18 Jobs That Pay Average American Salary

Teenagers desperately want to fit in with their peers, but years later, as adults, they want to be different. They don't want to be just like everyone else. (For proof, tell a chef that her duck á l'orange is average and you'll be banished from her restaurant.) Being average can be an insult at times and something to aspire to at others.

Workers' attitudes evolve in the same way when discussing income. At the start of your career, especially if you're beginning in today's roller-coaster economy, you're thrilled to earn the average American salary. Once you're an industry veteran who's put in decades of work, you probably hope your salary has increased over time. Not because you're greedy but because you'd like to think your years of hard work are being rewarded.

And because the American attitude toward financial issues is that you shouldn't talk about them in public, many people are unaware of what is average pay. Sure, you want to know how much your co-workers or even your next-door neighbors are earning, but you're not going to ask. (Are you?)

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual income for full-time workers in the United States is $36,587. Plenty of workers earn significantly more than this salary, and many earn less. We wanted to get an idea of which jobs pay the same salary as the national average.

Here is a list of 18 jobs that pay salaries in the $36,000-range, according to the BLS.

1. Carpet, floor, and tile installers and finishers

Median annual salary*: $36,843

-- Find Carpet/Floor Installer Jobs

2. Cement masons, concrete finishers, and terrazzo workers

Median annual salary: $36,270

-- Find Masonry Jobs

3. Computer-controlled machine tool operators, metal and plastic

Median annual salary: $36,498

-- Find Machine Operator Jobs

4. Dispatchers, except police, fire, and ambulance

Median annual salary: $36,317

-- Find Dispatcher Jobs

5. Dredge, excavating, and loading machine operators

Median annual salary: $36,275

-- Find Dredge/Excavating Machine Jobs

6. Engine and other machine assemblers

Median annual salary: $36,860

-- Find Engine/Machine Assembler Jobs

7. Extruding and forming machine setters, operators, and tenders, synthetic and glass fibers

Median annual salary: $36,232

-- Find Machine Setter/Operator Jobs

8. First-line supervisors/managers of retail sales workers

Median annual salary: $36,001

-- Find Retail Manager/Supervisor Jobs

9. Forest and conservation technicians

Median annual salary: $36,712

-- Find Conservation Technician Jobs

10. Hazardous materials removal workers

Median annual salary: $36,400

-- Find Hazardous Material Removal Jobs

11. Logging workers

Median annual salary: $36,202

-- Find Logging Jobs

12. Medical and clinical laboratory technicians

Median annual salary: $36,150

-- Find Laboratory Technician Jobs

13. Metal-refining furnace operators and tenders

Median annual salary: $36,183

-- Find Furnace Operator/Tender Jobs

14. Operating engineers and other construction equipment operators

Median annual salary: $36,234

-- Find Operating Engineer Jobs

15. Paper goods machine setters, operators, and tenders

Median annual salary: $36,833

-- Find Paper Goods Machine Operator Jobs

16. Rehabilitation counselors

Median annual salary: $36,142

-- Find Rehabilitation Counselor Jobs

17. Tire builders

Median annual salary: $36,026

-- Find Tire Builder Jobs

18. Tree trimmers and pruners

Median annual salary: $36,005

-- Find Tree Trimmer/Pruner Jobs

*Salary figures based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics' median annual income for 2009, the most recent data available.

Anthony Balderrama is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com and its job blog, The Work Buzz. He researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/abalderrama.

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