Would you rather be a plumber or a lawyer?
Recently, I needed to get a water heater system installed. I can do some DIY but electrics is not my forte, plus you need a qualified electrician to be legal.
So I called one. He came to the house and gave an estimate of 500€. That’s steep, I thought. When I enquired, he explained to me that it was a two man job and it will take at least two hours. The hourly rate was 100€.
Then I thought:
First, how much of those 4 (2×2) hours were skilled work and how much unskilled?
In my estimation, they did 10 % specialized, skilled work and the rest was unskilled, anyone could have done it. But we paid 100% of it at the high rate.
And second, How much does a Doctor or a Lawyer makes per hour?
Less than that, in fact a lot less than that. Even in the US, where Doctors are highly paid, the average rate can be about $80 per hour. In Spain, where I live, is much less, about 20€.
Are we been ripped off?
Well, not exactly and yet, it seems a bit unfair. To become an electrician, a plumber or a mechanic you need 1 or 2 years training, to become a doctor you need 10.
So, should Doctors make 10 times more than electricians?
That’s not an easy question to answer. In principle, yes, Doctors work very hard, save lives and carry a lot of responsibility. They should be compensated for all these years they spent burning the midnight oil. But, why are they not?
Supply and demand.
Having a middle class profession carries some prestige. People are proud to say I’m a lawyer, an accountant or an engineer. Not so much for the guys that fix your boiler or your car.
This makes a lot of people to enter white collar professions and not as many entering the blue collar world. This has caused an over supply in certain professions and a scarcity on others. Even to this day, and despite the disadvantages, most people prefer to do professional rather than manual work. There is a stigma to it.
Not only there is no God, but try finding a plumber on Sunday