Aside from obvious job related performance issues and aside from a lack of job experience, there are 4 reasons your job may not pay well. These reasons are standard regardless of job and they hold true in virtually all economic situations.
People complain about a certain “important” job paying less than an “unimportant” job. They complain their job is much more vital to the company than another job. You read that teachers are paid less than athletes, that crisis counselors are paid less than movie stars, that managers are paid far less than CEO’s. Why? Why is a teacher paid less than an athlete? Why does one job pay far less than another job?
1. When there are a lot of people able and willing to do a certain job, that job generally doesn’t pay well. It’s old supply and demand economics. The greater the number of available applicants, the lower the job has to pay in order to adequately fill the position.
Right about now you’re probably thinking, “No kidding.” But if you’ve ever decried the high salaries of NBA stars, comparing them to the pay of your child’s 2nd grade teacher, you’ve fallen into the trap. How many people CAN teach elementary school compared to how many people can play in the NBA? It doesn’t matter how things “should” be, what matters is how things are.
When it comes to a job, the number of people who can push a broom is greater than the number of people who can build a broom is greater than the number of people who can successfully run a broom manufacturing company.
2. A job requiring specialized skills or education will pay more than a job that doesn’t. A trauma doctor is a highly specialized job, so is a tax lawyer, a cardiologist, a nuclear physicist, a cruise ship captain, a baseball pitcher, and a high performance CEO. The more specialized the skill, the greater the job will pay. The greater the job has to pay.
3. An unpleasant job will generally pay less than another job. Holding constant for the amount of relative demand, if a job is disgusting (cleaning out septic tanks), very dangerous (logging), or boring/repetitive (factory work), that job will generally pay less.
4. If the demand for services that the job fulfills is low, that job will not pay very well. Alaskan crab fishermen have a very dangerous job that should fall under #3, but the demand for crab meat is great…and so is the pay. Granted, the demand for quality elementary school teachers is broad, but the supply of teachers is high enough to counter any significant increase in pay.
Think about the demand for a movie star, a country music singer, or a really good marketing executive versus the demand for a hamburger flipper, a delivery driver, or a general laborer. Which job is easily filled and which job is very difficult to fill? That will let you know which job will pay better.
Should you change careers for the money? In an answer, no, not if you enjoy what you do. THAT is much more important in the long run than the paycheck. But, if you are only working for a paycheck and you do not particularly enjoy your job, then the answer changes to an unqualified yes.
Your next step is to identify and match your current skills and abilities to the job you’d like to have.