Woman with empty pockets.

15 Criminally Underpaid Jobs in the U.S.

It’s safe to say most working Americans want a little (or a lot) more in their paychecks. But some jobs are so underpaid it doesn’t seem fair. People took to an online forum to share criminally underpaid professions in the US. 

Note: Some quotes in this piece have been lightly edited for grammar.

1: Stiffed Social Workers 

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“Any profession that requires you to work with vulnerable people” is criminally underpaid, according to one person. A social worker elected their job for this category. “High dollar educational costs with licensure for caseloads that are not humanely manageable safely and not enough money to make a living.” 

2: Payday Emergency

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You would think the people who respond to medical emergencies would make more than a part-time shift at an ice cream shop. “I made $9.50 an hour,” a former EMT said. “Never ask “why there is an EMS [emergency medical service] shortage” around me. I will go OFF.” Another agreed. “Did all the schooling and certifications for it. I got out and realized I made more changing oil.” 

3: Jack of All Trades 

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“Paramedics are paid jack,” one frustrated person commented. “It’s a job I could never do.” Someone who works in the field responded, “I’m over here making $13/hr to be a jack of all medicine trades.”

4: Overworked and Underpaid

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“Taking care of special needs folks” is a criminally underpaid job to one worker in the field. Another person who’s been doing so for ten years says they make pennies more than brand-new hires. “I sacrificed so much for the company I work for so that the residents were adequately taken care of, and I could leave tomorrow, and they wouldn’t even bother trying to convince me to stay.” 

5: Lawyer Up 

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One person with a private law practice feels bad for their public defender counterparts. “The public defenders make a fraction of what guys like me make, know criminal law inside and out, and carry obscene caseloads. The system would break down immediately if they went on strike.” 

6: Support for Caregivers 

Doctor holding a thermometer.
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“Eldercare, child care, and sick care,” one person suggested as criminally underpaid positions. Someone responded that they found out the CNA treating their grandma, and the whole nursing home floor, only made $13 an hour. “Should be making quadruple for all the stuff she has to take care of.” 

7: The Worst Calls 

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One 911 dispatcher with over ten years of experience and certifications said they’re not paid nearly enough money. “We have to listen to people die on our phone lines, and in some states, are still classified as secretarial personnel.” They added, “I don’t break 40k a year unless I pull massive amounts of overtime.” 

8: Shrinking Salary 

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A therapist at a non-profit with a master’s degree says most of the time, they’re getting paid $15/hr to fill out paperwork that only someone with their degree can do. “I also only get paid hourly. I get paid for those three hours if I only have three clients that day. If someone cancels on me, no pay for that time wasted, even though I structured my whole day around seeing them.” 

9: Getting Messy 

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One commenter believes Americans should pay janitors more. “They clean up all our messes, get no respect, and are sometimes some of the chillest people I’ve ever met.”

10: Unpaid Heroes 

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“Firefighters in some places, you’d be very surprised,” one person said about a criminally underpaid profession. Sixty-five percent of American firefighters are volunteers.

11: Essentially Broke 

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“Everyone who is governmentally declared ‘essential’ when COVID hit” is criminally underpaid, a fellow underpaid American said. Someone from across the pond replied, “It’s cool. We all got paid extra via claps in the UK.” 

12: Not Like the Movies 

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One conservationist says they hate disaster movies that portray rich scientists in top-tier labs driving a Tesla. “In real life, it’s more like broke PhDs trying to find the protocol for a donated piece of equipment and its corresponding software from 1998,” they explained. “It would be rad if we could get 1/1000th the funding of a mid-size biotech to save the elephants and penguins.” 

13: Paw-ful Pay 

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A few folks said that professionals in the veterinary field don’t make enough to care for our furry friends. “Eight years of schooling, six figures of debt that the salary will never help bring down, an incredibly draining and emotional job, all for people to say you’re heartless for charging for medical care,” a veterinarian said. 

14: Down to a Science 

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“Imagine studying ten plus years, holding the highest academic title possible, and earning less than most 9 to 5s that require little to no education,” one person said about underpaid scientists in America. 

15: More Than a Teacher 

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A teacher’s aide said they’ve gone through more than their fair share of unfortunate events, “I get headbutted, kicked, scratched, bitten, spit, kicked, thrown up on, and peed on for less than $700 every 15 days,” They added that the parents are even worse. 

Source: Reddit

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