8 important jobs that people should be paid a lot more to do.

There's nothing like a hard day's work to give someone a sense of purpose.

Sure, you may come home feeling like a puddle of a human, drained from long hours...


GIF from "Arrested Development."

...but if you take pride in your work, you can plop down at home with a feeling of triumph from all you were able to achieve for the day.

And maybe some cheese as a bonus. (#TreatYoSelf). GIF from "30 Rock."

Unfortunately, self-worth is not an accepted form of payment for your creditors and bill collectors. So your paycheck really matters.

But in this age of gaping inequality, many aren't earning fair wages for their labor. That's especially the case in certain lines of work. Every day, millions of people clock into jobs that both support our daily lives and are critical to the country's future.

They may not be developing the latest and greatest apps and gadgets or performing Wall Street wizardry to make money out of thin air, but they do make important contributions. And they're being grossly underpaid for it.

If you work in one of these eight jobs, here's to the prospect of a well-deserved raise:

1. Public school teachers

Photo by Michelle Collins/FEMA Photo Library/Wikimedia Commons.

Median income: $53,760 - $56,310

By 2021, the U.S. Department of Education projects that public pre-K-12 schools will enroll 91% of students in the U.S. If you really believe "children are the future," then logic would follow that, y'know, brighter students, brighter future, right? That's where teachers come in.

Though more research has to be done, an early study on the effects of paying teachers much more handsomely has shown significantly improved academic outcomes for students. So boosting public school teachers' salaries could be seen as an investment our the future.

2. Registered nurses

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Median income: $66,640

Certainly compared to most U.S. workers, nurses seem to have it pretty good salary-wise. But if we look at how nursing has changed in a time of extreme health care costs and the rising care demands of an aging population, envy starts to fade.

Nurses are working longer hours and taking on more responsibility than ever before. Those with advanced nursing degrees now do work historically performed by doctors simply because it's cheaper for them to do it.

And as the frontline of patient care, modern nurses are increasingly expected to be big thinkers who can help identify answers to industry challenges through research and new technologies.

3. Farm workers

Photo by CIAT/Flickr.

Median income: $19,330

These folks toil in the unforgiving heat of the sun to feed and clothe the rest of us. And they do it for a minimum wage — if they're lucky. Some farm workers are paid a "piece rate" or a volume-based payment (e.g., per pound, box, or basket).

If they're undocumented, as many of these workers are, they not only might not get the minimum they're due, but they may also face daily abuse and harassment by their supervisors — especially if they're women.

4. Child care workers

Photo by Loic Venance/AFP/Getty Images.

Median income: $19,730

Parents want the best for their kids, sometimes obsessively so. Since crating children is neither helpful nor legal, child care workers are there when parents can't be to provide little ones with a safe and nurturing developmental experience.

In the earliest years of human life, capable child care workers play an integral role in preparing kids for the challenges of being bigger kids, teenagers, and beyond. It's a big responsibility that's worthy of at least a living wage.

5. Paramedics


Photo by Jenny Starley/Flickr.

Median income: $31,700

When sh*t hits the fan and emergency medical situations arise, these folks are the first on the scene to help people in trouble. Paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) are trained to save lives day in and day out, often in unpredictable and dangerous situations. They deserve more than what amounts to an entry-level office worker salary.

6. Home health aides


Photo by Tunstall/Flickr.

Median income: $21,380

No one wants their grandma to be that "I've fallen and I can't get up!" lady. Home health aides help to prevent that from happening. They care for those who've logged their hours, raised their families, and now need a little help living their golden years with dignity and in the comfort of their homes. Should that work not be similarly dignified with a fair wage?

7. Social workers

Photo by Joe Houghton/Flickr.

Median income: $45,500

They do the hard work of guiding families and individuals along life's rockiest roads. Social workers help people stay afloat emotionally, socially, and even economically when they need it most.

Though lawmakers and other talking heads tout family values and home stability as a virtue of civilized society, we rarely if ever hear them advocate for the investments in the social workforce necessary to help people achieve that.

8. Food service workers

Photo by Fibonacci Blue/Flickr.

Median income: $19,560

As the economy recovers, our appetite for dining out is making a fierce comeback. Someone has to feed that hunger, so food service has seen some of the largest job growth since the recession.

But how optimistic can we be about a labor recovery based on poverty-wage gigs — especially with a federal minimum wage that, when adjusted for inflation, peaked in 1968?

With fast food and other low-wage workers protesting throughout the country, seven states and a handful of cities decided to raise their minimum wages to $15 last year. And 16 more states are expected to raise their minimum wages in 2016.

Hopefully these are signs that we're on the verge of a tipping point for wage justice.

This is far from an all-inclusive list. And you don't have to agree with every one of the above to appreciate the larger point.

A Pew Research Center headline said it best: "The American middle class is losing ground." Middle-income earners comprised the majority of the working population 45 years ago.

Charts by Pew Research Center.

Today, middle earners are dwindling, forced into a growing low-income tier as higher earners — the highest earners, really — capture an unfair share of the country's income and wealth.

And no amount of bootstrapping or hard work on the job will change this trend. Only widespread pressure from a pissed-off majority will.

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As a child, Dr. Sangeeta Bhatia's parents didn't ask her what she wanted to be when she grew up. Instead, her father would ask, "Are you going to be a doctor? Are you going to be an engineer? Or are you going to be an entrepreneur?"

Little did he know that she would successfully become all three: an award-winning biomedical and mechanical engineer who performs cutting-edge medical research and has started multiple companies.

Bhatia holds an M.D. from Harvard University, an M.S. in mechanical engineering from MIT, and a PhD in biomedical engineering from MIT. Bhatia, a Wilson professor of engineering at MIT, is currently serving as director of the Marble Center for Cancer Nanomedicine, where she's working on nanotechnology targeting enzymes in cancer cells. This would allow cancer screenings to be done with a simple urine test.

Bhatia owes much of her impressive career to her family. Her parents were refugees who met in graduate school in India; in fact, she says her mom was the first woman to earn an MBA in the country. The couple immigrated to the U.S. in the 1960s, started a family, and worked hard to give their two daughters the best opportunities.

"They made enormous sacrifices to pick a town with great public schools and really push us to excel the whole way," Bhatia says. "They really believed in us, but they expected excellence. The story I like to tell about my dad is like, if you brought home a 96 on a math test, the response would be, 'What'd you get wrong?'"

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Don't test on animals. That's something we can all agree on, right? No one likes to think of defenseless cats, dogs, hamsters, and birds being exposed to a bunch of things that could make them sick (and the animals aren't happy about it, either). It's no wonder so many people and organizations have fought to stop it. But did you ever think that maybe brands are testing products on us too, they're just not telling us they're doing it?

I know, I know, it sounds like a conspiracy theory, but that's exactly what e-cigarette brands like JUUL (which corners the e-cigarette market) are doing in this country right now, and young people are on the frontlines of the fallout. Most people assume that the government would have looked at devices that allow people to inhale unknown chemicals into their lungs BEFORE they hit the market. You would think that someone in the government would have determined that they are safe. But nope, that hasn't happened. And vape companies are fighting to delay the government's ability to evaluate these products.

So no one really knows the long-term health effects of e-cigarette use, not even JUUL's CEO, nor are they informing the public about the potential risks. On top of that, according to the FDA, there's been a 78% increase in e-cigarette usage among high school and middle school-aged children in just the last two years, prompting the U.S. Surgeon General to officially recognize the trend as an epidemic and urge action against it.

These facts have elicited others to take action, as well.

Truth Initiative, the nonprofit best known for dropping the real facts about smoking and vaping since 2000 through its truth campaign, is now on a mission to confront e-cigarette brands like JUUL about the lack of care they've taken to inform consumers of the potential adverse side effects of their products. And they're doing it with the help of animal protesters who are tired of seeing humans treated like test subjects.

The March Against JUUL | Tested On Humans | truth www.youtube.com

"No one knows the long-term effects of JUULing so any human who uses one is being used as a lab rat," says, appropriately, Mario the Sewer Rat.

"I will never stop fighting JUUL. Or the mailman," notes Doug the Pug, the Instagram-famous dog star.

Truth, the national counter-marketing campaign for youth smoking prevention, hopes this fuzzy, squeaky, snorty animal movement arms humans with the facts about vaping and inspires them to demand transparency from JUUL and other e-cigarette companies. You can get your own fur babies involved too by sharing photos of them wearing protest gear with the hashtag #DontTestOnHumans. Here's some adorable inspo for you:

The dangerous stuff is already out there, but with knowledge on their side, young people will hopefully make the right choices and fight companies making the wrong ones. If you need more convincing, here are the serious facts.

Over the last decade, 127 e-cigarette-related seizures were reported, which prompted the FDA to launch an official investigation in April 2019. Since then, over 215 cases of a new, severe lung illness have sprung up all over the country, with six deaths to date. While scientists aren't yet sure of the root cause, the majority of victims were young adults who regularly vaped and used e-cigarettes. As such, the CDC has launched an official investigation into the potential link.

Sixteen-year-old Luka Kinard, a former frequent e-cigarette-user, is one of the many teens who experienced severe side effects. "Vaping was my biggest addiction," he told NowThis. "It lasted for about 15 months of my high school career." In 2018, Kinard was hospitalized after having a seizure. He also had severe nausea, chest pains, and difficulty breathing.

After the harrowing experience, he quit vaping, and began speaking out about his experience to help inform others and hopefully inspire them to quit and/or take action. "It shouldn't take having a seizure as a result of nicotine addiction like I had for teens to realize that these companies are taking advantage of what we don't know," Kinard said.

Teens are 16 times more likely to use e-cigarettes than adults, and four times more likely to take up traditional smoking as a result, according to truth, and yet the e-cigarette market remains virtually unregulated and untested. In fact, companies like JUUL continue to block and prevent FDA regulations, investing more than $1 million in lawyers and lobbying efforts in the last quarter alone.

Photo by Lindsay Fox/Pixabay

Consumers have a right to know what they're putting in their bodies. If everyone (and their pets) speaks up, the e-cigarette industry will have to make a change. Young people are already taking action across the country. They're hosting rallies nationwide and on October 9 as part of a National Day of Action, young people are urging their friends and classmates to "Ditch JUUL." Will you join them?

For help with quitting e-cigarettes, visit thetruth.com/quit or text DITCHJUUL to 88709 for free, anonymous resources.

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