Lowest-paying jobs that require a bachelor's degree

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May 20, 2021
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Lowest-paying jobs that require a bachelor's degree

Earning a bachelor’s degree takes commitment and effort, and it usually isn’t cheap. Nevertheless, there’s an astonishing array of jobs that require a four-year college or university degree yet pay relatively low salaries.

Stacker compiled a list of the lowest-paying jobs that require a bachelor’s degree using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Considered for the gallery were 150 jobs from the BLS 2021 Occupational Handbook that cite a bachelor’s degree as the typical education needed for an entry-level position. Jobs are ranked by 2020 median annual income. Employment projections are also from the BLS. Jobs with “all other” in the name were excluded, as these were aggregates of several jobs and the wage data is not accurate to one specific job.

Many of the low-paying jobs are in the field of media information, including as editors, reporters, correspondents, and proofreaders who draw upon their educations for their analytical and writing skills. Other jobs lean toward serving the community. Members of the clergy help guide their congregations, while social workers arrange foster care and find services and support for addicts.

However, the largest sector on the list of the lowest-paying jobs is education, which includes special education teachers, elementary teachers, vocational instructors, and middle- and high-school teachers. These jobs require not just a bachelor’s degree, but huge quantities of patience, kindness, and good humor.

So while this list may feature low-paying jobs, there are plenty of opportunities for creativity and compassion to shine.

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#75. Commercial and industrial designers

- Annual median wage: $71,640 (70.8% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 30,100
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: -3.5%

Commercial and industrial designers utilize artistic and creative skills and research to create products that will find a market. They incorporate factors like function, costs, and aesthetics to conceive new products. They sketch out ideas, create models and blueprints, and make decisions on feasibility, appearance, safety, usefulness, and design trends.

 

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#74. Compliance officers

- Annual median wage: $71,100 (69.5% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 327,360
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +4.6%

A very broad job title, compliance officers essentially ensure a company or organization adheres to external laws and government regulations as well as their own internal policies. Regardless of the setting, these professionals are working in, the day-to-day activities generally look the same and include conducting investigations, writing up reports, updating internal policies, reviewing risks, and educating staff and leadership.

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#73. Landscape architects

- Annual median wage: $70,630 (68.4% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 20,730
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: -2.4%

Landscape architects plan, design, and oversee the creation of outdoor spaces, ensuring that they’re both aesthetically pleasing and practical. The job requires a very specific set of strengths, namely an eye for beauty, a deep understanding of nature, and a creative mind.

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#72. Social and community service managers

- Annual median wage: $69,600 (65.9% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 155,800
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +17%

Social and community service managers typically work for social service organizations coordinating and overseeing programs. They work with community members, find ways to improve programs and services, analyze effectiveness, plan outreach, manage budgets, and write proposals for funding. Some might specialize in working with people who are homeless or those with mental health issues.

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#71. Cartographers and photogrammetrists

- Annual median wage: $68,380 (63.0% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 12,600
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +4.5%

Cartographers and photogrammetrists are experts in making and updating maps. Cartographers collect geographic data and create maps, while photogrammetrists work with aerial and satellite surveys to collect spatial data such as elevation and distance. They may create online and interactive maps for mobile phones and navigation systems or make maps for use in the tourism industry or urban planning.

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#70. Film and video editors

- Annual median wage: $67,250 (60.3% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 22,410
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +21.6%

Film and video editors work with movie, television, and other footage, collaborating with camera operators and directors to create visual content. Editing is largely computerized, so software expertise is a must. Film and video editors also need to be creative and skilled with cameras.

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#69. Compensation, benefits, and job analysis specialists

- Annual median wage: $67,190 (60.2% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 87,870
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +7.9%

Compensation, benefits, and job analysis specialists run companies’ pay and benefits programs. Compensation specialists focus on pay structures and promotion policies, benefits specialists handle retirement plans and insurance options, and job analysis specialists determine job descriptions and set up job classifications and pay scales. They frequently have backgrounds in human resources and need to be skilled in business administration, finance, and accounting.

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#68. Writers and authors

- Annual median wage: $67,120 (60.0% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 44,240
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: -2.3%

Writers and authors create content for websites, blogs, magazines, movies, and television. They may specialize in fiction or nonfiction, biographies, advertising copywriting, screenwriting for movies and television, or speechwriting for business leaders and politicians. They conduct research and write and rewrite texts.

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#67. Buyers and purchasing agents

- Annual median wage: $66,690 (59.0% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 419,920
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: -8.8%

Buyers and purchasing agents obtain goods and services for businesses and organizations. These workers additionally negotiate contracts, analyze suppliers, and check product quality.

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#66. Cost estimators

- Annual median wage: $66,610 (58.8% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 199,360
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: -1.5%

Cost estimators study information and data to determine the price of making a product or providing a service. Construction cost estimators handle estimates for building or road projects, while manufacturing cost estimators look at the cost of developing or producing goods or services. They consider time, money, materials, and labor needs.

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#65. Zoologists and wildlife biologists

- Annual median wage: $66,350 (58.2% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 17,200
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +3.9%

Zoologists and wildlife biologists are experts in animal physiology and behavior, habitats, reproduction, diseases, and movement. They research animal interaction with human activity and may develop breeding programs for endangered species. They help manage wildlife populations by tagging animals, and use geographic information systems to count populations, monitor migration, and assess threats. Among zoologist specialties, herpetologists study reptiles and amphibians, ichthyologists study wild fish, and cetologists study marine mammals. They may do extensive remote and demanding fieldwork.

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#64. Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators

- Annual median wage: $66,130 (57.6% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 5,810
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +7.7%

Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators work outside the court system to resolve disputes and conflicts. They need to be skilled negotiators, adept at listening and communications. Arbitrators are often attorneys who decide claims and disputes often in lieu of a trial. Mediators and conciliators guide talks in an effort to reach agreements, although their decisions are not binding.

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#63. Soil and plant scientists

- Annual median wage: $66,120 (57.6% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 13,950
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +6.8%

Soil and plant scientists are agricultural experts in the research and study of plants, trees, and soil. Their work may focus on crop yields, pest control, and soil composition. Their job skills lie in areas of physiology, crop management, and other agricultural sciences, and they do a significant amount of field and laboratory work.

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#62. Market research analysts and marketing specialists

- Annual median wage: $65,810 (56.9% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 690,160
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +17.7%

Market research analysts and marketing specialists workk for companies to analyze and judge market conditions and determine how sales of a product or service will fare. To assess demand, they collect and study consumer data, often through focus groups and surveys, and research competitors’ pricing and marketing strategies.They need to be adept at math, research, and have statistical and interpretive skills.

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#61. Surveyors

- Annual median wage: $65,590 (56.4% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 43,710
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +1.6%

Surveyors measure property boundaries.They mark legal boundaries for real estate and construction projects; assess the grade and topography of roads; map out shorelines of rivers, harbors, and lakes; and trace the paths of tunnels in underground mines. They travel, research land records and titles, and report on their findings. They often work alongside civil engineers, landscape architects, and urban planners.

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#60. Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents

- Annual median wage: $64,770 (54.4% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 440,300
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +3.7%

In financial markets, securities, commodities, and financial services sale agents conduct trades, buying and selling securities, commodities and other investment options. They need the latest knowledge of market activity and trends, and they may be responsible for making quick decisions about large amounts of money under intense time pressures. The jobs include brokers who handle trades, investment bankers who structure initial public offerings of stocks, mergers, and acquisitions, and financial services sales agents who provide advice on topics such as loans and estate and retirement planning. Typically they go on to get a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) to move ahead in the industry.

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#59. Conservation scientists

- Annual median wage: $64,020 (52.6% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 22,020
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +5.1%

Jobs for conservation scientists tend to be in government, with land trusts or with advocacy organizations. The responsibilities of conservation scientists include maintaining wildlife habitats and biodiversity, enforcing regulations, implementing management plans, and protecting the environment. They work with farmers and ranchers, assess damage caused by fires and logging, and head up fire suppression or planting efforts. They use aerial imagery from satellites, airplanes, and drones to monitor large areas.

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#58. Foresters

- Annual median wage: $63,980 (52.5% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 9,360
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +3.8%

Foresters are specialists who work with tree planting, harvesting and logging, reclamation, infestation problems, or controlled burns for fire suppression. Conducting field work and research from satellites and aircraft, they have expertise in agricultural and environmental science, soil conservation, and land management.

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#57. Loan officers

- Annual median wage: $63,960 (52.5% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 308,700
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +3.2%

Loan officers typically work for banks and mortgage companies evaluating loan applications. They study applicants’ income, debts, credit rating and other information, and make recommendations regarding their likely ability to repay a loan, They also review loan agreements so that they are legally compliant. Commercial loan officers handle loans to businesses, and consumer loan officers specialize in loans to individuals. Loan collection officers handle cases of borrowers who fail to repay their loans on time.

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#56. Animal scientists

- Annual median wage: $63,490 (51.3% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 2,680
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +5.5%

Animal scientists are specialists in livestock studies and research such as nutrition, herd management, and genetics. Their jobs might focus on farm efficiency, productivity, or the processing of milk, poultry, or eggs. They work on farms, in laboratories, at food production sites, at pharmaceutical companies, or in academic settings.

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#55. Human resources specialists

- Annual median wage: $63,490 (51.3% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 647,810
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +7%

Human resource specialists assist companies and organizations in recruiting and hiring employees and in handling worker benefits. They seek out and interview job candidates, and design and implement orientation programs and employee retention strategies. They need people-oriented skills along with a background in areas such as business administration, behavioral sciences, and labor relations.

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#54. Editors

- Annual median wage: $63,400 (51.1% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 93,370
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: -7.3%

Editors rewrite, revise, and correct text before it is published for books, newspapers, magazines, websites, and other media. Among the different types of jobs, copy editors specialize in proofreading and revising content; assistant editors specialize in areas such as sports; and executive editors typically have final approval over what gets published. Editors need to have top-notch writing skills, news judgment, creativity, an eye for detail and accuracy, and an ability to keep up with current events.

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#53. Dietitians and nutritionists

- Annual median wage: $63,090 (50.4% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 66,330
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +8%

Jobs for dietitians and nutritionists tend to be in schools, hospitals, nursing homes, cafeterias, public health organizations, and government agencies. Their expertise lies in food, nutrition, and good health. They assess patients’ needs, counsel patients, design group or individual meal plans, and must stay up to date on nutritional news and research.

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#52. Secondary school teachers, except special and career/technical education

- Annual median wage: $62,870 (49.9% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 991,000
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +3.8%

The overall responsibility of secondary school, or high school, teachers is to prepare students for further education in college or technical schools, or for the job market. At the secondary level, teachers need to be resourceful, imaginative, and resilient. They typically specialize in teaching subjects such as history or a language, hold classes, grade coursework, and prep students for standardized tests such as the SAT. Teachers also mentor and tutor students. Teaching in public schools requires a state teaching license or certification, while teaching in private schools typically does not.

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#51. Public relations specialists

- Annual median wage: $62,810 (49.7% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 244,550
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +7.2%

Public relations specialists build and keep up the image and positive perception of their clients. The job includes designing social media campaigns, writing press releases, speeches or opinion pieces, arranging interviews, and fielding media requests. To create a favorable image for their clients, public relations specialists need effective public speaking, writing, interpersonal, and problem-solving skills.

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#50. Training and development specialists

- Annual median wage: $62,700 (49.5% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 318,040
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +8.6%

Training and development specialists work with business and industry to improve staff skills. They determine employees’ and management’s needs, design training manuals and online lessons, schedule classes, and organize participation. Training also may involve videos, lectures, team exercises, and group discussions.

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#49. Career/technical education teachers, secondary school

- Annual median wage: $62,460 (48.9% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 73,530
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +2.3%

In secondary, or high schools, career/technical education teachers specialize in vocational classes, training students who are heading into the job market. Teaching subjects like auto mechanics, cosmetology, and welding, they need to be skilled at classroom lessons, creative and informative presentations, and hands-on instruction. They equip students with real-life skills and also may help with job placement opportunities.

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#48. Special education teachers, secondary school

- Annual median wage: $62,320 (48.6% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 142,500
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +3.2%

Special education teachers in secondary schools work at the high school level with students who have physical, emotional, and other disabilities. Some students might have visual or hearing difficulties, while others might have autism or use a wheelchair. Equipped with patience and resourcefulness, special education teachers at the secondary school level may design individualized lessons or adapt general class work to students’ needs, work closely with family members, and help prepare students for adult life after school ends.

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#47. Career/technical education teachers, middle school

- Annual median wage: $62,270 (48.4% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 11,670
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +3.1%

Career and technical education teachers at the middle school level teach young teen and pre-teen students. They create lesson plans, design hands-on classes in workshops and laboratories, make and grade assignments, and evaluate students’ performances. They might teach home economics, industrial arts or career discovery courses that help students envision their future opportunities.

 

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#46. Special education teachers, middle school

- Annual median wage: $61,820 (47.4% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 80,110
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +2.6%

In middle school, special education teachers modify the general education curriculum and design individualized education programs (IEPs) for students with educational and physical disabilities. They need a good grasp of teaching methods, psychology, and active listening skills.

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#45. Special education teachers, preschool

- Annual median wage: $61,400 (46.4% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 20,300
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +8.3%

At the preschool level, special education teachers work with children with disabilities. These teachers help assess their abilities, design IEPs, teach social skills, hygiene, and basics like numbers and colors, and prepare their students for elementary school that is likely to be more structured and rigorous.

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#44. Elementary school teachers, except special education

- Annual median wage: $60,940 (45.3% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 1,364,870
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +3.5%

Elementary school teachers teach students from kindergarten to middle school. They may be skilled in an array of topics like reading, math, and social studies, or they may specialize in areas such as music, art, or physical education. With job skills like patience and physical stamina, elementary school instructors teach children good behavior, critical thinking, and how to grasp abstract concepts and solve problems.

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#43. Librarians and media collections specialists

- Annual median wage: $60,820 (45.0% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 135,070
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +5%

The scope of a librarian's job is huge: These professionals are tasked with providing and sourcing information and book titles for patrons, organizing this wealth of information into an easily usable system, running community programs, and a dealth of other administrative tasks. A librarian can work in an actual library setting, or a school, government office, hospital, or law foundation.

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#42. Middle school teachers, except special and career/technical education

- Annual median wage: $60,810 (45.0% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 599,520
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +3.6%

Middle school teachers work with students in the years after elementary school and before high school. They conduct classes, design lesson plans and projects, adapt materials to meet students' needs, administer and grade tests, assign and grade homework, and record students’ progress. They may specialize in areas such as English, a foreign language, math, or social science.

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#41. Special education teachers, kindergarten and elementary school

- Annual median wage: $60,620 (44.5% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 191,170
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +2.9%

These special education teachers work with students with physical disabilities, mental impairments, and emotional disorders. They draw on specialized techniques to meet various student needs; design IEPs; and work with parents, administrators, and social workers.

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#40. Forensic science technicians

- Annual median wage: $60,590 (44.4% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 16,640
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +14.1%

Forensic science technicians collect and analyze evidence in criminal investigations. Some specialize in crime scenes and others in laboratory work. At crime scenes, technicians take photographs and make sketches, collect fingerprints and bodily fluids, and catalog and protect the integrity of the evidence. In labs, they analyze evidence, sometimes using DNA or ballistics testing. Some specialize as forensic biologists or forensic chemists, while those who specialize in computer-based crimes such as electronic fraud and identity theft are called forensic computer examiners or digital forensics analysts. They work with law enforcement, lawyers, and prosecutors, and they may testify in court about their work.

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#39. Fundraisers

- Annual median wage: $59,610 (42.1% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 82,140
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +14.3%

Fundraisers typically work for nonprofits such as cultural institutions, political campaigns, and charities. Some handle annual giving campaigns, and some focus on capital campaigns that raise money for a specific project. Major-gift fundraisers work closely with affluent donors, and planned-giving fundraisers work with donors who want to set up gifts spread over time or in their wills. Successful fundraisers create strong messages to appeal to donors, identify potential donors, organize major events, and solicit volunteers. Fundraisers for political campaigns must be well-versed in campaign finance laws.

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#38. Property appraisers and assessors

- Annual median wage: $58,650 (39.8% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 55,990
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +2.9%

Providing an unbiased estimate as to the actual value of a piece of land, home, or building is the primary job of a property appraiser. These real estate professionals work to ensure that the price a seller is asking is fair and that tax assessment information is correct.

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#37. Set and exhibit designers

- Annual median wage: $58,180 (38.7% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 10,980
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +1.2%

Set and exhibit designers create the settings and backdrops for film, television, theater, fashion shows, art exhibits, and other productions. They work closely with directors, lighting and production crews, exhibitors, and curators. These designers study architecture and decorative styles, design floor plans, and sketch and create renderings, often using computer-aided design. Their skills range from setting the artistic mood to calculating the costs of construction. Exhibit designers working with valuable or fragile art also need to know the effects of light, temperature, and humidity on that art.

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#36. Fish and game wardens

- Annual median wage: $58,040 (38.4% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 7,230
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +1.2%

Fish and game wardens are responsible for the enforcement of laws and regulations regarding wildlife protection, hunting, fishing, and boating. They guard against poaching or illegal trapping, monitor environmental conditions, and investigate criminal activity. They also may be called into action in search and rescue operations. They must be in good physical condition, capable at outdoor activities, and cognizant of laws and regulations. Most fish and game wardens work for state governments.

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#35. Kindergarten teachers, except special education

- Annual median wage: $57,860 (37.9% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 120,080
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +3.7%

Kindergarten teachers instruct students in reading, math, art, music, hygiene, and social skills. They teach children how to behave and follow rules, encouraging their interest in learning and paying close attention to their progress. Kindergarten teachers need to be creative, resourceful, organized, and patient.

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#34. Camera operators, television, video, and film

- Annual median wage: $57,200 (36.4% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 20,340
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +14%

Working under a director of photography, camera operators for film and television work to capture the images we see when we turn on our screens. The position generally requires an in-depth understanding of camera equipment as well as a collaborative attitude, as these operators often work alongside lighting and sound departments.

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#33. Interior designers

- Annual median wage: $57,060 (36.0% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 59,170
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: -4.9%

Interior designers not only must be creative but they also need to sketch and draw, read blueprints, and follow building codes, permit requirements, and regulations governing such issues as accessibility and safety. They work closely with clients, select materials, create budgets and schedules, and oversee installation and construction. They use computer-aided design and building information modeling software, and they need to be good with people and good at problem-solving. Interior designers might specialize in kitchen and bath design, business offices, or health care centers. Sustainable designers focus on environmental efficiencies and resilience, while universal designers create spaces that are accessible, particularly for people who are elderly or disabled.

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#32. Health education specialists

- Annual median wage: $56,500 (34.7% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 57,920
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +11.4%

The primary job of a health education specialist is to raise awareness about how certain behaviors– smoking, poor diet, lack of exercise, etc.– can affect the health and well-being of individuals and communities. Thanks to the broad scope of the job, health education specialists can work in a variety of settings from hospitals, to government agencies, to nursing homes and nonprofits. Some positions will require special certifications on top of a bachelor’s degree, while others are content with a simple diploma.

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#31. Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists

- Annual median wage: $55,690 (32.8% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 90,070
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +3.7%

In conjunction with the courts and law enforcement, probation officers and correctional treatment specialists work with law offenders who are in jails or prison or on probation or parole. They design rehabilitation and re-entry programs, and arrange social services such as job training, mental health treatment, or substance abuse programs. They monitor offenders’ progress, oversee drug testing, help locate housing and employment, and assess their risk of repeating their criminal behavior.

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#30. Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents

- Annual median wage: $55,640 (32.6% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 53,150
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: -4.1%

Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents work at the federal, state or local level, identifying the amount of tax revenue due and collecting funds. They examine tax returns, conduct audits, and contact taxpayers for money owed or overdue payments.Tax examiners typically review individual tax returns for accuracy, and revenue agents specialize in tax returns of businesses and corporations. Tax collectors, also called revenue officers, chase down overdue money. They might design payment plans or decide if taxpayers should be subject to liens on their assets or have their wages garnished to collect the money owed. The jobs require math, bookkeeping, and financial aptitude, organizational skills, and a strong knowledge of tax codes and laws.

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#29. Career/technical education teachers, postsecondary

- Annual median wage: $55,620 (32.6% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 105,830
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +1.1%

A technical education teacher instructs students in vocational fields like cosmetology, auto repair, or plumbing. Combining classroom and hands-on techniques, these teachers help students prepare for licensure exams or diplomas that are gateways to a career. The more education or experience a technical education teacher has the larger salary they may be able to demand.

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#28. Adult basic education, adult secondary education, and English as a Second Language instructors

- Annual median wage: $55,350 (31.9% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 42,910
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: -10.4%

Typically, adult basic education teachers teach adult students the basics of literacy and language, preparing them for high school equivalency exams. However, they can also teach more specialized courses in things like cooking, teachnology, and health and wellness. Beyond the classroom, these teachers are responsible for instilling confidence and self-worth in their students, allowing them to be successful in whatever career path they may choose.

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#27. Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians

- Annual median wage: $54,180 (29.2% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 326,220
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +7.3%

Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians are specialists who collect and test samples of body tissue and fluids. They examine cell samples, bacteria, or blood used in transfusions, using sophisticated equipment and working closely with other health care staff. With added education or experience, some move on to specialize in a laboratory science such as immunology or histotechnology, investigating tissue abnormalities.

 

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#26. Graphic designers

- Annual median wage: $53,380 (27.2% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 201,440
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: -3.8%

Graphic designers often are employed in advertising, publishing, and marketing, creating visual work to lure customers and fans. They create brochures, logos, promotional ads, book covers, album covers, and product packaging, sometimes using digital, photo editing and layout software. Graphic designers also work with architects and with industrial and interior designers.

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#25. Fine artists, including painters, sculptors, and illustrators

- Annual median wage: $52,340 (24.8% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 11,070
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +1%

Fine artists, including painters, sculptors, and illustrators, create art for clients. They might be automotive artists, portrait artists, or muralists; or they might build props, draw technical blueprints, or create models. Using traditional materials as well as computer software, fine artists build portfolios to show and market their work to attract new clients. They must be creative problem-solvers.

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#24. Interpreters and translators

- Annual median wage: $52,330 (24.7% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 56,920
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +20%

Interpreters handle spoken or sign language, while translators handle written communication. Both must be able to speak English and at least one other language as fluently as a native speaker. Interpreters might be simultaneous or consecutive, waiting until the speaker pauses. Translators must reflect the written material’s style and understand subtleties and slang. Interpreters work at business meetings, conferences, or in health care, the courts, or government settings. Translators who work in the field of localization adapt wording such as product descriptions to make goods appear to have been produced in the country where they are sold.

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#23. Music directors and composers

- Annual median wage: $52,250 (24.6% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 9,200
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +1.7%

Composers write and arrange music, while directors select artistic pieces, lead rehearsals, and conduct performances, concerts, and recording sessions. Music directors might have jobs with youth and school orchestras, church choirs, opera companies, or dance troupes. Composers write original pieces or arrange existing works on commission or for theatrical productions, film and television scores, or commercials.

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#22. Clergy

- Annual median wage: $51,940 (23.8% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 52,260
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +4%

Members of the clergy hold religious services and ceremonies such as weddings, baptisms, and funerals. They also offer spiritual aid to congregation members. Depending on the faith or denomination, they might hold the title of priest, minister, rabbi, preacher, or chaplain.

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#21. Meeting, convention, and event planners

- Annual median wage: $51,560 (22.9% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 109,800
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +7.8%

Meeting, convention, and event planners arrange business conferences, trade shows, corporate galas, charity banquets, and family weddings, often visiting prospective sites and attending the occasions as well. They work closely with clients to assess their needs; negotiate with venues and vendors; coordinate lodging and transportation; and oversee costs, billing, and payments. They sometimes are responsible for arranging speakers or activities as well.

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#20. Statistical assistants

- Annual median wage: $50,360 (20.0% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 9,320
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +6.4%

Statistical assistants work in a range of businesses such as banking, insurance, finance, manufacturing, and government research, often in shipping and receiving, billing, and data processing. They record and compute numerical data. Math skills, bookkeeping prowess, and an eye for detail are essential.

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#19. Exercise physiologists

- Annual median wage: $50,280 (19.9% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 7,330
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +11.3%

Exercise physiologists, who design fitness programs, tend to work for health care providers or are self-employed. They work with patients suffering chronic diseases, studying their medical histories to determine what regimens are appropriate, and developing the right programs to improve their conditions. They often work with patients suffering heart and lung diseases, and need to be people-oriented and compassionate.

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#18. Athletic trainers

- Annual median wage: $49,860 (18.9% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 27,430
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +16.2%

Athletic trainers are professionals who specialize in injury prevention, diagnoses, and rehabilitation. Not to be confused with personal trainers, they work under the direction of doctors or other health care providers and must be licensed in nearly all U.S. states. Their jobs are often at hospitals, schools, fitness centers, or with sports teams. Some go on to become athletic directors or health care administrators.

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#17. News analysts, reporters, and journalists

- Annual median wage: $49,300 (17.5% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 41,580
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: -11.2%

The American Press Institute declares that the purpose of journalism is to “empower the informed,” or to give citizens the information they need to make the best possible choices for themselves and their communities. When you think about it this way, it becomes clear that journalists, reporters, and news analysts have a very important job– one that truly provides an essential service. However, many journalists find themselves underpaid, especially when they compare salaries with their peers who may have a similar level of education but work in a different field.

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#16. Social science research assistants

- Annual median wage: $49,210 (17.3% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 35,330
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +5.8%

These research assistants work with social scientists, usually handling research or laboratory responsibilities. They administer tests and interview research subjects, analyze findings, and prepare results for presentation or publication. Social science research assistants need to be skilled at software programs, record-keeping, writing, and problem-solving.

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#15. Education and childcare administrators, preschool and daycare

- Annual median wage: $49,160 (17.2% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 46,410
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +1%

Preschool and daycare teachers play an important role in children’s development. Often the first formal teachers in a child’s life, these professionals teach structure, interpersonal skills, emotional skills, and critical thinking. Like other educators, preschool and daycare teachers are often undervalued despite the essential, and life-shaping services they provide.

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#14. Child, family, and school social workers

- Annual median wage: $48,430 (15.4% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 328,120
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +11.7%

The responsibilities of child, family, and school social workers range from arranging foster care and adoptions to counseling abused children and pregnant teens. They work with schools, charities, courts, protective services, and medical systems for the benefit of children's well-being. Some may have large and emotionally taxing caseloads. Every U.S. state has certification requirements. Some social workers move on to supervisory positions, research, consulting, teaching, or private practice.

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#13. Recreational therapists

- Annual median wage: $47,710 (13.7% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 20,080
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +8.3%

Recreational therapists treat patients and clients who are disabled or have injuries or illnesses. Many employers prefer to hire workers who have earned a certification from the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation.

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#12. Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors

- Annual median wage: $47,660 (13.6% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 293,620
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +24.7%

In settings from prisons to private practice, substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors treat and support patients with behavioral issues, mental health problems, alcoholism, and addiction. They might work with individuals or with groups, choose a specialty such as eating disorders, or focus on an area such as crisis intervention or outreach.

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#11. Agricultural inspectors

- Annual median wage: $46,700 (11.3% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 13,450
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +1.8%

Evaluating produce, crops, livestock, and processing, agricultural inspectors need a strong knowledge of federal and state regulations on safety, health, food handling, and packaging. They might work on farms or ranches, at processing plants, or in laboratories.

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#10. Biological technicians

- Annual median wage: $46,340 (10.5% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 80,640
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +4.9%

Also known as laboratory assistants, biological technicians assist scientists and researchers conducting tests and experiments. They use sophisticated laboratory equipment and software to analyze information and data, and write up findings and reports. Some may collect samples in the field, and others might work on laboratory experiments with research animals. They need technical, observational, and critical-thinking skills, and the career path may lead them to become scientists or teachers.

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#9. Credit counselors

- Annual median wage: $46,170 (10.1% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 30,770
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +7.6%

Credit counselors advise consumers on managing money, handling debt, budgeting, and averting bankruptcy. They offer help with repayment plans, creditors, mortgages, and loans. Most work for agencies, but some are freelancers or contractors. They need math, accounting, and finance skills, and a knowledge of personal finance, banking practices, and lending laws and regulations.

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#8. Museum technicians and conservators

- Annual median wage: $45,710 (9.0% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 11,930
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +11.6%

In these jobs, museum technicians and conservators handle the restoration and maintenance of collections of artifacts, art, or other works. Responsibilities include readying the works for exhibition or storage, with an eye to keeping them safe and preserved. They also clean, repair, and restore work, and they might test objects to determine their age, original appearance, and preservation needs.

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#7. Directors, religious activities and education

- Annual median wage: $45,110 (7.5% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 19,860
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +3.3%

Directors of religious activities and education work with religious institutions and organizations designing and overseeing programs and activities for children, members, followers, or in outreach. They collaborate with the ministry and staff to create religious programs and devise ways to boost participation. The job requires leadership skills and creativity to plan workshops and conferences, develop educational materials, set up events such as camps or retreats, and handle publicity.

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#6. Proofreaders and copy markers

- Annual median wage: $41,140 (1.9% lower than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 6,610
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: -2.7%

Proofreaders and copy markers read texts, transcripts and other written material to find and fix errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, facts, and style. Necessary job skills include an eye for detail, a knowledge of English composition and rules, and being comfortable with various software programs for processing work.

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#5. Broadcast announcers and radio disc jockeys

- Annual median wage: $36,770 (12.3% lower than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 27,290
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: -5.3%

Once upon a time, radio disc jockeys spent their shifts curating playlists and introducing audiences to new and up-and-coming acts. Today, DJs typically just press a “play” button on a playlist compiled by their station’s music directors and only provide original content when they break up the tunes with weather reports, mini monologues, and the occasional interview. Many stations have begun to broadcast syndicated shows rather than original programs, which has led to a reduction in salaries overall.

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#4. Coaches and scouts

- Annual median wage: $36,330 (13.4% lower than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 208,180
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +11.8%

Coaches work with amateur and professional athletes and teams to improve and perfect their skills. Scouts look for potential new players and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of opposing players and teams. Coaches organize practices, design training workouts and physical conditioning routines, and devise winning game and match strategies. They must understand sports techniques and game rules, be competitive, and know how to motivate and encourage their players and teams.

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#3. Teaching assistants, postsecondary

- Annual median wage: $36,250 (13.6% lower than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 138,740
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +3.4%

Graduate teaching assistants are students in post-secondary schools who help professors and faculty members with teaching. Along with conducting classes, they lead study groups, labs, and seminars, design and give tests, and grade papers, projects, exams. Some also tutor or work on research projects.

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#2. Legislators

- Annual median wage: $33,200 (20.9% lower than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 51,290
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +6.2%

Legislators are elected officials who design, introduce, support, and approve law- and policy-making measures. They might be local, state, federal, or tribal. The job requires listening to the needs of voters, balancing conflicting interests, allocating limited resources, making budgets, collaboration and compromise with other lawmakers and policymakers, and advocating for constituents. Leadership, public speaking, and interpersonal skills are a must.

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#1. Substitute teachers, short-term

- Annual median wage: $29,370 (30.0% lower than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 512,030
- Projected change in employment 2019-2029: +2.6%

Filling in for absent teachers, substitute teachers might work for a day, a week, or even a year. These workers have to be ready for a different classroom environment on as much as a daily basis.

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