25 Workers Opened Up About The “Seemingly Cool” Jobs That Are “Total Traps”

“He has cuts, burns, scrapes, and chronic foot problems.”

We recently posted a list of “trap” careers that seem like they’d be amazing, but are totally awful in reality. People from the BuzzFeed Community flooded the comments with their own submissions. Here are 25 more careers that aren’t as great as they seem:


“Being some kind of ‘influencer’ is never gonna be easy. It’s competitive AF, and you have to either work extremely hard to build a platform, or get lucky and go viral or something. Even then, it’ll still take a while for it to become a full-time job, let alone a well-paid one. A lot of people are quite vain and think if they can get on camera, or start a podcast, they’ll make it amongst the ocean of other people doing the exact same thing.”



“Audiologist. It requires a doctorate degree, but the pay is even less than a physical therapist.”



“Professional touring musician. There’s a reason why most people who do it tap out by age 30. At a certain point, even the most enthusiastic ones get sick of driving long hours in a packed van, loading in and loading out rigs and equipment, and doing all of their shaving, showering, and shitting at all-night truck stops in the middle of nowhere. Not only that, all the time you spend on the road is time away from friends, family, and significant others, so be prepared to sacrifice a few relationships. Most people get sold on a romanticized version of the profession, but the reality is pretty grinding. There’s a lot of time and energy expended just to play an hour to hour-and-a-half set every night.”



“I used to work in higher education in the administration side with student orgs, housing, clubs, etc. They require a two-year master’s degree for many entry level positions. Then they pay you under $32,000 and make you work insane hours (easily 50-60 a week). However, there is rarely room for advancement. We’re talking 100 people going for one opening. If you’re geographically locked, your options are limited. They’re also expected to travel to work conferences on their own dimes and travel to interview all over the country, and be willing to move. My position was cut, and I went to work at a call center for a major bank where I started at $45,000, which was $10,000 more than I was making in higher ed. In three years at the call center, I’m up to $60,000 and if I was still in higher ed, I might be in a role that pays $47,000.”



“Restaurant manager. Especially salaried managers. These restaurants will have you working 60-80 hour work weeks because they’ve got you on lock with salary and don’t have to pay overtime. You’ll definitely be earning less money than your front of house staff, and oh my god, someone is always mad at you. If it’s not the guests, it’s the staff. If it’s not the staff, it’s upper management. Sometimes, it’s a fun little mashup of two of those, or even all three. Oh — and people will lie right to your face, and you can’t do anything about it.”



“Being a professor at most places is not a good life. You will juggle 50 different things at once with new responsibilities added every semester for no extra pay. Add onto that the customer service relationship the administration will want you to have with students, and it all adds up to be nothing like it is shown to be on TV and in movies. The burnout factor is very high. Everyone I know is exhausted all the time.”



“Working in television. Especially in Canada. It has few employers, long or odd hours, and low pay. If you meet anyone in this field over 40, they’re likely divorced.”



“PR agencies. The owners/VPs get all the $$$ from clients’ retainers, while you do all the work. Doesn’t matter if your workload continues to increase — they won’t want to share the wealth/pay you more. You’re always on call for clients, and your job greatly depends on others (journalists) to secure results. I’m glad I got out of the game and went in-house — better money and work/life balance.”



“90% of nonprofit jobs end up being sales. You’re a peddler. Maybe one person will leave and you can sit in the office, but so many have you hitting the pavement to get the word out. It’s not at all how they make it seem in movies, with people ‘fighting the good fight’ and protesting, etc. You go on the street with clipboards and have people sign shit, and we all hate those people for the most part.”



“Physical therapy. The colleges totally lie to you, and I would not have done it if I knew how the industry really was. There are people who can really benefit from PT, but the system only cares about how MANY people we churn through, so we waste a looooot of time and insurance money with people who are unlikely to see a good outcome. I do my best to sign off on people who can’t benefit immediately, so I can spend more time with patients who really need it, but I sabotage my own job security that way. And you do NOT make enough money to justify that doctorate. Plus, the field is gonna be so saturated in a couple more years, there won’t even be jobs at all. DO NOT DO IT.”



“Zoo keeper/animal work in general, really. You have to have a degree to get your resume even looked at, so you start with crazy student debt. Then you graduate and think, ‘Yes, here we go.’ But you quickly learn there are about 1,000 other people that want that job, and if you don’t know someone or can afford to work free internships for years to get in, you just wasted all that time. Also, the job is not playing with tigers. The few years I spent working at a zoo, I spent less than half my day with the animals. It’s a lot of cleaning, measuring food, and cleaning again. OH, and there is, like, no good pay. Most of the facilities are working on tight budgets dependent on donors, so salaries are always low, and always looking for ways to get more people to help for free.”



“My boyfriend is a chef. He works his ass off at least 70 hours a week and makes the equivalent of less than $12 an hour when you break it down. Meanwhile, line cooks are making bank on hourly wages and overtime. He has cuts, burns, scrapes, and chronic foot problems. It’s a brutal job with very demanding hours.”



“Social services. I got a bachelors degree in social work and completed an unpaid internship for the entirety of my senior year. Six months after graduating and being unable to get a job in the field, I got a job in HR. They didn’t tell us until spring semester of senior year that we wouldn’t get hired without a master’s degree. My brother, who is an engineering major, is currently in a paid internship that pays almost as much as my job ?. Total scam.”



“Psychology. I had to take a break after I got my bachelor’s, and getting back in is impossible. I need references from professors I haven’t seen in years and a completely pointless standardized test score (if I want to try for a traditional university). I don’t need either if I choose to go with an online program, but the cheapest program I found was $92,000 — PLUS all expenses for several multi-week in-person courses on their ‘campus.’ So airfare, a place to stay, food, plus anything I would need for the course. Oh, and to top it all off, upon further research, I found out there were two states that wouldn’t accept certification from these programs (Oregon and North Carolina), and I live in one of those.”



“Floral designer. You either go to school for it, or you grow up in the business doing it. I’ve never met another good designer that wasn’t from a long line of family designers. I know for a fact that most florists aren’t going to hire you unless you are from a family of florists. It’s a super old school job at this point, and a dying career at that. Everyone thinks the job is so fun and wonderful, because you’re working with flowers all day. But they don’t think about how 80% of your orders are for funerals, 50% of your product is constantly being thrown out because it doesn’t last long enough, and you can’t predict what is going to sell. I have carpal tunnel in my wrist and a horrible back from lifting the water buckets constantly.”


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“I’m an academic librarian, and basically everything I learned in grad school is useless. A bunch of theoretical crap taught by people who’ve never done any actual work in a library. Luckily, I was able to get it finished in two years without much debt. What you need to know is how to manage people, deal with a budget that gets cut every year, and handle every kind of bizarre patron you can think of. I was burning out before 2020, and COVID just made it worse. If I didn’t have to rely on myself to pay for everything and keep the benefits, I would have quit a while ago.”



“Automotive tech. The starting pay for lube techs is around $9 a flat rate hour. Sure, it’s just changing oil and tires, but it’s still hard work and in the elements, since most shops are open-air shops. Growing takes more ASE certifications, which some employers may cover the cost of if you pass them. I know at least a dozen people in the field, and none of them make more than $1,000 a week, unless they take on side jobs. At least the tech schools aren’t crazy expensive.”



“Graphic design is a massive trap. My entire class fell for it, and now most are photographers. It seems promising, but it’s extremely competitive. So much so that you need experience to get an entry-level job.”



“Trap: Teaching English in Japan. It’s a job that’s ok for one year, and then gets worse and worse the longer you stay. Better to think of it as a means to explore Japan before getting a real job.”


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“Majoring in art. Unless you are really good and get really lucky, your real job will be a waiter or doing pharmaceutical testing. The odds are against you painting frescoes.”



“Call centers/customer services seem very, very promising at first. These companies keep telling you about fast promotions and shit, and then you get in, and it’s slavery in its most fancy form. You also forget what you have ever studied in your life, and you turn into a walking dead. You make money, and you don’t have time to spend it. Terrible job.”



“Publishing! Awful pay and a lot of awful people/horrible companies.”



“Science and research in general. People think that you’re immediately going to discover a source of clean energy or figure out the cure for cancer. In reality, you’re probably going to spend five years of your life investigating one or two proteins on a random organism that may not even be relevant, because no one knows anything about them.”



“Anime and video game design. I taught design at a college, and there were so many neck beards who came through the program, all aspiring to work in anime and video game design. Zero of them ever got remotely close to earning a livable income. Lots of spec work. They probably would make more flipping burgers.”



And finally, “I’ll say being a physician is getting financially worse than it used to be. After four years of college, four years of medical school, and residency + fellowship (which are typically six-ish years of postgraduate training), that’s 14 years total. You are 32-33 if you’ve taken zero breaks out of high school, and accumulated potentially 400-500k of debt if you had to pay for both college and medical school. These days you can become a PA or NP in a fraction of the time, with a fraction of the debt, and still make well over six figures.”


What’s a career path that you think is a “trap”? Tell us in the comments for a chance to be featured in a BuzzFeed Community post!

Some submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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