Housekeeping has been one of the most undervalued professions for a long time. This is because, unlike other professions, housekeeping does not require intense educational training. Therefore, it is considered a profession for those who are not educated or those who have not received any formal training. Housekeeping involves a number of activities such as washing, cleaning, organizing a home, decorating, and simple home repair (American School of Home Economics 5). In some cases, it also incorporates babysitting and nursing the elderly in a family. However, most people do not end up in this profession just because they never went to school. There are many reasons why many people find themselves in this occupation. Housekeeping profession has provided a lifeline to many people by enabling them to satisfy basic daily needs such as rent, food, clothing as well as medical expenses.
The demand for housekeeping services has risen in the recent past as many people have become so much engrossed with their careers and other daily activities that they leave them with little or no time to attend to their household chores, such as washing, cleaning, organizing their homes, decoration, and repair. The only way they can get such services is by hiring the housekeeper to do this job on their behalf for a fee. The high demand for housekeeping services has resulted into housekeeping being regarded as an occupation just like any other activity, like farming, teaching, or trade.
Though this profession does not require formal education, many people are now relying on it to earn a living. Housekeeping is now often regarded as a full-fledged occupation and many people sustain themselves by offering housekeeping at a fee. Although it is a very low-income job that cannot guarantee a stable salary and decent living standards, housekeeping has really helped many people move on with their lives. With the increased level of unemployment and companies retrenching on employees due to the economic recession, many people are left jobless with no source of income to support their lives and those of their families. A number of people did not get an opportunity to obtain formal education due to different reasons, such as lack of funds or an illness that prevented them from going to school. Since such people cannot be requested by the jobs that require specialized skills, they end up in professions that do not require formal education, such as housekeeping (American School of Home Economics 10). However, one should be ready and willing to learn and acquire new skills every day. In Alger’s work, Dick is willing to acquire knowledge and he plainly says, “I can’t read much more’n a pig; and my writin’ looks like hens’ tracks. I don’t want to grow up knowin’ no more’n a four-year-old boy. If you’ll teach me readin’ and writin’ evenin’s, you shall sleep in my room every night” (Alger 1).
People in the housekeeping profession were previously paid peanuts and even discriminated against because of the nature of their job. There have been cases of mistreatment and even the denial of basic rights to the workers in this occupation. However, things are changing because the government has come up with laws that outline how housekeepers should be paid using the minimum wage legislation. This legislation protects the workers in housekeeping by ensuring that they are paid wages that are at par with the cost of living. In addition to this, housekeepers have also joined labor unions through which they can air their grievances and ensure that their rights are protected. As a result, they are able to earn an income that can pay for their food, rent, and medical expenses.
A housekeeping professional in the USA earns an average annual salary of $21,223 (Covert 1). A report produced by Forbes Magazine shows that the average cost of health per person in the USA is $3,500 per annum. The report also shows that the average rent for a one-bedroom house can range between $6,000 and $8,000 per annum. This shows that housekeepers earning an average income of $21,223 per annum can manage to pay their rent, medical and other expenses (Pooley 410). This has been made possible by the minimum wage legislation, which has ensured that housekeepers are not paid below a certain minimum amount. Individuals who pay their housekeepers a wage that is below the minimum that has been set by the government are liable for prosecution for violating this law. Therefore, a housekeeping job can sustain a successful living by covering rent, food, and medical expenses.
We are living in a world where there are people who have everything they want, while others struggle to put a meal on the table. What some people spend on toys can sustain another family for a whole year (Bambara 1). It is not by choice that some people would end up in a profession like housekeeping, it is because they are forced by the circumstances. Those who are in a position to help such people should not hesitate to act. It is important that people help each other develop, like Mr. Rockwell is determined to help Dick acquire knowledge (Alger 1). We need such people who are willing to assist those who are below on the social ladder. One must make that hard decision to join this profession that does not promise much and one must learn to live with less. People should also learn to live within their means even when their professions do not promise them much. One must always be optimistic that things will become better one day, because it is possible for one to move from rags to riches (Alger 1).
I managed to interview one lady, who said that she had been in the housekeeping profession for the last nine years. Her name was Cate and she confessed that this had been her occupation and the only source of income for her and her family. She told me that thereby she had managed to feed her two sons, educate them, and pay all her bills. Though she admitted that this income was not sufficient, it could sustain a successful living by covering food, rent, and medical expenses. She, however, admitted that she had to do without some unnecessary things, such as entertainment and leisure. The most important thing is to realize where you are. As Bambara has put it in his work, "Where we are is who we are"(Bambara 1). Once you understand this, you will leave within your means. Cate told me that things were very tough initially when there were no rules to govern how much a housekeeper should be paid, because many employers would base their payment on housekeeper’s level of education and pay them very poorly. The working conditions were also very poor and, in most cases, the workers could not get a day off or a leave. They would also work for very long hours but still got a low pay. Cate said that government intervention coupled with that of the labor unions really helped improve housekeepers’ working conditions, pay, and even their rights.
Though the housekeeping profession does not require education, Cate said that it is very important for one to obtain the relevant skills needed in this profession. This is because every profession has different duties and responsibilities, and it is therefore necessary for one to familiarize him- or herself with the necessary skills. People who are in a position to help others develop must always help them rise. In the story Ragged Dick, Mr. Rockwell says, “I wish Fosdick was as well off as I am” (Alger 1). Mr. Rockwell is determined to help Dick go up the ladder. There is a code of conduct that governs how the job should be done, as well as the relationship between the employer and the employee. It is therefore very important for a person willing to join this profession to get acquainted with these things. Cate said that she was proud to be in this profession, because it was just one of many occupations that could provide a stable income (American School of Home Economics 25).
According to this research, it is evident that one can have a successful living even in professions that do not require education, e.g., housekeeping. People should stop undermining such professions because it is possible to earn a living from these jobs. The government should also put measures to ensure that housekeeping workers are paid fair wages that are commensurate with their labor inputs and the cost of living. No profession should be undermined because of its nature and workers in all professions must be respected and treated with dignity because they are all human beings. Professional ethics must be followed to the letter in all professions. Also, any legislation set by the government must be observed and the failure to do so should be punished severely.
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