What do a babysitter, a social worker, and an exotic bird cage assembler all have in common? They all want to be your president come this November. And now that the 2016 presidential primaries are in full swing, we owe it to ourselves to learn everything we can about each candidate in order to make the best decision come Election Day. So we thought, why not take a trip through history and look at the first job of each presidential candidate to see just how humble their beginnings (and early paychecks) really were? Based on PayScale's salary data, find out how much each candidate would earn based on modern wage trends.
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Atypical Career Paths of Former Presidents
Throughout history, we've seen plenty of polished candidates make the career transition from politician to president of the United States. But not every president starts his career as a senator or governor. Some held incredibly ordinary job titles before they landed in the Oval Office. From ice cream scoopers to park rangers, here are some less-than-typical jobs that a few of the most well-known presidents of our time have held, and how much those job titles would earn in today's economy.
Barack Obama, Ice Cream Scooper - $8.20/hour
It's hard to picture Obama, the current president and a former United States senator from Illinois, scooping up your favorite flavors of ice cream, or adding extra toppings to your sundae, but everyone has to start somewhere. Politifact reports that around the year 1975, Obama was employed as an ice cream scooper for the popular chain Baskin-Robbins. Obama jokes that his time at Baskin-Robbins contributed to his dislike of ice cream nowadays.
George W. Bush,Athletic Franchise Owner – Upwards of $21 million, in 2015 dollars
Bush never saw much success as a pitcher for his junior varsity baseball team during his high school years, but that wouldn't be the last time the former governor of Texas dabbled in baseball. In 1989, Bush purchased a stake in the Texas Rangers franchise, where he assumed the role of managing general partner. In this position, Bush worked with the Rangers' media relations team and assisted in the construction of a new stadium. He eventually sold the rangers for $14.9 million.
Ronald Reagan, Actor - $48k/year
Before becoming president, Ronald Reagan held a variety of odd jobs – but perhaps what he's most famous for is his run as an actor. After graduating from Eureka College in 1932, Reagan moved to Des Moines, Iowa where he would become a radio sports announcer. The company was called WOC and they paid him $35 total to broadcast four Iowa football games, according to The Washington Post. Reagan also spent time working as a lifeguard where he reportedly saved 77 lives during his seven summers in this occupation.
Gerald Ford, Park Ranger - $35k/year
Former President Ford is a rare case where we can see that his early career working odd jobs actually influenced what he did in the White House. In 1936, Ford worked as a seasonal park ranger at Yellowstone National Forest. His supervisor, Ranger Frank Anderson, remembers Ford as a "darned good ranger." During the time that Ford became president, our national parks were at risk of being lost to development. His love for the parks, likely stemming from his time as a ranger, propelled him to add 18 new areas to the National Park System, and loosened the criteria that designates land as a National Park.
Lyndon B. Johnson, Trash Collector - $15/hour
Former President Lyndon B. Johnson was not a man who was afraid to get dirty, as made evident by his early job as a trash collector. Before his presidential days, Johnson worked as a trash collector in order to pay his way through college at South Texas State Teachers College in 1927. Of course, trash collector wasn't the only job Johnson had during his college years. He also worked as an assistant janitor for the college, eventually becoming assistant secretary to the president of the college. Talk about working your way from the ground up. He also worked as an elevator operator in San Bernadino, CA in 1925.
John F. Kennedy, Writer - $48k/year
Americans remember John F. Kennedy for a lot of things. He was America's first Catholic president, he was the president that put a man on the moon, and he prevented nuclear Armageddon during the Bay of Pigs invasion. But what most people don't remember him for is his incredible storytelling ability. His book, Why England Slept, was released in the 1940s and quickly became a bestseller. He also won a Pulitzer Prize in 1957 with a volume of biographies called Profiles in Courage.
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