I wish I could track down whoever should be credited with this quote. If anyone knows, please let me know. However, I think several have said things like this before (including myself and Tammy) - but maybe not so eloquent as this. Therefore, I will use it.
Disclaimer #1: I am not claiming to be 'poor.' It would be accurate to say we land in the vicinity of the median income for the United States, with most of our income derived from off-farm sources.
Disclaimer #2: This post is not so much about us as it is about an attitude.
Disclaimer #3: This post was started about a year ago. Rather than wait for the perfect version of this post, I'm just going to give it a quick finish and leave it out there for people to consider and, perhaps, act on.
What is a "Worthy" Job?
We could look at this two ways. What jobs are held to be most prestigious in the United States or what jobs are compensated (monetarily) at the highest rate based on mean salaries. I am not particularly interested in quibbling about how the two web articles I linked categorize jobs, nor do I care particularly what professions may be missing or whether the titles used are the best descriptors for the job in question. What I do care about is the question of how we measure the worth of a given occupation.
The "prestigious" list probably will surprise very few people overall. Doctors, nurses, firefighters, EMT's, military officers and police officers all land on the list cited above. These professions are supposed to have something to do with everyone's health and safety. If you wish, you could include veterinarian in this list, though the focus is on animal health. I am sure we could have a discussion about where these professions might land on the 'prestige meter' if we separated responses by American sub-cultures - but that is still not the point I want to make.
Other jobs on the list are typically synonymous with high achievement: scientist, engineer and architect. The perception is that these people are highly trained and often intelligent individuals who bridge a gap between theory and application. That might explain why you don't see things like 'mathematician,' 'philosopher,' 'physicist' or other similar titles, all cases where the general public may not see the application. That, and a significant portion of the population claims to be math-phobic, which may artificially raise or lower opinions about various professions. I could see someone thinking, "Wow! Engineers make all kinds of complicated stuff AND they're so smart with math!" I could also see the same person thinking, "Ya, I'm sure a person with a PhD in Mathematics is really smart, but they must be a bit touched if they just study math because it's math..." (ed note: full disclosure, Rob does have a B.A. in Math along with Computer Science)
Conspicuously absent are the skilled trades, helping professions, various business positions, etc. However, another 'prestige' list from a couple of years prior includes teachers and clergy from the 'helping professions.'
The highest paid list, however, shows very little relationship between what our perceptions of prestige seem to indicate.
|Why is the farmer posing next to a wilted crop? We will never know.|
Most people, if they allow themselves a moment for thought, will agree that they value their health and safety (as well as the health and safety of those they love) over most other things. And now, here we are in the midst of a pandemic - and it is becoming ever more clear that there are many, MANY undervalued jobs that are incredibly important.
|This farmer is more comfortable with this type of 'selfie.'|