Careers That Earn Less Than You Think

Although we like to think we know everything about other peoples’ professions, including how much money they make, we really don’t have an idea. I know some very rich plumbers and electricians who everyone assumes are making little above minimum wage. On the flip side, I know struggling artists and business owners who many assume are millionaires.

As an author, I have experienced this first hand. Before I was published, everyone assumed I was broke. I was freelancing and I was doing other things, but they all saw that published status as the golden ticket, and because I didn’t have it, they thought I was living on the bread line. After I was published, they went from assuming I was poor to thinking I was a multi-millionaire.

The truth is, my earnings didn’t really increase by all that much. There was more money, certainly, but most of that went on promoting the books that were giving me the extra income, and the rest of the money, from freelancing, running websites and doing SEO, made much more.

This is an issue that many writers face, but it’s one that is more of a problem in other professions:

Singers and Musicians

This is another one of those polarizing professions, with perceptions similar to my own. According to those beliefs, you have either made it and are rich, or you haven’t made it and you perform for change.

There are actually many singers and other musicians who make a respectable wage, either from teaching or performing in small scale venues. The average wage for someone in this position is around $40,000 a year. It’s not huge, but it’s certainly more than chump change.

And then you have pop stars, who don’t always make what you think they do. In the past, Hannah from S Club 7, one of the most popular groups from the 2000s, reported that she only ever made £150,000 a year, or around $200,000. I personally would be delighted with that sum and I’m sure many others would be. But if you’d ask their fans and contemporaries how much she was making, estimates would be at least 10 times bigger on average.

The superstars who perform alone, like Adele and Taylor Swift, make considerably more. Adele is said to have over $75 million in the bank, for instance. But groups and bands are notoriously screwed out of their earnings. They are manufactured puppets for the most part, with record companies siphoning a huge percentage of their earnings. Most of them are too young and too eager to notice when the contracts are signed and the deals are done, and later on they can’t do anything about it.

The reason many famous pop stars have since moved onto social security benefits is not only because they blew everything on luxury purchases, but because they probably weren’t getting much to begin with.


As a lawyer, you’re given a certain status. The public also has a certain perception of you, but when you’re making that much money, who cares? Except, they don’t always make as much as you think they do. As reported by the Telegraph once a lawyer’s wage surpasses six figures, then it just goes into the stratosphere.

But it can also struggle to get that high. If they are working small cases, if they have limited experience and if they aren’t getting the clients, then it’s not unheard of for a lawyer to make less than $30,000. The best attorneys tend to have it easier, of course. They can make millions, especially here in the United States, but elsewhere it’s not as easy and it’s certainly not the standard across this profession.

Sports Stars

We all know that certain sports stars make a killing. As I write, the Premier League (English soccer) is on fire, with ridiculous sums being paid for players across Europe. A couple years ago, £50 million was excessive, but a deal just went through for three times that, and the players themselves are known to earn as much as a quarter of a million a week!

The same goes for big leagues in basketball, football and baseball. But not all sports have this much money injected into them. Even seemingly big sports like rugby league, which is enjoyed throughout large parts of England, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia, doesn’t pay its stars a big deal. They train just as hard as any other sports stars. They play in front of crowds in excess of 20,000 every week and they are also watched by millions on TV, yet many of the better players are only earning $70,000 a year, while even the better ones don’t earn more than half a million a year.

In other words, they are earning the same for a year’s work as a soccer star earns in a week. And while that still might be more money than the average tradesman, server or even artist, that’s only those at the top. The average players are basically getting an amount that isn’t much above minimum wage.

The total wage bill for Wigan Warriors, who have many stars on their books and are one of the biggest teams in the sport, is said to be around £3 million. That accounts for a team, a bench and a reserve team of players, as well as staff. To put that in perspective, Lionel Messi makes more than £30 million in the same timeframe.

If you ever tire of overpaid sports stars only in it for the money, then watch these guys. After all, would you put your neck on the line in front of millions every week for less than $30k a year?