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.

Lainey and baby goat Annie. Photo courtesy of Lainey Morse
True

Oftentimes, the journey to our true calling is winding and unexpected. Take Lainey Morse, who went from office manager to creator of the viral trend, Goat Yoga, thanks to her natural affinity for goats and throwing parties.

Back in 2015, Lainey bought a farm in Oregon and got her first goats who she named Ansel and Adams. "Once I got them, I was obsessed," says Lainey. "It was hard to get me off the farm to go do anything else."

Right away, she noticed what a calming presence they had. "Even the way they chew their cud is relaxing to be around because it's very methodical," she says. Lainey was going through a divorce and dealing with a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis at the time, but even when things got particularly hard, the goats provided relief.

"I found it impossible to be stressed or depressed when I was with them."

She started inviting friends up to the farm for what she called "Goat Happy Hour." Soon, the word spread about Lainey's delightful, stress-relieving furry friends. At one point, she auctioned off a child's birthday party at her farm, and the mom asked if they could do yoga with the goats. And lo, the idea for goat yoga was born.

A baby goat on a yoga student. Photo courtesy of Lainey Morse

Goat yoga went viral so much so that by fall of 2016, Lainey was able to quit her office manager job at a remodeling company to manage her burgeoning goat yoga business full-time. Now she has 10 locations nationwide.

Lainey handles the backend management for all of her locations, and loves that side of the business too, even though it's less goat-related. "I still have my own personal Goat Happy Hour every single day so I still get to spend a lot of time with my goats," says Lainey. "I get the best of both worlds."

Lainey with her goat Fabio. Photo courtesy of Lainey Morse

Since COVID-19 hit, her locations have had to close temporarily. She hopes her yoga locations will be able to resume classes in the spring when the vaccine is more widely available. "I think people will need goat yoga more than ever before, because everyone has been through so much stress in 2020," says Lainey.

Major life changes like Lainey's can come around for any number of reasons. Even if they seem out of left field to some, it doesn't mean they're not the right moves for you. The new FOX series "Call Me Kat", which premieres Sunday, January 3rd after NFL and will continue on Thursday nights beginning January 7th, exemplifies that. The show is centered around Kat, a 39-year old single woman played by Mayim Bialik, who quit her math professor job and spent her life's savings to pursue her dreams to open a Cat Café in Louisville, Kentucky.

Jeff Harry started making similar moves when he was just 10-years-old, and kept making them throughout his life. After seeing the movie "Big,"Jeff knew he wanted to play with toys for a living, so he started writing toy companies asking for next steps. He finally got a response when he was a sophomore in high school — the company told him he needed to become a mechanical engineer first.

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