While they make for great cocktail conversation, some of the most prestigious careers aren’t quite as enviable as they seem, according to a new report from job search portal CareerCast.com.

“There’s a lot of perceptions out there about what a good job is, and a lot of the times the perception is wrong,” says Career Cast publisher Tony Lee. “Yes, these do pay a lot, but there are a lot of drawbacks to these jobs. We looked at things like stress, work/family balances, the hiring outlook down the road and compensation.”

Career Cast’s list includes some of the usual suspects in a struggling economy (stock brokers, real estate agents) as well as plenty of health care professionals.

We asked Lee for some background on those that topped the list.

 

Surgeon, physician, psychiatrist



Average incomes:
$365,258; $192,065; $160,242

“What these all have in common is that they’re responsible for people’s lives. People are reliant on them, and that has always been stressful,” says Lee. “But more recently, with government regulations and more paperwork, it’s just not the case anymore that you can play golf on Wednesdays and pay back your loans.”

Senior corporate executive

Average income: $160,141

While some high-ranking execs are undoubtedly dismissive of the Occupy gang, others are feeling the heat — albeit in swanky corner offices. “Senior corporate executives are under extreme pressure right now. You have falling profits, you have shareholder pressure,” says Lee. “You look at the protests and you think, ‘These people don’t care.’ But a lot of them do care — they don’t want to do layoffs, and they’re working more hours than ever.”

Commercial airline pilot, flight attendant



Average incomes:
$106,153; $40,184

As fuel prices rise and airlines cut back on staff, passengers aren’t the only ones who are less comfortable. “The reality is the hours are at their highest that they’ve ever been, you have less control over your days and pay has not risen,” says Lee. Something to keep in mind when you’re watching “Pan Am” — or getting ready to grumble about the skimpy bag of pretzels on your next flight.

Is your job underrated?

It’s not all long hours and stressful weekends. Last month, Career Cast looked at the most underrated jobs.

“The compensation is good, the hiring outlook is great, you’re not responsible for many people and they pay well,” says Lee of the jobs that made this more optimistic list.

Here are the Top 10:

1. Paralegal/legal assistant

2. Accountant

3. Loan officer

4. Market research analyst

5. Software engineer

6. Computer systems analyst

7. Insurance agent

8. Dietician

9. Dental hygienist

10. Civil engineer

Follow Monica Weymouth on Twitter @MonicaatMetro.

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