakfasts. Visitors leave around 150 litres of sick in Thorpe Park every year, according to a report from the BBC.

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About the Author

Based near London, U.K., Peter Mitchell has been a journalist and copywriter for over eight years. Credits include stories for "The Guardian" and the BBC. Mitchell is an experienced player and coach for basketball and soccer teams, and has written articles on nutrition, health and fitness. He has a First Class Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) from Bristol University.

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