Emotionally draining jobs — such as rescue-workers, firefighters or child-care workers — bring few monetary rewards, a new University of Florida study finds.

But the pay scale inflates dramatically if stressful jobs also require high intellectual skills, such as used by doctors, lawyers or CEOs.

Safety pros, whose jobs are usually emotionally and technically challenging, could benefit from this trend.

“Initially, we expected people to get paid more for anything that makes their job harder because that’s been the traditional economic model,” says a researcher. “But we found that many people who have emotionally demanding jobs actually get paid less than their counterparts who have less emotionally demanding jobs.”

Why? People such as flight attendants or counter workers who are in emotionally draining constant contact with the public often work for less because they crave social interactions, according to the report.

The results have important implications because jobs with emotional demands are becoming increasingly prevalent with the shift from a manufacturing to a service economy. Especially with the baby boomers approaching retirement, there is going to be a huge demand for people to provide care for them as they get older and need more help.

The study shows how society continues to financially undervalue labor that takes care of people, such as child care workers, compared with professions that take care of things, such as computer operators, according to one analyst.