The Salaries of Priests, Wrestlers and a Few In Between
Clergy pay really depends on their denomination (the branch of religion they preach for), but for the most part priests receive a salary as well as having their rent and utility bills paid for by the church.
How much of a salary? That also depends on the size of the congregation (the number of people who come to worship), how much revenue the church can afford to pay based on donations, services (such as funerals and weddings) and money raised through land ownership.
A BBC article suggests that the Church of England pays its parish clergy an average of £16,420, with bishops earning £30,120 and the Archbishop of Canterbury earning over £55k. However, the article is over ten years old, and numerous sources suggest the average salary for diocesan priests to be more in the region £4,000 to £7,000 (up to £10,000 at the rank outside).
Priests working for very small churches with little funding often work for multiple churches within an area, or take on hospital, teaching or other related work in order to provide a livable income.
Also, priests must abide by the same tax and NI laws as everyone else in the UK.
Pros: Free house plus all the tea they can drink.
Cons: Cannot keep house on retirement, long hours (contrary to popular belief).
Average Salary £4,000 to £7,000 a year
Career Advancement Room for promotion (higher position within church or larger congregation).
Job Requirements Dependent on denomination
Danger Factor Nearly non-existent
The super-rich and glamorous lifestyles of callous hit men are often glorified by media, with films like Leon and popular videos game such as… well, Hit Man serving as perfect examples.
However, it's unknown how many professional hit men (or indeed women) are currently active. By proxy, a successful hit man is never detected though there are probably a lot fewer than you'd think judging from FBI figures that suggest it is only aware of between 70 and 90 cases of paid assassinations in any given year.
The pay for a hit is also a yard mile away from what you'd expect. While there's massive variance, according to an Australian study the average is just over £5,000 while the highest fees range around £30,000. The lowest people were willing to kill another human being for was as shockingly low as £230.
But even those numbers are at odds with the rest of the world, where anything over £5,000 per killing is seen as an absolute fortune in places such as the Mexico border and Colombia. And if you think that's largely down to these places being impoverished, consider this – one man in the US offered an undercover agent just £370 to murder his girlfriend, while an American teenager tried to pay for a killing with seven Atari games and £3.20 in loose change.
Pros: A fair bit of down time in between work
Cons: Constant paranoia, lack of career progression and high likelihood of your own death.
Average Salary £5,000 per "job"
Career Advancement Disastrous
Job Requirements Weapon, zero moral conscience
Danger Factor Suicidal at best
Although an extraordinary amount of children want to do this job when they grow up, there are only around 500 people out of the 6 billion on Earth that are privileged enough to call themselves astronauts.
That number changes ever so slightly depending on what we define as 'professional spaceflight', but the salary for astronauts does not. Classed as civil servants, they get paid exactly the same as any other Federal Government worker and are placed on a fixed pay scale based on experience. GS-12 grade astronauts begin on about £40,000 per annum, while those in the GS-13 grade can earn up to £62,000. A handful of astronauts make the GS-14 grade, topping out at around £86,000.
Some astronauts, such as Jerry Linenger, worked under Navy or other military contracts and so their pay is arranged on an individual basis. Of course, many high-profile astronauts have made tidy sums in the lecture circuit and through book sales.
The averages for European Space Agency astronauts work out roughly the same as the NASA pay scale.
What about our Russian space-farers? At least up until the late nineties, cosmonauts were paid on a 'performance basis' – that is, if a job went well they would be handsomely rewarded. Any failed targets while on a space mission would be docked from their pay.
Pros: You get to fly a space shuttle
Cons: Famously hard to catch a career break and the work is mentally and physically grueling.
Average Salary £40,000 to £86,000 a year
Career Advancement Excellent for science, research and engineering
Job Requirements Incredible fitness and academic credentials
Danger Factor Surprisingly not too bad – only 22 have died in the history of spaceflight
The Poet Laureate
It's likely to come as no surprise that the average salary for a poet is next to nothing, and it's almost universally agreed to be the lowest-paying form of writing (even arguably below fan fiction). In fact, the average salary is almost impossible to work out with any accuracy since most careers consist of a few £50 publications here and the odd £100 competition win there.
The best prospect for the semi-professional is to land a regular poetry column in a high-profile magazine or paper. This can net as much as £120 a week, but even if you manage to luck out and find two of these rare contracts this only comes in at just over £11,000 per year (and that's before tax).
So what is the salary of the Poet Laureate? Surprisingly, even the poet's most coveted title only earns the lucky scribe £5,000 per year. It's also tricky to be selected for the role – as the Times writes: "At the moment, the process by which the Poet Laureate is selected is, like many aspects of the British honours system, secretive for reasons that nobody can remember. Even the reason why it is a secret is a secret".
The best bet for a money-hungry poet is to head Stateside, where the situation is much different. While it isn't a massive fortune, there the nation's Poet Laureate is given just over £21,000 during the one-year post and an additional £3,000 in expenses.
Pros: To quote Tony Blair, the Poet Laureate "doesn't have to do anything if they don't feel like it."
Cons: It's not going to buy a holiday home in the Bahamas.
Average Salary £5,000 a year
Career Advancement Only through further publication
Job Requirements Be a poet, and then get chosen seemingly at random.
Danger Factor Many great poets have committed suicide.
Unlike astronauts, very few children grow up dreaming of becoming an undertaker. However, of all the careers on this list it is undoubtedly the most secure – while the death rates in the UK are at their lowest ever level, demand for the service isn't likely to dry up any time soon.
Most enter the profession through age-old family businesses, but there are courses available through the National Association of Funeral Directors (though official qualifications aren't strictly necessary to begin a career and most learn on the job).
At a very loose estimate, around 700,000 people died in the UK last year but there were only 3,000 funeral companies to see them to their final resting place. Salaries for those working in the funeral directing trade range from £14,000 to around £30,000 – a modest sum, but consider that most work 40-hour weeks as standard and are always on call no matter what the hour.
In the US, the salary is slightly more with the national average working out at around £37,000; those working for the Government can expect to add a few grand to the figure. Location is also a big factor in wage variance.
It's a job with many misconceptions; it is not as grim as you would envisage, and you don't have to be emotionally sterile to be a successful undertaker. In fact, the exact opposite is true – a really deep-seated compassion and incredible sensitivity are needed in order to guide bereaved family through the difficult process. For this reason many undertakers don't consider it a job at all, but rather a vocation.
Pros: Most undertakers report immense job satisfaction.
Cons: Forever on call, extensive paperwork and can be emotionally harrowing.
Average Salary £14,000 to £30,000 a year
Career Advancement Not much after owning a funeral directing company.
Job Requirements Compassion, excellent organisation and finance skills
Danger Factor Very small
And lastly, from undertakers we move to the Undertaker.
Regardless of whether you think it's glorified play fighting or a serious sport in its own right, professional wrestling is big business. Despite only having 585 employees (excluding the wrestlers themselves), the World Wrestling Entertainment company regularly pulls in about £250 million a year in revenue.
But nobody cares about the industry moguls behind the scenes. It's all about the guys in the ring, none of which you'd like to meet in a dark alleyway.
A professional wrestler for the WWE can expect to earn at least £60,000 a year plus travel and accommodation expenses, and that's not including revenue from merchandising sales. From there the figure skyrockets – at the middle of the scale a pro can easily earn two or three times the amount just on base pay – and the superstars such as Triple H, The Undertaker and John Cena are estimate to be on at least £1 million contracts before expenses and merchandise (and expenses for these guys usually include private jet travel).
Of course, for every one Hulk Hogan there's ten thousand unknown semi-professionals being slammed into the canvas across the country. Catching a break is very hard (akin to becoming a rock star or bestselling novelist) and most semi-pros consider £100 a night a good gig, even when they have to shell out for travel and board. Factor in the elevated chances of breaking your neck, and the glamour slightly loses its appeal.
Pros: Living the life of a rock star.
Cons: Daily duties include having a sweaty man put you in a headlock.
Average Salary Upwards of £60,000 a year
Career Advancement Professional careers are usually short-lived
Job Requirements Able to take a deck chair to the face
Danger Factor Injuries are a foregone conclusion
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