In a perfect world, the more useful a job was to society, the higher the paycheck would be. In the real world, well, let’s just say there are probably very few millionaire social workers out there. (Approaching zero, if you don’t include folks with trust funds).
High pay says more about how hard it is to hire for a job than the value of the occupation. Some of the jobs that are most worthy of our respect offer relatively small paychecks. Other high-social-value occupations offer higher pay, but still require a lot of patience and people skills.
Recently, a Redditor asked the community, “What profession do you have immense respect for?” Here are some of the top-rated responses:
Refuse Collectors and Landfill Employees
“They are figuratively and literally handling the $%^& you throw away. Every. Single. Day,” twilightsentinel writes. “Some of those guys are the happiest and most energetic employees in the world, and they are thigh deep in mud and filth all the time! In stupid weather conditions, with crappy equipment for sometimes awful pay.”
“Anyone who looks after the mentally ill. It pays nothing, it is physically and emotionally demanding and a degree is required,” writes JavierLoustaunau. “For a while I dated a girl who did this and with her degree, she was earning less than I was without a degree just babysitting Excel files.”
“I can’t offhand think of a single government-funded system that has to fight so hard for and does so much with the little funding it gets,” says Portarossa. “They help to provide a valuable public service, and despite the reputation they have for being overly strict I’ve never met a librarian who wasn’t friendly, helpful and extremely enthusiastic about both books and what they do.”
“I could never ever work in that industry I have too much of a short temper,” writes Desister. “Some of the #$% I see these people have to deal with and hold their cool blows my mind.”
“They’re literally my adversaries, but they do so much work and get hated for it,” says TodayKindOfSucks (who is presumably a prosecutor).
“They often sign up due to a love of animals, but have to witness everything from neglect to Munchhausen Syndrome by Proxy on a daily basis,” writes mojave_moon. “While there is plenty of opportunity to do good, you also have to walk people through the immoral math of treatment vs cost of a life of a family member who isn’t human. It has to be depressing. And all that to be rewarded by people not thinking of you or referring to you as a ‘real doctor’ or even assuming you’re a medical school washout. Also, massive medical school debt.”
Adds Aalnius: “Not to mention having to put down animals fairly regularly.”
“The amount of stuff that people don’t realize about public educators is amazing,” writes forman98. “I’ve had so many people say to me, ‘At least you live in a big city, so your teacher wife makes more.’ Nope. in my state, every teacher gets paid on a scale. You could live in the backwoods or in the biggest city in the state and make the same. They get a stipend once a year depending on where they live, but that’s it. Many teachers in the city I live in can’t afford to live there by themselves since the rent is so high.”
Plus: “I respect anyone who puts in a full day of honest work.” – Fallenexistence
“This is my favorite answer,” writes Ask_me_4_a_story. “I respect all professions. If you are working hard, I appreciate you.”
They continue: “One day I met a lady working at the DMV and she was working so hard, there were like 15 counterpeople there and every third person was going to her because she was so efficient. I asked her why she worked so hard and she said because her dad taught her since she was little on the farm, whatever you do, do it the best you can. I respected that lady so much that day and I told her, I wish I could hire all employees that are exactly like you.”
So, there you have it.
Stories have been lightly edited for clarity and style.
Tell Us What You Think
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