It might not even be a fair question, but it is one that has found its way into my head recently. 

Yet, society places a value on these roles by ascribing financial reward to each. That is how a capitalist society works, fairly or not. A further question could be ‘does the financial reward reveal the level of importance?’

If we ranked roles according to financial remuneration, would the highest paid be the most valuable, and the lowest paid be of very little value? 

The event which got me thinking along these lines was fairly innocent. I requested a quote from a carpenter to construct a roof for a verandah.

My quote was for labour only, I would supply all the materials. Easy enough was his reply, probably two days work. This was quite attractive to me as I knew it would take me about a year if I did it myself!

The quote he came back with however shattered my dreams of fishing while he built – $3000 labour for two days work!!! That’s $1500 a day. Just under $200 an hour.

I immediately began to think that his time must be far more valuable than mine, given that his hourly rate is four times greater. Strange, but sometimes the roles we think are vital and of great importance to society (teaching for example) receive far less financial reward than those which appear to be less essential.

I am not trying to devalue the role of a carpenter, or any profession for that matter, but who decides these things? Why should a tradie have the capacity to earn so much more than a teacher?

Even my mechanic charges almost $100 an hour for his labour, and I know others who charge more than $100 an hour. Is an hour of their time worth so much more than an hour of mine?

We all know that teaching is not about the money, but I do wonder how we will attract the best and brightest without offering suitable enticements.

It seems that now, from a financial perspective at least, that trades offer more potential for financial gain than many professional-type roles.

As far as teaching is concerned this needs to be considered and addressed.

Needless to say, I ended up building the verandah roof myself. It took me longer than two days, but far less than a year.