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18 People Share Their Annual Salary and Some You'll Never Believe

Some can barely survive. 

With the rising cost of education, young adults are questioning the value of a degree, and one Reddit thread might have you rethinking college plans. A user asked people to share what they do for a living and how much they make, and the responses are shocking and eye-opening.

The post is trending now, and some of the comments show you don't need higher education to make good money while at the same time revealing just how underpaid many people are with degrees. 

Elementary School Paraprofessional—$20,000 a Year


A single mom wrote, "I am a paraprofessional in an elementary school. I spend most of my time in a self-contained K-5 classroom of mostly 'non-verbal' autistic students. Occasionally, I float to other classrooms, and I make around $20,000 a year. I love my job, but the pay is insulting."

Another person explained, [I'm a] "Paraprofessional at an elementary school in a classroom with students who have autism. I get paid $19.70 an hour plus a $70 monthly stipend for helping the kids with toilet duties."

Toddler Lead Teacher—$9.65 an Hour


There were many people who worked with children that responded to the post. "I'm a toddler-lead teacher — I just got a raise from $9.65 (minimum wage) to $10.50, but not because I'm valued. It's because we're so severely under-staffed, and everyone who walks through walks right back out once they learn how low the wage is. I don't blame them one bit."

A user responded, "As the mother of a toddler going to preschool (and daughter of a daycare worker), thank you for doing the work you do. It's hard managing multiple children at the same time and remaining calm, compassionate, etc. all for a salary that doesn't measure up to what you deserve."

The poster replied, "I really appreciate that thank you. The parents are amazing and getting to play and take care of the kids is a wonderful job but salary wise it doesn't cover ends meet."

Preschool Teacher—$18 an Hour


Another person shared that she's leaving her job as a preschool teacher to a nanny because it's more money. "I'm a lead preschool teacher at a daycare. I get paid $18/hr but that's because I recently asked for a raise, there was a situation they handled wrong and gave me an extra dollar for, and because we're so understaffed and the turnover is ridiculous right now. I got $2 more an hour. I've worked here 4 years. Started at $12/hr as a substitute when I was 17 and have worked my way up to lead (with an Associates degree in ECE). Not too long ago, I realized I can make more money babysitting. I did a 48hr overnight for a family with 2 children and was paid $650 which is about 80% of what I get paid biweekly at my job. Showed me I could do better. Did another overnight for a different family and made $380 in 24 hours. I've recently decided I can't do this anymore. The pay, while better than most places, is not nearly enough when my rent is $1000 monthly for a 1 bedroom 1 bathroom and I split all my bills with my boyfriend. I love my students and their parents so much. I got lucky with the best class ever this year. But I'm looking into nannying now. I'll be paid better. Hopefully treated better and valued/appreciated more. The starting pay for nannying in my area is $20/hr and most parents are willing to pay more. Early Childhood Educators should be paid way more than we are. Especially when parents are paying up to $2000/month in childcare. I do so much throughout the day for the pay I receive and that's on being paid higher than the average daycare worker."

Line Cook—$19 an hour


One user shared, "I'm a line cook / manager for a busy restaurant, and I get paid $19 an hour +tip share + profit share from two recipes of mine on the menu." One person commented, "That's so awesome you get a chunk of $ for your very own menu recipes. I feel like that should be a standard — especially nowadays with restaurants struggling to not have a revolving-door staff. Congrats to you! Glad you got a job that sounds high-stress but you manage well, and have a respectful boss on top it."

The poster replied, "Thank you! Very easy to manage the stress, just know your station, and cook times. Sure, when you've got 20 Cheeseburger tickets lined up, you want it to be over, but you can't make food cook faster."

Researcher with Brain Cells—$29,500 a Year

Scientist studying COVID-19 in lab

"I do research with brain cells, HIV, cocaine, and fentanyl. I make $29,500 a year, aka $14 an hour. Yes, I'm sad that this is what a master's degree got me." People were shocked by the low amount the Redditor was paid and one person responded, "Try to branch out! You deserve way more pay!"

Another added, "Wow. Thanks for the important work you do. Hope it pays off someday." Someone else joked, "You got hosed, you don't need a master's degree do to drugs."

Fast Food Employee $9-$10 an Hour


One user shared, "Wendy's Crew Member, $9 normal hours, $10 when I close. If I become an ambassador I could make $12 an hour but that's a lot of work. I work the grill usually and they say I'm the best at it not including the managers and one of the ambassadors."

A person commented, "Sounds like you have a great attitude towards your job and you are doing some good work. A lot of people will hate on these gigs but they can teach you a lot that will apply later in life. My mom always jokes about how the Burger King she used to work at had all of her coworkers go on to be extremely successful. Like lawyers and doctors kinda success. So make the most of the situation you're in and always strive to improve yourself."

The poster responded, "I'm 18 and this is my first job. My dad hates on it a lot but I love it besides all the Karens." Another person wrote, "My wife runs a Wendy's in the Midwest and makes nearly 70k a year. She makes her own schedule and has 4 weeks paid time off plus a 401 and vision/dental/health. If you're good at it, there is money to be had."

Nursing Assistant—$13.50


Another Redditor wrote, "I'm a licensed nursing assistant for a home care agency, and make $13.50 an hour. It's embarrassingly underpaid, but the girl I take care of is so incredibly sweet (18F with cerebral palsy, non-verbal). Being able to help her and her family out means more to me than my actual paycheck."

People chimed in and expressed their appreciation. "They must thank their lucky stars for you every day. I wish workers like you were paid what they are worth. Thanks for doing what you do." Another added, "Honestly, they'd probably have to put their daughter in an assisted living facility if it wasn't for me. They're truly thankful and treat me so well, like I'm a member of their family. I mean hell, you're even more appreciative of me than the company I work for…so thank you kind stranger!"

ER Tech—15.43 an Hour


Another Redditor explained, "I'm an ER tech — I basically perform moderately invasive procedures (including getting trained to insert midlines). I keep the ED cleaned and stocked, and make $15.43 an hour (and that's with a recent raise). It does not increase with additional education — I'll be looking elsewhere as soon as I finish my current classes."

Marine Biologist—$16.75 an Hour

Under the waves a diver with great white sharks.

"I'm a state marine biologist, and make $16.75 an hour (USD)," one person wrote. "It's not much, but I got stabbed by a stingray the other day, and that was neat."

A commenter wrote, "This really is neat!" Another added, "There are many benefits to being a marine biologist."

Librarian—$100,000 a Year


Another wrote, "Here, this'll surprise some folks: I'm a librarian and I earn right around $100K with full benefits. But I'm in the Bay Area, and that's with a Master's Degree + 15 years of experience. So it's not all that impressive in context."

Private Jet Captain—$360,000 a Year


One of the more lucrative jobs someone said they worked was as a private jet captain, which sparked a heated debate. "Varies with overtime, but this year will be around $360k."

The poster added, "My base salary is in the low 200's. The rest is bonuses, holidays, and working extra days voluntarily…being away from home 20 days a month is hard. Basement flooding/air conditioning quitting? Yeah that's gonna happen when you're on the road. Tough to eat healthy, tough to have enough time to exercise. Missing special days with friends or family is common." 

Nuclear Plant Electrician—$50 an Hour


Another person wrote, "I'm a nuclear plant electrician, and I make $50 an hour (roughly $130,000-$150,000 a year depending on the overtime and bonuses). I'm moving into an operations role in the plant soon."

When asked for more details about the job from commenters, the poster added, "I'm going on my seventh year in this position. It's unionized and I'm at the top step. Our mechanics, I/C, and electricians share the same rates. I found talking to workers from other plants, even within the collection of plants owned by the same company I work for, that our site's wages tend to be higher. Our engineering department is always losing members due to their poor pay and treatment by management. The only reason I see engineers stick around is due to being close to retirement or angling for a senior reactor operator license."

Steel Mill Worker—$18 an Hour


One person explained how dangerous their job can be working in a steel mill. "I work in a steel mill that heats steel bars to a certain hardness. I get paid 18$ an hour and so far we haven't had anyone die for a year (that's a record)."

A commenter responded, "Work for a family of iron foundries. We had our first death in my 11 years here 2 years ago and it was awful. The death itself was not particularly gruesome, but the crap around it was. It was not "our" employee, it was a temp. He was doing something he shouldn't and was pinned by a casting and had a heart attack before he could be released. We notified the temp agency who refused to either contact his family or allow us to do the same. (We didn't have that information made available to us) They didn't find out until the next day. They are of course our ex temp agency. The family was rightly super pissed." 

Vet Tech—$15 an Hour

Beach Creatives / Shutterstock

"Vet tech, $15/hr in Utah. Getting a raise later this month tho!" one user wrote. Someone responded, "Man I'm jealous. Unless you've been in the field for 10+ years, $15 is "high" for here in the South."

Recycling Plant—$25 an Hour


One user shared their experience working at a recycling plant and reminded others to be careful about what to recycle. "I work at a recycling plant, I get $35 an hour to stand at a conveyor belt picking out glass Edit: Should have stated when I wrote the comment that I live in Australia, so that would be $25 USD roughly. While I have people's attention I would like to use this platform to ask people to please be mindful of what goes into your recycling bins. Diapers, food and plastic wrappers do not belong in the recycling bin."

Dumpster Driver—$40 an Hour


One person shared they work as a "NYC roll off dumpster driver under a Teamster union contract. $40 an hour in January + medical and pension paid 100% by my employer. There's guaranteed overtime too, so gross around $130k + the other perks. We also get a 100k severance payout the day we retire. I have a bachelors in business, but fell in love with being outside all day. I also sell scrap metal if I can collect it and I have a thriving eBay business from other things I find in the dumpsters. Made another 20-25k doing that on the side."

In addition, the poster revealed, "I've been selling high end electronics like crazy. Found a 1600 watt power supply I flipped for $1300. Currently selling a batch of Bluetooth chip readers that I've made $7k so far and I'm negotiating the rest for $6k right now. I also have a poster signed by deceased pop artist Roy Lichtenstein that I have hanging on my wall. I had it authenticated and reframed. It's worth about $5k, but I'm not selling it."

Air Ambulance Pilot–$80,000 a Year


One user simply stated, "Air Ambulance Pilot (helicopter). $80k a year," and someone responded, "Dude, You're being underpaid."

UPS Driver—$22 an Hour


Another person shared they worked as a "UPS package sorter at a warehouse, 22$ an hour plus time and a half pay for anything over 5 hour shift in a single day (so for example one shift is 5 hours if I work two shifts in a row the second one would be 33$ an hour). Unlimited overtime too so if I really really wanted to I could triple shift everyday for an entire week (that would be like 15 hours straight everyday working though) and get a months worth of money in a single check."

Freelance Video Editor–$500-$600/day


Another Redditor shared, "Freelance Video Editor. $500-$600/day. 'Bad' year I make 40-50k per year. Great year are 95k-110K," and people debated whether it was worth getting a degree to go into this field when a user asked if one was required. "A film/broadcast (or any degree) is not required, I very much recommend getting one," someone advised.

"Aside from the technical knowledge you'll gain, it's a great time to practice your craft and get feedback. It's also where you are most likely find other people who are as passionate about this as you are, which is not only affirming, but helpful in finding a job after you graduate." Another added, "I don't have a degree in communication or film and have been in the industry for 10+ years."

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more
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