We all feel overworked and underpaid, as a rule. But it’s no surprise that some of the most valued and hard-working professionals you might know (or might be yourself!) don’t receive the pay that matches the sacrifices they make. Here are 8 of the most underpaid jobs in our society, all of which deserve to be paid much, much better.
This almost doesn’t require an explanation. Teachers make a median income of around $55k, but given the hours they put in and the importance of the work they do, this doesn’t seem nearly enough. If children are indeed our future, perhaps we should be investing more in the people who get them where they need to be?
Sure, nurses typically make around $60k per year, and that seems pretty high compared to a lot of jobs in our current economy. But then you have to factor in how many more hours and responsibilities that have been piled upon them. And they’re increasingly required to do more work formerly assigned to doctors because of their higher levels of education.
3. Farm worker
We pay the people who are responsible for feeding us very very poorly. These are the worst of conditions, the hardest, most back-breaking physical labor, and less than $20k per year (if they’re lucky) for long hours and having to move all over the place to follow the harvest schedules. Some undocumented workers also face harassment and unfairly curtailed wages as well.
Child care workers don’t make that much more than farm workers, but their work is also very intense. Imagine all those kids, all that energy, all that responsibility, plus their hyper-vigilant and often overbearing parents. The amount of impact these folks can have on kids in their most crucial stages of development is huge. Shouldn’t they at least make a living wage?
Emts deal with people in the worst of circumstances, and are usually responsible for whether or not they make it through. They’re constantly throwing themselves between us and danger (or death) and should really make more than their median salary of roughly $31k per year.
Again, home health aides make only marginally more than farm workers. And they are the ones who make sure that our elderly loved ones get the care they need in the years they need it most—often at their frailest and most scared. If we value our loved ones, shouldn’t we value those who care for them so expertly?
Social workers are the people on the front lines who protect those in our society who need protecting most. Even if you’ve never had cause to run into one in your life and work, it’s clear that they perform a crucial function in making our world a safer place for all our citizens. They should make as much as CEOs, but they barely clear $45k per year.
In this economy, the demand for inexpensive and convenient food is extremely high and sometimes jobs in food service are the easiest to procure when times are hard. But the minimum wage, adjusted for inflation, hasn’t improved since 1968. Given the conditions food services workers suffer through each day to feed us, don’t you think they deserve to make enough to feed their own families?