GOBankingRates

Essential Jobs Across America With Big Paychecks for Employees

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America’s essential workers have been putting their health at risk to help keep the economy open enough to provide the basics while the rest of the country hit the pause button to wait out the coronavirus. And though some might have felt fortunate to still be working while friends and family were furloughed or laid off, many of these workers were putting in long hours in dangerous conditions for low wages.

Read More: These Hourly Workers Benefit the Most From Overtime

On top of that, the wages for these essential workers are far from consistent. Not only are some jobs much better compensated than others, but where you live also plays a major role in how much you make. Through a variety of economic factors — from regional differences in supply and demand to basic differences in cost of living — the wages for essential work in your state may vary widely from those in other parts of the country.

So, what sort of work in your area pays the best compared to the national average? That’s the question this GOBankingRates study sets out to answer. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on how average wages differ from state to state, the study found what essential jobs (if any) were earning more over the course of a year than the national average.

Last updated: March 4, 2021

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Alabama

No essential jobs GOBankingRates analyzed made more than the national average in Alabama.

See:  How Emergencies Like Coronavirus Expose Nonsense Business Practices

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Alaska

  • Pharmacists:
    • Median annual salary: $147,020
    • Difference from national average: $18,930
  • Fast food and counter workers:
    • Median annual salary: $24,320
    • Difference from national average: $1,580
  • Correctional officers and jailers:
    • Median annual salary: $62,560
    • Difference from national average: $17,380
  • Police and sheriff’s patrol officers:
    • Median annual salary: $84,230
    • Difference from national average: $21,080
  • Registered nurses:
    • Median annual salary: $90,550
    • Difference from national average: $17,250
  • Home health and personal care aides:
    • Median annual salary: $34,170
    • Difference from national average: $8,890
  • Stockers and order fillers:
    • Median annual salary: $31,190
    • Difference from national average: $3,810
  • High school teachers:
    • Median annual salary: $74,910
    • Difference from national average: $13,250
  • Cashiers:
    • Median annual salary: $26,980
    • Difference from national average: $3,320

Save Up: Americans’ Savings Drop to Lowest Point in Years

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Arizona

  • Pharmacists:
    • Median annual salary: $131,050
    • Difference from national average: $2,960
  • Fast food and counter workers:
    • Median annual salary: $24,490
    • Difference from national average: $1,750
  • Police and sheriff’s patrol officers:
    • Median annual salary: $67,440
    • Difference from national average: $4,290
  • Postal service mail carriers:
    • Median annual salary: $52,010
    • Difference from national average: $700
  • Registered nurses:
    • Median annual salary: $76,820
    • Difference from national average: $3,520
  • Stockers and order fillers:
    • Median annual salary: $28,360
    • Difference from national average: $980
  • Cashiers:
    • Median annual salary: $24,630
    • Difference from national average: $970

Find Out: Biden Wants To Shut Down Credit Bureaus – What Would That Mean for You?

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Arkansas

No essential jobs GOBankingRates analyzed made more than the national average in Arkansas.

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California

  • Pharmacists:
    • Median annual salary: $148,270
    • Difference from national average: $20,180
  • Fast food and counter workers:
    • Median annual salary: $25,960
    • Difference from national average: $3,220
  • Correctional officers and jailers:
    • Median annual salary: $79,930
    • Difference from national average: $34,750
  • Police and sheriff’s patrol officers:
    • Median annual salary: $108,840
    • Difference from national average: $45,690
  • Postal service mail carriers:
    • Median annual salary: $64,400
    • Difference from national average: $13,090
  • Registered nurses: 
    • Median annual salary: $110,620
    • Difference from national average: $37,320
  • Home health and personal care aides:
    • Median annual salary: $26,170
    •  Difference from national average: $890
  • Stockers and order fillers:
    • Median annual salary: $29,670
    • Difference from national average: $2,290
  • High school teachers:
    • Median annual salary: $87,120
    • Difference from national average: $25,460
  • Cashiers:
    • Median annual salary: $27,940
    • Difference from national average: $2,950
©Shutterstock.com

Colorado

  • Pharmacists:
    • Median annual salary: $129,060
    • Difference from national average: $970
  • Fast food and counter workers:
    • Median annual salary: $24,540
    • Difference from national average: $1,800
  • Correctional officers and jailers:
    • Median annual salary: $47,340
    • Difference from national average: $2,160
  • Police and sheriff’s patrol officers:
    • Median annual salary: $77,210
    • Difference from national average: $14,060
  • Registered nurses:
    • Median annual salary: $75,100
    • Difference from national average: $1,800
  • Home health and personal care aides:
    • Median annual salary: $26,080
    • Difference from national average: $800
  • Stockers and order fillers:
    • Median annual salary: $31,270
    • Difference from national average: $3,890
  • Cashiers:
    • Median annual salary: $25,360
    • Difference from national average: $1,700

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Connecticut

  • Fast food and counter workers:
    • Median annual salary: $24,740
    • Difference from national average: $2,000
  • Correctional officers and jailers:
    • Median annual salary: $51,290
    • Difference from national average: $6,110
  • Police and sheriff’s patrol officers:
    • Median annual salary: $73,840
    • Difference from national average: $10,690
  • Postal service mail carriers:
    • Median annual salary: $52,140
    • Difference from national average: $830
  • Registered nurses:
    • Median annual salary: $81,630
    •  Difference from national average: $8,330
  • Home health and personal care aides:
    • Median annual salary: $26,560
    • Difference from national average: $1,280
  • Stockers and order fillers:
    • Median annual salary: $27,960
    • Difference from national average: $580
  • High school teachers:
    • Median annual salary: $78,910
    • Difference from national average: $17,250
  • Cashiers:
    • Median annual salary: $24,410
    • Difference from national average: $750
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Delaware

  • Pharmacists:
    • Median annual salary: $132,580
    • Difference from national average: $4,490
    • Postal service mail carriers:
      • Median annual salary: $72,120
      • Difference from national average: $8,970
    • High school teachers:
      • Median annual salary: $66,870
      • Difference from national average: $5,210
    Dean Mitchell / Getty Images

    Florida

    • Postal service mail carriers:
      • Median annual salary: $52,950
      • Difference from national average: $1,640
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    Georgia

    No essential jobs GOBankingRates analyzed made more than the national average in Georgia.

    Chaay_Tee / Getty Images/iStockphoto

    Hawaii

    • Pharmacists:
      • Median annual salary: $130,780
      • Difference from national average: $2,690
    • Fast food and counter workers:
      • Median annual salary: $24,840
      • Difference from national average: $2,100
    • Correctional officers and jailers:
      • Median annual salary: $59,330
      • Difference from national average: $14,150
    • Police and sheriff’s patrol officers:
      • Median annual salary: $77,480
      • Difference from national average: $14,330
    • Postal service mail carriers:
      • Median annual salary: $64,400
      • Difference from national average: $13,090
    • Registered nurses:
      • Median annual salary: $110,700
      • Difference from national average: $37,400
    • Home health and personal care aides:
      • Median annual salary: $26,960
      • Difference from national average: $1,680
    • Stockers and order fillers:
      • Median annual salary: $30,160
      • Difference from national average: $2,780
    • Cashiers:
      • Median annual salary: $25,910
      • Difference from national average: $2,250

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    Idaho

    No essential jobs GOBankingRates analyzed made more than the national average in Idaho.

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    Illinois

    • Pharmacists:
      • Median annual salary: $129,310
      • Difference from national average: $1,220
    • Correctional officers and jailers:
      • Median annual salary: $59,460
      • Difference from national average: $14,280
    • Police and sheriff’s patrol officers:
      • Median annual salary: $85,070
      • Difference from national average: $21,920
    • Postal service mail carriers:
      • Median annual salary: $54,040
      • Difference from national average: $2,730
    • Home health and personal care aides:
      • Median annual salary: $25,470
      • Difference from national average: $190
    • Stockers and order fillers:
      • Median annual salary: $27,450
      • Difference from national average: $70
    • High school teachers:
      • Median annual salary: $69,610
      • Difference from national average: $7,950
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    Indiana

    No essential jobs GOBankingRates analyzed made more than the national average in Indiana.

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    Iowa

    • Correctional officers and jailers:
      • Median annual salary: $51,170
      • Difference from national average: $5,990
    • Home health and personal care aides:
      • Median annual salary: $26,090
      • Difference from national average: $810
    • Stockers and order fillers:
      • Median annual salary: $28,650
      • Difference from national average: $1,270
    jacoblund / Getty Images/iStockphoto

    Kansas

    No essential jobs GOBankingRates analyzed made more than the national average in Kansas.

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    Kentucky

    No essential jobs GOBankingRates analyzed made more than the national average in Kentucky.

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    Louisiana

    No essential jobs GOBankingRates analyzed made more than the national average in Louisiana.

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    Maine

    • Pharmacists:
      • Median annual salary: $137,610
      • Difference from national average: $9,520
    • Fast food and counter workers:  
      • Median annual salary: $24,000
      • Difference from national average: $1,260
    • Home health and personal care aides:
      • Median annual salary: $26,340
      • Difference from national average: $1,060
    • Cashiers:
      • Median annual salary: $24,190
      • Difference from national average: $530
    John Roman Images / Shutterstock.com

    Maryland

    • Fast food and counter workers:
      • Median annual salary: $23,780
      • Difference from national average: $1,040
    • Correctional officers and jailers:
      • Median annual salary: $47,720
      • Difference from national average: $2,540
    • Police and sheriff’s patrol officers:
      • Median annual salary: $70,340
      • Difference from national average: $7,190
    • Registered nurses:
      • Median annual salary: $76,780
      • Difference from national average: $3,480
    • Home health and personal care aides:
      • Median annual salary: $26,760 
      • Difference from national average: $1,480
    • High school teachers:
      • Median annual salary: $75,330
      • Difference from national average: $13,670
    • Cashiers:
      • Median annual salary: $23,720
      • Difference from national average: $60
    BassittART / Getty Images

    Massachusetts

    • Fast food and counter workers:
      • Median annual salary: $26,240
      • Difference from national average: $3,500
    • Correctional officers and jailers: 
      • Median annual salary: $69,740
      • Difference from national average: $24,560
    • Police and sheriff’s patrol officers:
      • Median annual salary: $70,990
      • Difference from national average: $7,840
    • Postal service mail carriers:
      • Median annual salary: $61,180
      • Difference from national average: $9,870
    • Registered nurses:
      • Median annual salary: $87,540
      • Difference from national average: $14,240
    • Home health and personal care aides:
      • Median annual salary: $31,210
      • Difference from national average: $5,930
    • Stockers and order fillers:
      • Median annual salary: $29,590
      • Difference from national average: $2,210
    • High school teachers:
      • Median annual salary: $79,950
      • Difference from national average: $18,290
    • Cashiers:
      • Median annual salary: $26,100
      • Difference from national average: $2,440

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    Michigan

    • Correctional officers and jailers:
      • Median annual salary: $57,640
      • Difference from national average: $12,460
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    Minnesota

    • Pharmacists:
      • Median annual salary: $138,290
      • Difference from national average: $10,200
    • Fast food and counter workers:
      • Median annual salary: $24,360
      • Difference from national average: $1,620
    • Correctional officers and jailers:
      • Median annual salary: $52,000
      • Difference from national average: $6,820
    • Police and sheriff’s patrol officers:
      • Median annual salary: $72,830
      • Difference from national average: $9,680
    • Registered nurses:
      • Median annual salary: $78,560
      • Difference from national average: $5,260
    • Home health and personal care aides:
      • Median annual salary: $28,060
      • Difference from national average: $2,780
    • Stockers and order fillers:
      • Median annual salary: $29,770
      • Difference from national average: $2,390
    • High school teachers:
      • Median annual salary: $62,850
      • Difference from national average: $1,190
    • Cashiers:
      • Median annual salary: $24,760
      • Difference from national average: $1,100
    ©Shutterstock.com

    Mississippi

    No essential jobs GOBankingRates analyzed made more than the national average in Mississippi.

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    Missouri

    • Pharmacists:
      • Median annual salary: $130,240
      • Difference from national average: $2,150

    Look: How Much You Need To Be in the Top 5% in Every State

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    Montana

    No essential jobs GOBankingRates analyzed made more than the national average in Montana.

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    Nebraska

    • Home health and personal care aides:
      • Median annual salary: $25,770
      • Difference from national average: $490
    SolStock / Getty Images

    Nevada

    • Pharmacists:
      • Median annual salary: $128,140
      • Difference from national average: $50
    • Correctional officers and jailers:
      • Median annual salary: $58,340
      • Difference from national average: $13,160
    • Police and sheriff’s patrol officers:
      • Median annual salary: $72,660
      • Difference from national average: $9,510
    • Postal service mail carriers:
      • Median annual salary: $53,510
      • Difference from national average: $2,200
    • Registered nurses:
      • Median annual salary: $87,400
      • Difference from national average: $14,100
    • Stockers and order fillers:
      • Median annual salary: $27,960
      • Difference from national average: $580
    jacoblund / Getty Images/iStockphoto

    New Hampshire

    • Pharmacists:
      • Median annual salary: $131,770
      • Difference from national average: $3,680
    • Correctional officers and jailers:
      • Median annual salary: $46,100
      • Difference from national average: $920
    • Home health and personal care aides:
      • Median annual salary: $26,770
      • Difference from national average: $1,490
    Robert Kneschke / Shutterstock.com

    New Jersey

    • Correctional officers and jailers:
      • Median annual salary: $71,270
      • Difference from national average: $26,090
    • Police and sheriff’s patrol officers:
      • Median annual salary: $88,130
      • Difference from national average: $24,980
    • Postal service mail carriers:
      • Median annual salary: $63,010
      • Difference from national average: $11,700
    • Registered nurses:
      • Median annual salary: $83,920
      • Difference from national average: $10,620
    • Home health and personal care aides:
      • Median annual salary: $25,400
      • Difference from national average: $120
    • High school teachers:
      • Median annual salary: $76,910
      • Difference from national average: $15,250
    alvarez / Getty Images

    New Mexico

    • Pharmacists:
      • Median annual salary: $128,680
      • Difference from national average: $590
    poba / iStock.com

    New York

    • Fast food and counter workers:
      • Median annual salary: $26,410
      • Difference from national average: $3,670
    • Correctional officers and jailers:
      • Median annual salary: $64,250
      • Difference from national average: $19,070
    • Police and sheriff’s patrol officers:
      • Median annual salary: $80,540
      • Difference from national average: $17,390
    • Postal service mail carriers:
      • Median annual salary: $55,240
      • Difference from national average: $3,930
    • Registered nurses:
      • Median annual salary: $87,330
      • Difference from national average: $14,030
    • Home health and personal care aides:
      • Median annual salary: $27,910
      • Difference from national average: $2,630
    • Stockers and order fillers:
      • Median annual salary: $27,680
      • Difference from national average: $300
    • High school teachers:
      • Median annual salary: $85,050
      • Difference from national average: $23,390
    • Cashiers:
      • Median annual salary: $25,500
      • Difference from national average: $1,840
    BraunS / Getty Images

    North Carolina

    • Pharmacists:
      • Median annual salary: $128,450
      • Difference from national average: $360
    ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock.com

    North Dakota

    • Fast food and counter workers:
      • Median annual salary: $24,590
      • Difference from national average: $1,850
    • Home health and personal care aides:
      • Median annual salary: $33,140
      • Difference from national average: $7,860
    • Stockers and order fillers: 
      • Median annual salary: $29,050
      • Difference from national average: $1,670
    • Cashiers:
      • Median annual salary: $24,290
      • Difference from national average: $630
    400tmax / Getty Images

    Ohio

    • Correctional officers and jailers:
      • Median annual salary: $47,760
      • Difference from national average: $2,580
      • High school teachers:
        • Median annual salary: $64,370
        • Difference from national average: $2,710
      rappensuncle / Getty Images

      Oklahoma

      No essential jobs GOBankingRates analyzed made more than the national average in Oklahoma.

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      Oregon

      • Pharmacists:
        • Median annual salary: $141,220
        • Difference from national average: $13,130
      • Fast food and counter workers:
        • Median annual salary: $25,180
        • Difference from national average: $2,440
      • Correctional officers and jailers:
        • Median annual salary: $62,590
        • Difference from national average: $17,410
      • Police and sheriff’s patrol officers:
        • Median annual salary: $74,870
        • Difference from national average: $11,720
      • Registered nurses:
        • Median annual salary: $93,370
        • Difference from national average: $20,070
      • Home health and personal care aides:
        • Median annual salary: $28,030
        • Difference from national average: $2,750
      • Stockers and order fillers:
        • Median annual salary: $30,390
        • Difference from national average: $3,010
      • High school teachers:
        • Median annual salary: $70,930
        • Difference from national average: $9,270
      • Cashiers:
        • Median annual salary: $25,480
        • Difference from national average: $1,820
      FangXiaNuo / Getty Images

      Pennsylvania

      • Correctional officers and jailers:
        • Median annual salary: $51,900
        • Difference from national average: $6,720
      • Police and sheriff’s patrol officers:
        • Median annual salary: $69,830
        • Difference from national average: $6,680
      • Postal service mail carriers:
        • Median annual salary: $52,130
        • Difference from national average: $820
      • High school teachers:
        • Median annual salary: $65,170
        • Difference from national average: $3,510
      wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock.com

      Rhode Island

      • Fast food and counter workers:
        • Median annual salary: $24,440
        • Difference from national average: $1,700
      • Correctional officers and jailers:
        • Median annual salary: $71,330
        • Difference from national average: $26,150
      • Police and sheriff’s patrol officers:
        • Median annual salary: $63,490
        • Difference from national average: $340
      • Registered nurses:
        • Median annual salary: $83,140
        • Difference from national average: $9,840
      • Home health and personal care aides:
        • Median annual salary: $28,780
        • Difference from national average: $3,500
      • Stockers and order fillers:
        • Median annual salary: $28,910
        • Difference from national average: $1,530
      • High school teachers:
        • Median annual salary: $80,050
        • Difference from national average: $18,390
      • Cashiers:
        • Median annual salary: $24,670
        • Difference from national average: $1,010
      Alina555 / Getty Images/iStockphoto

      South Carolina

      No essential jobs GOBankingRates analyzed made more than the national average in South Carolina.

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      South Dakota

      • Home health and personal care aides:
        • Median annual salary: $25,980
        • Difference from national average: $700
      LumiNola / Getty Images

      Tennessee

      No essential jobs GOBankingRates analyzed made more than the national average in Tennessee.

      monkeybusinessimages / Getty Images/iStockphoto

      Texas

      • Pharmacists:
        • Median annual salary: $130,060
        • Difference from national average: $1,970
      • Registered nurses:
        • Median annual salary: $73,400
        • Difference from national average: $100
      SolStock / Getty Images

      Utah

      • Correctional officers and jailers:
        • Median annual salary: $45,730
        • Difference from national average: $550
      • Home health and personal care aides:
        • Median annual salary: $25,420
        • Difference from national average: $140
      NeoPhoto / Getty Images/iStockphoto

      Vermont

      • Pharmacists:
        • Median annual salary: $140,900
        • Difference from national average: $12,810
      • Fast food and counter workers:
        • Median annual salary: $25,460
        • Difference from national average: $2,720
      • Correctional officers and jailers:
        • Median annual salary: $45,400
        • Difference from national average: $220
      • Home health and personal care aides:
        • Median annual salary: $29,930
        • Difference from national average: $4,650
      • Stockers and order fillers:
        • Median annual salary: $28,750
        • Difference from national average: $1,370
      • High school teachers:
        • Median annual salary: $64,600
        • Difference from national average: $2,940
      • Cashiers:
        • Median annual salary: $24,910
        • Difference from national average: $1,250
      Hiraman / Getty Images

      Virginia

      • Pharmacists:
        • Median annual salary: $131,860
        • Difference from national average: $3,770
      • High school teachers:
        • Median annual salary: $63,800
        • Difference from national average: $2,140
      Sorbis / Shutterstock.com

      Washington

      • Pharmacists:
        • Median annual salary: $132,950
        • Difference from national average: $4,860
      • Fast food and counter workers:
        • Median annual salary: $27,370
        • Difference from national average: $4,630
      • Correctional officers and jailers:
        • Median annual salary: $56,790
        • Difference from national average: $11,610
      • Police and sheriff’s patrol officers:
        • Median annual salary: $82,140
        • Difference from national average: $18,990
      • Registered nurses:
        • Median annual salary: $83,490
        • Difference from national average: $10,190
      • Home health and personal care aides:
        • Median annual salary: $29,970
        • Difference from national average: $4,690
      • Stockers and order fillers:
        • Median annual salary: $32,780
        • Difference from national average: $5,400
      • High school teachers:
        • Median annual salary: $71,470
        • Difference from national average: $9,810
      • Cashiers:
        • Median annual salary: $28,650
        • Difference from national average: $4,990
      tdub303 / iStock.com

      West Virginia

      No essential jobs GOBankingRates analyzed made more than the national average in West Virginia.

      alvarez / Getty Images

      Wisconsin

      • Pharmacists:
        • Median annual salary: $135,350
        • Difference from national average: $7,260
      • Police and sheriff’s patrol officers:
        • Median annual salary: $64,080
        • Difference from national average: $930
      LightFieldStudios / Getty Images/iStockphoto

      Wyoming

      • Home health and personal care aides:
        • Median annual salary: $27,180
        • Difference from national average: $1,900
      • Stockers and order fillers:
        • Median annual salary: $29,160
        • Difference from national average: $1,780

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      Chris Jennings contributed to the reporting for this article.

      Methodology: GOBankingRates first used the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics for States to find how much these “essential” jobs pay in every state. GOBankingRates looked at a variety of “essential” jobs for this piece hoping to get a wholesale look at the jobs being deemed essential during the coronavirus pandemic. GOBankingRates looked at the median annual salary as well as the median hourly wage for each job in all 50 states. The national averages for each “essential” job were then found as well. GOBankingRates then singled out the states that had a median annual salary above the national average for each “essential” job. All data was collected and is up to date as of May 27, 2020.