The U.S. Social Security Administration defines sedentary workers as those spending the majority of their shifts sitting, lifting no more than 10 pounds and standing and walking no more than two hours out of an eight-hour work day. While on-the-job physical activity is severely limited, these workers must be mentally focused. Sedentary job positions have increased significantly since 1900 – a time when 80 percent of jobs involved aggressive physical labor, states the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.
Sitting at the steering wheel of a vehicle for multiple hours is quite constraining. Taxi and forklift drivers are two job examples, along with truck drivers and sales workers, which consists of one of the largest work forces of around 3.2 million, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2008. Long-haul truck drivers must deliver products from a manufacturer in one state to distributors a few, or several, states away, requiring long distance commutes and time away from home. Truck drivers, especially long-haul drivers, should experience favorable job opportunities in a growing economy, explains the Bureau, which places average hourly wages for tractor-trailer drivers at $17.92 in May 2008.
The expanse of computer technology has led to more occupations that involve sitting at a computer. Among these include graphic designers, web designers, computer programmers and software engineers. Computer software engineers design computer software programs and systems and should expect to have excellent job opportunities with faster than average job growth from 2008 to 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2008. Some computer-related jobs provide comfortable salaries. The Bureau reports in May 2008 that computer applications software engineers and computer systems software engineers average annual salaries of $85,430 and $92,430, respectively.
Job duties of workers stuck inside an office or behind a desk for the majority of the work day might involve computer work, finance calculations, telephone calls, client interaction or filing. Receptionists, accountants, tax preparers, counselors, bill collectors and telemarketers are prime examples of sedentary office jobs with quite different career paths. While they are not the general public’s favorite workers, bill and account collectors have the trying task of collecting on overdue payments for credit card companies and other financial institutions. In 2008, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports faster than average job growth – around 19 percent – for bill collectors from 2008 to 2018, with average hourly wages of $14.73.
Great concentration, alertness and vigilance must be exhibited by some sedentary workers to perform their jobs effectively. Airport traffic controllers must keep their eyes on the skies and radar screens to ensure that planes safely reach intended destinations. Surveillance system monitors must watch a series of television screens intently for signs of criminal activity in department stores, gambling casinos and other large public establishments. In communications call centers, dispatchers handle incoming calls and send out necessary emergency personnel or transportation vehicles. Emergency calls are handled by 911 operators, who dispatch proper authorities to a scene and keep callers calm by relaying helpful information. Job opportunities for 911 operators are expected to increase at a faster rate than average occupations because of a growing elderly population, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2008, which reports the job position’s average yearly salary as $33,670.
- West Viriginia Department of Health and Human Resources: The Burden of Obesity
- Bureau of Labor Statistics; Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition: Truck Drivers and Driver/Sales Workers; December 2009
- Bureau of Labor Statistics; Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition: Computer Software Engineers and Computer Programmers; December 2009
- Bureau of Labor Statistics; Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition: Bill and Account Collectors; December 2009
- Bureau of Labor Statistics; Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition: Police, Fire and Ambulance Dispatchers: December 2009
Leonor Crossley has been a graphic designer and writer since 1995, with entertainment and other articles written for "Max Magazine" in Jacksonville, NC, and various websites. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts, cum laude, from Kutztown University in Pennsylvania.