10 Jobs That Pay the Average American Salary

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No two ways about it: Money matters. And thankfully, wages are on the rise.

The mean annual wage in 2009 for all occupations was $43,460 ($20.90/hour), according to the Labor Department's Occupational Employment Statistics* program. That's up from $32,390 in 2008.

Want to know what jobs make close to the national average salary? Here are 10 jobs that pay a salary similar to America's mean salary, plus the skills and education needed for each.







1. Airfield operations specialists

Annual salary: $43,250

Hourly wage: $20.79

Education and training: Long-term on-the-job training is the most significant source of post-secondary education or training.



2. Production, planning and expediting clerks

Annual salary: $43,260

Hourly wage: $20.80

Education and training: These jobs are usually entry-level and don't require more than a high school diploma. These clerks usually learn on the job.



3. Reporters and correspondents

Annual salary: $43,270

Hourly wage: $20.80

Education and training: Most employers prefer individuals with a bachelor's degree in journalism or mass communications, but some hire graduates with other majors.



4. Flight attendants

Annual salary: $43,350

Hourly wage: N/A**

Education and training: A high school diploma or its equivalent is the minimum educational requirement, but flight attendants must be certified by the Federal Aviation Administration. An increasing number of airlines prefer applicants who have a college degree.



5. Radio operators

Annual salary: $43,400

Hourly wage: $20.86

Education and training: Radio operators need high school education and can usually learn their jobs through several months of on-the-job training.



6. Environmental science and protection technicians, including health

Annual salary: $43,520

Hourly wage: $20.92

Education and training: Most science technicians need some formal post-secondary training, such as an associate degree or a certificate in a science-related technology. Technicians with a high school diploma and no college degree usually start work as trainees under the supervision of a more experienced technician. They eventually earn a two-year degree in science technology.



7. Child, family and school social workers

Annual salary: $43,540

Hourly wage: $20.93

Education and training: A bachelor's degree is the minimum requirement for entry into the occupation, but some positions require an advanced degree. All states and the District of Columbia have varying licensing, certification or registration requirements.



8. Carpenters

Annual salary: $43,640

Hourly wage: $20.98

Education and training: Carpenters can learn their craft through on-the-job training, vocational schools or technical colleges, or formal apprenticeship programs, which often take three to four years.



9. Heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics and installers

Annual salary: $43,670

Hourly wage: $21.00

Education and training: As with all technology, heating, air-conditioning and refrigeration systems have advanced. Employers prefer to hire people who have completed technical-school training or a formal apprenticeship. Some mechanics and installers, however, still learn the trade informally on the job.



10. Chemical technicians

Annual salary: $43,900

Hourly wage: $21.11

Education and training: Most chemical process technicians have a two-year degree, usually an associate degree in process technology. Chemical technicians in research and development also often require a bachelor's degree.


*OES provides employment and wage estimates for workers in 22 major occupational groups and 801 detailed occupations. Wages published are calculated by multiplying the hourly mean wage by a "year-round, full-time" hours figure of 2,080 hours.

**Wages for some occupations that do not generally work year-round, full time, are reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics either as hourly wages or annual salaries, depending on how they are typically paid.


Next: Should You Lower Your Salary Expectations? >>


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