Not so dreamy jobs

They May Seem Dreamy, but…

It may seem glamorous to be a slick advertising executive like Jon Hamm on the TV show “Mad Men” or like Michael Douglas’s power broker character in the movie “Wall Street.”

But times change and the professions that seemed alluring in the 1980s may not be so glamorous now.

Job listing and advice site CareerCast.com has come out with its annual list of the most overrated jobs – and the most underrated jobs.
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We’ve all been to a restaurant we’d deem “overrated,” or met that guy in the office we’d call overrated. So what makes a job overrated?

“Poor outlook for future growth, long hours, stress, and a multitude of new candidates entering the industry make it especially challenging to break into many of our overrated careers,” said Tony Lee, publisher of CareerCast.com. “We find jobs that are perceived as being really great for one reason or another and kind of show — they’re not as great as you think.”

So, the next time you encounter a woman who boasts, “Well, my son is a ______,” maybe you say, “Hmmm. Not so much.”

Read ahead for some of the Most Overrated Jobs of 2012.

Advertising Agency Executive
Median Salary: $64,107

Oh, Jon Hamm makes it look so easy and so glamorous on the hit show “Mad Men,” but the truth is, advertising is a very stressful, high-turnover business, Lee said. It’s not all about how you hold a glass of Scotch or woo a beautiful woman.

“You might perceive it to be a really cool job, but in fact, it’s overrated,” Lee said.

Senior Corporate Executive
Median Salary: $166,141

“Most people think of it as flying on a corporate jet and a nice dining room every day,” Lee said. “The real issue with executives is that you’re responsible for the careers and lives of everyone who works for the company. Any wrong decision is on your head. And if the company is publicly-traded, you’re responsible to shareholders.”

There has always been stress to perform and meet budgets, but never is that stress higher on executives than during a recession.

“Any time you have an economic downturn, it puts the squeeze on more senior level executives who have to manage revenue against a poorer environment and it’s hard,” Lee said.

Commercial Airline Pilot
Median Salary: $103,158

Sure, it may seem like soaring through the clouds and traveling the globe, but the airline industry has been devastated by cost-cutting efforts, which means on top of passenger safety, terrorism, and bad weather, many pilots now face lower salaries and budget pressures.

“Maybe they’re sitting on a tarmac too long and burning fuel, or the weather forces them to go out of their way and all of that is going to cost more – they now have many more concerns than just safely flying a plane,” Lee said.

Architect
Median Salary: $73,179

This hybrid left brain/right brain career may seem appealing and the perception is that you get to play with models all day. In fact, it’s always been grueling work, full of long hours, but it took a huge hit when the housing bubble burst — many architects had to go out of business because there isn’t enough demand for their services.

But the housing market is starting to turn, finally, so stay tuned for next year – maybe it will change teams and be on the underrated list!

Surgeon
Median Salary: $305,078

So the next time a woman brags, “My son is a doctor!” you can smile knowing it’s not all that.

It’s not just the pure joy and mastery of surgery. For sure, surgery has always been stressful – it’s long hours on your feet, patients’ lives are in your hands, and you’re on call 24/7.

“Your life’s really not your own,” Lee said. “And now, with health-care regulation and insurance requirements, many surgeons spend most of their time handling administrative stuff,” he said.

And don’t even get the nursing staff started on the God Complex!

Sorry, surgeons, you’re overrated.

Attorney
Median Salary: $112,760

“The perception is that just be a lawyer and you’ll be in great shape,” Lee said. In fact, the legal profession took a huge hit from the recession. Turnover is high and the work is grueling. It’s not all golf and coming down hard in court with an Oscar-worthy “You can’t handle the truth!”

“You don’t expect when you’re in law school that you’ll be spending 70 to 80 hours a week reading contracts!” Lee said.

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