For the vast majority of people in the United States and across the globe, keeping our heads above water financially is a constant challenge. And that’s largely due to the fact that wages just don’t go as far as they used to.
While the U.S. economy has grown, workers aren’t getting any of the benefit and wages after inflation have stayed around the same level for almost half a century.
So, in truth, the majority of us are underpaid, making barely enough to scrape by and not accumulating any savings over our working lives. And, even worse, some of us are buried in debt.
But, while all that is going on, there are some jobs out there that are crazy overpaid, jobs where the salary figure just really doesn’t add up to how much they’re providing to their companies or to the world.
And, if you have one of the jobs on this list, I’m sorry. I really don’t blame you. If you can make a ton of money, why wouldn’t you? But, just let me vent here for a few minutes.
These are the most overpaid jobs out there.
#1: Professional Athletes
Now, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love watching sports. And I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t watch my Seahawks on Sundays. But, the fact that Russell Wilson grossed $162.3 million during his 9 seasons with the Seahawks is absolutely insane. And, yes, he did lead my squad to their first Super Bowl ever, which I’m certainly pumped about, but he’s pretty damn overpaid.
And Russell Wilson isn’t even close to the top tier of athlete salaries. In 2022, soccer star Lionel Messi has earned around $130 million dollars, according to estimates by Forbes. And, he’s one of the best to ever play the beautiful game, but that amount of money is pretty outrageous for someone who kicks a ball for a living.
Lebron James? He clocked in at around $121 million, around $80 million of which has come from the new Space Jam movie and from his various investments.
We live in a world of billion-dollar athletes, in which Tiger Woods has a higher net worth than the entire economies of San Marino and Gambia. And there’s no question at all that these athletes are getting paid too much, even though we all enjoy watching them.
And this quote from The New York Times from 2019 spells it out pretty well:
“Does it make any sense that someone who throws a football for a living is paid more than 700 times as much as someone who helps save people’s lives, or that swinging a bat gets you nearly 650 times as much as educating kids?”
No matter how much you love sports, that’s pretty hard to justify. And I’m not blaming the athletes. They work their entire lives to achieve the level that they compete at, sacrificing their bodies, their minds, and tons of time. Plus, they’re the lifeblood of massive corporations like the NFL and the NBA. I’m just saying it’s hard to argue that they aren’t overpaid.
#2: Chief Executives
The CEO is pretty much the epitome of the business world. It takes years of experience and tons of connections in high places to achieve that status. And there’s no doubt that taking on that much responsibility and doing the things necessary to rise to the top of your company deserves to be rewarded with a higher salary than other people in the company.
However, the disparity between what chief executives and normal employees in companies are paid has been growing significantly over the past few decades and is pretty downright absurd today.
As of 2019, chief executives of big companies were making, on average, 320 times more than the typical employee in their companies. That ratio was 61-to-1 back in 1989. From 1978 to 2019, compensation for the typical work rose by 14% whereas it rose by 1,167% for CEOs.
So, as you can tell, the income disparity is growing at unprecedented rates, making these CEOs insanely rich while the rest of us scrape to get by. Tesla CEO Elon Musk is now worth around $250 billion, which is more money than most of us could possibly fathom. But, at least Elon Musk is driving Tesla’s stock price up. That’s not the case for all of these high-paid CEOs.
Dexter Goei, CEO of cable TV company Altice, was paid an average of $16.1 million over the last three years. And, during those three years, the company’s average annual return was -26.8%! That’s a negative!
David Zaslav, CEO of entertainment company Warner Bros, has been paid an average of $62.7 million over the last three year and the company’s average annual return was -16.9% over the same period.
These guys are driving their companies straight to the grave and still taking home extravagant salaries. If I fail at my job, guess how much money I make? None! And the same goes for most of us. But CEOs, for whatever reason, are allowed to fail and fail and still make boatloads of money. Talk about being overpaid.
Chief executives are the perfect example of what happens when your pay isn’t based on how well you can do your job.
#3: Pharmaceutical Sales Reps
According to ZipRecruiter, the average salary for a pharmaceutical sales rep is a little over $89,000 per year with people in the 90th percentile earning over $125,000 per year. But, when you take a look at what this job actually entails, it seems pretty obvious that this job is overpaid.
First of all, pharma sales reps don’t need to have any medical background whatsoever, which would be helpful if you were selling a product marketed as medicine. Most pharma sales reps have a business degree or something like that and don’t actually understand the science behind the products that they’re selling.
Yes, they do inform doctors about the results of trials run on their products but, by law, all of that information is publicly available in medical journals anyway.
So, a doctor could just get all the same information and make up their mind about which medicines to prescribe on their own. So, really, a pharma rep is just like any door-to-door salesman, except for the fact that they’re working for massive companies like Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson that have tons of money at their disposal.
And these companies don’t mind throwing that money around. The one rep in the industry reported that most of the reps in his company were working 5-hour days (including 45 minutes for lunch) and raking in $120,000 a year. Plus, they’re flying around the country to luxury resorts, having fancy dinners, and going out for drinks, all on the company’s dime.
Now, there’s no question that pharma reps provided a ton of value to their companies. However, I’m going to go ahead and say that they’re overpaid because I don’t think they add a lot of value to society. Sorry to any pharma reps reading this.
But the industry is notorious for giving gifts to doctors like expensive bottles of wine, or lap dances from strippers, or bringing in fancy lunches every day for the entire medical office in order to convince these doctors to prescribe their products instead of actually demonstrating the medical value of the products.
These reps are paid on commission so, naturally, they’re going to push their products regardless of whether or not they’re actually the best thing for patients. But the profession itself, sadly, doesn’t have much of a positive impact on society. And these pharma sales reps earn six-figure salaries left and right.
#4: Real Estate Agents
I have some friends that are real estate agents. I’m going to get in trouble for this one. According to Indeed.com, in the United States, the average real estate agent earns about $94,000 per year.
Now, that average is tough to come to, because income per month will vary widely across the year. Some months, an agent may sell several homes and make bank and, other months, they might not sell anything.
But, when they do close a deal, they’re looking at a commission of around 5% to 6% of the closing price, which can be a lot of money if the property is valuable. But what do realtors actually do to earn that 5 or 6 percent? Help you find listings?
Well, back before the internet, realtors had a secret weapon called the Multiple Listing Service (or MLS), which allowed them the exclusive ability to list properties, see transaction histories, and do market research. Now, with websites like Zillow and Trulia, the MLS isn’t all that special anymore.
And, on top of that, real estate agents don’t really help you find houses to look at anymore. Most people go to them already having a shortlist of places they want to look at. So, as a buyer, a real estate agent is just showing you in the door and making comments about how nice the place is. Even if they don’t think the place is nice, they just want to close the deal fast.
If you have a seller’s agent, all they really do is take pictures of the house and list it on Zillow for you, which you could probably get done in a single afternoon on your own. But, real estate agents help you with negotiations, right? Not really.
A lot of the time, they’ll just tell you to “make an offer that you’re comfortable with” or something like that instead of actually suggesting a price that you should shoot for.
So, when it comes down to it, buyer’s agents really just show you into the house you’re already looking to purchase and then provide you with the documents you need to complete the sale. Sellers agents are really just there to market your home for you.
Now, knowing what these agents really do, let’s say there’s a home that’s sold for one million dollars and the realtor fee is 5%, which means that the seller’s agent and the buyer’s agent will receive 2.5% each. That means that both agents will walk away from closing that deal $25,000 richer.
Does the work they did really sound like it’s worth $25,000? I’d say probably not.
Now, calling these preachers overpaid could definitely make some people pissed off at me. But, just hear me out before you decide that I’m a soldier of Satan. In my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with your hometown preacher spreading the word to his congregation. However, some of those TV preachers you see on Sunday programming earn a pretty unbelievable amount of money.
The richest preacher in the United States, Kenneth Copeland, has an estimated net worth of $300 million dollars. However, certain reports say he could be worth as much as $760 million. Due to the untaxable nature of church donations, it’s hard to tell exactly how much money Copeland has under his control. But we know that it’s a lot.
He’s recently come under fire for his lavish lifestyle. He apparently lives in a lakefront mansion worth around $7 million dollars, which is believed to be paid for entirely with donations from his church. He also is said to have bought a $20 million dollar private jet from Tyler Perry with church funds.
And Kenneth Copeland isn’t the only televangelist raking in wild amounts of cash. Joel Osteen is worth a whopping $100 million. He’s the leader of Lakewood Church, which meets every week in what used to be known as the Compaq Center.
The Compaq Center used to be home to the Houston Rockets, but Osteen and Lakewood Church got the initial lease to it back in 2001 for $12 million dollars and planned to spend another $90 million on renovations. That should give you an idea of just how much money is being thrown around here.
Osteen has also been criticized for his use of church funds for personal enjoyment, so he stopped taking a salary from the church in 2005. However, he’s definitely still doing alright, kicking back in his 17,000-square-foot Houston mansion that’s supposed to be worth around $15 million.
Both of these guys also preach what’s known as prosperity gospel, which is essentially the belief that faith in God ultimately leads to financial success. In this way, these kinds of televangelists can justify their extravagant lifestyles.
Their followers also believe that by listening to their preachers speak, they themselves are getting closer to God and closer to financial gain. This is the key to the success of these televangelists.
And, whether or not you agree with the messages that they’re preaching, I think we can all agree that millions of dollars is a lot to be getting paid for standing at a podium and talking.
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