Elementary school teacher. Mom. Wife. And church-goer. Sarah spends most of her days balancing the demands of small children, her small business, and her home. The noise of life and busyness are things you often don’t see. The version of Sarah you likely see Sunday mornings is most likely a partial picture with church attendee, mother, and wife at the forefront. What you don’t see is the students she works with each week, the books she balances, and the schedules she keeps between her job, family, and friends.
In America alone, there are 157 million people who are paid to work, whether in an office or restaurant or another occupation. That’s 157 million Sarahs wrestling — whether consciously or unconsciously — with the complexity of life and, if they’re Christians, their faith. You likely have a few Sarahs in your church.
As a pastor, you’re busy with your job. Pastoral care alongside study, family life, and other responsibilities sometimes leaves less room for knowing things about some of your congregants. The teachers who work 53 hours a week. The construction workers, lawyers, secretaries, and waiters. They gather with you on Sundays and then spend the rest of the week working.
You can’t know everything about every worker in your church. But you can know a little about different types of work and the individuals who work in those sectors: How they interact with faith and their jobs, and what those jobs look like on a daily basis.
Research from Thriving Cities Group — a research project that started at the University of Virginia in 2012 — divides all work into six sectors, including vocations that involve social mores and ethics, aesthetics and art, economics, politics and civic life, and natural environment care. These sectors resulted from a study in 2015 that revolved around the question “What does it mean and take to thrive in my city, and how can I contribute?” The six sectors aren’t exhaustive, but provide a framework for the different types of work that contribute to our communities and churches.
Here are 10 vocations and what you thought you knew about them, but maybe didn’t.
Almost all of us know a teacher or two. Your kids or friends’ kids probably love (or maybe not) their teacher at school, and for good reason. Teachers are awesome. Public school teachers make up the majority of America’s elementary and secondary school demographic.
There are 3.8 million elementary and secondary school teachers in America.
77% are female.
Average Age: 42.
They work more than 53 hours a week.
Average Salary: $49,741.
83.1% are white, 9.59% are black.
Administrative staff do more than brew your coffee and fetch the mail. They work hard to create order for companies, providing necessary services to make your work world run smoothly.
3.1 million people work in this industry.
Average Age: 46.
Average Salary: $36,424 ($43,633 men,
Most common industries are elementary and secondary schools, hospitals, construction, college, universities, legal services.
2.92 million women, 179,000 men.
81.6% are white, 9.23% are black,
3.07% are Asian.
Lawyers and Judicial Workers
There are more judicial workers in America than physicians and surgeons, making their jobs an integrated part of our daily lives. Judicial workers, like lawyers, strive to promote and keep justice and peace in our communities.
1.2 million people in this industry.
Average Age: 46.
Average Salary: $163,595 ($183,687 men, $163,595 women).
64% of people work in legal services,
with 12.8% justice, public order, and
85.6% are white, 6.2% are black,
0.69% are Asian.
Restaurants and Food Services
Chick-fil-A, anyone? But really, service workers work hard to provide the general public with goods and services we all love and use on a regular basis.
11.9 million people in this industry.
Average Age: 36.
Average Salary: $21,801 ($25,523 men, $18,440 women).
4.59 million men, 509 million women.
72.3% are white, 9.2% are black.
Archivists, Curators, and Museum Technicians
The arts industry isn’t just for your cousin who likes to paint. While smaller, it’s a sector we enjoy and often don’t realize how much we need it. From museums to local murals, artists (and those who support them, like curators and others) make the world a more thoughtful and beautiful place.
52,000 people in this industry.
Average Age: 44.
Average Salary: $54,313 ($59,899 men, $50,944 women).
Most common industries are museums and art galleries, historical sites, colleges/universities, libraries.
19,000 men, 32,000 women.
89.6% are white, 3.5% are black,
6.18% are Asian.
If you’ve been sick at all this year, you know the (hopeful) relief of a nurse’s help. There are more than three million people in America who work as nurses, not including your school and company nurses.
3.3 million people in this industry.
Average Age: 43.
Average Salary: $65,754 ($76,273 men, $64,351 women).
388,000 men, 2.91 million women.
74.5% are white, 11.9% are black,
9.27% are Asian.
While the number of paramedics and medical professionals seems small, their job requires both skill and emotional investment to care for people on a daily basis.
209,000 people in this industry.
Average Salary: $44,218 ($47,829 men, $37,130 women).
Average Age: 35.
139,000 men, 70,000 women.
82% of workers are white.
First responders of any kind are essential workers in all of our communities. Not only do police respond to crime scenes, but car accidents, local disturbances, and even your kids’ schools to keep them safe.
796,000 workers in this industry.
Average Salary: $69,036 ($70,272 men, $61,850 women).
Average Age: 39.
679,000 men, 117,000 women.
77% are white, 13.3% are black,
3.2% are Asian.
Physicians and surgeons
From wisdom teeth removal to major heart surgery, physicians and surgeons perform work that hopefully extends life and promotes flourishing.
906,000 people in this industry.
Average Salary: $233,287 ($264,139 men, $183,829 women).
Average age: 46.
558,000 men, 348,000 women.
69.8% are white, 21% are Asian,
5.8% are black.
When your water heater goes out or you need a skilled builder for your home, trade workers are who you call.
7.29 million people in this industry.
Average Salary: $53,123 ($53,859 men, $47,013 female).
Average Age: 41.
Broken down into laborers (17.3%), carpenters (9.23%), electricians (5.99%), plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters (4.39%), painters and paperhangers (4.23%) construction managers (6.4%).
Most specialized are roofers, drywall installers, plasterers, cement masons, construction laborers.
975,000 women, 8.09 million men.