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Early Jobs of Presidential Candidates: Exotic Bird Cage Assembler, Babysitter, and More

Topics: Current Events

Barack Obama once scooped ice cream at Baskin-Robbins. Gerald Ford was a “darned good” park ranger, in the words of his former supervisor. Ronald Reagan was an actor, and before that, a lifeguard who saved 77 lives over the course of seven summers. Early jobs teach us a lot, from work ethic and perseverance to budgeting and the value of education. Take a look at PayScale’s Presidential First Jobs Report, and you’ll see how the current crop of presidential candidates’ early jobs prepared them for a run at the White House.

ben carson

(Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

In terms of earnings, recently departed-from-the-race Jeb Bush tops the list. His gig as a foreign-exchange English teacher would earn median pay of $20 an hour in current wages. It’s worth noting that this job requires at least a bachelor’s degree, and a master’s may be preferred.

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By comparison, Hillary Clinton’s early job as a babysitter offered low pay, a median wage of $10 an hour in today’s job market, but did not necessarily require a degree. Although today’s babysitters will tell you that a degree and/or an in-demand skill set, such as CPR and tutoring experience, may boost earnings.

Of course, median pay doesn’t necessarily tell what the candidates earned in these positions. Donald Trump’s early gig as a property manager was working for his father, and while working for family isn’t always the path to riches and glory, by his own reports Trump was worth $200,000 ($1.4 million in today’s money) by the time he graduated from college. It seems safe to say he wasn’t pulling down the equivalent of $14 an hour.

What does all this mean for you and your decisions in the voting booth? Maybe nothing, unless you’re hoping for a good, old-fashioned Horatio Alger story for your preferred candidates’ background – if so, you could make a case for almost any of these folks. It turns out, even the rich and powerful often have pretty humble first jobs.

See the full list here.

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Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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