Most hated job in America: IT Manager

IT pros, especially IT managers, put in a lot of stressful hours, often for little reward and no appreciation from other parts of the company. But there have to be worse gigs, right? Not according to this survey.

CareerBliss, a site that offers job listings and employer reviews, recently surveyed thousands of employees about their satisfaction levels. The result, as CNBC reports: IT directors have lowest job satisfaction out there.

Why is that? In general, CareerBliss found that limited room for advancement and lack of reward (beyond just a salary) to be the biggest factors that make people hate their jobs. Specifically, IT managers reported that, despite decent pay, their job is thankless and their departments are often disrespected.

And that’s not all: The rest of the top 10 list is littered with other IT-related jobs. Senior Web Developer, Technical Specialist, Electronics Technician and Technical Support Analyst all made the rankings at numbers four, five, six and eight, respectively.

Some common themes in the reasons those employees gave for their low morale:

  1. long hours, including time spent on call
  2. the trouble of dealing with arcane technology that hasn’t been upgraded in years
  3. the stress of having to work with people who don’t understand technology, and
  4. in the case of support folks, having to remain calm when trying to help panicked and/or angry users.

How can it be improved?

While some of those issues will always be inherent when you’re the only person or department that understands complex tech concepts, there are still some things IT managers can do to improve the satisfaction of themselves and their staff.

For example, stress can be reduced by allowing staff to telecommute sometimes, or by offering some type of incentive for employees to volunteer for on-call work.

Also, try putting the time in to teach support staffers better people skills and to explain tech concepts to key partners in other departments. A little effort can go a long way to fixing the relationship between IT and the rest of the company.

The top 10 most hated jobs

What jobs are up there with IT manager as far as dissatisfaction levels go? Here’s the full list of CareerBliss’s 10 most hated jobs:

  1. Director of Information Technology
  2. Director of Sales and Marketing
  3. Product Manager
  4. Senior Web Developer
  5. Technical Specialist
  6. Electronics Technician
  7. Law Clerk
  8. Technical Support Analyst
  9. CNC Machinist
  10. Marketing Manager
  • Tired and burned out

    You left off Quality Manager. Everyone hates us.

  • Rita B

    “Also, try putting the time in to teach support staffers better people skills and to explain tech
    concepts to key partners in other departments. A little effort can go a long way to fixing the
    relationship between IT and the rest of the company.”

    They hate their jobs because they are disrespected? How about showing a little respect to your internal customers, especially when they need help because the system YOU installed just failed? If IT people had any people skills or customer service sense, they might be liked as much as, oh, say, airline employees or that cop that just wrote me a speeding ticket.

    IT people and departments are “disrespected” because they always assume, first and foremost, that the problem is the user’s fault. Even if it is, don’t use a condescending tone, don’t act like you’re being bothered (it’s YOUR JOB), and show some respect to your clients.

  • Kim S

    The biggest problem with most IT Departments is that they are misunderstood; they are considered a financial “black hole” and there is very little management support to show that these departments are indeed an integral part of the organization.

    Yes, I agree with Rita B in that there are too many IT people out there who are very condescending and that does not help the situation but there are just as many IT people who work very hard at being just the opposite.

    Unfortunately, we have all become so dependent on our technology systems that when they go down, it throws us into an absolute panic because most companies do not have a backup paper system or any alternative method for getting a specific job completed. That panic then gets transferred to the IT department because the users automatically assume that IT “did something” to cause the problem and they should be able to fix it without much fanfare or downtime; that just is not the case.

    IT people are also expected to be the know it alls for everything IT when that is just not a realistic expectation. It’s like expecting a doctor to know everything about every single possible human ailment and to be able to cure said ailment similar in fashion to the specialist who has spent years studying that particular field.

    It is most certainly a two way street but most of the finger pointing is one way and that is at the resident IT department.

    Educating our non-tecchie co-workers is important if you can get management to support that activity. It is amazing how many people become a bit more understanding when you take a few minutes to explain things (at a layman’s level; be creative in your analogies) to them; but don’t make people feel like idiots! That is key.

    IT will always come up against a brick wall no matter what they do because there is always someone out there who has a better idea about how something should’ve been done or they think they know more than the IT department; that is part of the lot of this job; not pleasant but a reality.

    There isn’t an easy solution but support from upper management down could do a lot to help smooth the rough patches between IT and the rest of the company.

  • Bob Hope

    Disagree with Rita B. Also, and also do not appreciate the rather brash/bitter accompanying tone.

    It is as much a matter of respect as it is a matter of expressed gratitude and recognition. We want to feel like we are appreciated. Bottom line. A simple and genuine “Thank You” goes a long way, instead of the commonly exercised and aristocratically crafted “Oh it’s fixed now get out of my office because I’m more important than you and have more important things to do than you” message. Attitudes involving the need to dominantly assert importance over others only serves to diminish your credibility and create a sense of perceived obtuse user mentality, wherein we will presume your computer’s error is due to your inability to logically, patiently, and methodically use your brain.

    Most times, it’s absolutely user error. The fish stinks from the head. Commonly getting paged at 3:00am on a Saturday to have me come in to fix a printer, only to find out that it’s not turned on, it ran out of paper, the USB plug came out a bit, the toner is out, or whatever other similar issues severely requiring professional IT attention at 3:00am sends a message to me. I’m sure those out there reading this can use their deductive and analytical skills to figure out what I’m trying to get at. After all, you practically have to do handstands and dance around like a monkey to appear intelligent these days.

    Without IT support, your technological infrastructure would crumble. Now, I’m not saying this as a matter of threat out of pompous arrogance; I’m saying this out of a matter of fact. If I got up midday, and just walked out the door like Peter Gibbons, what would my company do? It would go into a state of utter confusion, panic, and calamity.

    Make no mistakes about it: IT is as important as the partners and upper level executives it supports. It is the oil of the machine. IT is the lensman behind the camera. Without it, your machine would freeze up, and there wouldn’t be a picture. So get your heads out of your asses and have some respect.

  • Aaron

    Bob Hope shares my feelings on the matter, and I say that as an IT Manager who has trained in Customer Service skills.

    Also, IT isn’t appreciated simply because we’re only seen when things are going wrong. We are the black cat of a business, always correlated with bad luck and ill omen.

  • IT Die-wreck-tore

    The hospital where I manage the IT department was a non-profit entity and was acquired by a large for-profit system. Having managed user expectations centrally and now becoming regulated by a distant group has lead to many frustrations.

    However, the key to managing apocalyptic scenarios while retaining your demeanor and your staff’s morale is communication.

    Even if it is a painful change or unexpected problem, communication to the user community is key. Even if it is to department managers. Developing a rapport with upper and middle management is an effective way of staving off the notion of being a black cat.

    IT professionals, myself included, have an innate desire to sometimes avoid people due to the overwhelming personal contact with the end user community. This leads to lack of communication and a rift between IT and the actual core functions of a business.

    To combat this adversion, an IT manager should really sell their staff as great workers and manage up those that are not meeting customer service expectation. Having empathetic IT staff rather than apathetic staff helps build a emotional bank. This interpersonal skillset should just be as an important basic for an IT staffperson as knowing data structures and the OSI model.

    Handing out How’s My Service cards sound campy, but are effective tools in gauging your staff and getting positive responses to improve IT morale.


  • Jarod

    IT is rough. I’m feeling more stress than ever. People some how expect you to fix their problem in 5 seconds and if you can’t you’re worthless. I don’t see how a high school diplomaless truck driver can make 60K for just driving and I only make mid 40K’s for being responsible for almost everything in an entire business. Phone systems, PC’s, servers, website, databases, hardware, etc. We should be making 100K. Life just isn’t fair.

  • John

    Amen Jarod! Preach on brother…

    I think there are problems on both sides, but the lack of respect and the show of disinterest from upper management leaves you felling even more under appreciated, and then you compare salaries as Jarod mentions, … and then you have news articles like this.

    To fix this, we need better tech training for end user community, if nothing more than being able to more accurately report problems that can speed up repair time. Also need better people skills training for techs, and more pay /perks for techs. Recognize their overall contribution to the cause and reward them as such.

  • Jim

    I have worked in IT as a developer on corporate systems for years. One of the most frustrating and infuriating things is that we rarely ever get any recognition for our efforts. At my current employer I litterally spent the first three summers, from May through September, pretty much chained to my desk. During those three years I would generally go 40 or 45 days without a single day off of work and putting in 12 to 16 hours every day. My manager nominated me for “Employee of the month” every year and every month during these periods but was passed over every time for someoone in another department that worked a few extra hours over a weekend or two putting together some meaningless project or report for an executive.
    Even though we complete huge projects and enhancements to the corporate systems that work almost flawlessly and that require months of planning and work and involve thousands of additional lines of code (in a system that already has over 3 million lines), are completed ahead of schedule and under budget, we don’t hear thank you, we don’t get congratulated. We rarely get any recognition for what we did and the effort required (although the executives take credit for our hard work!). Instead, all we hear about is the one or two issues and get berated for not having caught that there was a misplaced comma in that program with 2000 lines of code or a misspelled word on a screen or report (i.e. fo instead of “of”).

  • IvanY

    As an IT Director myself, I wanted to mention that one of the biggest differences between IT and other departments is the fact that IT Dept works perfect if you forget it exists. Just as salespeople are being noticed when their job is visible (big sales, good customer feedback), IT person should be appreciated and prased when users start forgetting what his name was.
    User should just come to work in the morning and start working, logging in the system, checking and replying to voicemails and emails. But it would be nice if ones in a great while, user feel appreciative to the fact, that the single reason those emails are in his inbox in the morning is because the computer system, managed by IT department, works like it should.
    In reality, when everything works seamlessly, users start saying “What’s this IT guy doing in his hole all day long?” and executives start thinking “Budget is quite tight… Everything works fine the way it is. Do we need this IT guy?”

  • I’m surprised to hear “Electronics Technician” as a hated job. I always thought it would be interesting. Definitely agree with Tech Support Analyst, especially phone support to the public.

  • Richard

    In my 23 years in the IT field as both a “ground level” worker and a manager, I see non IT managers / supervisors trying to manage IT as if it were their own serfdom. Many time I have told superiors that “if things are working, it shows you we ( IT ) are doing our jobs”! Yet it is till ingrained in their mentality and training that unless they see people in IT scrambling around ( like people in their own departments ), no “work” is being done. Higher Education is particularly bad about this mentality. How many times have I had some dean/professor come in and start a hissy fit because people are not “”scrambling around like lab rats”. When I ask if things are working and she ( present dean ) responds yes, I keep telling her, that is because we are doing our jobs…being proactive….something she could learn!