Over 22 million Americans are employed by branches of federal, state and local governments, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But while some government jobs easily net six-figure incomes, others don’t even pay $30,000 a year.
Click through to see what you can make if you’re looking to work in the public sector, and consider these best- and worst-paying jobs.
The 5 Highest-Paying Jobs in Government
Many state employees with prominent positions earn sizable salaries, but the highest-paying government jobs are reserved for just a few people — or even just a single person at a time.
See the paychecks earned by the five highest-paid government positions in the U.S., and learn what the staff of the White House makes — from vice president to gardener.
5. House and Senate Member
If you are elected to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives or Senate, you’ll be making a pretty penny, earning $174,000 annually. If you’re the majority or minority leader, you’ll see a significant pay bump, up to $193,400.
Getting elected speaker of the House boosts your paycheck to $223,500. To be elected to the House, you must be at least 25 years old, live in the state you represent and be a U.S. citizen for at least seven years. The requirements to be a senator are a little more demanding: You must be at least 30 years old, live in the state you represent and have been a citizen for at least nine years.
4. Supreme Court Justice
Salary: $255,300 or $267,000
Associate Supreme Court justices bring home $255,300, and the chief justice earns $267,000. But, expect to work hard for your money.
The justices receive between 7,000 and 8,000 petitions for a writ of certiorari each term, but typically only hear about 80 cases. Though the Constitution does not impose any requirements to be nominated as a Supreme Court justice, you are, of course, expected to be trained in the law. And, when you are nominated to the Court by the president, you need to be confirmed by the Senate. Once you are appointed, you serve as long as you choose, and can only be removed from office by impeachment.
3. President of the United States
If you can convince enough people in the right states to vote for you, you too can be president — and earn a sizable income of $400,000 per year, plus these insanely cool perks.
Unfortunately, the position is only up once every four years, and it can be rather expensive to run for office. If you have the drive to serve as president, you’ll need to meet these requirements: be at least 35 years old, a born citizen of the U.S. and have lived in the U.S. for at least 14 years.
Being vice president isn’t a bad gig either. You’ll earn a salary of $243,500.
2. Public College President
The U.S. president isn’t the only president receiving a fat check from the government. According to a report by The Chronicle of Higher Education, the median salary for a public college president in 2016 was $464,000. Furthermore, nearly all college presidents are provided with additional benefits, such as a house or car. Though most people don’t make six figures, everyone knows that benefits can be just as important as salary itself.
Compensation for college presidents can go much higher, too. Michael Crow, president at Arizona State University made a whopping $1.5 million in 2016.
1. Football or Basketball Coach at a Major University
Salary: $1.81 million
If you want to be a public employee and have a gigantic salary, you really can’t go wrong coaching either college football or basketball, especially for a major program.
According to 24/7 Wall St., the average compensation package for a coach at a major college or university is $1.81 million. That makes the highest-paid public employee in most states a football or basketball coach.
Major college sports are a money-maker for the best teams, too. Dive deep into the money behind the College Football Playoff.
The 5 Lowest-Paying Jobs in Government
While the highest-paid public employees are few and far between and represent the upper echelons of American government, the worst-paying jobs are much more common. These workers can easily be found in communities across the nation, keeping local governments, infrastructure and services running smoothly.
Here’s a look at the five worst-paying government jobs in the U.S.
5. Bus Drivers
Bus drivers for local governments earn $31,920 annually. From your typical school bus to sightseeing tours, this occupation lives on the road, and thus, sees higher-than-average work-related injuries due to accidents.
Bus drivers must have a high school diploma, a commercial driver’s license and a clean driving record to be hired. You’ll also need to pass a physical, vision and hearing test to qualify.
4. Forest and Conservation Workers
Salary: $26,490 (state government); $32,320 (local government)
If you want to oversee, maintain and protect the forests, don’t expect to make much money doing it. You’ll make around $15.50 an hour working for your local government and $13 an hour working for the state. That’s less than what the White House gardener makes.
Forest and conservation workers get to spend their days outdoors, however. You won’t be making much, but you’ll be feeling energized at work. To qualify, you’ll need a high school diploma and valid driver’s license to get started. You can also take courses in forest and wildlife management to get an edge over the competition.
3. Janitorial Staff
The national average salary for janitorial staff is only $24,190, but if you can find a job with your local government, the average salary jumps to $31,490. Janitors mostly work indoors, but some outdoor work may be involved, such as mowing grass and shoveling snow.
Many janitors also work at night, and their work is labor-intensive. However, you don’t need a formal education to work as a janitor. And, in case you’re at all worried about your job prospects working in this field, keep in mind Tony Robbins was once a janitor.
2. Home Health Aides
Home health aides make an average of $10.66 an hour providing basic healthcare and personal care services, such as bandaging injuries or grooming, to the elderly, convalescent and disabled. They may also assist more qualified medical personnel such as doctors or nurses in administering medications or checking vital signs. Though you don’t necessarily need a high school diploma to qualify for this line of work, it is recommended. Some home health aides may also be required to complete a formal training course or pass a standardized test. The pay is low, but at least as a home health aide you have job security.
1. Amusement and Recreation Attendants
Various levels of government in the U.S. employ over 40,000 amusement and recreation attendants. In this role, you’ll earn on average just $9.70 an hour performing a variety of tasks, like scheduling use of recreation facilities, maintaining sporting equipment and operating amusement park rides.
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