Pay Scales for Popular Jobs

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Before you choose a career field, you may want to know the pay scales for popular jobs. This information can help you make an informed decision when deciding what types of jobs to apply for or when choosing a college major.

Things that Affect Pay

You might start a job at one rate of pay while someone else might start the same job at a different rate based on a number of factors.

Education

If you see a job description with phrasing along the lines of, "Bachelor's degree or four years of progressive experience required," the employer might offer an individual with a degree a higher starting salary than a candidate without a degree. Likewise, the more education a candidate has, the higher starting pay they might be offered. You see this particularly in teaching, where pay scales change based on whether a teacher holds a Bachelor's, Master's or Doctorate-level degree.

Experience

When you're just starting out in a field, you usually start at the lower end of the pay scale. Entry level candidates may have the education, but without the hands-on experience of the job, they're just not worth the level of investment that a candidate who has a proven track record is.

Certification or Accreditation

Many fields have certifying or accrediting bodies that test for knowledge and experience. Employers value these types of certifications because they basically verify that you actually know the ins and outs of the field you're working in.

Area of Expertise

Sometimes a field has a number of areas of expertise, each requiring a specific body of knowledge. For instance, when a person receives a medical degree, they become a physician, which carries a certain assumed salary range. But, if that same person wants to become a neurosurgeon, that takes knowledge, education and experience well beyond that of a general practitioner, and the salary increases significantly.

Location

Different areas of the country have different costs of living, and salaries rise and fall based on these costs. For instance, a janitor in New York City will most likely receive a higher rate of pay than a janitor in West Virginia.

Type of Organization

An accountant for a large commercial firm will probably be paid a larger salary than an accountant for a non-profit organization. It's not that it's any easier to perform a job for a non-profit, but these organizations often have to offer less in order to keep their doors open for business.

Pay Scales for Popular Jobs

Here are example pay scales for popular jobs in America:

  • Physician's Assistant: $69,000 to $88,000
  • Physical Therapist Aide: $10.00 to $12.00 per hour
  • Personal Trainers: $12.00 to $30.00 per hour
  • Veterinary Technicians: $10.50 to $15.50 per hour
  • Dental Hygienist: $25.00 to $36.00 per hour
  • Teacher: $34,000 to $50,000 per year
  • Computer Programmer: $40,000 to $61,000 per year
  • Registered Nurse: $22.00 to $30.00 per hour
  • General Manager: $44,000 to $81,000 per year
  • Tractor-Trailer Truck Driver: $14.50 to $20.00 per hour
  • Accountant: $37,000 to $51,000 per year
  • Customer Service Representative: $10.00 to $14.00 per hour
  • General Practitioner Doctor: $70,000 to $125,000 per year
  • Emergency Room Physician: $120,000 to $220,000 per year
  • Lawyer: $56,000 to $106,000 per year
  • Lifeguard: $7.70 to $9.90 per hour
  • Janitor: $8.40 to $12.00 per hour
  • Web Designer: $34,000 to $50,000

Pay Scales for Other Jobs

There are thousands of potential jobs and fields of expertise to enter into, and even the careers listed above may pay more or less depending on a number of factors. To find more specific information on the fields you're most interested in, check out the following websites:

  • PayScale
  • Salary.com
  • Indeed

Career Satisfaction: More Than Just Money

Always remember than in addition to the actual paycheck you receive, there's also the personal gratification you get from doing a job you enjoy. Make sure you choose your career field because you enjoy it-just think of the paycheck as a bonus.

Pay Scales for Popular Jobs