Underpaid Jobs - Business English

vocabulary Sep 04, 2021
Underpaid Jobs

Today’s blog is all about Underpaid Jobs. I chose this topic because it’s something that a lot of people can relate to, but more importantly, it’s something that most people turn their nose up at. 


Last week, I held a class on Underpaid Jobs in our We-Speak-Business Unlimited program. This is an interactive, live speaking program where business professionals from all over the world join me to talk business, share opinions on business-related topics, and learn how to speak better English at work. 


Professional, native-speaking teachers lead the lessons where they correct students’ speaking and share tips and strategies on how they can improve their English fluency. 


We had a long and interesting discussion about Underpaid Jobs, and a lot of students gave some intriguing insights on the topic that I would like to share with you today. 


I’m not only going to be teaching you about business English and language in this blog, but I’m also going to be sharing with you why underpaid jobs are NOT something you should turn your nose up at, and why they’re much more valuable than you really think.

What are Underpaid Jobs?

People who are underpaid are not paid enough money for the job that they do. An underpaid job is usually a job that offers very little money in return for the work you do. 


Almost everyone has had to work an underpaid job at some point in their life which makes it such a relatable topic. We all have our own opinions of underpaid jobs and work, but my interpretation is that underpaid jobs are the jobs that really change us as a person, as you’ll find out later on in this article…


Examples of Underpaid Jobs

So, what are some examples of underpaid jobs? What industries pay the least amount of money and why?


Here are the top 5 most notoriously underpaid jobs:


1. Public School Teachers

This almost doesn’t require an explanation. Teachers make a median income of around $55k, but given the hours they put in and the importance of the work they do, this doesn’t seem nearly enough. If children are indeed our future, perhaps we should be investing more in the people who get them where they need to be?


2. Registered Nurses

Sure, nurses typically make around $60k per year, and that seems pretty high compared to a lot of jobs in our current economy. But then you have to factor in how many more hours and responsibilities that have been piled upon them. And they’re increasingly required to do more work formerly assigned to doctors because of their higher levels of education.


3. Farmers

We pay the people who are responsible for feeding us very very poorly. These are the worst of conditions, the hardest, most back-breaking physical labor, and less than $20k per year (if they’re lucky) for long hours and having to move all over the place to follow the harvest schedules. 


4. Child Care Professionals

Child care workers don’t make that much more than farm workers, but their work is also very intense. Imagine all those kids, all that energy, all that responsibility, plus their hyper-vigilant and often overbearing parents. The amount of impact these people can have on children in their most crucial stages of development is huge. Shouldn’t they at least make a living wage?


5. Paramedics

Paramedics deal with people in the worst of circumstances, and are usually responsible for whether or not they make it through. They’re constantly throwing themselves between us and danger (or death) and should really make more than their median salary of roughly $31k per year.


Why Are Some People Underpaid?

One of the biggest reasons people are underpaid is the fear of asking for a raise. Most employees find it difficult to negotiate on their behalf to ask for wage increases. This failure is often due to a fear of reprisal or firing. If you work for an international company, asking for a raise in English is a whole other ball-game. Learning how to actually negotiate a salary in English is a very difficult task and requires hours upon hours of speaking practice. 

Secondly, a lack of understanding of what constitutes ‘fair pay’ for their position is another common cause of employees being underpaid: Some job titles do not adequately represent workers’ actual jobs which can be misleading and somewhat deceptive on the company’s part. 


Finally, and most importantly, one of the biggest reasons a lot of employees are underpaid is the failure to align job responsibilities with compensation: Employers take advantage of workers by hiring them to perform a particular job but then adding additional responsibilities over time without increasing wages. 


Learning how to become more assertive and brushing up on your communication skills is a good way to avoid falling into this common trap. Communication is everything in business - without it we are destined to a life of mistreatment and frustration. 


What is We Speak Business Program 

We Speak Business is an English course with live speaking lessons for English learners who want speaking practice with native speakers, professional teachers, and students from around the world


You have live speaking lessons where you can join and start speaking business English every day. There's a lesson every day and also, you can review all record lessons. There is a lot of conversation practice for each level of English (A2, B1-B2, C1). There is a calendar of scheduled lessons so you can see when lessons are and at what time you can join and start speaking.

In We Speak Business program, you have 24/7 support and also you have student chat where you can speak with other students from all around the world. Before you join our program and start speaking business English, we strongly recommend you sign up for our free seminar with Andrew Smith, where you can learn:


  • What goals you need to have to get better results 
  • How to master business English quickly
  • What are the strategies that will help you advance to a higher level
  • How you can speak business English more fluently and confidently
  • Free resources to help you learn business English
  • Exclusive resource to improve your speech


Useful Vocabulary for Underpaid Work

We’ve read a lot of words and phrases already in this article to describe underpaid work. Here is a list of some useful vocabulary we can use to talk about and describe it:


Fair pay (noun)

Fair pay means pay that is more than the minimum wage; a livable wage. 

“I think paramedics are entitled to fair pay. They keep people alive, after all...”

Undervalued (adjective)

Undervalued means someone is not appreciated or valued highly enough. 


“Public school teachers are really undervalued when you think about the work they do.”


Exploited (verb)

Exploited is the act of selfishly taking advantage of someone or a group of people in order to profit from them.


“I’m sick of being exploited by my boss. He expects me to work overtime but doesn’t pay me for my extra hours.”


To take advantage of someone (phrase)

If someone takes advantage of you, they treat you unfairly for their own benefit, especially when you are trying to be kind or to help them.


“I do so much of my boss’s work and don’t receive any compensation for it. I think he’s taking advantage of me a bit…”


Backbreaking work (adjective + noun)

Work that needs a lot of hard, physical effort. 


“A farmer does backbreaking work every single day, so they ought to be paid fairly.”


To put the hours in (phrase)

If you put the hours in it means you are willing to work for the length of time necessary (for some stated reason.) This is a very idiomatic expression and indicative of a native speaker.


“I put all the hours in yet receive no remuneration for all the work I do.”


A similar phrase to the one above is to work all the hours that God sends.

To Work All The Hours That God Sends (idiom)

To work all day, every day; to work an excessive amount.


Sorry I haven't been in touch lately; I've been working all the hours God sends.”



The True Value of Underpaid Jobs

Most people view underpaid jobs as an easy way to make a bit of extra money. Others view them as ways to enter the workforce and build their work experience. But there’s something more meaningful and valuable than all of those things combined. 


Between the ages of 16-19, I got my first part-time job as a KP at a restaurant in a local holiday park. A KP is an acronym for ‘kitchen porter’ - basically someone who washes dishes. 


That’s right. I washed dishes every single day and cleaned up other people’s unfinished food for £6 per hour (roughly $8.27). 


Now, the average person would just see it as just a part-time job, but for me, it was a whole lot more than that. 


Over those 3 years as a dishwasher, I learned some of the most important and valuable life and work skills that I still carry with me to this very day. 


I learned the power of consistency, attention to detail, and most importantly, the ability to never give up. 


We had these old plates that would stain easily. The chefs didn’t care how old they were, they just wanted them relatively clean. I would spend up to 60-minutes at a time scrubbing away at those plates using every cleaning method out there, determined to turn these old dirty plates into sparkling brand-new ones. I wouldn’t rest until the plate looked as good as new, and it was here that I learned the importance of detail and consistency. 


Over time, I became obsessed with perfecting my craft. I even dug out plates that weren’t even used anymore where I’d try to give them a new lease of life. I became a stain-spotting machine. 


One day, one of the chefs sat me down and explained to me that the skills we learn in the most difficult jobs, the ones that aren’t valued or paid well, are the jobs that truly transform our character. 

We don’t notice or realise it when we’re doing these poorly paid jobs, but in my eyes, the lessons that we learn are more important and valuable than any senior or executive position out there. There’s something very humbling about doing underpaid work, and I hope this article has opened your eyes a little to just how significant this type of work is. 


How Underpaid Jobs Are a Lot Like Learning a Language

Working underpaid jobs are a lot like learning a language. When we learn English or business English, we’re not only learning how to speak another language, we’re learning the value and importance of patience, persistence, and determination. You can’t learn a language effectively without these three things, and underpaid work teaches us all of that and so much more. 


So the next time you’re studying English and feel like you want to give up, or the next time you think you aren’t learning anything, remind yourself that you’re learning more than just a language - you’re learning life skills that transcend your character, and you only realise it through hindsight. 


What Next?

Although underpaid work has its advantages, it’s not something you probably want to be doing forever. To move up the corporate ladder and get a higher salary requires you to level up your skillset. 


One of the best and easiest ways to grow your skillset is through learning a second language. 


In almost every country and in every part of the economy, good English skills are one of the best ways to get a higher-paying job. English not only helps you land a job but is often essential if you want to move up the corporate ladder. Employees with good English usually can expect to make 25-35% more money than those without. 


So, if you want to improve your chances of earning more money, and if you don’t want to be stuck in a job that doesn’t value you and your skills, then learning how to speak better English at work is definitely a great place to start. 

So much so, I’ve created a program that helps business professionals all around the world improve their English speaking skills without it taking a lot of time and without it costing a lot of money. I call it -  We-Speak-Business Unlimited. 

In these live lessons, our team will help you get speaking practice every single day where you can improve your English fluency. We’ll be there to help correct your pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, and speaking. We’ll be teaching you how to express yourself more clearly, professionally, and confidently from the comfort of your own home. 


It doesn’t matter where you’re from, your background, occupation, education, or anything like that. All you need to do is show up and participate - exactly what you did when you worked your underpaid job!

Follow the link below to sign up and learn more. 


Thank you for taking the time to read this blog article, and I hope you’ve gotten value from the information I’ve shared. 


To your success!

If you are looking to improve your speaking skills at work, then we have an exclusive free seminar where I teach you how to speak better business in 30 days. Sign up by clicking the button below!