Rating of best- and worst-paying jobs
The medical field still dominates the top
The medical field still dominates the top, and the food service industry holds at the bottom, Forbes reported.
It`s still better to be a doctor than a dicer. Food preparation and serving remains the nation`s lowest-paid line of work, while the medical field still offers the nine best-paid jobs in the U.S.
According to the U.S. government`s newly released Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, based on 2008 data, the typical surgeon makes an average of $206,770 a year. That puts surgeons above anesthesiologists to have the best-paying job in the country.
Internists now earn a little more than prosthodontists (people who make and fit false teeth). Otherwise, the top 10 jobs rank the same as a year ago. The biggest change is a nearly $10,000-a-year drop in pay for natural sciences managers, meaning people who run labs and research facilities.
Within the 25 best- and 25 worst-paying jobs, not much has changed. The best-paying 25 are all the same as last year with some minor rearrangements. Within the worst-paying, one job fell off the list--or, rather, climbed out. Agriculture graders and sorters now make enough to rank as the 26th worst paid job in America. Maybe chicken sexing isn`t quite as bad as it used to be. Replacing them on the list: employment in food-preparation and serving jobs like cappuccino maker and "sandwich artist."
Overall, the average annual wage in the U.S. was up 3.9% from a year before, rising to $42,270. That is about in line with the 3.8% increase the year before. Perhaps the increase in average wage may continue, if only because of people at the top keeping their jobs as those lower down lose them. After all, Ken Lewis is holding on as chief executive officer of Bank of America ( BAC - news - people ), though the bank announced in December it would be reducing its workforce by 35,000 over the next three years.
Want to push your pay up as high as possible? Land a job as a surgeon in Gary, Indiana. The average surgeon there makes almost $15,000 above the national average. Who makes the farthest below average? Waiters and waitresses in Yauco, Puerto Rico, who earn $13,610 a year. Within the 50 states, the big loser would be a counter attendant in a cafeteria or concession stand in Owenboro, Ky., pulling in just $13,810 a year.
Among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, D.C. had far and away the highest average annual salary, at $67,810. Massachusetts, New York and Connecticut followed, all at around $50,000. Puerto Rico has the lowest average annual salary, $24,650--despite having a cost of living comparable to the District of Columbia. Among the 50 states, though, South Dakota and Mississippi ranked the lowest, at about $33,000.
Postal service clerks and models will be happy to know that their average annual pay increased more than anyone else`s. Postal workers make 23.2% more than a year ago, bringing them up to an annual salary of $54,550. Models didn`t make nearly as much to begin with, but they`re up 20.4% to $30,160 a year.
The railroad industry got hit pretty hard. Rail yard engineers, yard engine operators and hostlers now make 14.0% less than they used to, the second-largest drop in pay, to $34,840 from $40,510 Locomotive engineers were hit even harder; they now make 15.4% less than before, though unlike rail yard engineers they still make slightly more than the national average.