Monday, September 26, 2016

Why Glamour Jobs Don’t Pay the Bills

When I was a kid, I wanted to be an actress or singer. Someone famous. Actually, I really wanted to grow up and become exactly what this woman was in the late 70s/early 80s:



I didn't really "get" that acting and singing required, you know, talent. Ironically, I learned I had neither of those talents when I auditioned for my first musical in high school: Grease. I landed a role as one of the people who stand in the background and sing.



Throughout high school, I learned I was my drama teacher's choice for human background scenery. That's okay...unless you're a megastar, actors and singers make very little money.



In college, I chose broadcast journalism as my major. I started out working at the radio station. One night while working at my part-time job at the movie theater, the morning DJ I'd been listening to for most of my adolescence was there for an event. 



I told him what my major was. His advice. "Major in something else. Radio DJs don't make any money."



I don't think I quite grasped what he was saying. I switched to TV journalism. I even did an internship. I spent countless hours at my college TV station. Senior year, I started investigating the average starting salary for a TV reporter.



Back then it was $12,000-$15,000...and you had to move to a "small market." My classmates graduated and moved across the country. Today starting salaries are in the mid-20s, with the overall average for TV reporters of all experience levels in the high $30,000s.



After college, I accepted a job in PR. For six years I did that job, topping out at $23,000...in 1999. Then I was offered a huge pay raise to go into I.T. HUGE.



I tried to leave, since taking computers apart was not my thing. I learned to do that, I'd have to take a ten percent pay cut. I stayed...and stayed...and stayed. Techie jobs paid better than anything else where I worked. When I started writing freelance, I learned something else. If you can write about tech and finance, you can make more money than writing about most other topics.



Supply vs. demand. If you can get someone to take a TV reporter's job for $23,000 a year in Nowheresville, Iowa, why pay $30,000? Or $40,000? People are lining up to stand in front of a camera in a corn field somewhere for little to no pay, after all.



Plus, if you ask a classroom full of kids what they want to be when they grow up, how many say, "I want to be a software developer" or "I want to manage a company's network security infrastructure?"

I'm guessing none.




What did you want to be when you grew up? 

50 comments:

  1. You wanted to be Olivia Newton John?
    Wow, reporters don't make anything. You would think they were teachers.
    I wanted to be a rock star, but I knew the pay would be crap. More so, I didn't want to live that lifestyle.

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    1. It's all about what people want to do. If they put out a call for TV reporters (or teachers) and nobody applied, eventually they'd say, "I guess we have to raise the pay." Instead they say, "How are we going to choose from the 9,000 resumes we just received?" I just wrote a post for a client about how there are 10 job openings for every qualified server administrator. So, of course, they have to keep raising the pay to get that ONE qualified person to come to their company. So if you want to make money, I guess the goal is to do something un-fun?!

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  2. When I was a kid, I wanted to be an astronaut, but that was before NASA allowed female astronauts. How's that for bad timing? :D

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    1. Ugh! I wouldn't have been able to be one because I have bad vision!

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  3. To be a journalist, you gotta love it for what you're doing not the pay that's for sure. I'm still trying to decide what I want to be when I grow up. :)

    Thoughts in Progress
    and MC Book Tours

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    1. Absolutely true. And it's HARD WORK.

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  4. Actress, reporter, travel writer - all dreams as a kid. However, I kinda liked money too so I ended up with a business major and frankly just worked jobs, never really had a "career" or liked what I was doing. I live for the weekends and plug away during the week. Oh well.

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    1. Yeah, that's how it was for me when I worked in IT. Luckily, you can get paid well to write about IT (AND business, by the way), so by combining what I learned with writing, I'm now able to make a good living as a freelance writer.

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  5. I wanted to be a teacher, which is what I became for seven years before I decided my English degree could be used for writing and editing as well. ;)

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    1. Every time I'm in a school, I wonder if I should have been a teacher. I think it looks fun from the outside, but inside it's a LOT of work!

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  6. I wanted to go into the military, but there wasn't much growth for a female in the military. I ended up being a cop and that's exactly what I needed to be. Loved every minute.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. That definitely sounds like a rewarding career!

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  7. I wanted to be a frog trainer.
    No, seriously. I had pet frogs as a kid, and I "taught" one to wave. Meaning she would raise her hand about half the time I waved at her, although she did it plenty when I didn't wave at her too so it was likely a coincidence.
    Never mind the facts that she didn't learn any other tricks, my other frogs didn't learn to wave, and even if I could train them there isn't really a big demand for trained frogs (Except maybe in Budweiser commercials).

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    1. That sounds like it would make a good reality show, though! Jennifer Rossman, Frog Trainer!

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  8. Before I wanted to be a writer I wanted to be a ninja. Thought it was so cool to wear the black clothes, throw shuriken, walk on water, etc. Didn't think about what a ninja salary was.

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    1. I still don't know what a ninja makes!

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  9. I was never really sure if I wanted to be a writer, but I did it off and on. I've pondered becoming a nurse or a medical assistant, but don't know if I'm right for those. Some think these aren't for introverts, but some say the opposite. I recently tried to come up with ideas on how to work in mental health, without being a counselor and how to connect it to writing or perhaps work in law.

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    1. Hmm... I suppose those careers do require you to interact with people, but you can be an introvert and still have a great personality and get along with people. YOU just might be exhausted at the end of the day after talking to people. But there are roles in the medical field that don't require human interaction. I wonder if working in a lab might be a better fit for an introvert?

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    2. I hate the idea of the lab, through. Hardly anyone chooses that profession. Sounds boring.

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  10. I always wanted to be in the arts. Ballerina, actor, writer. Writing was my favorite and of course won. Glad you found something that paid well and you could do Stephanie.

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    1. I think if you're an artist, it's important to find where the demand is and go there. You can make money by doing that. Artists can make a good living as graphic designers, for instance.

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  11. I wanted to be a vet (so original!) but nixed that when I learned how long it took to become one in college. But once I got older, I never thought once about college, just started working at 18. Now, I think it would have been neat to go to school to be a librarian.

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  12. I wanted to be a teenage mutant ninja turtle. Or failing that, Batman. Or some other cool superhero that could shoot fire and lightning from their hands. And then it kinda clicked one day that there was a way I could do all those things - I could be an author. Seriously, it's been my dream to be an author since I was about eight years old. I'm getting there slowly but surely :) - I do have a day job that I do thoroughly enjoy, although it's not as well paid as I would like either!

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  13. I wanted to be a writer, but I started out as a computer programmer. :0

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  14. Hello Stephanie, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to be. The careers adviser at my school tried to persuade me that working as a nursery nurse would be an excellent career choice. Not something I had any interest, in so I vehemently rejected that idea. I ended up working in an office, and then became a book dealer now retired and enjoying being a blogger.

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  15. I wanted to be liked. Even when I was young and loved movies and movie stars, I never wanted to be a star because I thought they never had privacy. I also knew that I would be the person inThe background and make little money. I did want to work in an art museum since I love art

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  16. I wanted to be a ballerina or opera singer. Two problems. I had two left feet and my singing sounded like a frog with a sore throat. So I became something I never thought I'd become. A teacher. And loved it. The pay-not so good. The rewards-awesome.

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  17. It sounds like you have had some interesting jobs! I guess I hadn't thought about the salary of people on the radio- so this has made me think. When I was growing up I wanted to be an actress, teacher, and a writer (just in the summers though- when I would have time to write a couple of books a year- lol). I am a teacher and a writer- but not an actress- unless I count the dramatics I use to teach kids. :)

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  18. Did you know today is Olivia Newton-John's birthday? (I heard it on the radio this morning.)

    When I was a kid, I wanted to be an astronomer. I was talked out of it.

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  19. I was one of those weirdo kids who always knew what they wanted to be: an archaeologist. While I now do archaeology with DNA (yeah, it's a thing...and as weird as it sounds), it's exactly what I wanted. I love my job. Though there are times when I think about my sister, making twice what I do... :)

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  20. I studied voice and I also thought I wanted to be an actress. But I also like to eat regular meals. I ended up choosing a career that paid me $9500 a year right out of college in 1968. Good choice.

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  21. Oh my, let's get started! lol

    The only reason I ended up becoming a computer programmer was because I thought I'd become famous by eradicating the "Y2K Virus". I wanted to be a computer doctor, if you will. That's back in the late 80s and early 90s, when the buzz was pretty big about the ending of the world, you know, planes falling out the sky and all.

    Yes, it brought a decent pay check for a woman. Went from $24,000 to just under $80,000 in a 15 year period of time. My major complaint is that I was determined to switch to a communications major for one simple reason. You cannot make progress in the IT field unless you understand tech and can strategically engage your stakeholders, those folks who use tech and can find a clear benefit to it.

    Ta da! Now, I wonder who would find the benefit in someone who is passionately wanting to bridge that gap?

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  22. I wanted to be Indiana Jones, go on adventures and find treasure. Turns out I don't like hot climates! Plus finding a job in the archaeology realm is difficult. I also wanted to be a criminologist, an artist, and a writer. I'm working on the latter one!

    My son wants to be a chef and an astronaut. I think by the time he's grown up, they'll need a chef on the moon base! :)

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  23. I wanted to be a rock star. That didn't pan out either, although I do play bass :)

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  24. I wanted to be a rock star. That didn't pan out either, although I do play bass :)

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  25. I wanted to be a psychologist. Took an intro psychology class in college and HATED it.

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  26. I suppose I've always been a realist. I knew I didn't have talent to be an actress, singer, musician, author, etc., so I went for a business education that would provide me a paycheck. I worked 40+ hour weeks and dreamed about being a writer.

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  27. It was 73 years ago. I just wanted to be a grown up. I babysat my youngest grandson one day, and told him to turn off the bathroom sink water and empty the sink. He said NO. I said "Who's the grown up, here?" YOU ARE, he wailed, and stormed his four year old body downstairs. I followed, on my new hip, holding his 18 month old sister by the hand. I found him in the living room, sobbing deeply. "Francis, Francis, think about it. Some day you'll be the grownup." I'LL NEVER BE A GROWNUP! IT TAKES TOO LONG!

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  28. It was 73 years ago. I just wanted to be a grown up. I babysat my youngest grandson one day, and told him to turn off the bathroom sink water and empty the sink. He said NO. I said "Who's the grown up, here?" YOU ARE, he wailed, and stormed his four year old body downstairs. I followed, on my new hip, holding his 18 month old sister by the hand. I found him in the living room, sobbing deeply. "Francis, Francis, think about it. Some day you'll be the grownup." I'LL NEVER BE A GROWNUP! IT TAKES TOO LONG!

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  29. Well that's an eye opener. I figured anyone on camera made decent money. Now I know.

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  30. That's the second time I've been asked that today. =)

    It's crazy how our perspective on life and career changes as we grow, eh? My plan was to always be a stay-at-home mom who wrote books, but then, that was back in the day when writing seemed so dignified and the ONLY way to do it was to hire on with a publisher. My how the market has changed, eh?

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  31. In sixth grade, we had to take a multiple choice aptitude test which told me I'd make a great...college professor. And I did that, for three years. Then I had a baby and bowed out, planning to become a writer. I should have been more specific, like say, a published writer? My bad.

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  32. I wanted to be a writer. But I knew writers didn't make much money, so I majored in counseling and got a job in social work...are you seeing the pattern of poverty in my choices?

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  33. it was a toss up between artist and writer but by the time I was in 9th grade I knew I wanted to be a writer.

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  34. I interned with a local TV station once for my communications degree but didn't like the camera work or the tight deadlines. I've always wanted to write and travel. However, writing doesn't make money and traveling requires lots of it. Not a good combination.

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  35. You might say that was a pivotal question for me, because it was my sixth grade answer that prompted my being placed in an accelerated writing course, thus solidifying my desire to be one. What did I want to be? Remembered. Still do, actually ;-)

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  36. This is a fun topic! As a kid, I started out wanting to be a nurse and ended up bandaging all the kids in the neighborhood who had scrapes. Then I wanted to be a neurosurgeon because I figured I was pretty smart. That ended quickly.(lol) Then I found my true passion and wanted to be an English Professor. Almost everything in high school was geared towards this vocation. i took English and American Lit, Creative Writing classes, Advanced English, Latin and French. I even wrote essays just for fun. (lol) I was so driven that I even had to opportunity to watch the class and answer questions when the teacher went to the bathroom. I even babysat their kids! Now, I'm happy doing the social media update thing, but I still wonder what would have happened. Hugs...

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  37. Well, I think my "dream", like many little girls, was to be an actress, but somewhere along the way, I decided I wanted to be a broadcast journalist. In college, I took my first classes in my Communications major but quickly decided that it wasn't for me after all. That's when I switched to Marriage and Family Therapy.

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  38. I wanted to be an actress!!

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  39. Oh, I still love the movie "Grease" to this day. The first time I saw it was with my best friend at the theatre. Thank you for visiting us today. How sweet that you are a children's author. I am a collector of children's books, and still have the ones I read my kids when they were little. :)

    ~Sheri

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