Much has changed across the tech industry over the past year.
Elon Musk took over Twitter and attempted to lay off more than half the company. Then Meta cut tens of thousands of jobs. Soon after, Amazon commenced the largest layoffs in its history. Meanwhile, Google launched a cost-cutting initiative with a new performance evaluation system that has left many employees worried about their roles.
But big tech companies weren’t the only ones with layoffs. More than 150,000 tech workers have lost their jobs just this year across industries such as health tech, education tech, and crypto, according to data from tracker Layoffs.fyi.
Despite the mass job cuts, many companies across the tech industry are still hiring.
But given the uncertainty of the tech job market, college seniors, recent grads, and entry-level job candidates might be reconsidering whether they want to pursue a career in tech right now.
Insider spoke to tech career coaches, workers, and a Silicon Valley therapist and canvassed forums on Blind, Fishbowl, and Reddit to compile a list of the worst entry-level jobs in tech right now.
Since the definition of “worst” is subjective, Insider evaluated positions across several factors including total compensation, stress level, potential career development, and ultimate fulfillment.
What they do: IT support specialists help clients troubleshoot and fix issues on their computers, software, and other devices, according to Indeed.
The overall number of US job openings in IT support is expected to increase by 6% between 2021 to 2031, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS projects that around 75,000 jobs in IT support will open each year.
Salary: IT support specialists can make an average base salary of $49,154 a year, according to estimates from Indeed.
But salaries vary depending on company and location. An entry-level IT associate at a New York-based consulting firm can make between $65,000 to $80,000 a year, whereas an IT support technician at a Wisconsin-based firm can make up to $20 an hour under a full-time contract, according to job listings on Indeed.
Why its bad: IT support “can be a challenging role” since workers often have to deal with difficult clients that are frustrated when their devices stop working, Dr. Kyle Elliott, a tech career coach, told Insider.
Moreover, IT support roles often don’t pay well until they’ve enter a manager-level position, Elliott said. Even so, there can be little room for promotion depending on the size of the company.
“Although you may be able to progress into a tier-2 or tier-3 level role, there tends to be little upward mobility available in these roles, particularly at smaller companies,” Elliott said.
From an IT support specialist: One worker who claimed to have been in the IT support industry for seven and a half years posted on Fishbowl that “the first couple of jobs were kinda awful.” Another IT support worker who identifies as “tier 1” posted that the job isn’t challenging enough since it doesn’t draw from the poster’s technical expertise, according to Fishbowl.
What they do: Customer service specialists — also known as customer service representatives — help clients answer questions related to the company, according to Ziprecruiter. They can also open and close sales accounts and deal with payment issues.
The overall number of US job openings in customer service is expected to decline by 4% between 2021 to 2031, according to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Still, the BLS projects that around 389,400 jobs in customer service will open each year.
Salary: Customer service specialists can make an average salary of $41,555 per year, according to an estimate from Glassdoor.
But the annual salary for these roles depends on the company and industry. An associate client support consultant at the Virginia office of a global human resources tech firm can make $19 an hour, according to a job posting. However, a New York-based sales customer service representative at an industrial manufacturing company has a salary range listed as $45,000 to $50,000 a year.
Why its bad: Customer service representatives are a common first job in the tech industry. But like IT support, they often have to deal with angry customers who are only reaching out when they have an issue, Dr. Kyle Elliott, a tech career coach, told Insider. The role is also “often incredibly fast-paced and repetitive,” Elliott said.
Customer service representatives may also be required to meet the needs of multiple customers simultaneously, especially if they’re helping them in a chat room, Elliott said. “This can negatively impact your mental health and lead to high stress and burnout despite minimal pay,” he said.
From a customer service specialist: One customer service representative who claims to work at a major phone carrier went to Fishbowl to say that the job “requires lots of patience.” “Probably one of my worst experiences in customer service,” the worker said.
What they do: Social media coordinators work with sales, marketing, and graphic design teams to create high-traffic social media campaigns that promote a company’s brand or new product, according to Indeed.
The overall number of digital media coordinator jobs in the US is expected to increase by 6% between 2018 to 2028, according to data from Zippia.
Salary: Social media coordinators can make an average salary of $44,685 a year, according to estimates from Indeed.
But salaries vary depending on the industry, company and location. A social media coordinator with two years of experience at a New York-based software company can make between $60,000 to $80,000 a year, whereas a social media and communication specialist at a North Carolina-based pet hotel can make $13 an hour, according to job listings on Indeed.
Why its bad: Social media coordinators tend to be popular jobs among entry-level employees who want to break into tech since its serves as a “gateway” to marketing and other higher-paying roles, Dr. Kyle Elliott, a tech career coach, told Insider. But depending on the company, the job may be monotonous and could require long hours and low pay, Elliott said. It can also be high stress.
Clients have also told Elliott that social media coordinators tend to take on tasks outside of social media such as digital and e-mail marketing and strategy which can be out of line with what they intended to do.
“Social media coordination can be limiting when it comes to career growth,” he said.
From a social media coordinator: One social media coordinator who claimed to work at an agency went to Fishbowl to complain about how exhausting it is to constantly have to generate new ideas. “It feels unsustainable to be in this creative field sometimes,” the poster said.
What they do: A technical recruiter helps a company hire qualified workers for roles in data science, engineering, and IT that require specialized skills, according to Indeed. It includes finding, screening, and interviewing potential job candidates.
The overall number of tech recruiting jobs in the US is expected to increase by 5% between 2018 and 2028, according to data from Zippia.
Salary: Tech recruiters can expect to make an average base salary of $66,302 a year, according to Indeed.
Entry-level salaries can vary depending on the company, industry, and location. An entry-level tech recruiter at a staffing agency based in Massachusetts can make around $40,000 a year, whereas a New York-based recruitment consultant at a talent firm can earn a base salary of $58,500 that can grow up to $80,000 if targets are met, according to the companies’ job listings.
Why its bad: Tech recruiter jobs tend to be stressful, especially if you work in-house, Laurie Swanson, the founder of InspiHER Tech, a tech coaching and recruitment company, told Insider. It can be hard to reach goals set by managers given how unpredictable the job market and candidate behavior can be, Swanson said.
“Being an in-house tech recruiter means you have agreed to be on the front line for all hiring of the open tech jobs (and that is usually a lot), reaching out to people who do not respond, having to explain to your hiring managers why you haven’t been able to find someone in their salary range and then finding out that the job you just got 4 people excited to interview for has been put on hold,” Swanson said.
From a tech recruiter: With droves of tech workers laid off, companies are now hiring recruiters on temporary contracts that don’t guarantee full-time employment, creating job uncertainty, according to a post on Fishbowl.
One senior tech recruiter on contract for seven years advised against taking contract work because it is “EXTREMELY unstable” after the worker allegedly got laid off from Microsoft, according to a Fishbowl post.
What they do: Network engineers manage a company’s computer network to ensure that it runs smoothly, according to Indeed. Some duties include monitoring performance, installing or fixing equipment like routers, and performing day-to-day maintenance of the hardware.
The overall number of US job openings in networking is expected to increase by 3% between 2021 to 2031, according to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Still, the BLS projects that around 23,900 jobs in networking and computer systems maintenance will open each year.
Salary: Network engineers can expect to make an average base salary of $92,389 per year, according to Indeed.
Entry-level salary ranges vary depending on the company, industry, and location. For instance, a junior network technician at a IT company in Colorado can make between $22 to $25 an hour on a full-time contract, where as a tier 1 network engineer for a telecommunications firm in Texas can earn between $60,000 to $75,000 a year, according to the companies’ job listings.
Why its bad: While network engineers tend to see their salaries grow with more experience, entry-level roles often pay a low starting salary, Laurie Swanson, the founder and CEO of InspiHER Tech, a tech career coaching service for women, told Insider.
The job is also physically demanding, Swanson said.
“Though your pay grows, your body starts to fall apart at the same rate,” she said. “You are climbing under desks, lifting heavy equipment and pulling the all-nighters without the pizza and beer responding to outages.
“Plus, if you decide to become a network engineer, make sure you also have great medical insurance because knee surgery is in your future!”
From a network engineer: One former networking engineer pivoted to cyber security because networking requires dealing with outages, major production issues, and late night work that lowered quality of life, according to the worker’s Reddit post. Work is sometimes required on the weekends as well, said the Reddit post.
Customers can also be frustrating. Network engineer Josh Levine made a post on LinkedIn outlining a customer interaction inspired by his job — dialogue that reflects how difficult it can be to deal with customers who are stubborn and don’t listen.
What they do: While the job description of a content moderator varies from company to company, by and large, the role consists of reviewing user-generated content. Industry experts estimate that there were about 100,000 workers performing content moderation across the world, according to an article in the Fordham Law Review from 2021.
Average pay: Varies.
In Nashville, for example, a quality analyst at TikTok can make anywhere from $65,000 to $82,000 per year, according to a job listing on Indeed, while a content moderator at Intellipro Group, a company that provides services to third-party media companies, earns $17 an hour, according to the company’s job posting on Indeed.
Why it’s bad: Dr. Kyle Elliot, a tech career coach, told Insider that content moderation takes a toll on mental health because it exposes people to negative and offensive content. Ellison said, “depending on the company, there may be little room for growth as content moderators are often contractors rather than employees of the organization.”
From a content moderator: “My mental health was in the toilet,” one moderator told Insider about their time working for TikTok. “”It was filled with the worst of the worst stuff,” others said, describing videos of child abuse, self-harm, gruesome accidents, and mass shootings that they were forced to watch.
What they do: Project managers exist across numerous industry and are broadly responsible for the planning, execution, and completion of a project. According to estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were around 500,000 project manager roles in 2021. While the average growth rate for all occupations is around 5%, according to the BLS, the growth rate for project managers is expected to be 16% between 2021 and 2030.
Average pay: Over $100,000, according to estimates from Indeed.
Why it’s bad: A source who works closely with tech workers told Insider that project managers have “feast and famine work cycles and loads of responsibilities” but rarely wield decision making power. Added to that, they often need to broker between challenging personality types.
From a project manager: One project manager on Blind said, “sometimes it seems like I don’t do much, but sometimes it seems like I do a lot,” adding that they’re used to getting “hated on and being loved.”
What they do: Amazon video reviewers watch thousands of videos per day watching other employees at the company. They serve to “fine-tune” the system Amazon uses to keep track of its own workers, according to The Verge. In 2022, California passed Assembly Bill 701 which restricts job performance targets from being set at levels that could pose safety risks or adequate bathroom breaks.
Average pay: $250 to $850 a month depending on location, according to an exclusive report from The Verge.
Why it’s bad: Several reviewers reported physical issues like headaches, eye pain, and weakening eyesight to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, cited by The Verge. The reviewers are also “made to hit punishing targets, with tracking software logging any periods of inactivity outside of designated break times,” The Verge reported.
In response, Amazon spokesperson Steve Kelly told The Verge that the reviewers “anecdotes do not reflect our policies or the experiences of the vast majority of our team.”
From a video reviewer: One video reviewer cited by The Verge said, “We shouldn’t blink our eyes while reviewing a video because our accuracy will go less. We have to be on screen at least eight hours — which is kind of painful.”
What they do: Working in cybersecurity usually involves protecting a company’s data, software, hardware, and networks from cyber attacks and threats. The cybersecurity industry reached an “all-time high” with a reported 4.7 million workers, according to an October report from (ISC)², a nonprofit that specializes in training cybersecurity professionals, cited by Fortune.
Average pay: $72,000 on average, according to data from Indeed.
Why it’s bad: Laurie Swanson, CEO of a tech career coaching service for women, said, “You spend a lot of time reviewing a lot of logs and then, just when you think you’ve solved a critical data breach, a new hacker erases all the good you’ve done, the world is not a better place and you are back at square one.”
From a cyber security specialist: “It could be so much better but unfortunately just seen as someone not adding value,” a person who works in cybersecurity wrote on Blind.
What they do: The Bureau of Labor Statistics defines data entry workers as anyone “operating a data entry device” performing duties ranging from verifying data to preparing materials for printing. There were almost 150,000 people employed in data entry in 2021, according to data from the BLS.
Average pay: $15-20 an hour, according to estimates from Indeed.
Why it’s bad: Cathy Lanzalaco, a career coach who works with new college graduates and entry-level professionals, said the pay for data entry specialists varies greatly across industries and companies, so candidates don’t always know what to expect. In addition, the job often requires long hours.
From a data entry specialist: One former data entry specialist on Reddit said, “If you know you’re going to be bored, or annoyed, or feel like you’re wasting your actual skills, then don’t do it. If you know what you’re doing and OK with that? Then, again, go for it.”