A Living Wage –Exploration of Considerations

Most would not have to think very long to know what to do when encountering an alligator. When the alligator takes its prey it might kill by crushing its meal between its powerful jaws or it may take it for a spin underwater. After which, the prey is consumed whole and digested by this reptilian beast.gator Most can, with due consideration, evade its powerful grasp. I will not here develop in detail how to avoid the alligator’s terror. It is sufficient to say, avoid contact. Fortunately, most of us will not be concerned with avoiding the reptilian beast. However, there is a social beast sewn by your life choices. That is the beast of poverty, which affects your nutrition, your health, your shelter, your transportation, your education. It is this beast that this post addresses.

How does one avoid the powerful grasp of living your life in the lower social economic status of our society? To begin you must first earn enough to sustain both you and your wards. As calculated, this amount would be termed your living wage. A subsistence amount that includes enough compensation to provide adequate shelter, food, clothing, healthcare, transportation and education.

Unfortunately, the age that we must make decisions affecting our living wage is one complicated by other interests. That is to say that when we are in high school we should be preparing for our initial rendezvous with the outside world. I daresay, not many folks in high school have gained enough information to make formidable decisions regarding their financial status for the coming years. And thus those closest to them are their guides to the future.

The decision-making process is more complicated when that person is in the lower social economic status of our society. A status that views poverty as a normal paradigm. Which translates to a condition that views economic success most often as beyond reach. Without the help of community to address these concerns those locked in the jaws of poverty are destined not only to remain in this condition but to pass it on to the next generation. The decision-making process, that includes a reward for real life decisions that lead to success, should be a basic part of our primary education.

Considerations for a Living Wage

What are the considerations for a living wage? Many complain that they are not earning a living wage and are overwhelmed by this financial condition. Are you earning enough compensation to support your life choices? Have you considered the possibilities necessary to alleviate a day to day, week to week existence? Maybe not, most of us make assumptions about career choices, family choices, housing choices, education choices, transportation choices etc. without a thorough understanding of the consequences. Most important, when considering these choices is the understanding of the financial costs associated with these life’s choices. To that end, your occupation selection will affect the successful attainment of your goals. Knowledgeable decisions about any future occupation selection is paramount.

Before going through the occupation selection process you would benefit to think long and hard about what it is that you like to do. Have you ever thought that your favorite hobby should be what you are doing for your income? Do you think of going to work as a grind, a chore, which you have to get through? The closer you can get to the type of work that you like to do the more likely it will be that your work will not be such a grind.

For those already employed, start by examining what it is that you like and dislike about your present career choice. When you have completed this self-examination and have computed the amount of compensation necessary to produce what you determine your living wage you should select an occupation that best suits your needs and desires. Below, we have formulated a track that should help you in the process of your occupation selection.

The Keys to Occupation Selection (PLENS)

  1. Physical: Are you physically able to perform the tasks necessary in the occupation under consideration? Employers are required under the ADA to accommodate deficiencies provided that with these accommodations you can perform the task. There are probably many things that a paraplegic can do, chances are being a Fireman is not one of them. It is important not to discount occupations because you have a physical impairment. This is one reason for the importance of examination of the occupation you aspire. Still, impairment is not the only reason to consider the physical requirements of an occupation. Some occupations require a lifting burden, or standing – sitting for long hours, etc. It is for you to decide if the occupation’s physical requirements meet your preferences.

2.) Location: Is the occupation under consideration available in a location that you would like to live and work? Is your preferred location a rural, suburban or urban area? Do you prefer a warm climate or does snow excite your senses? Does the occupation require travel or long periods away from friends and family? Can you perform the work from your home office?

3.) Education: Have you or can you obtain the education necessary to perform the occupation under consideration? Is there an educational requirement for this occupation that you can meet? If not, are you capable of preparing by completing this education requirement? Don’t sell yourself short. If the occupation requires more education than you presently have looked to serve an apprenticeship in the chosen field while at the same time completing the education requirement.

4.) Need: What are the current and future needs of the occupation under consideration? What are the future projections for this occupation? Is this an occupation that is growing or waning? This is something that we can determine based on Department of Labor projections.

5.) Setting: Is the work setting one that suits your interests? Is the occupation selected performed indoors, outdoors or a combination of both? Does the occupation require travel to danger zones? Can you do the work from home?

The questions above and others should be answered on a personal level. This is a personal occupation selection. The happier you are with your work the more likely it will be a success. Your main obligation is to strive to be the best that you can be in whatever field you choose.

Applying Keys to Occupation Selection

To examine the keys above let’s presume that after due consideration regarding occupations you have decided that you would like to pursue a career as a graphic designer. In this regard we will apply the questions who, what, where, when and how in our examination of the graphic designer. That is to say we will apply the questions: Who are graphic designer? What do graphic designers do? Where do graphic designers work? When do graphic designers work? How are graphic designers compensated? United States Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook has the answer to many of these questions. (DOL Occupational Outlook Handbook Graphic Designers)


A look at the link above indicates that the graphic designer occupation is reviewed as; Summary, What They Do, Work Environment, How to Become One, Pay, Job Outlook, Similar Occupations, More Info. These links answer many of the questions we posed above. (Please Note: Given the rise of the 3-D printer availability in recent years we think the DOL job outlook projections for this occupation may be revised upward in the coming months.)

Moving further, say that for all intents and purposes the graphic designer occupation is one that you would select. However, you do not meet the educational requirements for this occupation. You should not view this as an impossible obstacle to your goal. Rather, should investigate how best to complete the education requirements for this occupation. In this regard, it may be best to seek out a mentor that is working as a graphic designer. That person may well have been in the same position that you are in now. Whether that condition existed for that person they still might be your best bet for help given your common interest in graphic design.




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