Manual Labor Jobs: 15 Potential Disadvantages/Downsides (Health, Pay,…)

Last Updated on February 14, 2024 by Lifevif Team and JC Franco

When job hunting, you have to decide what type of job you want. Do you want a desk job where you sit in an office all day, or is manual labor a better type of job for you? When you think of manual labor, don’t immediately assume that you will be physically exerted with hard physical labor. 

Manual labor jobs include the likes of chauffeurs, hair dresses, cleaners, food preparation workers, and even delivery personnel. Even though these jobs aren’t as intensely physical as what comes to mind when you think of the term “manual labor”, they do still come with their downsides and disadvantages. 

Working as a manual laborer can be rewarding if it’s a line of work that you personally thrive in. However, there are distinct disadvantages to be aware of before you take the plunge into a manual labor job. Let’s take a look at what makes manual labor less than attractive to many people – read on. 

15 drawbacks of manual labor jobs:

1. Limited earning potential. 

It’s a sad reality that manual labor jobs have smaller salaries attached to them than office jobs. Think of delivery drivers, construction workers, and the people who clean the kitchens at your favorite restaurant. 

2. Tiredness at the end of a long day. 

Manual jobs mean that you are physically involved for many hours in a day. A normal 9 to 5 day can prove to be utterly exhausting. 

3. Long hours are the norm.

Manual labor jobs often come with long hours and unusual schedules attached. This is just part of the job. Can you manage unusual and long hours?

4. You could shorten your lifespan (or so the statistics say).

According to the British Journal of Sports Medicine, men who have physically demanding jobs are 18% more likely to die younger. 

5. You will struggle to find an office job after a manual labor job.

If you get yourself stuck into a manual labor job, you may struggle to find an office job when you look for one. The manual labor job may be out of place on your resume, or your interviewers might wonder why you want to take a leap from manual labor to office work. It could complicate future job hunts. 

6. Working shifts could be expected. 

How much do you value spending quality time with your family in the evenings and over the weekends? If you place a lot of value on this, manual labor may cause a mess of things for you. Manual labor often comes with unusual work hours attached. Don’t be surprised if you have to work shifts over weekends or in the evenings. 

7. You may be taken advantage of by the employing company.

Have you ever been taken advantage of by a boss who knows that they can get new workers at the drop of a hat? Many people in the manual labor market have. Because so many people are looking for jobs and manual labor jobs are not always highly skilled, employers may consider you quite expendable. You might find that if you aren’t willing to work overtime or on the weekends, for example, you may not be with the company for very long. 

8. There is no job security, as manual labor employees are considered easily replaceable. 

Being expendable means that you can be replaced in a very short space of time. Unfortunately, this is the reality when it comes to manual jobs. You may not be able to rest assured in your position – you could lose your job in an instant if the business doesn’t value you for your skills and efforts. 

9. Your financial dreams may never be realized due to limitations.

Manual labor jobs are limited in terms of earning potential. If you have grand dreams of buying a large house and a new car, you might have to save for a really long time or simply accept that some of those dreams might never be realized with your earning capacity in mind. 

10. There’s little room for advancement in the workplace.

In most office jobs, there is an opportunity to work your way up to a better and more responsible position. When involved in manual labor, there is rarely an opportunity to be promoted, and if there is, it is usually very limited. If you are career-focused, competitive, and want to get ahead in life, this may not suit you. 

11. The job could take its physical toll on you. 

Being actively involved in the job all day on a physical basis could really start to wear you down. Some people get really tired, others suffer headaches or body aches (depending on the job), and some even start to experience depression if they have no real interest in the job and merely show up for the paycheck.

If you are the type of person that believes in self-care and wants to take care of yourself, you may want to investigate just how physical and tiring a particular job is before you agree to do it. 

12. Taking a sick day can impact your job progress.

When you do a physical job, taking a day off may impact on your earnings and your progress on the job. For instance, if you are a builder, your tasks will merely be on hold while you are off work. If you are a pizza delivery man, you won’t earn any tips and income for the days you aren’t at work. Of course, it is a good idea to discuss how sick days will impact on your salary before you agree to a job. 

13. People may mistreat you along the way. 

Many people who have manual labor jobs encounter individuals who don’t treat them very well. Pizza delivery guys often have to deal with drunk and obnoxious customers, while a waiter or kitchen cleaner may have to endure snide comments and unfair treatments from customers too. Think about the people you will encounter when working in a job and consider if you are up for the challenge. 

14. You could get tired and bored with the work.

Manual labor can often be less than mentally stimulating. If you are looking for a job that challenges your mind, you might struggle to find that in a manual labor job. If you are the type of person that gets bored easily, you might struggle in a manual labor job. 

15. It will prove difficult to look around for another job. 

When working in an office, there are plenty of opportunities to look for a job online and apply. When you are a manual laborer, chances are that your hands are full, and you are expected to be doing something every minute that you are on duty. Trying to find another job will probably prove challenging. 

In short

Manual labor jobs can be a decent way to earn a living. Of course, they aren’t all bad. There are many perks to working as a manual laborer too, but that doesn’t mean that you should go into it blindly. Consider the above possible disadvantages of working as a manual laborer before you decide if that line of work will work out for you or not.

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This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who share their experiences and knowledge about the "Seven F's of Life".

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco is a New York-based editor for Lifevif. He mainly focuses on content about faith, spirituality, personal growth, finance, and sports. He graduated from Mercyhurst University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business, majoring in Marketing. He is a certified tennis instructor who teaches in the New York City Metropolitan area. In terms of finance, he has passed the Level I exam of the CFA program.