The jobs that pay less than you'd expect

  • 09/04/2018
Some careers aren't as well-paid as you might imagine.
Some careers aren't as well-paid as you might imagine. Photo credit: Pexels

You might think you have a pretty good idea of which careers make the big bucks, and which ones people get into for passion rather than money.

However, a recent Reddit thread might prove some of your assumptions wrong.

"What's a job that pays way less than people think?" one user asked, and the rest of the site was only too happy to answer.

Among the most surprising was Secret Service agents in the US.

"Starting wages can be around US$38k - $48k (NZ$52k - $66k)," a user wrote.

"I'm sure there are higher paying jobs in the Secret Service, and maybe I'm just naive on what they actually do, but it seems like a lot of training and work to get a job that pays that much."

Armoured car drivers, another important security job, are also typically underpaid.

In New Zealand the average hourly rate for a security officer is $15.94, according to Payscale.

"[They're] responsible for transporting literally millions of dollars at a time on a daily basis; make like US$14/hr (NZ$19) to start. Buddy of mine has been doing it for a little over 2 years and makes US$16.50 (NZ$23)."

Gourmet chefs and pastry chefs apparently also don't make as much as their level of food expertise might suggest, according to several different Redditors.

Payscale says the average hourly rate for a pastry chef in New Zealand is $17.37. 

"High end restaurants/resorts will require a degree and years of experience and work you 12+ hour shifts with no break for shit pay," said one. "It's not nearly as glamorous as Food Network makes it out to be."

Another person corroborated the claim.

"Even working at some of the fanciest, most expensive places around in major cities like Manhattan, you just make very little unless you become sous or head chef," they wrote.

"And these are highly skilled professionals who often attended expensive, top notch cooking schools. It's pretty typical for the chef who cooked your US$75 - $100 (NZ$103 - $137) meal to be making US$12 - $15 (NZ$16 - $20) an hour, with no paid time off and crappy benefits (or none at all)."

An answer that might come as unexpected was that of lawyers - a career generally associated with high salaries.

"If you subtract the top 3 percent of big law jobs, it's terrible," claimed one user. "I don't know why people think we get paid so much. We don't."

Another chimed in to explain that the US has a surplus of lawyers, leading to lower wages for most in the legal profession.

According to one user, a huge influx of people moved to Colorado when the state legalised cannabis to try to get work in the "Green Rush". Much to their disappointment, the industry became so saturated with willing workers that wages dropped dramatically.

"I make two thirds of what I used to, our master grower quit to get "a real job" and the new one makes US$45k (NZ$62K/year) making him the highest paid employee. If you ask for more money, they'll fire you because they can replace you before the day is even done."

People who work with animals typically don't make much, according to a veterinary surgeon. 

The average yearly salary for a veterinarian in New Zealand is $74K, according to Payscale. 

"It's a choice to have an animal, and drugs/surgery/vet's time all has a cost. 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/her family but couldn't treat them for nothing. How are we supposed to pay our bills/university debt?"

Zookeepers apparently don't make much either.

"We are expected to have an associate's minimum, bachelor's usually. Then also, no zoo will hire you without MULTIPLE (I'm talking three to four at least) 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!"

Even those in more glamorous or exotic roles, such as dolphin trainers, can find themselves struggling to make ends meet.

"Even in California with a college degree, you're lucky if you're making more than US$30 - 40k (NZ$41k - $55k) a year for your first five years. (Source: Dated one for three years and apparently they're all very underpaid)."

Other poorly paid careers included park rangers, pilots, architects and professional cheerleaders, Reddit users claim.

One user pointed out the ironic truth that many trade jobs pay more than academic professions.

A licensed architect reportedly earns an average of $60K a year in New Zealand while a commercial pilot earns $48K/year, Payscale says. 

"It's hilarious how jobs requiring advanced degrees and years of experience pay less than most craft trades. You can basically quit school at 15, do a three year apprenticeship as a welder and earn more than almost all STEM jobs."