Just because a job seems glamorous, requires a lot of education, or seems important, it doesn't mean it pays well. Some jobs, like fashion designers, veterinarian surgeons, and meteorologists, are synonymous with big bucks. But in reality, people in these fields hardly make minimum wage. So before you decide on a career change, have a read below. Some of the world's most coveted jobs are actually the worst paid.
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#1 Armored Car Drivers
Armored car drivers. They're responsible for transporting literally millions of dollars at a time on a daily basis and they make like $14 an hour to start. A friend of mine has been doing it for a little over two years and makes $16.50 an hour.
#2 TV Presenters and Radio Hosts
Television presenters and radio hosts. People seem to think they're loaded because they're on TV, however, there's only a rare few that make the big bucks. Usually those on internationally syndicated shows: Ryan Seacrest, Kelly Ripa, Howard Stern, Jeremy Clarkson. Even in a major market, it's not unusual to be making in the $40K-$50K range. People at small local stations can make way less. Plus unless you get lucky, you have to move around a lot. There's not a lot of job security in that industry.
#3 Bank Tellers
As a kid, I always thought that bank tellers were rich (hey, kid logic, cut me some slack). As an adult, I found out that a lot of banks actually only pay barely above minimum wage. That's really too bad.
#4 Veterinary Surgeon
Veterinary surgeon. It’s a choice to have an animal and drugs, surgery, and a vets time all cost money. It's infuriating how many people think it should all be done for free because they "thought vets loved animals." I’m sure a doctor loves his or her family but they can't treat them for free. How are we supposed to pay our bills and university debt?
Cheerleaders for professional sports teams make pennies. The Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders get paid $150 per game and aren't paid for rehearsal.
#6 Green Rush Employees
So many people moved to Colorado for the "Green Rush" to try and get jobs in the grass industry. Sure, when it started it up wages were pretty good. A master grower could make six figures. Now though, the sheer numbers of people willing to work in any conditions for any pay just so they can say they work with grass has pushed down wages an incredible amount.
I make two thirds what I used to. Our master grower quit to get "a real job" and the new one makes $45k a year, making him the highest-paid employee. Entry-level work pays worse than the Goodtimes (fast food restaurant) down the street. If you ask for more money, they'll fire you because they can replace you before the day is even done. I know I'm looking for a new job and so are most of the capable and intelligent workers. I'm thinking this whole industry is about to experience some serious brain drain.
Chefs and pastry chefs. High-end restaurants and resorts will require a degree and years of experience. They'll also need you to work 12-hour shifts with no break for awful pay. It's not nearly as glamorous as Food Network makes it out to be.
#8 Minor League Baseball Players
Minor league baseball players. AAA players make somewhere around $2,500 a month in many cases, and only make money for half of the year. Many of them are living out of cars and sacrificing a lot for their dreams. Of course, if they do reach that holy grail of MLB, things get WAY better for them.
#9 State Park Rangers
State park ranger! Hi, I make like $13 an hour for doing some seriously dangerous tasks including dealing with scary people and animals and wildfires.
Teachers (where I live) have a contract. They get paid a specific daily rate. The only days they get paid for are the 180 days that school is in session and five service days. Saturdays they spend grading are unpaid. Thanksgiving break, which almost always involves grading some project, is unpaid. Spring break, which usually involves planning for year-end testing, is unpaid.
Teacher workshops in the summer are unpaid. The trick is the district takes your daily rate, multiplies it by those 185 days, and then divides it evenly over 12 months and pays it as a salary. So a lot of people think teachers are lazy, getting paid for all those holidays and breaks when really, teachers work a tremendous number of hours for which they never get paid. People have no idea how little teachers really get paid. It’s worse than you know.
Attorneys. Despite what we see on TV, it’s the minority that makes bank in the big private firms. Most work in small firms or government agencies.
#12 Secret Service Agents
I looked up Secret Service pay wage one time and it's lower than I thought. Starting wages can be around $38k to 48k. I'm sure if there are higher-paying jobs in the secret service, and maybe I'm just naive about what they actually do, but it seems like a lot of training and work to get a job that pays a pittance.
#13 Film and TV
Ninety-nine percent of the jobs in film and TV. There is so much competition that they can easily get away with barely livable wages. The burnout rate is typically five years or so for fresh out of college graduates.
#14 The Music Industry
Anything in the music industry. Much the same way only a handful of musicians, artists, and DJs make big money—and there's a huge drop off even for people who are still quite well known—the same can be said for anyone who works behind the scenes. Most people who work in the music industry, myself included, make decisions involving the spending/receiving of millions of dollars/pounds. Yet most make an appalling wage. I earn £16k a year and you'd never guess.
Firefighters and EMS are seriously underpaid, at least in my area.
#16 Club Girls
Pole workers. People ask me why I still work both of my other minimum wage jobs and still work at the club. We don't make thousands of dollars every night. A lot of days I work eight hours or more and end up paying the club for my time instead of bringing any money home. But the nights we do make money keep us all going back!
#17 Bank Robbers
The average bank robbery take is $4k.
#18 Foodservice Management
Foodservice management. Every time there is a living wage protest (McDonald's at $15 an hour), people always say, "If they don't like working a minimum wage job, why don't they become managers?!" It's as if there is an illusion that managers make lots of money. Most in my area don't even make $15 an hour.
Professors. Most are adjuncts nowadays. Sometimes, they make less teaching a class than an individual student would pay to take it.
#20 Graduate Teachers
The wage for graduate teachers in Australia in my state is $51k USD, which goes up to $62k once you get your accreditation after two years of teaching full time. This is capped currently at $76k depending on years of experience unless you go into management positions or further trained roles, but their wages increase yearly with inflation, so next year the cap will be $79k.
I come from a family of teachers and both my sisters are teachers. They are both paid well and have a good union that supports them. Even still, they are still buying supplies out of their own pockets, teachers just do that. Luckily it is not as bad as in the states though.
#21 Stop Sign Worker
How about one that pays more than you think? I am the dude that holds a stop sign in construction zones and I make around $35 an hour.
Zookeepers. We are expected to have an associate's minimum, and a bachelor degree usually. Then also, no zoo will hire you without MULTIPLE internships, just to pay you minimum wage. No keeper goes in it for the money, but still, we want to be able to live too!
#23 Fashion Designers
Fashion designers. People come for the glamour and prestige but end up sleeping on mattresses on floors of houses they share with six other people and are always hustling for jobs.
#24 Childcare Workers
Childcare workers. I don't know anyone who has made more than $1 an hour over minimum wage. Most workers make minimum wage and don't get raises. Even people with early childhood education degrees aren't immune to this. I have NEVER met someone working in a daycare who has medical coverage. People pay loads for childcare and none of that goes back to the people actually providing the care. It goes to the owner, the company, and to supplies—not the people keeping your kids alive and being a stand-in parent.
#25 Mental Health Care Workers
Mental health care and human services. Severely underpaid and under-appreciated.
#26 Mystery Shoppers
Some people think mystery shoppers get paid loads of money. Anyone can sign up for this on various websites and they pay you £11 per job. They expect you to memorize what questions to ask, fill in a lengthy report, drive there and back, cover your fuel and expenses and buy something out of that £11. It doesn't go very far.
Firefighters. EMS. Police. In my area, they are paid almost nothing; police being paid the least.
#28 Veterinary Technician
Before I even say the job (since not many people know what the title implies you do), I’ll list the things my job requires you to do! Anesthesia; take X-rays; draw blood; run blood tests; intubate patients; perform dental work; haircuts; vaccinate patients; stick my fingers in places I don't want them to go. All this and more for just $15 an hour. Gotta love being a veterinary technician!
#29 Winery workers
Working at a winery. People think wineries are flush with cash but all their money is tied up in inventory that takes years to get to market, and equipment—lab, barrels, tanks, etc.—are very expensive.
#30 Airline Pilots
I nominate airline pilots. I had a colleague who was a military fighter pilot and I asked him after he retired why he wasn't working for an airline (he was an exceptional pilot). His response: Their salaries are far lower than what you think. I know this is true of the flight attendants, but I thought the pilots did better. Now I know that some of these "commuter" airlines pay very poor wages.
Audiologists. You need a doctoral degree for entry-level positions and the salary is around $60k.
#32 Shelter Workers
Any kind of helping profession gig. I'm a shelter worker and I only make about $0.50 over the living wage in my city to be awake for nine hours solid overnight and at the ready to respond to overdoses, conflict between residents, women fleeing violence, women experiencing assault, etc. That's all with maybe two minutes of warning. I love my job and I am in this field because I love my job, but it is a taxing field!
Novelists. Earnings for authors are significantly below minimum wage on average, with a lucky few skewing the curve. You're probably not going to get that magical E. L. James/J. K. Rowling blank check, alas.
Meteorologists. The first gig I did I was paid horribly. It was way less than working retail. I spent and wasted five years of my life learning the math, physics, and all about the fluid dynamics of the atmosphere to be paid less than someone flipping burgers at McDonald’s. If you want to be paid decently at all, you have to get a highly competitive job with the government or get into a big TV market.
#35 Quality Analysis
QA tester for videogames. Next time you beat a game and see about 40 names under "QA", realize that all those kids are contractors getting paid $10 to $14 an hour.
#36 Support Workers
Support workers and crisis workers. People who take care of disabled people, help shower them, help them take their medication, etc. I've applied for some of these jobs and they offer minimum wage at £7 an hour for part-time or full-time. That's pathetic considering the hard work you do.
My wife is an attorney. She was offered a job for $35k.
EMTs. We are responsible for keeping people alive and stable and here in NYC we start off with less per hour than most fast food jobs.
Scientists. Biological or chemical. There are some high paying jobs but the majority get pay from $35k to $45k. This is excluding working for universities who pay from $10 to $15 an hour. With a PhD you can start at $50k to $60k, maybe $70k if you get lucky. Take the S out of STEM. Tech, engineering, and mathematics all have way better prospects and better pay. This is excluding nursing or licenced medical science jobs (MD, radiologist, etc).
Lawyer. If you subtract the top 3 percent of big law jobs, it's terrible. I don't know why people think we get paid so much. We don't.
#41 Cancer Researchers
My fiancé works as a cancer researcher (he's a biologist in a lab) at the top hospital in our state. He is employed by a very prestigious university that runs the hospital. He makes $30k less than the manager of a Panda Express.
#42 Red Seal Pastry Chefs
My girlfriend is a red seal pastry chef and makes $14 an hour. Her first level of school was a year long and cost over $10k, plus the cost of housing on campus. It's crazy how little they get paid, especially when she works with people who haven’t done a day of school and make the same as her.
Architects. You have to own your own practice to make the big bucks.
#44 EMS Workers
EMS. I went to EMT school expecting to make a living wage. I ended up making not even 50 cents more than a manager at Subway. That's $12.50 by the way.
#45 Rock Bands
A rock band with a new record contract. Yes, the tiny minority of top stars get rich. Many bands make less than minimum wage even if their first record sells well.