In-N-Out and 18 Other Companies That Pay Way More Than You Think

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Google, Facebook, and other tech giants are known for using the lure of big salaries and imaginative benefits to draw the top talent in places like Seattle and Silicon Valley. But entry-level workers with limited skills and experience can land good jobs that pay well at grocery stores, retail stores, restaurants and clothing shops all over America.

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Click through to learn about 19 often-overlooked employers that pay well above minimum wage and also offer impressive benefits and perks.

Last update: July 13, 2021

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District managers at the grocery chain Aldi will earn $90,000 a year starting in 2022, up from $85,000 now, plus a $5,000 signing bonus. That can turn into more than $115,000 in five years — plus you get a sweet company car in the form of an Audi A3 or BMW X1.

But even the average employee there earns more than double the minimum wage — $16.09, to be exact, according to Payscale.

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Whole Foods Market

Whole Foods has earned a place on the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For list every year since the publication started the list in 1998. The chain is known for its generous benefits package and for helping employees climb the career ladder. Here are the average salaries those employees can expect to earn on the way up:

  • Team member: $30,000
  • Associate team leader: $43,000
  • Team lead: $57,000
  • Associate store team leader: $73,000
  • Store team leader: $99,000

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Trader Joe’s

Trader Joe’s employees fall into four categories: crew, merchant, mate and captain. All merchants and mates are promoted from crew positions, and all captains are promoted from mate positions. Crew members, who earn an average of $14.92 an hour, according to Indeed.com, are evaluated twice per year and have the opportunity to receive 7 % annual raises. Paid time off increases with tenure and crew members receive cheap medical, dental and vision coverage, as well as a 10 percent store discount.

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Payscale reports that Lowe’s customer service associates earn $10-$15 an hour, head cashiers make $12-$16 and retail department supervisors earn an average of just under $16-$25 an hour. Besides competitive pay, Lowe’s employees enjoy a strong benefits package that includes medical, dental, vision, life and disability insurance, as well as family leave, paid holidays and in-store discounts.

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The Home Depot

Home Depot sales associates earn an average of $10-$16 an hour and retail department supervisors earn $13-$20, according to Payscale. Cashiers earn $10-$14 an hour, but lucrative benefits are also part of the package. Employees receive paid time off and vacation, a stock purchase plan, retirement plans, insurance, commuter benefits, discounts on cell phone plans, gym memberships, travel and electronics. Strong performers also receive merit pay.

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Costco consistently ranks near the top of most major best-of employer lists. The company offers more than a dozen employee benefits, including healthcare, 401(k) plans, employee stock purchase and health care reimbursement accounts.

According to Payscale, cashiers average $15 an hour at Costco, likewise for stockers. Meat cutters average $19 and warehouse supervisors average $15.

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Careers at H&M come with a wide menu of benefits, including a full medical and wellness package, paid holidays — including your birthday — paid vacation and wellness days, retirement and commuter benefits. Employees also receive some cool perks such as pet insurance and legal aid.

According to Payscale, retail sales associates earn up to $19 an hour — $13 on average. Department managers make $21 an hour. Store managers earn $22.

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Retail sales associates at Nordstrom average $14.22 an hour, according to Indeed.com — but the company also offers competitive benefits. It provides medical insurance and employer-matched retirement plans, and employees get big-time discounts when they shop at Nordstrom. Even better, the Nordstrom Cares program involves team members in the company’s social responsibility efforts.

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Sales associates make up to $19 an hour at the Swedish DIY furniture giant Ikea, although they average $14. For warehouse workers, it’s a high of $21 and an average of $16. To sweeten the pot, employees enjoy full health insurance, retirement plans, paid time off, employee discounts on food and merchandise, adoption assistance, bereavement leave and education assistance.

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Retail associates at apparel giant Nike make an average of $17.42 an hour, according to Indeed.com. Warehouse workers do even better at $23.41 — loader/unloaders make close to $25. but the real lure is the company’s generous benefits package. Health insurance, savings and retirement plans, family leave, career and life coaching, special summer hours, access to fitness centers and relocation support are all part of the deal.

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REI highlights its place on a variety of “best of” lists that profile the company’s employee-centric culture. It offers employees retirement benefits, incentive pay, relocation support, employee discounts and public transit subsidies. REI employees also enjoy cool perks that are outside the norm. The company provides sabbaticals, tuition reimbursement, work/life assistance and the company’s famous Yay Days, which give workers a paid day off to do what they want every six months. The average hourly rate there is $17.46, according to Payscale.


Ben & Jerry’s

If you work at Ben & Jerry’s, you get to make some of the world’s most delicious ice cream and you get to take three pints of the stuff home with you every single day — you can also bring your dog to work. The famously employee-centric company regularly recalculates its conception of a living wage to make sure company pay keeps up with the cost of living. The last update landed Ben & Jerry’s starting pay at $16.92 an hour at its home offices in Vermont. The average pay, according to Payscale, is $13.63.

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In 2015, Gap raised the minimum wage for all of its 65,000 employees to $10 an hour. The move earned a shout-out from then-President Barack Obama and positioned Gap as one of the best companies to work for. Employees receive benefits such as savings and retirement accounts, merchandise and community discounts, volunteering opportunities with company donations and tuition reimbursement. Six years later today in 2021, the average pay is $14.13, according to Payscale.

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The Cheesecake Factory

Hourly staff at the Cheesecake Factory receives paid time off, flexible scheduling, medical benefits and dining discounts. Food servers there average $6 an hour, which might not sound like a lot — until you consider the federal minimum wage for tipped employees is $2.13 an hour. Host/hostesses, prep cooks, and line cooks average $12, $13, and $14, according to Payscale.

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Entry-level package handlers at FedEx are entitled to a nice benefits package, including medical, dental and vision insurance, work-life balance programs, paid holidays, paid time off and tuition reimbursement. The average FedEx package handler earns $28,652, according to Payscale. Local drivers earn nearly $78,000.

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Southwest Airlines

The Southwest WorkPerks program offers dozens of benefits to the airline’s employees under the broad categories of health, wellness, financial rewards, community outreach, travel, employee engagement, training and development and communications and connections. Employees are actively involved in the company’s philanthropic efforts, as they sit on Community Giving Boards and are responsible for deciding which local charities and programs will receive gifts. According to Payscale, flight attendants earn $44,520 per year.

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Walmart promotes hundreds of workers every single day. The company believes in hiring from within — more than 75% of its managers started their Walmart careers as hourly employees. Those managers earn $175,000 annually. Every worker at Walmart earns at least $11 an hour, but that could increase depending on factors like location and experience. The company also invests in its employees through health benefits, associate scholarships, skill training and other perks. Walmart recently announced it was raising its starting wage to  $13-$19 an hour, with an average starting wage of $15.25.

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In June 2020, Target followed through on a promise and increased its minimum starting wage to $15, up from $13 in 2019. The company backs up its competitive wages with competitive benefits. Perks include medical benefits, which go beyond health insurance to include smoking cessation and maternity programs. There’s also merchandise discounts, daycare and tuition reimbursement.

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Flipping burgers might not be the first thing that comes to mind for someone looking to start a fruitful career. But the average employee at the famous West Coast fast-food joint In-N-Out earns an average of $16.31 an hour, according to Payscale. Widely considered to be one of the best fast-food chains to work for, In-N-Out also offers benefits such as paid vacations, free meals, flexible schedules, paid vacation and retirement plans.

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