Highest and Lowest Paying Jobs in America

lowest paying jobUntil recently, America's best and brightest flocked to finance, because those Wall Street-type jobs were a fast-track to big bucks and luxurious lifestyles. But those days are gone. According to a feature on Forbes.com, doctors now have America's highest salaries. As a matter of fact, nine of the 10 Best-Paying Jobs in the United States involved doctors of some sort, while chief executives were the only non-medical professionals on that lucrative list.

Not surprisingly, employees in the food service industry are at the other end of the spectrum with the worst-paying jobs. At the bottom of the list are fast food cooks, dishwashers, shampooers, and dining room and cafeteria attendants. Their salaries are even lower when you consider most of those jobs don't include benefits like health insurance.

At the top of the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates list is the surgeon, who averages $219,770 per year. The anesthesiologist is next on the list, averaging just a little lower, at $211,750. You won't find anyone other than a doctor until you get to No. 9, when the chief executive slips in, with an average annual salary of $167,280. Surprisingly enough, CEOs make more in Delaware than in any other state. Psychiatrists come in at No. 10.

By contrast, the employee who makes the least is the food preparation and serving worker, who earns an average of $18,120 per year. Next lowest is the fast food cook, who makes about $18,230 per year. Even a dishwasher makes more -- that's third from the bottom. You have to go to the fourth lowest before you get out of the food industry -- that would be the shampooer at the hairstylist, who makes about $18,890 per year, not counting tips. Nos. 5, 6 and 8 are also in the food industry.

Top five best-paying jobs in the U.S.

  1. Surgeon: $219,770

  2. Anesthesiologist: $211,750

  3. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon: $210,710

  4. Orthodontist: $206,190

  5. Obstetrician and Gynecologist: $204,470

Top five worst-paying jobs in the U.S.

  1. Combined Food Preparation and Serving Worker, Including Fast Food: $18,120

  2. Cook, Fast Food: $18,230

  3. Dishwasher: $18,330

  4. Shampooer: $18,890

  5. Dining Room and Cafeteria Attendant and Bartender: $18,900

To see the rest, go to America's Best and Worst Paying Jobs.

Granted there's a massive disparity between the highest and lowest. But one of the reasons doctors make so much is that they need to offset the tremendous amount of money it takes to become one and to practice. The average doctor graduates with about $150,000 in student debt, and as soon as they go into practice, many will pay a six-figure fee per year for medical malpractice insurance.

But what about the massively overpaid corporate executives whose pay includes multi-million dollar bonuses? Guys like Occidental Petroleum's Ray Irani, who made $52.2 million last year, and Walt Disney topper Robert Iger, who earned $20.8 million in salary, bonuses and stock. They, by the way, were the highest-paid execs in the country. Well, the answer is that they don't raise the average that much -- people like that are few and far between, whereas almost every company in America, no matter how small, has some sort of chief executive officer.

The good news is that everyone's salaries, on both ends of the spectrum, are inching higher. The median salary for all workers rose 2.8 percent, to $43,460. That means that 50 percent of American workers make more, and 50 percent make less. Also, salary growth outpaced inflation (less food and energy) by one percentage point.That may not seem like much, but every little bit helps.

Next: Top-Paying Summer Jobs >>

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum


Filter by:

Thats the biggest lie I have EVER HEARD !!yeah right !! does that excuse those 150,000 dollar medical bills JUST FOR ONE PATIENT ?? You need a reality check moron !!

June 10 2010 at 12:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I am SOOOO sick and tired of everyone and their mother saying its "this administrations fault for all the problems we are having !! Hello ??? This guy is barley in office and all I have heard is how he did this and he did that ,WHAT HAVE YOU DONE LATELY?? BESIDES BASH A NEW PRESIDENT ?? NOTHING EXCEPT COLLECT WELFARE CHECKS?? GET A LIFE YOU MORONS ! GET OUT THERE AND HELP COLLECT OIL SPLOTCHES! BUT ABOVE ALL QUIT BASHING SOMEONE BECUASE YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT .DO SOMETHING PRODUCTIVE!

June 10 2010 at 12:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

They forgot to add day care worker. My wife worked for minimum wage and not benefits. She was lucky if she made 16,000 a yr.

June 09 2010 at 3:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Some where you missed 'con gressman' earning $179,000.00 plus a host of perks and benefits.

June 08 2010 at 6:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I am a physician. I made more money per hour as a waitress than I got paid by the hour during my six years of residency and fellowship training after medical school.

June 08 2010 at 12:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Remember your cute comments when you need qualified nursing care and you get some fool who can't tell the difference between a suppository and oral medication. I got into nursing to help make the world a little better. I just don't think a living wage and the same perks everyone else gets are too much to ask. And the hardware store is my husband's second job. We both work 60+ hours a week to keep afloat. We live very modestly, own old cars, our kids all work, pay taxes, and go to school at their own expense. My personal taxes are about 30%. I know perfectly well where the raises are coming from.

June 07 2010 at 1:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Go to school... Get a real job ..stop complaining everyone..it's all up to you .. Take some accountability.
Doctors earn every penny they make... Get sick and have one of them labor over you for eighteen hours straight..
But it one thing were to go wrong,you would sue him until he did not have a penny left.. Do you want that whole life or death thing hanging over you every time you were to see a patient. Stop bashing people that make money. Most of them earn it and are not lazy.
No, I am not rich..anything but.

June 07 2010 at 6:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You spelled opportunity wrong.But, I agree with you. Calling all gangsters!Where are you?

June 06 2010 at 9:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

why dont we just start over?could someone calm me down before i cost us money on medication? seriously!am i the only one that sees this..and folks,i'm not a hater..we all have the same opertunities as the next..but give me a break.when the mob ran stuff the country seemed to be doing better,didnt it?

June 06 2010 at 9:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

oh... i get it!so the more americans work the more we get taxed,then the ones that are non tax paying and (non americans)come to buy your house with suit cases full of cash,ask you to hold the note.????????????????then they go to the social security office to get paid! how stupid could we "as americans"be?lets wake up people..we could be compationate and be successful if we band together..buy american and pull the strings on this war.it already cost us more than our national debt..and we still dont have this bastard. makes my head spin.liberals need to kiss off.this party is the reason why we're in the shape we're in...thanks a freakin lot.

June 06 2010 at 9:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Search Articles

Picks From the Web