Is becoming a $100k+ earner in orchestras like SF symphony just as competitive as joining a major sports league? Maybe. It’s just that $100k+ symphony job openings are so rare that no one can really count on it. Orchestra is a very unique job and often general public don’t know how people got there. Of course not everyone value and want to support arts. But when those few $100k orchestra job salary disappear, the live symphony music we hear today will die.
Not that I recommend this as a permanent lifestyle, especially if you want to have kids some day, but you could always take one of those “Most Dangerous Jobs” as an oil platform worker, Alaska crabber, etc. which pay well, or even get into a decent skilled job in a manufacturing facility with a base of say, 50-60K after a few years, but work every shift of overtime you can get your hands on. Granted, I used to see many people miserable doing this, but they were bringing in 6 figures as a mechanic, pipefitter or in some cases, even HS level line workers. Finally, you can get a side job – like blogging!
However, I have a number of friends and family who are K-12 teachers and I have always envied their dedication. Teachers earn less than half of what they deserve because few things are more important than educating the next generation. You hit the nail on the head when you mentioned the “…bizarre notion that someone’s passion should be enough to pay power bills and mortgages”.

LOTS of people feel the way you described in terms of being trapped and not being able to move up. I’d argue through, that in a lot of the cases engineers are kind of awkward, while also being kind of arrogant and entitled. I’ve experienced person after person express dislike for their job or inability to get promoted, but they don’t get company paid for masters degrees, they don’t get PMP certifications, they don’t even do the work of applying for other jobs, they just whine about it…


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