News & Politics

5 'Good' Jobs that Require Lots of Education and Training and Shockingly Pay Little More than Minimum Wage

You will never guess which highly skilled professions pay poverty wages.

Photo Credit: Harvey

When most of us think about low-paid professions in which workers are subject to below-minimum wages, jobs in retail and the fast-food industry commonly spring to mind. The low wages for restaurant workers have, in recent times, sparked massive widespread strikes and protests in the fight for fair pay across the country.

However, it turns out wage exploitation doesn’t discriminate based on profession, with some of the most reputable jobs out there which require a high degree of training and/or tailored skill-set barely paying the minimum wage. Here are five of the most surprising low-income jobs, according to a new CNN Money report:

1.  Regional Pilot

According to CNN Money, the average starting salary of a pilot is about $22,400 a year with an average hourly wage of $10.75, just above President Obama's desired minimum wage of $10.10. This is despite the extensive long hours spent on the job, which can lead to pilot fatigue and the fact that training costs to become a pilot can exceed more than $100,000, requiring a minimum of 1,500 hours of flight experience.

2.  Adjunct Professor

Yes, that’s right. While full-time professors with a doctoral degree can make in excess of $135,000 a year, adjunct professors (who mind you also have advanced degrees and do basically the same work as full professors) make an annual salary of $21,600. Why the disparity? Because adjuncts are not considered full-time, despite the fact they work as full-time, tenured faculty members and spend the same amount of time marking papers and tests.

3.  Vet Technicians

Veterinary technicians or technologists by trade are required at minimum to have a two year associate's degree or a full bachelor’s degree in order to perform their work effectively.  Yet, they only make around $31,470 annually with an hourly wage of just over $15. This is despite the fact they are expected to draw blood from animals and assist veterinarians in performing complex animal surgery. Go figure!

4. Home Health Aide

At-home health aids are responsible for dispensing life-saving medication to patients and working long hours in difficult home conditions.  In fact, many hold advanced nursing qualifications.  Nonetheless, CNN revealed that a study released by the National Domestic Workers Alliance showed that almost a quarter of home health aides make an annual salary of about $21,830 a year with an average hourly pay rate of $10.49.  What’s more, home care workers weren’t even entitled to a minimum wage protection until September of last year.

5.    Models

Sure, walking down the runway and travelling the world sounds like fun and glamorous and may not necessarily require much of a skill set apart from being blessed with incredibly good genes. But, in reality, models work 18-hour days, are kept on strict eating plans and most of the money they bring in goes toward the major fashion labels and events rather than the models themselves. Despite the rich, high-fashion lifestyle modeling portrays, models are among the lowest paid earners in the country with an average salary of $26,100 per year. 

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Jodie Gummow is a senior fellow and staff writer at AlterNet.