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Ten most overpaid jobs in the U.S.

Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
Ten most overpaid jobs in the U.S.
CBS MarketWatch ^ | 8:19 PM ET Nov. 6, 2003 | Chris Pummer


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What follows is a list of the 10 most overpaid jobs in the U.S., in reverse order, drafted with input from compensation experts:

10) Wedding photographers

Photographers typically charge $2,000 to $5,000 to shoot a wedding, for what amounts to a one-day assignment plus processing time. Some get $15,000 or more. Yet many mope through the job, bumping guests in their way without apology, with the attitude: "I'm just doing this for the money until Time or National Geographic calls."

They must cover equipment and film-development costs. Still, many in major metropolitan areas who shoot two weddings each weekend in the May-to-October marrying season pull in $100,000 for six months' work.

Yet let's face it; much of their work is mediocre. Have you ever really been wowed flipping the pages of a wedding album handed you by recent newlyweds? Annie Leibovitz and Richard Avedon they're not, but some charge fees as if they're in the same league.

9) Pilots for major airlines

Captains with 12 years of experience earn up to $265 an hour at Delta, United, American and Northwest, which translates to $250,000 a year and more for a job that technology is making almost fully automated.

By comparison, senior pilots at low-fare carriers like Southwest and Jet Blue make about 40 percent less. That helps explain why their employers are profitable while several of the majors are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.

The pilot's union is the most powerful in the industry. It commands premium wages as if still in the glory days of long-gone Pan Am and TWA, rather than the cutthroat, deregulated market of under-$200 coast-to-coast roundtrips. Because we entrust our lives to them, consumers accept the excessive sums paid them, when it's airplane mechanics who really hold our fate in their hands.

8) West Coast longshoremen

In early 2002, West Coast ports shut down as the longshoremen's union fought to preserve generous health-care benefits that would make most Americans drool. The union didn't demand much in wage hikes for good reason: Its members already were making a boatload of money.

Next year, West Coast dockworkers will earn an average of $112,000 for handling cargo, according to the Pacific Maritime Association, their employer. Office clerks who log shipping records into computers will earn $136,000. And unionized foremen who oversee the rank-and-file will pull down an average $177,000.

Unlike their East Coast union brethren who compete with non-union ports in the South and Gulf of Mexico, the West Coast stevedores have an ironfisted lock on Pacific ports. Given their rare monopoly, they can disrupt U.S. commerce -- as they did during the FDR years -- and command exorbitant wages, even though their work is more automated and less hazardous than in the days of "On the Waterfront."

7) Airport skycaps

Many of the uniformed baggage handlers who check in luggage at curbside pull in more than $100,000 a year -- most of it in cash.

On top of their $30,000 to $40,000 salaries, peak earners take in $300 or more a day in tips. Sound implausible? That amounts to a $2 tip from 18 travelers an hour on average. Many tip more than that.

While most skycaps are cordial, a good many treat customers with blank indifference, knowing harried travelers don't want to brave counter check-ins, especially in the post 9/11 age. Their work is more mindless than that of a McDonald's counter clerk, who at least has to bag the order correctly.

6) Real estate agents selling high-end homes

Anyone who puts in a little effort can pass the test to get a real estate agent's license, which makes the vast sums that luxury-home agents earn stupefying.

While most agents hustle tail to earn $60,000 a year, those in affluent areas can pull down $200,000-plus for half the effort, courtesy of the fatter commissions on pricier listings.

Luxury home agents live off the economy's fat, yet many put on airs as if they're members of the class whose homes they're selling, and eye underdressed open-house visitors as if they're casing the joint.

5) Motivational speakers and ex-politicians on lecture circuit

Whether it's for knighted ex-Mayor Rudy Guiliani or Tom "In Search of Excellence" Peters, corporate trade groups pay astronomical sums to celebrity-types and political has-beens to address their convention audiences.

Former President Reagan raised the bar back in 1989 when he took $2 million from Japanese business groups for making two speeches. Bill Clinton earned $9.5 million on 60 speeches last year, though most of those earnings went to charity and to fund his presidential library.

The national convention circuit's shame is that it blows trade-group members' money on orators whose speeches often have been warmed over a dozen times.

4) Orthodontists

For a 35-hour workweek, orthodontists earn a median $350,000 a year, according to the Journal of Clinical Orthodontics. General dentists, meanwhile, earn about half as much working 39 hours a week on average, in a much dirtier job.

The difference in their training isn't like that of a heart surgeon vs. a family-practice doctor. It's a mere two years, and a vastly rewarding investment if you're among the chosen: U.S. dental schools have long been criticized for keeping orthodontists in artificially low supply to keep their income up.

This isn't brain surgery: Orthodontists simply manipulate teeth in a growing child's mouth -- and often leave adjustment work to assistants whose handiwork they merely sign off on. What makes their windfall egregious is that they stick parents with most of the inflated bill, since orthodontia insurance benefits cover nowhere near as large a percentage as for general dentistry.

3) CEOs of poorly performing companies

Most U.S. chief executives are vastly overpaid, but if their company is rewarding shareholders and employees, producing quality products of good value and being a responsible corporate citizen, it's hard to take issue with their compensation.

CEOs at chronically unprofitable companies and those forever lagging industry peers stand as the most grossly overpaid. Most know they should resign -- in shareholders' and employees' interest -- but they survive because corporate boards that oversee them remain stacked with friends and family members.

The ultimate excess comes after they're finally forced out, usually by insiders tired of seeing their own stock holdings plummet. These long-time losers draw multimillion-dollar severance packages as a reward for their failed stewardship.

2) Washed-up pro athletes in long-term contracts

Pro athletes at the top of their game deserve what they earn for being the best in their business. It's those who sign whopping, long-term contracts after a few strong years, and then find their talents vanish, who reap unconscionable sums of money.

NBA player Shawn Kemp, for instance, earned $10 million in a year he averaged a pathetic 6.1 points and 3.8 rebounds a game. Colorado Rockies pitcher Mike Hampton earned $9.5 million -- in the second year of an eight-year, $121 million contract -- and compiled a 7-15 won-loss record with a pitiful earned-run average of 6.15.

Thank the players' unions for refusing to negotiate contracts based on performance -- and driving up the cost of tickets to levels unaffordable for a family of four, especially for football and basketball. They point to owners as the culprits, yet golf star Tiger Woods and tennis champ Serena Williams earn their keep based on their performance in each tournament.

1) Mutual-fund managers

Everyone on Wall Street makes far too much for the backbreaking work of moving money around, but mutual fund managers are emerging as among the most reprehensible.

This isn't kicking 'em when they're down, given the growing fund-industry scandal. They've been long overpaid. Stock-fund managers can easily earn $500,000 to $1 million a year including bonuses -- even though only 3 in 10 beat the market in the last 10 years.

Now we discover an untold number enriched themselves and favored clients with illegally timed trades of fund shares. That's a worse betrayal of trust than the corporate scandals of recent years, since they're supposed to be on the little person's side.

Put aside what fund managers earn and consider their bosses. Putnam's ex-CEO Lawrence J. Lasser's pay easily outstrips the bloated package that sparked New York Stock Exchange President Dick Grasso's ouster. Lasser's reported take: An average of $21 million in salary and bonus annually in the last five years, and a deferred compensation package estimated to exceed $200 million.

If only we were all so fortunate.
 

Adam

TRIBE Member
12) The guy at Subway who made my footlog veggie burger on whole wheat with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, pickles, green peppers, onions, cheese, jalapeno peppers and chipotle southwest sauce which is really no different from the old southwest sauce when i specifically asked for a footlong veggie burger on whole wheat with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, pickles, green peppers, cheese, chipotle southwest sauce and NO jalapeno peppers.
 

nusty

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by Hi i'm God
Didnt read it but I'd say Bush is the most overpaid american.
not until he gets voted out of office... then he will be the most over paid... no matter what he does!
The US president only makes around roughly 100,000. That will sky rocket once he is out of office and can do consulting 'work'.
 

Stan

TRIBE Member
My dad's a wedding photographer. Part of being a good wedding photographer is having a good personality. If you make the subjects feel at ease, then they'll relax and pose better for the pictures. A BIG chunk of business comes from referrals - maid of honour / best man / cousin / whatever are getting married next year, etc, so if you're an asshole, you won't get much work.

Late nite talk show hosts are pretty overpaid. Letterman and Leno both make several million dollars a year to stand around and tell unfunny jokes.
 

Adam

TRIBE Member
The wedding photographer at my sister's wedding picked up the maid of honour during the reception.

He earned his pay there.
 

lok

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by Adam
12) The guy at Subway who made my footlog veggie burger on whole wheat with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, pickles, green peppers, onions, cheese, jalapeno peppers and chipotle southwest sauce which is really no different from the old southwest sauce when i specifically asked for a footlong veggie burger on whole wheat with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, pickles, green peppers, cheese, chipotle southwest sauce and NO jalapeno peppers.

See. Mr.Sub has better customer service.
 

nusty

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by Stan

Late nite talk show hosts are pretty overpaid. Letterman and Leno both make several million dollars a year to stand around and tell unfunny jokes.
but they got there by being some of the best in comedy. or at least having personalities that people liked... much like a wedding photographer...
if you don't buy that:
they're no different than everyone on TV.
 

acheron

TRIBE Member
The wedding photographer thing touches a nerve with me... I've worked with them, been one and hired a non-wedding photographer to do my own wedding. Reason being, wedding photographers charge too much for what I see (as a photographer myself) as primarily an organizational and customer-service job. Wedding photography is mostly a no-brainer for someone who can a) take decent portraits and b) organize groups of people easily.

We paid our photographer $300 'cuz that's his day rate as a graduation/group photographer at a company we both worked for. For that we ended up with 3 rolls of medium format, and 10 rolls of 35mm - with an 'album' of contact prints from the 2 1/4 stuff and contact sheets for the 35 mm stuff - we went to West Camera on Queen st. for prints. In all, processing included, our wedding photography cost about $450-500 with reprints.

Absolutely NO reason to hire a card-carrying wedding photographer if you know a portrait/group photog. who wants a pay raise for a day.
 

KiFe

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by Ditto Much

10) Wedding photographers

Photographers typically charge $2,000 to $5,000 to shoot a wedding, for what amounts to a one-day assignment plus processing time. Some get $15,000 or more. Yet many mope through the job, bumping guests in their way without apology, with the attitude: "I'm just doing this for the money until Time or National Geographic calls."

They must cover equipment and film-development costs. Still, many in major metropolitan areas who shoot two weddings each weekend in the May-to-October marrying season pull in $100,000 for six months' work.

Yet let's face it; much of their work is mediocre. Have you ever really been wowed flipping the pages of a wedding album handed you by recent newlyweds? Annie Leibovitz and Richard Avedon they're not, but some charge fees as if they're in the same league.

As someone who's been in the biz.. i dont even know where to begin describing how WRONG these statements are.

I challenge you to tell any wedding photog that he's in the top 10 most overpaid jobs and he'll LAUGH IN YOUR FACE.
 

JMan

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by Ditto Much

6) Real estate agents selling high-end homes
This is just smart though... if you are a service provider, or small retailer of any sort, serving the rich is the way to go. Less dickering on prices, less contemplation on purchases of all sizes = more $ for you.

J
 
Re: Re: Ten most overpaid jobs in the U.S.

Originally posted by KiFe
As someone who's been in the biz.. i dont even know where to begin describing how WRONG these statements are.

I challenge you to tell any wedding photog that he's in the top 10 most overpaid jobs and he'll LAUGH IN YOUR FACE.
maybe there's a difference in charges of say from a U.S. standpoint than say a Canadian one?
 

Cheap Ego

TRIBE Member
Re: Re: Re: Ten most overpaid jobs in the U.S.

Originally posted by el presidente Highsteppa
maybe there's a difference in charges of say from a U.S. standpoint than say a Canadian one?
doubt it.. most people imagine that a photographer does nothing more than line people up and clickety-click. Most photographers are very creative in what they do and consider the portraits they make to be as personal as some painters might. Add to this the cost of owning and maintaining a studio because sometimes weather makes outdoor sessions impossible. Then add the amount of self-restraint required to deal with people on what is often considered the single most stressful day of their lives. Oh and the cost of developping a rediculous amount of proofs from which a couple might select a dozen or two..finally, add the fact that the market is diluted by basement operations with no comparative overhead, no accountability and often no creative value... with wedding photog's dropping out of the biz like flies, it seems kind of surprising that this industry would be such a cash cow.
 

KiFe

TRIBE Member
Re: Re: Re: Re: Ten most overpaid jobs in the U.S.

Originally posted by Cheap Ego
doubt it.. most people imagine that a photographer does nothing more than line people up and clickety-click. Most photographers are very creative in what they do and consider the portraits they make to be as personal as some painters might. Add to this the cost of owning and maintaining a studio because sometimes weather makes outdoor sessions impossible. Then add the amount of self-restraint required to deal with people on what is often considered the single most stressful day of their lives. Oh and the cost of developping a rediculous amount of proofs from which a couple might select a dozen or two..finally, add the fact that the market is diluted by basement operations with no comparative overhead, no accountability and often no creative value... with wedding photog's dropping out of the biz like flies, it seems kind of surprising that this industry would be such a cash cow.

Thankyou
 

The Tesseract

TRIBE Member
What about certain novel writers?

Like... the ones that write pulpy crap known as "romance" where the covers all feature Fabio.

The world can do without those kinds of people... as well as those that read those stupid fucking books.
 

thom100

TRIBE Member
/The wedding photographer thing touches a nerve with me... I've worked with them, been one and hired a non-wedding photographer to do my own wedding. Reason being, wedding photographers charge too much for what I see (as a photographer myself) as primarily an organizational and customer-service job. Wedding photography is mostly a no-brainer for someone who can a) take decent portraits and b) organize groups of people easily.

We paid our photographer $300 'cuz that's his day rate as a graduation/group photographer at a company we both worked for. For that we ended up with 3 rolls of medium format, and 10 rolls of 35mm - with an 'album' of contact prints from the 2 1/4 stuff and contact sheets for the 35 mm stuff - we went to West Camera on Queen st. for prints. In all, processing included, our wedding photography cost about $450-500 with reprints.

Absolutely NO reason to hire a card-carrying wedding photographer if you know a portrait/group photog. who wants a pay raise for a day/


I think this is the absolute wrong thing to do, it is the most important day off your life and to save a couple hundred dollars to put trust into someone who is unproven is asking for problems.

I also work in the photo industry ( shot a couple weddings) and wedding photography is ALOT more than just shooting the wedding. With pros you get engagment pix, and couple different locations. Putting a album together and organizing negs takes a great deal of time.
As a wedding photographer you are only as good as your reputation aswell so its not like you can just do instanly become a wedding photographer ,you have to know how to sell yourself.

In every industry you can undercut the professionals, I guess it is funny with photography 'cuz everyone has a camera and thinks" I can take a photo its not that hard"..
 

Stan

TRIBE Member
Re: Re: Ten most overpaid jobs in the U.S.

Originally posted by thom100
I think this is the absolute wrong thing to do, it is the most important day off your life and to save a couple hundred dollars to put trust into someone who is unproven is asking for problems.
Exactly. Your average portrait photographer is not going to know what locations to use, where the best shots will be at each location, what are the standard poses to take, the proper etiquette when photographing in a church, etc. While photographing portraits may seem the same as photographing weddings, there are quite a few key differences.
 

Stan

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by The Tesseract
With the Canon E05... any idiot can take pics.
Yeah, and they'll look like shit if you blow them up any bigger than 11x14, because you should have used a medium format camera.
 
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