There are millions of jobs in America, but some are more popular than others. With over 150 million people employed, these 12 jobs employ more people than any others.
Some of these jobs don’t pay very well and might not make a great career. Many of them pay below the national median wage, making it hard to make a living on just the salary alone.
We’ve reviewed data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to find out which state pays the most for each of these 12 jobs. This will help you navigate which job pays well in your area, or you might consider moving to a state that values your job more than your current one.
Here’s how much the 12 most popular jobs in America pay — and which states pay the most.
Retail Salespersons – New York
- National median wage: $ 34,730
- New York median wage: $40,000
Retail sales is the most popular job in America, with over 3.5 million employees working jobs around the U.S. In New York alone, there are over 230,000 retail salespersons, and the pay is the highest in the country.
While the average pay is just under $34,000, retail sales professionals earn an average of $40,000 in New York. While this is not a high salary, sales employees may also earn commission and can quickly increase their income.
Home Health and Personal Care Aides – Washington
- National median wage: $ 30,930
- Washington median wage: $37,900
Home health and personal care aides help monitor the condition of people with disabilities or chronic illness, and help them with their daily activities. Home care employees typically don’t need a college degree and can earn around $31,000 per year.
In Washington state, the pay is a bit higher, with average home care aides earning nearly $38,000 per year.
General and Operations Managers – New Jersey
- National median wage: $ 122,860
- New Jersey median wage: $179,190
Operations managers perform a wide range of functions, including planning, directing and coordinating of public or private company services. These managers typically oversee a crew or team and are in charge of hiring, firing and the pay of their subordinates.
There are over 3 million operations managers in the U.S., and the average pay is high, with national wages of around $123,000. In New Jersey, average pay is much higher, with operations managers earning nearly $180,000 per year.
Fast Food and Counter Workers – Washington D.C.
- National median wage: $ 28,130
- Washington D.C. median wage: $36,040
Fast food chains are everywhere, and there are over 3 million fast food and counter workers in the U.S. The pay isn’t great, with average wages around $28,000 per year. But in Washington D.C. you can earn around $36,000 per year.
Cashiers – Washington
- National median wage: $ 28,730
- Washington median wage: $35,940
There are over 3.2 million cashiers in the U.S. Cashiers keep stores running by ringing up customers and collecting money for items purchased. The pay is around $28,700 per year on average, but you can earn more in Washington state where the median wage is nearly $36,000 per year.
Registered Nurses – California
- National median wage: $ 89,010
- California median wage: $133,340
Registered nurses help with medical patients, assess problems and needs, create care plans and maintain medical records. There are over 3 million nurses around the country, and the pay isn’t bad, with median wages around $89,000 per year. But if you move to California, nurses earn over $133,000 on average, which is a great income.
Laborers and Freight, Stock and Material Movers – Alaska
- National median wage: $37,510
- Alaska median wage: $46,060
General labor jobs are those that require manual moving of freight, stock and other materials (excluding construction labor). These jobs offer decent pay for entry-level positions, with median wages around $37,000. If you want to earn the most as a laborer, Alaska pays around $46,000 per year, giving you a $9,000 pay bump.
Customer Service Representatives – Washington D.C.
- National median wage: $ 41,190
- Washington D.C. median wage: $51,930
Customer service representatives help handle customer questions and issues, both over the phone and in person. Most companies have a customer service department, so the position is invaluable, though median wages are just $41,000 per year. If you live in Washington D.C. the median wage for a customer service representative is near $52,000.
Stockers and Order Fillers – Washington
- National median wage: $35,550
- Washington median wage: $40,570
Amazon has made this job very popular, with 2.8 million stocker and order filler jobs nationwide. Stockers handle items from stockroom, warehouse or storage yard facilities to fulfill customer orders. The median wage is around $35,000 per year, but in Washington state you can earn around $40,000 per year on average.
Office Clerks, General – Washington D.C.
- National median wage: $41,140
- Washington D.C. median wage: $51,700
Working as an office clerk means handling a wide range of tasks, including answering telephones, typing documents and filing records. The pay is decent, with median wages of around $41,000 per year. If you do office work in Washington D.C. you can earn about $10,000 more per year, with median wages around $52,000 annually.
Janitors and Cleaners – Washington
- National median wage: $33,960
- Washington median wage: $41,010
Cleaning services help keep workplaces and public spaces clean, and there are over 2.1 million janitorial and cleaner jobs in the U.S. The median pay for these jobs is around $34,000 per year, or just over $16 an hour. In Washington state, the median pay is higher, with earnings of $41,000 per year.
Note: This does not include home cleaning jobs, such as maids and housekeeping cleaners.
Waiters and Waitresses – Washington D.C.
- National median wage: $33,020
- Washington D.C. median wage: $50,790
Restaurants offer quite a few waiter and waitress jobs in the U.S., with over 2.1 million employed currently. The median pay is around $33,000 per year, though this might not include tips. If you’re a waiter or waitress in Washington D.C., you can expect much higher pay, with median wages of around $51,000 per year. And working in a higher-end restaurant and increase this number drastically.
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