Work Less, Earn More

It was a few hundred years ago that Benjamin Franklin made the observation that time is money. The same is still true today, and workers are constantly trying to strike the right work/life balance to get as much as they can of both.

According to the 2008 American Time Use Survey (conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics), we're still working an average of eight hours a day. And the most recent figures from the U.S. Census Bureau indicate that the median annual income per household member is $26,036 per year.

There are some jobs, however, where you can work less and make more than the averages. The hours may not be significantly less -- generally between 35 and 38 hours a week -- but these jobs offer more value in both time and money. They all pay salaries that exceed that $26,036 median income.

Here are 20 jobs we found that let you work less and earn more. These jobs require less than 40 hours of labor in a work week, but exceed the median annual income level in pay.*

1. Aircraft pilots, copilots and flight engineers

Hours/week: 23.5

Hours/year: 1,215

Annual earnings: $119,658

2. Biological scientist

Hours/week: 38.4

Hours/year: 1,992

Annual earnings: $65,329

3. Biochemist and biophysicist

Hours/week: 37.5

Hours/year: 1,947

Annual earnings: $69,681

4. Bus driver

Hours/week: 35.9

Hours/year: 1,613

Annual earnings: $26,107

5. Clinical, counseling and school psychologists

Hours/week: 38.1

Hours/year: 1,693

Annual earnings: $59,595

6. Dental assistant

Hours/week: 35.6

Hours/year: 1,849

Annual earnings: $30,895

7. Desktop publisher

Hours/week: 38.7

Hours/year: 2,007

Annual earnings: $36,858

8. Directors, religious activities and education

Hours/week: 38.1

Hours/year: 1,978

Annual earnings: $48,243

9. Educational, vocational and school counselors

Hours/week: 37.9

Hours/year: 1,712

Annual earnings: $50,075

10. Fitness trainers and aerobics instructors

Hours/week: 38.0

Hours/year: 1,976

Annual earnings: $35,262

11. Insurance underwriter


Hours/year: 2,005

Annual earnings: $63,157

12. Interpreters and translators


Hours/year: 1,687

Annual earnings: $35,853

13. Law clerk

Hours/week: 38.4

Hours/year: 1,961

Annual earnings: $46,539

14. Law teacher, postsecondary

Hours/week: 35.2

Hours/year: 1644

Annual earnings:$158,353

15. Miscellaneous media and communications workers

Hours/week: 36.7

Hours/year: 1,852

Annual earnings: $38,698

16. Optometrist

Hours/week: 37.7

Hours/year: 1,959

Annual earnings: $103,375

17. Psychologist

Hours/week: 38.2

Hours/year: 1,722

Annual earnings: $59,543

18. Speech-language pathologist

Hours/week: 37.5

Hours/year: 1,611

Annual earnings: $53,499

19. Telephone operator

Hours/week: 38.7

Hours/year: 2,009

Annual earnings: $29,877

20. Tree trimmers and pruners<

Hours/week: 37.2

Hours/year: 1,898

Annual earnings: $35,644

By the numbers

All of these jobs allow you to work less and earn more, but some of these careers clearly give you more bang for your buck.

At the top of the list: Pilots, copilots and flight engineers, who average $98.48 an hour. Law teachers are close behind, averaging $96.32 an hour, followed by optometrists, who average $52.77 an hour.

Make it work

Obviously these jobs are not for everyone, but if you're looking to strike a better balance between work and home, you may be able to approach your employer and negotiate alternatives to your current schedule.

Among the possibilities:

  • You may be able to arrange to work from home on a recurring basis, or on days where you may have an appointment or personal commitment.
  • Your manager or supervisor may also be willing to create a flexible scheduling arrangement, where you work four days a week to and have the fifth workday free.
  • Companies may be willing to negotiate with workers who want extra vacation time, particularly unpaid time.

Discuss your ideas with your company. If time is more important to you than money, your employer may be very receptive to providing more time off for you versus financial compensation.

Next: Jobs That Pay $60/Hour >>

*All job descriptions are as defined in the National Compensation Survey, as published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, December 2006 -- January 2008. Data taken from the survey are the mean hours and annual earnings. Actual earnings can vary based on a number of factors, including regional job market demands.

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