We asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us some common misconceptions about their jobs. We received tons of insightful responses that provided more context for many misunderstood jobs and fields.
1."I am an ordained female, Christian clergy member, and there are several misconceptions about my job. At the top of that list is that I only work Sundays, write sermons, and do weddings, funerals, and baptisms. Another misconception is that I am supposed to ‘act’ and look a certain way, or that I'm going to try to convert you. On average, I work 60 hours a week, get one day off a week, and get paid just over $20,000 a year. I'm required to have a graduate-level education with extensive training in Greek and Hebrew, but also highly intense pastoral care training. I get phone calls at all hours to go see someone who is dying or someone in a crisis — some of those crisis situations can involve self-harm, domestic abuse, assault, addictions. You name it, I’ve seen it. Even on our day off, we are often thinking about work-related stuff because our to-do list is never-ending, including our commitment to ongoing study."
"Another misconception is that we just sit around sipping tea and eating cake through the week while visiting your gran, or sit on some 'heavenly cloud' in contemplation. I wish! Twelve of my working hours a week are spent just on admin and meetings. The rest of my time is spent on meetings, training, research, community engagement, professional development, working with social agencies, social justice projects, and more. Sermons are well researched and thought out, but not committed to paper until Saturday or Sunday morning because I run out of time in the week.
"And as far as how I look and act: I have a nose piercing, had a pink-and-black faux hawk for ages, drive a motorcycle, wear makeup, and like my music loud. IDGAF if I don’t meet someone else’s expectations of how a minister should look because I am professional, caring, and hardworking, and I take my responsibilities seriously. I wish people knew that most clergy members are normal people who are overeducated and just want to change the world for the better.
*The above is an overview of our work pre-COVID. Our work doubled in responsibilities and intensity from 2020 until now!*
2."I work in cannabis retail. People think we're all lazy, happy-go-lucky stoners, but there are tons of regulations to manage that are forever changing, and there's a wealth of knowledge we need to know. Entry-level staff make $2 above minimum wage, and management positions range from $50,000 to $70,000."
3."I’m a sex worker, and nearly everything about my job is misconceived. I don’t need rescuing and am not exploited any more than other workers. It’s also not all glamorous, either. Most of the time, it’s just a job. Occasionally I get to have an exceptionally cool or glamorous experience. People assume all successful sex workers are young and look like Playboy models or porn stars. I’m 41 and look like your average middle-aged city-dwelling indie rock girl. I’ve made over $130,000 a year (before taxes) for the last six years."
"I don’t have inherent body confidence or think I’m great because people pay a lot of money for my company. I’m always worried about disappointing people with how I look or act. A lot of clients assume that I either have endless offers for partnership or that no one would date someone like me. I don’t get asked out a lot, but people I do date have never seen me as unworthy of a serious relationship because of what I do.
"Also, clients aren’t all predatory creeps who 'have' to pay for sex and who we only pretend to like. Most of my clients are people who pay for the convenience and the boundaries. I’ve developed feelings for a client more than once. The money makes it a lot easier to push those feelings aside and respect the nature of the relationship. People who saw me when I was in my early 20s were mostly creeps, though.
"What no one ever guesses is how lonely it is or how much it can hurt to really connect with a client, only to never hear from them again. You'll also be told hyperbolically kind things by clients and have to make sure not to take them to heart because a lot of them only mean it in the moment (if they mean it at all)."
4."Meteorologist here. Everyone thinks they are the first to tell me, 'Must be nice to be wrong half the time and still get paid,' or they ask what television station I am on. My degree program was challenging (lots of calculus and differential equations), and there are SO may aspects to meteorology! I try to use the ill-informed questions and comments as a starting point to let people know how wide the field actually is."
5."I work in the electronics repair industry as a game console technician, and let me tell you, I can tell A LOT about a person by the state of their console. I can smell German cockroaches from a mile away, and I can tell by the dust in your PS4 what you smoke and how often you smoke it. I can also tell if you used a frozen pork chop to cool down an overheating console (and yes, this is a real thing that actually happened...the smell was REVOLTING). We also repair computers, phones, and tablets, and we can tell pretty instantly if you dropped your device or it was exposed to any kind of liquid. Don't lie to your repair techs — it only slows down the process! Oh, and don't put your wet phone in rice; it doesn't dry it out, but it does get stuck in your charging port!"
6."It's a myth that pilots are wealthy. In reality, the 'rich pilot' thing was dealt a death blow with deregulation in 1984, and pay in relation to cost of living has plummeted year after year. My hourly wage looks great, but if you consider that I only end up being able to work 70–85 hours a month on average and only get paid while the aircraft is moving, it's just an okay job. If you don't really love aviation, steer clear. My friends, on average, have better income in other forms of employment — plus, they get Christmas off every year."
7."I’m a speech-language pathologist, and I work in healthcare. It never fails; I meet a new patient and I introduce myself and say I’m a speech therapist. The response I usually get is, 'I don’t need a speech therapist. I can talk just fine.' Yes, yes you can. What most people don’t realize is that speech therapy can address swallowing disorders, short-term memory recall, voice disorders, word finding, safety awareness, etc., after stroke, brain injury, cancer, and a multitude of other diagnoses."
8."I am a funeral director. People are always shocked that I'm a nice, funny, empathetic young woman. We are not all old, soulless, evil people out for your money. We are in this business because we care deeply about people and want to help them in the most painful times of their lives. This includes 'corporate' funeral directors as well. We care just as much as your mom-and-pop homes."
9."I work for the DMV. We literally don't make any of the laws that we have to enforce. They were made by politicians way above us. If you're going off on the people who are at the counter servicing you, remember we're literally at the lowest level. Yelling at me, calling me names, or crying isn't going to change anything. Every state is different, so please do your research if you're going to move. All states have websites that have information on what's required. Please read up. We get just as frustrated with the wait times as you do because we get dinged for having long wait times.'
10."I'm an exam invigilator. We have a ton of paperwork to do for every candidate before an exam. We have to do exams in multiple ways, and about half of our pupils have some kind of access arrangement that gives them extra time, or a reader or scribe. Although we hate it when you don't bring calculators, we secretly like it during the exam if you need more paper or pens/pencils because it gives us an excuse to walk around the room. No phones or books or anything AT ALL makes a two-hour exam very boring."
11."As a massage therapist, I regularly get asked if I'm able to provide sexual acts as part of a massage. It really cheapens my job, and it's wild that people think they can just ask me that outright."
12."I have been a scuba instructor for 11 years in the Caribbean. People think we are all just beach bums. They ask when we plan to get a 'real job,' think they know more than we do, assume that our job is easy, and think that because diving is such an expensive sport, we must make lots of money. It takes many courses and thousands of dollars to become an instructor. We make very little money and depend on tips. Our job is to teach new divers and guide certified ones. Most people dive once a year at most, so the majority of the job is trying desperately to keep people from hurting themselves. We are trained emergency first responders, and almost every instructor I know has had to do multiple rescues. If you work for more than a few years, you will almost certainly have someone die on you while you administer aid rushing back to shore."
"We do it because we love it. But it is hard work, and you always have to be prepared for the worst to happen. Please, please realize that if you are a lawyer, I would never assume I know more about law than you do. You should give the same respect to the person whose job is diving. We do know more than you."
13."This is probably true for most creatives. I have a BFA in graphic design. You would not believe the number of clients who think you work for free. Not to mention the 'starving artist' trope. The work of designers and creators is literally all around you — from cars to ads to logos. It's everything. There is this weird stigma around pursuing a creative career — that it's easy or unimportant work — yet art and entertainment is constantly consumed by the very people judging your degree/career choice. Design work of any kind can be very technical and requires art history knowledge and an understanding of basic principles of design, not to mention learning all different kinds of software. Also, for the last time, a graphic designer is not the same thing as a web designer. If you happen to do both, great. But I don't! Pay artists what they ask."
14."People think that because I'm a licensed therapist, I must be psychoanalyzing them all the time or that I should 'diagnose' or 'give my opinion' on them or someone they know, regardless of how long I've been talking to them. Competent therapists are able to be 'on the job' and 'not on the job' in our heads. Also, it isn't ethical for me to diagnose someone else, no matter how well I know you! It gets frustrating when trying to make friends or even just get to know people. I've had great conversations, and when the person found out my job, it made them nervous. Trust me, I can and do separate my work from my private life in many ways!"
15."It's a misconception that teachers get paid summers off, work from 8 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., and 'just teach.' I teach third grade. I don’t know ONE teacher who only works within their contract time, because if we did, we wouldn't be able to do all the work people don’t see, like responding to multiple parents via email or otherwise, lesson planning, fighting with the copy machine, grading (SO MUCH GRADING), and filling out required data about multiple students while differentiating education. I come in at 7 a.m. so that I can get to my second job right after I get off."
"But because we’re salaried, we only get paid for the contracted hours. I’d prefer to get paid hourly. Who wants to work for free, even if you love your job? Also, we don’t get paid summers off. We have to stretch our paychecks for the 10 months we work to cover us for summer. Most of us either work an additional job during the school year or do summer school to supplement. I tutor.
"We also don’t 'just teach.' We teach students how to regulate their emotions, embrace and practice communication skills, and build relationships. We also spend more money on our students than most people would believe, even if we teach at a 'good' school.
"Lastly, as a teacher, your job isn’t guaranteed. Budget cuts happen, sometimes midway through the year, and you could be fired or forced to change grade levels just like that, with no warning. It hurts the kids, confuses the parents, and guts you as an educator. You have to find a different job immediately and just hope another school you’d like to work at is hiring and wants you. I love my job, but the system is flawed, and I really wish people knew all that goes into teaching."
16."I work at a dog boarding and training facility. We can have anywhere from five (slow) to 25 (ideal) to 40 (help!) dogs with one kennel tech (me), one trainer, one manager, and our boss. I hear all the time, 'Your job is so wonderful — you get to play with puppies all day!!!' No. I spend most of my day cleaning up after dogs that had diarrhea in their crates, making food, making sure dogs are having fun without hurting themselves or each other, and intervening when the rare fight breaks out. I am forever yelling, 'Fido, stop humping your brother! This is a no hump zone!' or 'Bella, hush!' and dealing with dogs trying to rush through gates or climb them. Do I love my job? Yes. Is it meaningful and fulfilling? Yes. Is it one of the most labor-intensive, stressful, and (when an aggressive dog is staying) nerve-racking jobs anyone could ever have? Also yes."
17."I work in public relations in the governmental affairs sector. We aren't trying to mislead the public — we are actually trained NOT to do that. Public relations has a very strict code of ethics and is not all spin. While crisis PR is a specialty, most PR is more about effective and factual communication. It requires lots of writing, research, public speaking, analytics, and thinking on your feet."
18."There's a misconception that as criminal lawyers, we defend people we 'know' are guilty. For a start, if someone tells us they are guilty, we can't act for them in a not-guilty plea. Absolutely not. You risk losing your practicing certificate if you do that. People are entitled to a defense. The worst criminal is entitled to a defense. It is an absolutely vital cornerstone of a civilized legal system. So stop with your demonizing of lawyers who defend accused people you don't like. The thing is, if criminal lawyers were so able to work out who was guilty, why even bother with investigations or evidence or juries weighing up the evidence? Just get a defense lawyer in a room with a suspect, and we'll know if they're guilty using our special witchy lawyer powers."
"Guess what? We don't know if our client is guilty. If they say they're not, it's up to a court to look at the evidence. And if the prosecution can't or doesn't provide the right evidence, a guilty person might walk. That's how the system works. Defense lawyers are just a small part of that."
19."I work for local government in Australia, and there is a common misconception that those who work for the government are lazy and the jobs are easy. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I often work long hours on complex projects with no paid overtime. We also don’t have typical pay rises. You have a band level for your role, which has a set number of pay rises built in. Once you reach the top of your band, you have to apply for a higher role if you want a higher wage (if one is available). So, unlike the private sector, you can’t just negotiate a higher salary. People get stuck in the same band for years because there are no higher jobs, but their jobs often evolve to include more work. For my current job, if I were in the private sector, I’d be paid a much higher wage with bonuses. All that said, I love my job, I work hard, and I get experiences I wouldn’t get anywhere else."
20."I’m a librarian and people think I just read all day. Nope. I’m literally running around all day labeling books, processing new stuff, weeding out old books, etc. I’m also in charge of interlibrary loans and overdue notices. I have never just sat around and read at my job! It’s hard work!"
21."Because I work in the service industry, people think that I’m uneducated, working my way through school, doing it as a side, or between jobs. Serving is a real job. I make over $40,000 a year, have full benefits, and have a bachelor's degree. This is my career."
22."I'm a licensed vet tech. We don't get taken seriously as medical professionals, and people think we just play with cute animals all day. We are nurses, anesthetists, phlebotomists, radiology techs, dental hygienists, and pharmacy techs all wrapped up in one. Plus, we need to know about more than one species!"
23."I’m a recruiter. People constantly call me a 'headhunter' and expect me to find jobs for them. It’s the other way around. Companies contact us and we fill their roles (ya know, since they’re paying us to do so). Also, WE WANT YOU TO GET THE JOB. We will do everything we can to make sure the hiring manager understands why you are a fit and why they should hire you. We don’t get paid until you start working. So partner with your recruiter instead of being rude or condescending."
24."I'm an occupational therapist, and no one seems to know what we do, which is sort of fair because we do it all! We are called 'occupational' therapists because we help you achieve your occupation (not necessarily your job), which is any role you fill during your day — parent, student, grandparent, runner, artist, or your actual job. OTs are here to help you at any phase of life to access your environment and participate in all your daily routines. We work in schools helping kids with handwriting and sensory integration, we work in nursing homes helping folks with dementia learn some coping techniques, we work in hospitals with new stroke or trauma patients, we work out in the community to build inclusive spaces, and so much more! It's such a fun career, with endless paths you could take."
25."I’m a social worker. I guess the most common misconception is that all social workers work in children’s services or foster care, but that isn’t the case. Social workers work in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and various charity organizations. I personally work in community services helping low-income families with a variety of financial services, and you couldn’t pay me to work with children. When I was getting my BSW, I had people ask if I was going to be a 'baby snatcher.' I even had people straight-up tell me they hated social workers because of a family experience they had with children’s services. Also, not everyone who works in children’s services is a social worker. You have to have a degree in social work from an accredited university to be a social worker. It’s a very structured, hands-on degree, and I don’t think most people know that."
26."I’m a zookeeper, and I work primarily with primates. People think I spend all day playing with animals, but really, I spend most of it cleaning, doing paperwork, making diets and medication, and doing more cleaning. There is so much poop! It is still amazing and incredibly rewarding, but much more work than people think, and severely underpaid for the experience required. Most keepers have a second job or two."
27."I'm an emergency room veterinarian. I LOVE being able to go to work and literally save the lives of innocent creatures. However, in veterinary medicine (especially in ER), we are often accused of being 'all about money' because we have to charge for services up front (unlike the human ER), and we have to discuss those charges with the owner first. For me, this is my least favorite part of the job, especially when many owners can’t afford the surgery/an ICU stay/ their pet's needs. It makes me feel awful, and we really do try hard to find ways to help your pet and make treatment happen. However, if the clinic isn’t paid for its services, the staff can’t get paid, the utilities can’t stay on, drugs can’t be restocked, equipment can’t be serviced or updated, etc."
"The veterinary ER is indeed also more expensive than a day vet. This is NOT because we're taking advantage of a desperate situation. It literally costs more to maintain a full ICU and surgery suite, stock emergency drugs for highly specific purposes, and retain qualified staff willing to work nights, weekends, and holidays to be there for your pets. We truly love your pets. We love being able to make a difference, and we go home and worry about your pets, we cry over them, and we celebrate with you when they recover. ❤️ "
28."I'm an archaeologist. No, I don't study dinosaurs. I study people's material culture (mostly their trash) from hundreds to thousands of years ago. The worst was when I worked at a museum and I once had a man tell me that archaeologists dig up dinosaurs. When I told him that it was a common misconception and he had confused archaeology and paleontology (which was required by my job at the time in the education department), he insisted I was incorrect. Finally, I (very nicely) told him that my major was archaeology and it was a common mix-up, but archaeologists study people. The guy, not giving up, told me, 'You don't even know what you're studying?' I just walked away after that."
29."'Warehouse work is for dummies.' I have my bachelor's, so technically, I could do something 'better.' I chose to manage a warehouse so I don’t have to deal with the public or do any kind of customer service. People are idiots. The fewer I see, the better my day goes. I love my job."
30."I'm a dolphin trainer. People think we abuse animals, but that is far from the truth. We love the animals more than anything. In fact, we agree with most of your beliefs. We don’t agree with capturing animals from the wild; nor do we agree with forcing animals to do things. All animals (at least in the USA) are born in human care, and all behaviors we ask our animals to do are through positive reinforcement. We do not starve, hit, abuse, or neglect our animals. Next time you visit a zoo or aquarium, talk to a zookeeper or trainer. We are ALWAYS willing to answer your questions."
31."I work as a public safety telecommunicator, which is a fancy way of saying a police dispatcher or 911 call taker. A common misconception people have about my job is that we know exactly where they are when they call. While we have an ANI/ALI (automatic number identification and automatic location identifier) screen that is close to accurate, it can fail at times. Or, if you're in an apartment, we have no way of using it to tell which apartment you are in. Furthermore, if you continue to drive, we are constantly rebidding to get the latest location. It's hard to do a job where you're asking people where their emergency is and their response is, 'You can't tell?' or 'I'm in New Jersey.'"
32."Female farmer here. I raise livestock on a small farm (my own) in Pennsylvania. People's assumption is that I am dumb, have an 'uneducated' job, or am some kind of dirty person with a filthy home. I've even been told my job isn't 'really a job' and I should get a real job, as if I'm some flavor of lazy. My reality is that I'm self-employed, I work seven days a week, and I don't get sick days, holiday pay, or overtime. Being intelligent and creative has allowed me to do well as a business. My job often involves me getting dirty, but...I shower? My job is hard and requires constant adjustment, monitoring, and attention. I use software to manage the 300-plus animals in my care."
"I can pull up lineage and personal records on my phone at any time. I've integrated modern tech to make my job easier! I've also battled supply chain issues with feed, sick animals, and bad weather (I have to work whether it's sunny and 70 degrees or negative temperatures with a foot of snow). A friend did a lot of my work after I had surgery and was surprised it was so involved. They even recruited additional help but ended up loving it as much as I do. Sure beats working for someone else!"
33."There's definitely a misconception that nursing is easy. As an RN, depending on where you work, you can be covered in vomit, feces, blood, and other bodily fluids. If you work at a nursing home, you watch people die. You have to pronounce a person dead, then call the coroner, their family members, and the funeral home. You will be hit, bit, pushed, and punched. If you are doing home health, you can ruin your car driving to all the terrible places where some people live. Also, most places don't pay for the TIME you are driving, so they can send you two hours away to see one patient. People in healthcare are thought of as disposable, and they get fired for the smallest reasons. Nurses are cutthroat with each other. The pay is good, but it can be a horrible profession."
34."It's a myth that hairstylists are uneducated and make no money. We have to go to 1,500 hours of cosmetology school to qualify for a license; then we have to take a written exam and do a hands-on practical. That's more education than police officers are required to go through. After that, it is advised that we go through an apprenticeship, which can be anywhere from six months to two years. We are literally mixing chemicals when mixing color, and personally formulating color to get clients to their desired look. Also, since people think hairstylists are broke: Last year, I made $77,000 in gross income working four days a week with full benefits."
35."Athletic training is a healthcare profession, and we are not trainers you see at the gym. Many people don’t know what athletic training is. We evaluate, treat, and rehabilitate injuries. We are equipped to respond to emergencies. Athletic training is a growing profession. You can see us work with sports teams, at schools, in industrial settings, in hospitals, within the performing arts, and with the military, and it’s still growing. Unfortunately, you don’t see many athletic trainers getting paid more than $60,000 a year for having a lot of medical knowledge and typically a master's degree. Hopefully that will change in the future."
36."I'm a contractor. I design and make cabinets for a living. WE ARE NOT ALL TRYING TO RIP YOU OFF. Giving bids and pricing is the worst part of the job. With the way material costs have gone up, even we are sick over how much things cost right now. So many of us take a lot of pride in our work, and we just want to get paid adequately."
37.Finally: "'You're an accountant, so you must be good with numbers.' I use a calculator and Excel, and it's mostly addition and subtraction. The job is primarily data entry and making sure that I have paperwork proving why I say something is a certain amount. I do more writing than math, which is a shame because I picked accounting because I loved math and hated English class in school."
Is there a common misconception about your job that you want to address? Do people constantly misunderstand what you do? Tell us in the comments!
Note: Some submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.