Hollywood knows how to glamorize the wrong jobs. The ad execs on "Mad Men" have the world on a platter, kicking back with a glass of scotch on the office sofa before taking a client to a fancy dinner. On-screen stockbrokers, lawyers and surgeons also have some of the best and most interesting work around.
Or do they? A new report from CareerCast says these gigs are some of the most overrated jobs out there. They can be extremely stressful and hard to get into, and don't offer the pay or the freedom to jet off to Hawaii on a whim with Megan Draper on your arm.
A better profession might be one of the jobs CareerCast says is the most underrated. Leonardo DiCaprio may never end up playing a wealthy, debaucherous civil engineer, but that field has more going for it than you might think.
"Underrated jobs often share certain traits, such as high growth potential, low stress and the opportunity to make a difference," says Tony Lee, the publisher of CareerCast. "While these jobs may not attract as much attention, they can be more fulfilling than a high-stress, high-profile career."
Read on to see what CareerCast lists as the 10 most overrated and underrated jobs.
Overrated: Advertising executive
This is not a booming business. The projected number of jobs in the field is expected to shrink by 1 percent over the next eight years. The pay isn't that great, either, with an average annual salary of $46,290 and raises that are few and far between.
More ads are going online, and these days ad agencies are hiring engineers and programmers who understand sophisticated analytics and targeting systems, Wired reports. Three-martini lunches have now given way to "spreadsheet lunches," the president of revenue at Twitter told the magazine.
The average annual salary for a lawyer still hits the right notes, at $113,530, but you'll work very hard for the high pay. Lawyers work incredibly long hours, dealing often with boxes of reading material and other paperwork. Many of them rarely see a courtroom. "While studying law is interesting, practicing law is boring, repetitive and done in a highly negative environment," a former lawyer wrote on the MomGrind blog.
Self-publishing through Amazon (AMZN) and other companies has opened up a whole new world for authors. But it's also made it that much harder to rise above the noise and get your work noticed. The average annual salary for an author is $55,940.
Becoming a published author is tough, CareerCast notes, and making enough money to turn it into a full-time gig is extremely difficult. But sometimes all it takes is the right piece of dystopian young-adult fiction: "Divergent" author Veronica Roth earned $17 million last year, Forbes reports, and she's only 26 years old.
This sounds like a job you could just coast through for years, and indeed a bookkeeper's work life is very low stress. But the average salary is nothing to write home about, at $35,170 a year. And the threat of being replaced by software or another automated system is always there.
Overrated: Event coordinator
The stress from planning your own wedding can be intense. Heck, even a child's birthday party can keep some parents awake at night. Imagine doing that full-time as an event coordinator, and for an average annual salary of $45,810. The good news for this high-pressure field is that the hiring outlook is great, with 33 percent expected growth over the next eight years.
Overrated: Management consultant
The average annual salary for this position clocks in at a solid $78,600, but it has what some people might consider a dealbreaker: Travel, and a lot of it. These consultants are paid well to help businesses make operational decisions, but they also deal with high levels of stress. The projected hiring outlook is healthy, at 19 percent expected growth.
Overrated: Public relations manager
Your job in this field is to make sure clients always look good, and that can be a real challenge with some people and companies. We won't mention the names of, say, any Canadian heartthrob singers with a knack for running into the law, but let's just say that some PR jobs can be extremely difficult and stressful. The average salary in the field, however, is $98,700 a year, and the projected hiring outlook calls for 13 percent growth.
Overrated: Senior corporate executive
These executives take home an average $101,650 a year but, like lawyers, they have to put in the long hours and shoulder high levels of stress to get that salary. The work environment can also be poor for such a coveted job. The field is expected to grow 11 percent.
With stocks seemingly hitting record highs every week, this has got to be one of the easiest jobs out there, right? Not so fast. Imagine trying to do the same job in 2008 and 2009, when the market was imploding as the Great Recession took hold. The pay for this job averages $71,720 a year, and the profession is losing some cachet as more Americans give up on stocks altogether or look to invest in broad index funds instead of specific stocks. Still, the projected hiring outlook calls for 11 percent growth.
Surgeons take home an average of $233,150 a year, and the projected hiring outlook suggests 18 percent growth. But the job is very stressful and requires a long and expensive training period.
Dr. Sandeep Jauhar recently published an essay in The Wall Street Journal called "why doctors are sick of their profession," and says physicians are discouraged, insecure, unhappy and anxious about the future. Huge volumes of paperwork keep doctors from spending time with their patients, and incomes are not growing. "For many of us, the job has become only that -- a job," he writes.
Not the job your parents may have pushed you into, this one. But it's a decent living, with an average annual salary of $63,550 and a hiring outlook of 13 percent growth. There is a constant need for accountants these days, CareerCast notes.
Underrated: Civil engineer
The U.S. has a constant need for engineering related to new bridges, highways and other parts of the country's infrastructure, and that's where civil engineers come in. It's a complicated field that is growing even more so, using forensics, geophysics and other sciences.
This job has a positive work environment and a competitive average annual salary of $79,340. Hiring in the field is expected to increase by 20 percent over the next eight years.
Underrated: Computer systems analyst
The average salary for this field is almost the same as for civil engineers, at $79,680. The demand is increasing in this field, with expected growth of 25 percent, because the profession helps the business and technology units of companies blend together seamlessly, according to CareerCast.
Underrated: Environmental engineer
These engineers immerse themselves with issues involving air quality, water reclamation, contaminated land and groundwater pollution. Cleaning up the environment can be a complicated mess, and those working in this field are paid handsomely to do it, earning an average $80,890 a year. The projected hiring outlook calls for 15 percent growth as environmental regulations get more stringent and the work gets more complex.
The U.S. is in the middle of a fracking revolution, and geologists are critical to the expanding energy sector. That's one reason why this profession is expected to grow 16 percent in coming years. Its average annual salary is $90,890.
Underrated: Legal assistant
Attorneys may be miserable, suffocating under piles of paperwork and a crushing stress load, but life isn't too bad for legal assistants. Sure, their pay is only $46,990 a year, on average, but they tend to work 9-to-5 hours and aren't nearly as stressed out. The field is expected to grow 17 percent.
Underrated: Market research analyst
This field has the most potential of any in CareerCast's study, with a whopping 32 percent growth ahead. These analysts help companies figure out what consumers want, developing surveys to track and predict shopper behavior. The average salary is $60,300 a year.
Underrated: Multimedia artist
An artist is an underrated field? Are you kidding? Once again, technology is the culprit behind this profession's potential, with demand growing as online gaming continues to explode. Multimedia art is also key for other apps as well as online and mobile video broadcasts. The average salary for this career is $61,370, but the projected hiring outlook is a meager 6 percent.
The salary for a physiologist is the lowest of all the underrated professions, at just $42,690. But demand is growing, with a 19 percent hiring increase over eight years as preventative care becomes a more important component of the health care sector.
People adore their pets and are spending unprecedented levels of cash on their care. Owners throw down good money for bark translators, dog costumes, kitty scratching posts and gourmet raw food, and they are eager to pay for top-quality care for their animals as well. Veterans earn an average $84,460 a year, and the profession is expected to expand by 12 percent over the next seven years.