Salaries Of The Five Most Traditional Professions

Salaries-of-Traditional-ProfessionsThe following article is a guest post. If you would like to write an article for Money Q&A, please visit our Guest Posting Guidelines page.

The following traditional professions are so integral to our society we can hardly imagine them ceasing to exist. Each serves an integral role, and demands a great deal from those that pursue them. In other regards, they are high dissimilar. They all have widely varying salaries, work environments and amounts of respect and prestige associated with them.

Salaries Of The Five Most Traditional Professions

1. Doctor

The profession of doctor has always been one that carries a certain level of respect. The profession is one that is difficult and expensive to obtain but usually comes with one of the highest payoffs of any of the five traditional professions discussed.

A doctor’s salary can vary widely depending on his place of employment and his specialty within medicine. The median annual salary for those considered “physicians and surgeons” in 2010 was $166,400 a year, or approximately $80 per hour.

2. Lawyer

The lawyer profession is one built heavily around prestige. The type of law an attorney specializes in can have a great effect on their potential income due to the types of clients and cases it attracts. Generally, those in corporate or personal injury law earn the most, but the salary is healthy regardless of law type. The legal system is constructed in such a way that an attorney is required for most legal matters, regardless of their scope.

The median pay for lawyers in 2010 was $112,760, or about $55 per hour. A lawyer may be hired by a large firm, or they may pursue private practice. Experience as a lawyer also opens up other legal professions, such as judge, that may come with higher salaries.

3. Teachers

The teacher, while being one of the most vital careers in our society, comes with substantially less prestige than most others on the list. It also comes with an equally low salary, at a median of $51,380 annually for elementary teachers. Teachers with more experience or a master’s degree will make more, as will secondary math and science teachers and special education teachers.

4. Soldier

A soldier’s pay is based on rank and number of years in service. Officers, of course, will make substantially more than regular enlisted men. Depending on where a solider falls in the pay scale they may make less than $20,000 annually or well over $100,000 for a veteran officer.

The profession comes with its hefty share of risks, but it also has many advantages beyond salary. Soldiers are generally entitled to good retirement packages, access to good insurance policies, various veterans’ benefits and a very high degree of job security. It is telling that even when the government shuts down, Congress still extends pay to active military service personnel.

5. Fireman

The dream career of so many young boys, firefighting comes with a mix of prestige and hardship. Pay is certainly not at the top of the list of benefits. The average fireman makes only $45,250 annually, a rate of about $22 per hour. This is low considering the high-risk and arduous hours associated with the profession. The good news is that becoming a fireman usually only requires a high school diploma. Most of the training is done on the job.

Choosing one of these traditional careers can bring many years of rewarding work to one’s life, but the mark of each career is hardship. Even the excellent pay enjoyed by doctors and lawyers comes after nearly twice the schooling of most other professions and many long hours of demanding and complex work after that. Each of these careers truly earns its place also on the list of most demanding professions.

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2 thoughts on “Salaries Of The Five Most Traditional Professions”

  1. This is an interesting perspective, but I would be wary of breaking out that lawyer’s salary to an hourly wage. Most of the highest-earning attorneys work well over 40 hours per week. Also, the salary range is widely divergent in areas of practice. An assistant District Attorney or a Public Defender — two of the most crucial public service positions — typically make more like $35,000 – $50,000/year. Also, private practice attorneys typically make more than judges do. Attorneys aren’t attracted to the judiciary because of the money!

  2. The prestige of a ‘doctor’ is often exaggerated. Sure, they do a lot of schooling, but at the end of it all they get the MD designation which is essentially an medical undergraduate degree. Also, all you need to get into medical school is a B.Sc undergraduate degree, but with good marks. At theend of it all they don’t emerge with any higher credentials than a teacher.


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