What Would be the Best and Worst Jobs on the Planet?

The following is a guest post from Jacob at My Personal Finance Journey.

This post was written as part of a “Yakezie blog swap” where members of the Yakezie Personal Finance Blogging Network pair up and exchange guest postings on a common topic. The topic of this blog swap was to discuss what each of us thinks would be the best AND worst jobs in the world. You can view my guest post live today over at  20andEngaged’s site .

Hello everyone! It’s a pleasure to be posting today at FamilyMoneyValues and to be the host for the 12th Yakezie blog swap event!

 One of the semi-selfish pleasures of hosting a Yakezie blog swap is that you get to choose a common posting topic that you’ve wanted to write about for quite some time or that you are excited about. Indeed, the topic of sharing my opinions on what would be the best and worst jobs in the world is something I’ve wanted to do on my own blog for about 3 months now. 

What Would be the Best, Most Awesome Job in the Planet?

Since I consider myself somewhat of an optimistic person, let’s first start with discussing my pick as to what would be the most awesome job in the world. 

In my opinion, the most “awesome/coolest” job in the world would be to work as a travel writer for Lonely Planet (or any of the other major travel guide companies such as Frommers, Eye Witness, Fodors, etc for that matter).

What does this job entail exactly?

Well, these guidebook writers (or authors as they term them on the Lonely Planet job description website) are the ones that review, describe, rate, and recommend/not recommend all of the travel, lodging, restaurant, and entertainment venues in each and every city listed in the guidebooks we all depend greatly upon when traveling abroad. I remember that when I was studying abroad in Spain in 2008, I had my travel guidebook within arm’s reach at all times, almost like it was my security blanket!

What makes this job sound so awesome to me?

For most of my life, I’ve had a strong desire and affinity for traveling to new places and seeing how different cultures live. Indeed, this job would offer the chance to be paid for doing something I love – traveling and seeing new places. Also, since you’re representing a review agency and/or guidebook that could offer huge publicity for any business included in your final write-up, I’d imagine that the majority of the places you go would pay for you to experience the best of which they have to offer, be it food, hotel accommodations, or drinks. While you’d have to remember to remain objective during this, it’d be an added perk nonetheless!

So, as you can imagine, there’d be some very attractive attributes appealing to me in this job. However, there are also some precautions that need to be taken for anyone thinking of going in to this profession.

  • First, because of the “allure” of being a travel guidebook writer, there is a great deal of competition. In the last round of writer selection with Lonely Planet, only 8 applicants were selected out of 500 total. And, from what I’ve seen, the writers selected have to be VERY qualified both with previous professional writing experience as well as knowledge of a specific area of the world where they would review.
    • I just read the author biographies of a Lonely Planet Southwest USA guidebook, and all of the writers had authored over 30 books previously. Wow! Looks like there’s a high barrier to entry!
  • Second, in reading several interviews of past and present Lonely Planet travel writers, Simon Sellars and David Else, the job, while probably very interesting, is VERY busy and exhausting. In these interviews, it is mentioned that guidebook writers typically burnout within 5 years or less from working 16 hour days with very little rest while “on the road.” They are also away from their family for a majority of the time as well.
    • It makes absolute sense why this burnout happens though, right? Just think about it. For example, a travel writer in Mexico City is on the road (probably alone) and is responsible for every detail in the guidebook of a city with what, 25 million people! Talk about a daunting task! They even have to make sure that the distances from the street intersections to the restaurants on the maps are correct.

So, the bottom line is that I truly do think this would be the most awesome job in the world. However, would it be the most plush, cushy, sustainable, and long term job in the world? Absolutely not. It’s a very tough and intense job with probably very little pay for how many hours you have to work. However, for someone who likes to travel (like me), I’m sure it would be a rewarding experience.

As such, I’m fine with my current career goals to work in the pharmaceutical development space. But, being a travel guidebook writer sure would be an adventure to have done once in my life! Therefore, it gets my vote for being the most awesome job in the world, despite its drawbacks.

What Would be the Worst Job in the Planet?

Before beginning my explanation of my pick for the worst job in the world, I just want to make it clear that I’m in no way demeaning or belittling people that work in this type of job. Quite the contrary actually, as I have much respect for you doing what you do. The point of this writing is just to explain why I personally wouldn’t want to do the job. With that out of the way, let’s proceed…

For me, the worst job in the world would be to work as a ticket agent at a major airline in the United States. And, since I often travel through Charlotte, North Carolina on US Airways, and that airport has had extremely terrible delays in the past 2 years or so, I’ll go out on a limb and say that being a ticketing agent for US Airways would be the worst job in the world for me. 

When thinking about my choice for worst job, I almost choose being a TSA Security Agent at a major US airport. You know the sort – these are the airports with the 45 minute security lines where you are being yelled at the entire time by the TSA agents to take off your belt, shoes, laptop, liquids, etc, and then you get to the security scanner to find that people didn’t listen to the agent, which further upsets the agent. However, I ultimately decided to forgo the TSA agent choice because the passengers are not actually upset at the agents (relatively) when they go through security. The honor of having to deal with truly ticked off passengers falls upon the ticketing agents. Bless their hearts. Read below to find out more!

What does this job involve? 

Well, I think we all probably have some sort of experience in airports and are familiar with ticketing agents helping to check passengers in at the gate and main terminal ticketing counter, handle baggage, load passengers for take-off, and help passengers change their flight plans when plane cancellations or delays occur.   

Why This Job Would Be Detrimental to My Health (Both Physical and Mental)?

If we lived in a perfect world where everyone’s flights were on time and each and every passenger floated through the airport in a state of happiness, I think that being an airline ticketing agent wouldn’t be all that bad. After all, you’d get to interact with a lot of different (potentially interesting) people and contribute to the business and vacations trips that make the world work.

However, as we all know, the world is not quite perfect, and significant flight delays or cancellations are commonplace, especially after the airline cutbacks since 2001. The result? Many VERY UPSET passengers! For example, as a ticketing agent, you have to be the one to tell a 45 year old dad trying to get home from a business trip to Detroit that he’ll have to miss his son’s baseball game because there are no flights leaving Charlotte to go to his destination until tomorrow night.

Again, doing this type of job wouldn’t be so bad if people were able to understand the situation and not lash out at you almost as if you were personally responsible for the delay. However, my experiences have shown that since angry passengers cannot take out their frustration on the airline itself, they often turn to the nearest ticketing agent!

Since I am, by nature, not very good at confrontations such as these, being a ticketing agent would be very hard for me. When I am faced with interpersonal confrontations, I typically don’t have a problem dealing with them in the moment that they happen, but I’m unable to simply let it “bounce off me” after it occurs. Often times, I’ll think about it in some form for several days afterwards. Dealing with confrontations gets me much more physically tired at the end of the day as well.

In performing a brief Internet search for interviews and experiences of airline ticketing agents, I was somewhat surprised to find out that there were not that many negative remarks mentioned about the job by the people that actually do them (far less negative remarks than by the travel guidebook writers interviewed above! haha). Most of them simply acknowledge that yes, the job has it’s downfalls in dealing with unhappy customers, but the travel, health, and retirement benefits and other responsibilities of the job outweigh the negatives. Knowing this makes me feel better about the people that do this type of job. However, I still think that this role would be one job that I would simply not fit well in.

How about you all? In your opinion, what would be the best and worst job in the world and why? 

Share your experiences by commenting below!