Some jobs that you might consider critical, or that seem high profile, pay a lot less than you might think.
Fast food workers, maids, retail clerks, telemarketers, construction helpers, waiters: There are jobs that most people don't expect to necessarily pay well. The Bureau of Labor Statistics keeps a list of the average annual wage for hundreds of different occupations.
But amidst the listings are occupations whose average income might surprise you. These are jobs that have great responsibility, or are strongly in the public eye, or might even be seemingly important in the technology industry. That doesn't mean they're top of the list when it comes to handing out paychecks. Forbes put together a list of "surprisingly low-paying jobs." They combed through the most recent BLS table of occupations and looked for jobs that they were surprised made less than $50,000 a year.
We looked at their list and made some changes based on using average wage data rather than median. Here are some of the surprisingly poorly-paying jobs people have in the U.S. For each we list the BLS job description and the average annual pay.
Description: "Provide social services and assistance to improve the social and psychological functioning of children and their families and to maximize the family well-being and the academic functioning of children. May assist parents, arrange adoptions, and find foster homes for abandoned or abused children. In schools, they address such problems as teenage pregnancy, misbehavior, and truancy. May also advise teachers."
Annual Wage: $46,060
> Find a job as a social worker
Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics
Description: "Assess injuries, administer emergency medical care, and extricate trapped individuals. Transport injured or sick persons to medical facilities."
Annual Wage: $34,870
> Find a job as an EMT
Description: "Control and extinguish fires or respond to emergency situations where life, property, or the environment is at risk. Duties may include fire prevention, emergency medical service, hazardous material response, search and rescue, and disaster assistance."
Annual Wage: $48,270
> Find a job as a firefighter
Description: "Develop, introduce or enact laws and statutes at the local, tribal, State, or Federal level. Includes only workers in elected positions."
Annual Wage: $39,320
> Find a job as a legislator
Mental Health Counselors
Description: "Counsel with emphasis on prevention. Work with individuals and groups to promote optimum mental and emotional health. May help individuals deal with issues associated with addictions and substance abuse; family, parenting, and marital problems; stress management; self-esteem; and aging."
Annual Wage: $43,700
> Find a job as a mental health counselor
Preschool Teachers, Except Special Education
Description: "Instruct preschool-aged children in activities designed to promote social, physical, and intellectual growth needed for primary school in preschool, day care center, or other child development facility. May be required to hold State certification."
Annual Wage: $31,420
> Find a job as a teacher
Radio and Television Announcers
Description: "Speak or read from scripted materials, such as news reports or commercial messages, on radio or television. May announce artist or title of performance, identify station, or interview guests."
Annual Wage: $41,800
> Find a job as an announcer
Description: "Counsel individuals to maximize the independence and employability of persons coping with personal, social, and vocational difficulties that result from birth defects, illness, disease, accidents, or the stress of daily life. Coordinate activities for residents of care and treatment facilities. Assess client needs and design and implement rehabilitation programs that may include personal and vocational counseling, training, and job placement."
Annual Wage: $37,660
> Find a job as a rehabilitation counselor
Reporters and Correspondents
Description: "Collect and analyze facts about newsworthy events by interview, investigation, or observation. Report and write stories for newspaper, news magazine, radio, or television."
Annual Wage: $44,360
> Find a job as a reporter
Description: " Perform any or all of the following functions in the manufacture of electronic semiconductors: load semiconductor material into furnace; saw formed ingots into segments; load individual segment into crystal growing chamber and monitor controls; locate crystal axis in ingot using x-ray equipment and saw ingots into wafers; and clean, polish, and load wafers into series of special purpose furnaces, chemical baths, and equipment used to form circuitry and change conductive properties."
Annual Wage: $36,070
> Find a job as a semiconductor processor
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors
Description: "Counsel and advise individuals with alcohol, tobacco, drug, or other problems, such as gambling and eating disorders. May counsel individuals, families, or groups or engage in prevention programs."
Annual Wage: $41,090