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13 Professions That Are Shockingly Underpaid And 10 That Are So Overpaid, It’s Wild

13 Professions That Are Shockingly Underpaid And 10 That Are So Overpaid, It’s Wild

Table of Contents


Here are the eye-opening results:

1.UNDERPAID: “Paramedics. They arrive on tragic scenes without any forewarning of what carnage they’re about to see — and are expected to successfully deliver life-saving care in the most impossible of circumstances.

“The trauma of what they witness and the burden of their responsibilities should earn them as much as an ER doctor. Sure, the ER doctor has years more training, but by the time they see the patient, they’ve received status information, the patient is stable or nearly so, most (or all) massive bleeding has been stopped, and they have an entire hospital of resources and support staff. The paramedic has a small truck’s worth of supplies and very few support personnel.”


13 Professions That Are Shockingly Underpaid And 10 That Are So Overpaid, It’s Wild

Maskot / Getty Images

“Depending on where you’re from, EMTs make, like, $11/hour or some sh*t.

“Maybe it’s gone up a bit over the last year, but it’s alarmingly low considering our lives are in their hands, even if we’re just driving nearby while they speed through red lights.”


“It pays less than McDonald’s presently, requires school to do, and usually has rough hours. Physically demanding, psychologically difficult…the list goes on.”


2.OVERPAID: “Pharmaceutical reps…when I left 15 years ago, I was bringing in over $120K per year, and on an average day, I would work five hours — including at least 45 minutes for lunch.

“Four times a year, I would be flown to some four-star resort location where we would have sales meetings, dinners at the most expensive places in town, pricey after-dinner drinks in the hotel bars, and hook-ups with co-workers in the room. I left because I had a real problem with my employer buying $800 bottles of wine for docs and calling it ‘research and development.'”


A doctor shaking hands with a pharmaceutical rep

Peopleimages / Getty Images / iStockphoto

3.UNDERPAID: “Resident physicians often make what amounts to $9-$15 an hour. Yes, their salaries are in the $60K range, but they are also forced to work 80 hours on the regular and unlawfully are often forced to work more.

“If you don’t complete a residency, you essentially can’t be a board-certified doctor, which means your entire medical schooling was in vain. It’s an exploitative system to the people who’ve selflessly given the best years of their lives to medicine and have placed themselves $400K in debt just to help people.”


Nurses gathered

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“Resident physicians are severely underpaid for the amount of work they do. They graduate from medical school with over $200K in debt and interest rates on those loans are usually over 6.5% annually.

“Programs receive about $150K per resident per year, but only about $60K of that goes to the resident each year (who, BTW, works between 60-120 hours per week, performing pretty much all of the duties as an attending physician). Depending on the program, they may be treated like absolute garbage by admin and staff, forcing them to walk on egg shells for the duration of their training (three to seven years). Oh, and they also have zero bargaining power because they absolutely must finish their residency to become attendings, so if they want to leave a toxic program, nobody else will take them. And on top of that, new grad NPs (nurse practitioner) and PAs (physician assistant) pull in six figures — even though compared to residents, they have far less training, work fewer hours, have minimal liability, and aren’t ever on call.”


4.ALSO UNDERPAID: “Childcare and commercial daycare (not private where you might nanny for a rich AF family).”


“I worked at a daycare for about six months without any credentials. I only had an English degree, which obviously didn’t translate. I was only paid $9.50 an hour, but that was $2 more an hour than one of the ladies who actually had a four-year degree in early childhood development. The only difference is that I asked for more in my interview.”


A woman working at a daycare

Westend61 / Getty Images

“I know someone who has worked at the same daycare for nearly 30 years and is finally making a little over $20 an hour.”


5.OVERPAID: “Management consultant. I’m 25 and make $250K.

“That’s ignoring incredible benefits, too, like no-premium health insurance, profit share, etc. It’s wild. There are people at my firm between the ages of 25-30 that make well over $1M a year. The work is tough, and you need to be extremely intelligent and hard working to get in, but man. My output is not worth $250K a year.”


A management consultant with a client

Kate_sept2004 / Getty Images

6.UNDERPAID: “Carpenters. We build the goddamn houses and often make less than the realtor who puts a listing up in 20 minutes and waits for the phone to ring.”


“All tradespeople who work in new construction get paid poorly. If you want to make good money, go do remodels, additions, and repairs. The money is much better. If you want to make really good money, become a contractor, but don’t build new houses.”


A person hammering nails in a house

Nenov / Getty Images

7.OVERPAID: “Real estate agents. Why they get a percentage of a sales price vs. a flat fee is beyond me, but it’s a total racket.”


A sold sign

Martin Barraud / Getty Images

8.UNDERPAID: “Veterinary. All of us — from doctors, technicians, to assistants. We are severely underpaid.”


“I worked part time as a vet tech at a private practice all throughout undergrad, and it was the most physically and emotionally demanding and overworked job I’ve ever had. In fact, it was easily the darkest period my mentality has ever faced. You’re not even expected to be just a vet tech — you’re also the receptionist, veterinary assistant, inventory/re-stocker, and even janitor. You’re expected to be working every single second of your 8+-hour shift, spend most (if not all) of it on your feet, plus, you have to have a pretty robust background in animal handling/restraint, healthcare, medical terminology, and much more. You’re also a glorified secretary/babysitter for the vet(s), who you honestly sometimes question how the heck they even managed to own their own practice. All this for less than $20/hr in extremely high cost of living areas like NYC. Severely underpaid, and often times under-appreciated — sometimes even by vets themselves.”


A vet tech with a dog

Tdub303 / Getty Images

“I work at a pet ER, and some of the licensed techs have done more school than the average RN and have comparable knowledge bases, but are paid significantly less. I make $21/hr and may be the highest paid unlicensed person in my hospital.

“I’ve worked really hard to get to where I am wage-wise and have pushed myself to learn as much as possible on the job. My next step is to go to school and become licensed, but I know many of my licensed techs don’t make a ton more than me and are leaving the field at alarming rates. It’s hard for me to make the leap to pay for school knowing that it’s a bad industry to try to make a career in.”


9.OVERPAID: “Administrative staff (principal, vice principal, etc.) in public schools earn a ridiculous salary, usually somewhere above $110K, while teachers actually teaching the classes on average earn sub $55K. It’s legitimately bonkers.

“It’s almost common practice in the industry to attempt to work in administrative during the last three years you are employed to boost your pension, as that is typically what your pension will be based off, often doubling pension amounts.”


A teacher using a laptop

Rob Lewine / Getty Images/Tetra images RF

10.UNDERPAID: “In most of the world, teachers are underpaid.”


“In Oklahoma (which is notorious for underpaying teachers), a full-time teacher can be paid as little as $36,601 per year. It’s insulting that so many teachers earn a college degree — possibly incurring significant student loan debt to do so — and are responsible for the safety and education of around 30 students, yet make so little money that they need a second job.”


A teacher smiling in a classroom

Maskot / Getty Images

11.ALSO UNDERPAID: “Janitors are SERIOUSLY underpaid! I remember the crap I had to deal with, man.”


“I feel so bad for custodians. They’re so looked down on for doing important work. They do more than sweep; they maintain the whole damn building or at least have knowledge on how to fix most things.”


A custodian mopping a floor

Fstop123 / Getty Images

12.OVERPAID: “As a bartender, I would say we are technically overpaid — not by the company, of course. I work about three six-hour shifts a week, and I make more money than most everybody I know in my direct life.”


“My aunt has been bartender for 20+ years. She has three cars, a nice house, put my cousin through college, and still pays her car insurance and cellphone bill. She always buys awesome, expensive gifts for holidays and birthdays — and she supports my grandma when she needs more than her retirement can afford. I’ve heard from a lot of people she is the best at her job!”


A bartender pouring a drink

Getty Images / EyeEm

“When I ran a small restaurant group, our two main bartenders made $78k and $92k in declared tips one year. That is declared tips, as in credit card and reported cash tips. One of the bartenders was able to buy a riverfront house in cash at one point.

“They were great at their jobs, and our customers loved them. They worked four, 7-9 hour shifts per week. Granted, the hours they worked were 5 p.m. to 12 or 2 a.m. That same year, I was managing multiple multimillion dollar locations, working an average of 70-80 hours per week, driving who knows how many hours between restaurants, and then bringing home paperwork. My $65k base salary didn’t look so appealing anymore.”


13.UNDERPAID: “Public defenders are extremely underpaid where I live. It’s still a good amount of money, but you could get a job at a fancy library for around the same salary.

“Kind of sad, really, since they work their asses off for unfortunate people and aren’t paid much.”


A public defender in court

Chris Ryan / Getty Images

14.OVERPAID: “Hospital administrators and health insurance executives.

“I’m a doctor. I get paid fairly, but I don’t get paid enough to deal with these dimwits. They don’t understand how things work in the hospital and sit in useless meetings. All. Day. Long. It’s more frustrating when I learn how much they make.”


Someone filling out a health insurance form

Pichai Pipatkuldilok / Getty Images/EyeEm

15.UNDERPAID: “CNA’s (Certified Nurse Assistants). The backbone for medical professions make as much as someone working a cash register.”


“These are the majority of the staff in nursing homes and rehab facilities. They all usually only get minimum wage. They need to make more money and be respected more for what they do.”


A certified nurse's assistant helping a man get up

Professionalstudioimages / Getty Images

“My mom was a nurse’s aid for a bit when I was younger. Her stories compared to the workers in nursing homes. Not sure the pay, but I’m pretty sure it was bad — she took on another job to make ends meet.

“How do we expect to take care of the elderly when we can barely take care of ourselves? Nursing home workers definitely deserve to be paid more.”


16.ALSO UNDERPAID: “Social workers are underpaid like you wouldn’t believe. I don’t think my starting salary has risen about $30K here in Kentucky, but my workload is still 70+ hours and in multiple counties.”


“Most professions where you’re helping people, in my experience, are chronically underpaid. Speaking as a social worker — high stress, never-ending workload of emergencies, and low pay. But I enjoy what I do, love the clients I support, and can’t see myself in any other field.”


A social worker with a mother and child

Sturti / Getty Images

17.OVERPAID: “CEOs are disgustingly overpaid.

“Like, there are CEOs making 200 times the salary of their employees. For pharmaceutical companies, it’s even worse because the CEOs usually get bonuses/higher salaries when they increase revenue and not increasing costs — which leads them to price gouge so their pills go up 300% in price over the course of a decade…without the pill actually becoming better or more effective. They just decide to make it cost more so the CEO gets their bonus.”



Fg Trade / Getty Images

18.UNDERPAID: “Graduate students working for the university as TAs/GAs, as well as most non-tenured professors.

“Grad students make damn near poverty level money while teaching undergrad classes or working their ass off in a professors lab AND going to school full-time for a graduate-level degree. And unless you’re tenure track, don’t even think about going into academia. For many places, you’ll make less than or on par with K-12 teachers (also underpaid). All in the name of ‘putting in your time/paying your dues.’ Oh, and don’t get attached to where you live because you don’t really get to pick; the job market is over saturated as the old heads sit comfy with their tenure — and you go wherever you can find a postdoc, then move again after that, hopefully for a job as a professor in tenure track (probably not though).”


A woman working in a lab

Prasit Photo / Getty Images

“I have two friends (twins) who are chemists going for their PhD at Cal Tech. They are currently researching the cure for cancer. They got their master’s at Columbia and are getting paid about $35K each for their research.

“I think they are drastically unpaid.”


19.OVERPAID: “Administrators at colleges and universities. Seems like more and more administrators are added to run schools like a business when they should be run as a school.”


“I worked in higher ed admissions for five years as a staff member before moving into graduate medical education, and I agree 100%. Even further, administrators often have some level of influence on a university’s board of governors and/or how the budget for their office is allocated.

“My director always shifted our departmental budget around to have enough left over for a sizable increase. This left us unable to order basic office supplies (toner, printer paper, pens, etc.) and having to ask other offices for supplies more than once. Even throughout the first two years of COVID, she made damn sure there was enough money left for her to get at least a 10% increase. Staff members of the department, however, had gone without even a cost of living increase for four years. It’s also worth mentioning she worked remote exclusively throughout the pandemic, while staff were forced in-office and interacting with the public before the university provided any PPE. Even before COVID, she was never in the office more than twice each month. Truly a despicable individual.”


A wad of cash next to a diploma

Peter Dazeley / Getty Images

20.UNDERPAID: “Hospitality workers (e.g. servers, chefs, etc.) — especially the chefs. Doing that much prep and putting themselves through hell to get through the dinner service. I understand why a lot of them are alcoholics. Being around food for 10-12 hours a day would make me sick to even look at food after my shift.”


“Also, hotel workers (although the COVID travel bounce back is slowly turning that around). The housekeeper who cleans shit off your sheets and vomit off your carpet probably makes $10 per hour. The front desk who you scream at because you booked the wrong room type through an online travel agency and who will make sure you get out alive during a fire probably makes $12 per hour.”


A chef working in a kitchen

Getty Images / Mint Images RF

“Line workers and chefs are very underpaid and undervalued. Sure, anyone can cook, but not everyone can cook. The amount of time it takes to become truly great is on par with more ‘deserving’ professions. That’s not also accounting for the work conditions…

“We constantly cook in temperatures that are above 90-100 degrees, are on our feet with very small breaks (If we’re lucky to get one) for 8-14 hours a day (on average), and we work with extremely hot surfaces and oils. It takes true skill to micromanage and cook successfully in a restaurant that’s worth anything. We absolutely deserve more, and I truly believe people should pay more for our services. And before anyone says how easy of a job it is, I challenge you to work one day in a kitchen that has a high customer turnover. You’ll be eaten alive.”


21.OVERPAID: “Professional athletes.”

“I understand the principle behind athletes’ pay (and also the backend that they actually see maybe 1/3 of their contract), but comparing that to some other jobs, like nurses/teachers/EMTs/etc., is wild, considering what they both do.”


“Alex Rodriguez signed with the Rangers for 1/4 billion dollars. What in tarnation?”


A football lying in the grass

Jeffrey Grigsby / Getty Images / EyeEm

22.UNDERPAID: “Pharmacy techs are underpaid. They manage the prescription inventory if they are low or out of stock, are constantly busy, and always have to deal with angry customers and people who are at their wits end because of gaps in insurance coverage or non receipt of prescription.”

“When I worked at CVS, you got paid $14-16 an hour based on getting certified; now it’s $16-18 an hour — at least they noticed. The wage ceiling on the pharm tech role is set low, no matter how certified you get. And, the same job in Australia makes $30 an hour, where you do an apprenticeship to become one.”


A pharmacy tech

Sdi Productions / Getty Images

And finally…

23.OVERPAID: “Politicians. Either take a salary or live on the bribes, not both.”


Voting stands

Hill Street Studios / Getty Images

Which professions do you think are underpaid or overpaid? Let us know in the comments below.

Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.