Skip to main content

Main Area

Main

100 lowest-paying jobs in America

1/
ChameleonsEye // Shutterstock

100 lowest-paying jobs in America

The United States is one of the richest countries in the world. According to the CIA World Factbook, America’s gross domestic product per capita is $59,500—ranking it as 19th out of 229 countries. However, this wealth does not benefit all Americans equally.

Wealth inequality is a growing problem in the United States. A jaw-dropping wealth gap between the rich and the poor in the United States looks more like that of Russia and China than the United Kingdom, France, and other advanced democracies. More than two-thirds of the wealth is concentrated in the top 10% of earners, while median family wealth shrunk by 40% after the Great Recession compared with pre-2007 figures. It’s getting harder for Americans to stay in the middle class, and some are struggling to get by. It begs the question: Which workers are struggling the most?

To determine which workers have the bleakest prospects, Stacker identified the 100 lowest-paying jobs in the United States using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Based on average annual wage, ties between jobs with the same salary were broken by their median hourly wage. The data is originally from 2018 but received an update in April 2019. Only occupations in the “detail” level were considered, and jobs with “all other” in the title were excluded from this list.

Stacker found that the national annual mean income for all occupations was $51,960—a figure that’s almost $20,000 more than the highest-paying occupation on this list, and nearly $30,000 more than the lowest-paid job in America. Read on to learn which of the nation’s occupations pay barely livable wages, and see how your job stacks up to others on the list.

You may also like: The cost of a beer the year you turned 21

2/
Canva

#100. Security guards

- Annual mean wage: $32,050 (38.3% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $13.70
- Number employed: 1,114,380

Security guards are charged with the keeping hospitals, schools, stores, and other facilities safe. The occupation has relatively low barriers to entry, considering the vital role it plays. Workers may not even need a high school diploma to apply for a position as a security guard.

3/
Giulio_Fornasar // Shutterstock

#99. Mail clerks and mail machine operators, except postal service

- Annual mean wage: $32,040 (38.3% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $14.63
- Number employed: 86,150

The primary function of this occupation is to take care of incoming and outgoing mail and packages in industries like publishing, business support services, and public relations. It’s a job that’s on the decline. Mail clerks and machine operators face a high risk of job loss due to automation, and the field is expected to shrink by at least 2% from 2018 to 2028.

4/
Canva

#98. Crossing guards

- Annual mean wage: $31,970 (38.5% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $13.92
- Number employed: 79,880

Crossing guards help guide people and cars near schools, construction sites, city streets, and railroad crossings. While their salary is among the lowest of American jobs, crossing guards require no formal education or previous experience in a similar line of work.

5/
Canva

#97. Grinding and polishing workers, hand

- Annual mean wage: $31,900 (38.6% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $14.21
- Number employed: 30,280

People who grind or polish materials, such as metal, plastic, or stone, by hand, need a lot of physical abilities. They must have excellent manual dexterity, control precision, and near vision to see the details of their projects. Despite this skillset, many workers in this field may find themselves out of a job in the next 10 years. This occupation is expected to decline by 19% from 2018 to 2028, losing almost 6,000 jobs.

6/
Pexels

#96. Helpers: carpenters

- Annual mean wage: $31,850 (38.7% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $14.85
- Number employed: 33,020

Professionals in construction trades, like electricians and carpenters, rely on helpers to take care of simpler tasks, like carrying tools, setting up equipment, or clean-up. While it’s not a well-paid occupation, helpers gain valuable on-the-job training that can lead to advancements in construction occupations that pay significantly more.

You may also like: Best commute in every state

7/
Unsplash

#95. Merchandise displayers and window trimmers

- Annual mean wage: $31,850 (38.7% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $13.68
- Number employed: 128,960

What would the holidays be without those extravagant displays in the windows of department stores and boutiques? The credit for this seasonal tradition, and the displays inside of stores, can be given to workers in this occupation. Unfortunately, the growing popularity of online shopping may be killing the art of creative merchandise displays. This type of work is predicted to grow at a much slower rate than average between now and 2028.

8/
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health // Wikimedia Commons

#94. Helpers: roofers

- Annual mean wage: $31,740 (38.9% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $14.61
- Number employed: 8,630

Workers in this occupation take on less-skilled tasks required by roofers, such as gathering materials, holding tools, and cleaning work areas. Just like carpenter helpers, roofer helpers may learn essential skills on the job that can help them advance into better-paying positions. It’s a hands-on job that requires continually standing on high places outdoors.

9/
Kitja Kitja // Shutterstock

#93. Helpers: painters, paperhangers, plasterers, and stucco masons

- Annual mean wage: $31,720 (39% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $14.40
- Number employed: 10,600

Helpers free up time for professionals, like paperhangers, plasterers, painters, and stucco masons, to take on more skilled tasks by taking care of duties that require less training. They might hold materials or tools, keep equipment clean, and assemble structures. They typically learn how to be a helper by working with a more experienced professional in the field.

10/
MS Mikel // Shutterstock

#92. Machine feeders and offbearers

- Annual mean wage: $31,710 (39% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $14.21
- Number employed: 66,380

Workers need little education to get a job in this occupation, which involves loading materials into a machine or removing them from equipment. Around 94% of machine feeders and offbearers have a high school diploma or less education. Knowledge of production and processing, and decent mechanical and mathematical skills, can help workers be successful in this job.

11/
chmee2 // Wikimedia Commons

#91. Food cooking machine operators and tenders

- Annual mean wage: $31,690 (39% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $14.48
- Number employed: 32,260

Workers in this occupation run the machines used to make the foods that fill the snack aisle at your grocery store. It’s a demanding job that requires workers to stand all day in noisy manufacturing plants and risk serious injuries from cuts and falls. In fact, the related occupation of food processing workers has an extremely high rate of workers getting injured or ill, compared with other occupations.

You may also like: Best public high schools in America

12/
Hunter Kahn // Wikimedia Commons

#90. Cutters and trimmers, hand

- Annual mean wage: $31,600 (39.2% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $14.13
- Number employed: 10,580

Many of the workers who cut and trim items like carpet, glass, and stone, by hand may soon be out of a job. The BLS expects this occupation to shrink by 28% by 2028, losing 3,000 jobs. It stands a 97% chance of being automated, according to the Center for an Urban Future.

13/
Unsplash

#89. Models

- Annual mean wage: $31,570 (39.2% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $11.43
- Number employed: 3,310

When you consider the multimillion-dollar salaries of top models, like Kendall Jenner and Karlie Kloss, it’s hard to imagine that this glamorous occupation is actually one of the lowest-paid jobs in America. Workers need little more than a pretty face to get started modeling, but climbing the ladder requires that they land a reputable agency, build an excellent portfolio, and grow their social media following.

14/
Canva

#88. Helpers: installation, maintenance, and repair workers

- Annual mean wage: $31,390 (39.6% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $14.16
- Number employed: 105,040

Workers in this occupation act as assistants to installation, maintenance, and repair workers. They take care of tasks that require less skill, such as gathering supplies, cleaning machines, and holding materials for other workers. Entry-level roles typically require workers to have a high school diploma or GED and undergo a brief period of on-the-job training.

15/
U.S. Forest Service- Pacific Northwest Region

#87. Forest and conservation workers

- Annual mean wage: $31,320 (39.7% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $13.20
- Number employed: 7,510

People who love working all day outdoors may land a job as a forest and conservation worker. These roles, which typically only require workers to have a driver’s license and high school diploma, involve taking care of trees and improving the quality of forests. Forest and conservation workers who wish to advance in their careers may need to get higher education in forestry or a similar field.

16/
ESB Basic // Shutterstock

#86. Switchboard operators, including answering service

- Annual mean wage: $31,290 (39.8% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $14.14
- Number employed: 71,600

Switchboard operators manage incoming and outgoing calls, providing information to callers, and taking down messages. Facing a 96% likelihood of automation, switchboard operators will probably undergo a significant decline in demand over the next 10 years.

You may also like: Best places to retire on the East Coast

17/
Skeeze // pixabay

#85. Sawing machine setters, operators, and tenders, wood

- Annual mean wage: $31,200 (40% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $14.18
- Number employed: 52,260

Part of the field of woodworking, this occupation specializes in running specific kinds of machinery, like CNC wood routers, to make products such as cabinets. Entering the field only requires a high school diploma, but advancing to the next level may take many years of experience on the job.

18/
PxHere

#84. Counter and rental clerks

- Annual mean wage: $31,200 (40% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $13.12
- Number employed: 426,700

Counter and rental clerks are the workers responsible for taking orders for services like rentals and repairs. While they don’t need any formal education to land an entry-level job, they will need to exhibit excellent customer service skills, sales and marketing knowledge, and communication abilities to be successful.

19/
Mark Fischer // Flickr

#83. Woodworking machine setters, operators, and tenders, except sawing

- Annual mean wage: $31,110 (40.1% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $14.29
- Number employed: 78,980

Members of this occupation take care of woodworking duties, such as operating drill presses, nailing machines, sanders, and lathes. It can be a dangerous job, and workers have been known to develop carpal tunnel syndrome, hernias, and pain from excessive amounts of awkward physical movements.

20/
Myfuture.com // Flickr

#82. Psychiatric aides

- Annual mean wage: $31,090 (40.2% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $14.03
- Number employed: 56,910

This occupation may be one of the easier opportunities for people who wish to break into the field of mental health. While more advanced jobs in the field may require a master’s degree and state license, psychiatric aids generally only need a high school diploma. On-the-job training gives them the tools they need to monitor patients in healthcare facilities, help them with daily tasks, serve meals, and perform other duties.

21/
Pixabay

#81. Landscaping and groundskeeping workers

- Annual mean wage: $30,940 (40.5% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $13.94
- Number employed: 913,480

Landscaping and groundskeeping workers primp and beautify outdoor environments, such as golf courses, municipal areas, and college campuses. New hires typically learn all the skills for this work through on-the-job training, but they may need to take exams and apply for a state license if they wish to use pesticides and fertilizers. Since this occupation can be seasonal, some workers in the field may offer services like snow removal and installation of holiday decor in the colder months.

You may also like: History of gold and which countries have the most

22/
Canva

#80. Laborers and freight, stock, and material movers, hand

- Annual mean wage: $30,890 (40.6% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $13.59
- Number employed: 2,893,180

Also known as “pickers,” workers in this occupation play an important role in the shipping industry. They often work in warehouses, where they load trucks, move items to storage areas, track packages, and sort materials. Just a few weeks of on-the-job training is enough to get new hires up to speed in this role.

23/
Unsplash

#79. Transportation attendants, except flight attendants

- Annual mean wage: $30,640 (41% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $12.87
- Number employed: 25,460

Buses, ships, and trains rely on transportation attendants to keep passengers safe and comfortable on their journeys. They may greet customers, explain safety procedures, serve drinks, and collect fares. The occupation is expected to add about 1,300 new jobs between 2018 and 2028.

24/
ProfDEH // Wikimedia Commons

#78. Couriers and messengers

- Annual mean wage: $30,620 (41.1% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $13.81
- Number employed: 75,720

Couriers and messengers get documents and packages where they need to go. While some might walk between the destinations, other workers use a bike, car, or public transportation to complete deliveries farther away. A good sense of direction and knowledge of navigation software can go a long way toward success for these workers.

25/
Unsplash

#77. Textile knitting and weaving machine setters, operators, and tenders

- Annual mean wage: $30,470 (41.4% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $14.02
- Number employed: 21,190

Workers in this occupation run the machines that knit, loop, or weave fabrics. They need to show great attention to detail, checking for defects in textiles and ensuring that products meet specifications. Unfortunately for people who have built their careers in this work, jobs in this field are on the decline. The occupation is expected to lose about 19% of jobs between 2018 and 2028.

26/
Shortcuts smarter business // Flickr

#76. Receptionists and information clerks

- Annual mean wage: $30,350 (41.6% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $14.01
- Number employed: 1,043,630

Receptionists and information clerks can be found in nearly every industry, often greeting guests, picking up the phone, and providing information about their companies. They play an important role in giving customers a good first impression of the organization. The occupation can be a springboard to more lucrative jobs, such as secretaries and administrative assistants.

You may also like: Most successful fast food companies

27/
ITRE Bicycle // Flickr

#75. Bicycle repairers

- Annual mean wage: $30,290 (41.7% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $13.92
- Number employed: 12,200

Anyone who knows their way around a bicycle and can figure out how to fix parts when they break stands a chance at entering this occupation. As rates of bicycling continue to climb, there will be an increased demand for workers who can fix two-wheelers over the next decade.

28/
Unsplash

#74. Hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists

- Annual mean wage: $30,190 (41.9% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $11.89
- Number employed: 377,210

This occupation helps people look their best through hair and makeup services. No matter which state they work in, hairstylists and cosmetologists need to obtain a license, which usually requires over 1,000 hours of training. Starting salaries are low, but workers can boost their pay through tips for good service and beating out the competition for a coveted position at a high-paying salon.

29/
EG Focus // Flickr

#73. Tellers

- Annual mean wage: $30,140 (42% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $14.16
- Number employed: 468,470

Tellers specialize in cashing checks, depositing cash, collecting payments, and processing other routine transactions at banks. With bank branch locations on the decline, the rise of online banking, and technologically advanced ATMs becoming the norm, the need for tellers is dropping. The field is projected to lose about 12% of jobs in the coming years.

30/
Canva

#72. Dietetic technicians

- Annual mean wage: $30,130 (42% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $13.05
- Number employed: 33,540

While workers who wish to become a dietitian or nutritionist usually need a bachelor’s degree, they can become an entry-level dietetic technician with just an associate’s degree. They usually are supervised by an experienced dietitian, producing healthy meals and offering nutritional guidance to clients.

31/
no attribution required // maxpixel

#71. Shoe machine operators and tenders

- Annual mean wage: $30,110 (42.1% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $14.63
- Number employed: 3,810

Shoe machine operators and tenders use a variety of machines to fashion footwear, joining parts together and adding decorative touches. Most workers in this occupation work in Maine, but they can earn significantly more money in Massachusetts.

You may also like: Best jobs that require a bachelor's degree

32/
Canva

#70. Residential advisors

- Annual mean wage: $29,970 (42.3% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $13.39
- Number employed: 108,380

Working in college dorms, group homes, and other living facilities, residential advisors have a diverse array of duties to keep residents and their housing safe and orderly. They may coordinate activities, ordering supplies, determining the need for furniture, assigning rooms, and referring residents to counseling resources. The Wall Street Journal considers the job to be one of the “most promising careers of the next decade.”

33/
Martha McQuade // Flickr

#69. Textile bleaching and dyeing machine operators and tenders

- Annual mean wage: $29,930 (42.4% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $13.84
- Number employed: 9,330

Besides getting textiles bright white, workers in this occupation may also dye, shrink, wash, and finish fabrics and fibers. While they rarely need more than a high school education, workers will need to have knowledge of production and processing, chemistry, and math to be successful in this field.

34/
Canva

#68. Orderlies

- Annual mean wage: $29,840 (42.6% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $13.49
- Number employed: 50,100

Orderlies typically work in hospitals and nursing homes, bringing patients to different areas of the facility and stocking supplies. It’s a physically demanding job that often requires lifting patients and responding to emergencies. A National Public Radio investigation from 2015 found that the rate at which orderlies and the related profession of nursing assistants suffer from back injuries is three times that of construction laborers.

35/
Jorge Royan // Wikimedia Commons

#67. Shoe and leather workers and repairers

- Annual mean wage: $29,800 (42.6% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $13.87
- Number employed: 8,640

This line of work involves constructing and repairing leather products, including footwear, saddles, and luggage. Workers need little formal education to enter this field, but they will need to undergo a moderate amount of on-the-job training to master their craft.

36/
Elliot Brown // Flickr

#66. Textile winding, twisting, and drawing out machine setters, operators, and tenders

- Annual mean wage: $29,660 (42.9% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $13.90
- Number employed: 31,650

More than half the people who work in this occupation have less education than a high school diploma. The job involves operating machines that wind or twist fabrics. The state of Georgia employs the most people as textile winding, twisting, and drawing out machine setters, operators, and tenders.

You may also like: Worst jobs in America

37/
Pexels

#65. Driver/sales workers

- Annual mean wage: $29,610 (43% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $11.88
- Number employed: 414,860

While some delivery drivers are only responsible for getting a package to the right place, driver/sales workers have additional sales responsibilities. They may encourage a retail client to introduce new products to their stock, or try to find new clients on an existing route. While the occupation is expected to lose 3% of jobs between 2018 and 2028, they may see new opportunities from app-based delivery companies in the coming years.

38/
Canva

#64. Nursing assistants

- Annual mean wage: $29,580 (43.1% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $13.72
- Number employed: 1,450,960

Nursing assistants provide basic care to patients in hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities. They may help patients bathe, get dressed, use the toilet, eat meals, and track vital signs. States require that workers complete an approved education program and demonstrate competency on a nursing assistant exam before they can enter this occupation.

39/
Canva

#63. Tire repairers and changers

- Annual mean wage: $29,530 (43.2% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $13.41
- Number employed: 111,620

Workers in this occupation maintain the condition of vehicle tires and repair or replace tires that are worn or damaged. While most jobs in this field only require a high school diploma, workers must learn how to operate a hydraulic lift so they can elevate a car and access the wheels.

40/
kelly // Flickr

#62. Sewers, hand

- Annual mean wage: $29,510 (43.2% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $13.78
- Number employed: 5,350

Sewers use a needle and thread to join, reinforce, or finish manufactured items, such as clothing. It’s one of the top jobs at risk of complete automation, expected to decline by 9% by 2028.

41/
U.S. Department of Agriculture // Flickr

#61. Textile cutting machine setters, operators, and tenders

- Annual mean wage: $29,440 (43.3% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $13.57
- Number employed: 13,310

People who run machines that cut textiles fall into this occupation. Most textile cutting machine setters, operators, and tenders work in Georgia, California, or North Carolina. However, that may change by 2028—the date by which the occupation is expected to lose 1,700, or 12%, of its jobs.

You may also like: Most popular college majors in America

42/
Canva

#60. Helpers: production workers

- Annual mean wage: $29,380 (43.5% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $13.33
- Number employed: 350,410

Workers in this occupation help production workers by taking care of less-skilled tasks, such as holding tools, gathering materials, and cleaning workspaces. The employment services industry employs nearly a third of the 350,410 workers in this occupation. Other top industries that use production worker helpers include animal slaughtering and processing, converted paper product manufacturing, and bakeries and tortilla manufacturing.

43/
Canva

#59. Pharmacy aides

- Annual mean wage: $29,190 (43.8% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $12.72
- Number employed: 36,970

Pharmacy aides help keep track of the stock of medication at their workplaces and let their supervisors know if they need to reorder merchandise. The job is rapidly declining and is expected to lose 4,500 positions by 2028.

44/
Canva

#58. Ambulance drivers and attendants, except emergency medical technicians

- Annual mean wage: $29,010 (44.2% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $12.38
- Number employed: 15,380

Ambulance drivers and attendants play an essential role in transporting people who are sick, injured, or recuperating from an accident. They need to stay cool in emergencies and know how to offer rescue assistance or first aid. Projected to grow by 11% between 2018 and 2028, ambulance drivers and attendants may see more opportunities for work in the coming years.

45/
Patrick Rudolf // Flickr

#57. Gaming cage workers

- Annual mean wage: $28,980 (44.2% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $13.22
- Number employed: 16,020

When people at a casino want to change their cash for chips (or vice versa), they go to a gaming cage worker for service. Workers in this occupation need to be good with numbers and have effective organizational skills. California employs the highest numbers of gaming cage workers, followed by Nevada.

46/
PxHere

#56. Library assistants, clerical

- Annual mean wage: $28,960 (44.3% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $12.74
- Number employed: 88,970

While librarian roles are reserved for people who have completed a master’s degree, clerical library assistants can enter the field with just a high school diploma and brief on-the-job training. They have basic duties, such as answering phones, organizing files, and maintaining databases. Those who excel in the role may go on to more lucrative positions, such as library supervisors.

You may also like: 50 best public colleges ranked from least to most expensive

47/
Unsplash

#55. Janitors and cleaners, except maids and housekeeping cleaners

- Annual mean wage: $28,950 (44.3% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $12.55
- Number employed: 2,156,270

Any building can credit its cleanliness and condition to janitors and cleaners. The 2.4 million workers in this occupation are responsible for everything from collecting trash and cleaning restrooms to scrubbing floors and washing windows. Most workers learn on the job, but some undergo certification through professional organizations to become more competitive for employment.

48/
Unsplash

#54. Floral designers

- Annual mean wage: $28,900 (44.4% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $13.08
- Number employed: 43,360

Floral designers arrange blossoms and greenery into decorative displays for some of life’s most important moments, including weddings and funerals. They have an artistic talent for evoking specific sentiments through flowers. While the demand for flower arrangements will remain steady in the coming decade, the nation is projected to need 14% fewer floral designers by 2028, as online flower delivery services widen the geographic footprint of existing shops.

49/
PxHere

#53. Farmworkers, farm, ranch, and aquacultural animals

- Annual mean wage: $28,840 (44.5% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $12.77
- Number employed: 37,780

Workers in this occupation typically undergo on-the-job training and rarely need a high school diploma to find a job. They take care of livestock. Those who wish to advance can pursue supervisory positions, such as crew leader, and may be more competitive if they are bilingual in both English and Spanish.

50/
Fabrice Florin // Flickr

#52. Teacher assistants

- Annual mean wage: $28,750 (44.7% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: not available
- Number employed: 1,331,560

Working hand-in-hand with licensed teachers, people in this occupation give students supplementary instruction to reinforce the lessons. They also enforce school rules, offer preparation assistance to teachers, take attendance, and calculate grades. Teacher assistants are typically required to have completed two or more years of college coursework or earned an associate’s degree. This role may be the first step people take in eventually becoming a school teacher.

51/
Austin Community College // Flickr

#51. Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers

- Annual mean wage: $28,690 (44.8% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $13.24
- Number employed: 89,480

These workers handle routine animal care and assist scientists and veterinarians with daily duties. Most veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers have no formal education beyond high school, but some go on to get certifications from professional associations to take their careers to the next level.

You may also like: Best places to retire in every state

52/
Karen Sabin // Flickr

#50. Bakers

- Annual mean wage: $28,660 (44.8% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $12.75
- Number employed: 180,010

America has a sweet tooth, and it’s driving up the demand for bakers. The occupation is expected to grow 6% by 2028. Formal education isn’t mandatory for this job, but some workers get trained at technical or culinary schools for up to two years. They may need to start their career as a baker’s assistant before learning the techniques to become a full-fledged baker.

53/
Canva

#49. Telemarketers

- Annual mean wage: $28,550 (45.1% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $12.14
- Number employed: 164,160

Telemarketers call people to request donations or try to make sales for their company. Workers learn everything they need to know about telemarketing through on-the-job training.

54/
Zivica Kerkez // Shutterstock

#48. Stock clerks and order fillers

- Annual mean wage: $28,520 (45.1% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $12.36
- Number employed: 2,056,030

Workers in this occupation receive, unpack, and keep track of merchandise at stores and manufacturing facilities. Stock clerks and order fillers usually need a high school education to land a position. This role may set workers up for eventual promotion to other occupations, such as a purchasing agent or salesperson.

55/
Rose Physical Therapy // Flickr

#47. Physical therapist aides

- Annual mean wage: $28,500 (45.2% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $12.62
- Number employed: 47,260

Physical therapist aides help prepare treatment areas, wash linens, conduct clerical duties, and transport patients around therapy areas. There’s no requirement for a physical therapist aide to have formal post-secondary education or a state license to work. To advance in the field and become a therapist assistant, they need to graduate with an associate’s degree from an approved program and get certified.

56/
Don LaVange // Flickr

#46. Funeral attendants

- Annual mean wage: $28,480 (45.2% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $12.69
- Number employed: 35,340

Workers in this occupation take care of tasks for a funeral, including arranging floral offerings, closing the casket, storing equipment, and escorting mourners. It’s an entry-level role at a funeral home and requires candidates to have a high school diploma (or GED) and participate in a brief period of on-the-job training. Funeral attendants can advance in their careers by studying funeral service or mortuary science and passing a state licensing exam to become a funeral service manager or director.

You may also like: 50 best private colleges ranked from least to most expensive

57/
Smash the Iron Cage // Wikimedia Commons

#45. Slaughterers and meat packers

- Annual mean wage: $28,450 (45.2% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $13.59
- Number employed: 75,550

People who slaughter animals and pack meat comprise this occupation. The New York Times once called slaughterers and meat packers the complete opposite occupation to architects, as the job requires a lot of physical abilities, including speed and dexterity. Workers usually need a high school diploma to land a job in this field.

58/
Phil Dolby // Flickr

#44. Taxi drivers and chauffeurs

- Annual mean wage: $28,450 (45.2% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $12.49
- Number employed: 207,920

Taxi drivers and chauffeurs don’t need a formal education to work in this occupation, but they typically have on-the-job training to learn safety procedures, traffic laws, and the lay of the land. They need a driver’s license or a special taxi and limousine license, depending on the municipality in which they work. Taxi drivers who wish to increase their salary may invest in their own cab service. Chauffeurs can advance by finding important clients and driving more luxurious vehicles.

59/
Canva

#43. Recreation workers

- Annual mean wage: $28,310 (45.5% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $12.05
- Number employed: 353,570

Often employed at summer camps, fitness centers, nursing homes, and parks, recreation workers lead activities that help people get active and have fun. These are often seasonal or part-time positions with irregular hours, such as weekends. Jobs in this field require a high school diploma, but some may prefer applicants who have a bachelor’s degree.

60/
Unsplash

#42. Retail salespersons

- Annual mean wage: $28,310 (45.5% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $11.63
- Number employed: 4,448,120

Retail salespersons work in brick-and-mortar stores to help customers find products, pay for merchandise, and get information on store policies. It’s an entry-level role in retail and jobs typically don’t have education requirements. Once a retail salesperson gets experience and demonstrates success, they may get promoted to a supervisory or managerial role.

61/
Support PDX // Flickr

#41. Cooks, institution and cafeteria

- Annual mean wage: $28,290 (45.6% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $12.91
- Number employed: 400,320

Workers in this occupation prepare food in the kitchens of institutions such as schools, hospitals, and cafeterias. While they occasionally cook customized meals for patrons, they usually make bulk meals according to a preset menu. Culinary school is not generally required to get started in this role.

You may also like: History of manufacturing in America

62/
Alpha // Flickr

#40. Meat, poultry, and fish cutters and trimmers

- Annual mean wage: $27,790 (46.5% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $12.96
- Number employed: 156,440

The main duty of this occupation is trimming and cleaning meat, fish, and poultry to the right size and specifications, often using a knife, cleaver, or saw. It’s one of the few jobs workers can get in the United States without any education.

63/
Paf - Games Sports Casion // Flickr

#39. Gaming and sports book writers and runners

- Annual mean wage: $27,640 (46.8% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $11.74
- Number employed: 11,150

Gaming and sports book writers and runners are responsible for handling and recording bets on sporting events. They may also host betting games like bingo and keno. While workers in this profession don’t need a college degree, they will need to demonstrate excellent customer service skills and mathematical abilities.

64/
Bryan M. Ilyankoff // Wikimedia Commons

#38. Cooks, restaurant

- Annual mean wage: $27,580 (46.9% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $12.76
- Number employed: 1,340,810

Restaurant cooks can learn everything about preparing and seasoning foods on the job. Cooks who work at hotels, especially those in major cities and resort towns, generally get paid the most. Workers can also advance to better-paying positions by gaining more experience and becoming certified through an accredited program.

65/
Dan4th Nicholas // Flickr

#37. Gaming change persons and booth cashiers

- Annual mean wage: $27,220 (47.6% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $11.96
- Number employed: 22,020

Casino patrons see game change persons and booth cashiers when they need to swap their coins, tokens, and chips for cash. People in this occupation need to be organized and good at math, as they also count and audit cash drawers. While California employs the highest numbers of gaming change persons and booth cashiers, New York pays them the most, with annual mean wages clocking in at $36,270.

66/
Elkagye // Wikimedia Commons

#36. Sewing machine operators

- Annual mean wage: $26,990 (48.1% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $12.03
- Number employed: 136,450

People who use sewing machines to create, reinforce, or decorate garments work in this occupation. Many of these jobs have moved overseas, and the U.S. is projected to lose over 18,000 sewing machine operator jobs by 2028.

You may also like: States receiving the most federal funds

67/
Canva

#35. Baggage porters and bellhops

- Annual mean wage: $26,990 (48.1% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $11.64
- Number employed: 42,350

All a worker needs is a high school diploma and a willingness to learn how to handle baggage to break into this occupation. The traveler accommodation industry employs the most baggage porters and bellhops.

68/
Pexels

#34. Cleaners of vehicles and equipment

- Annual mean wage: $26,900 (48.2% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $11.79
- Number employed: 378,850

People who keep vehicles and machinery sparkling clean are in this line of work. They can often find opportunities at a carwash, manufacturing firm, rental car agency, or dealership. With the growing demand for car maintenance services, cleaners of vehicles and equipment may see additional employment opportunities open up by 2028.

69/
PxHere

#33. Bartenders

- Annual mean wage: $26,780 (48.5% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $10.84
- Number employed: 631,480

Bartenders take orders, mix drinks, and serve them to patrons. They need to work quickly, balance numerous drink orders and keep the bar stocked with supplies. While some workers hone their craft at a bartending school, others learn on the job. They may also need to complete courses on serving alcohol responsibly.

70/
Travis Grathwell // Flickr

#32. Locker room, coatroom, and dressing room attendants

- Annual mean wage: $26,720 (48.6% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $11.55
- Number employed: 17,610

People in this line of work help patrons at fitness centers, venues, and theaters store their personal items. They may also assist customers using dressing rooms at retail stores. While the average salary for this occupation is low, tips can boost workers’ earnings.

71/
Canva

#31. Graders and sorters, agricultural products

- Annual mean wage: $26,510 (49% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $11.75
- Number employed: 38,210

Agricultural products and unprocessed foods go through graders and sorters to be categorized by size, color, weight, and other characteristics. Nearly two-thirds of workers in this occupation don’t have a high school diploma. They usually learn how to perform the job through demonstrations by more experienced workers.

You may also like: Can you answer these real Jeopardy questions about the economy?

72/
Canva

#30. Packers and packagers, hand

- Annual mean wage: $26,490 (49% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $11.82
- Number employed: 663,970

Labeling cartons, checking for defective items, and keeping packing records are a few of the primary responsibilities of hand packers and packagers. Formal education is not usually a requirement for this kind of job. As stores incorporate additional self-checkouts and automation takes over at warehouses, this occupation is expected to decrease by 3% from 2018 to 2028.

73/
Canva

#29. Farmworkers and laborers, crop, nursery, and greenhouse

- Annual mean wage: $26,450 (49.1% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $11.69
- Number employed: 287,420

Workers in this occupation take care of everything that needs to be done to grow crops, such as fruits, veggies, nuts, and grains. Those who work in nurseries and greenhouses may focus on horticultural products, like flowers and trees. Farmworkers and laborers typically learn skills on the job and may advance to managerial positions, such as crew leaders, later in their careers.

74/
PxHere

#28. Automotive and watercraft service attendants

- Annual mean wage: $25,940 (50.1% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $11.64
- Number employed: 113,760

While service technicians may repair vehicles, automotive and watercraft service attendants provide more basic maintenance services for vehicles and boats, such as refueling, lubricating, changing oil, replacing lights, and repairing tires. Montana and Hawaii are the top-paying states for this occupation. Workers who complete a post-secondary program or go to vocational school may advance into a full-fledged mechanic.

75/
Canva

#27. Nonfarm animal caretakers

- Annual mean wage: $25,890 (50.2% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $11.42
- Number employed: 199,850

Workers who want to turn their love of animals into a career may get their start as a nonfarm animal caretaker. These jobs usually involve taking care of the basic needs of dogs and cats at animal shelters and may include administrative duties. More than a quarter of nonfarm animal caretakers were self-employed as of 2018.

76/
Max Pixel

#26. Manicurists and pedicurists

- Annual mean wage: $25,860 (50.2% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $11.70
- Number employed: 110,170

Keeping fingernails and toenails clean and beautiful is the primary duty of manicurists and pedicurists. Workers may need to get a state license to enter this field, which usually requires attending a state-approved course. Many manicurists and pedicurists say they work in poor conditions, despite some states’ efforts at regulating this occupation.

You may also like: Most expensive places to live in America

77/
Lucky Life 11 // pixabay

#25. Waiters and waitresses

- Annual mean wage: $25,830 (50.3% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $10.47
- Number employed: 2,582,410

This occupation is one of the most common first jobs people have in the United States, according to Monster.com. While it requires no formal education, most waiters and waitresses undergo a few weeks of on-the-job training to learn how to serve food, communicate with kitchen staff, and prepare dining areas. Workers who get jobs at upscale restaurants in big cities and vacation areas can make significantly more money in tips.

78/
William Hook // Flickr

#24. Motion picture projectionists

- Annual mean wage: $25,820 (50.3% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $10.94
- Number employed: 4,840

Motion picture projectionists set up and run equipment used to screen movies and play sounds. It can take up to 12 months of training with more experienced employees to master the tasks of this job. Motion picture projectionists are at risk of losing their jobs to automation, as digital technology takes over much of the functions that used to be done by hand.

79/
Elaine Smith // Flickr

#23. Maids and housekeeping cleaners

- Annual mean wage: $25,570 (50.8% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $11.43
- Number employed: 924,290

Workers in this occupation provide light cleaning duties at private homes and commercial establishments, like hospitals and resorts. Hiring managers typically look for maids and housekeeping cleaners who have some previous work-related experience or knowledge of cleaning.

80/
Command Care // Flickr

#22. Home health aides

- Annual mean wage: $25,330 (51.3% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $11.63
- Number employed: 797,670

Home health aides may help senior citizens or people with a chronic illness or disability take care of personal tasks, like getting dressed or bathing. They may also offer some basic medical services, like checking a client’s vital signs. Entry-level requirements vary—some jobs require no education, others look for candidates with a high school diploma, and some agencies need workers to attend formal training and pass an exam.

81/
Lou Stejskal // Flickr

#21. Cooks, short order

- Annual mean wage: $25,140 (51.6% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $11.44
- Number employed: 155,840

In quick-service restaurants and coffee shops, short-order cooks whip up foods like sandwiches, eggs, and fries on the fly. Workers may advance to more prestigious kitchen jobs by attending a culinary institute and learning how to cook more complicated recipes.

You may also like: Recognizing the faces on the world's most traded currencies

82/
Chris Yarzab // Flickr

#20. Parking lot attendants

- Annual mean wage: $25,130 (51.6% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $11.47
- Number employed: 145,900

The people who park cars in lots, collect fees at garages, and issue tickets to customers in parking facilities work in this occupation. This easy-to-learn job requires no formal education, only some brief training. Parking lot attendants work in all 50 states and can earn the most money in California.

83/
Canva

#19. Hotel, motel, and resort desk clerks

- Annual mean wage: $25,130 (51.6% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $11.39
- Number employed: 260,780

This traveler-focused occupation manages reservations for accommodations, responds to guests’ requests, assigns rooms, maintains occupancy records, and answers phone calls. Knowing how to create spreadsheets can make a worker more competitive in this field.

84/
CQC Press Office // Flickr

#18. Personal care aides

- Annual mean wage: $25,090 (51.7% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $11.55
- Number employed: 2,211,950

Personal care aides work in the homes or care facilities of aging clients and people with disabilities. They help clients complete daily living activities, like housekeeping and meal preparation.

85/
Canva

#17. Food servers, non restaurant

- Annual mean wage: $24,980 (51.9% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $11.20
- Number employed: 266,190

While waiters and waitresses work in restaurants, this kind of food server performs similar duties (such as taking food orders, serving meals, and communicating with kitchen staff) at other types of establishments, like hotels and hospitals. Workers don’t need formal education, and advancement goes to seasoned employees who stay on the job for years.

86/
Unsplash

#16. Food preparation workers

- Annual mean wage: $24,830 (52.2% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $11.41
- Number employed: 814,600

Supervised by cooks and chefs, food preparation workers get the kitchen and ingredients ready for the day. They sanitize work stations, cut meats, peel vegetables, and mix salad ingredients. Once food preparation workers get enough experience, they may be promoted to an assistant or line cook.

You may also like: How CEO pay compares with worker pay at 50 famous companies

87/
Canva

#15. Childcare workers

- Annual mean wage: $24,610 (52.6% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $11.17
- Number employed: 564,630

Childcare workers take care of youngsters and maintain safe environments at daycare centers, schools, religious organizations, and private homes. People who find they like this line of work may command higher salaries by earning a bachelor’s degree and becoming a preschool director.

88/
Support PDX // Flickr

#14. Laundry and dry-cleaning workers

- Annual mean wage: $24,480 (52.9% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $11.16
- Number employed: 213,350

Workers in this occupation run machines that wash or dry-clean a variety of items, including cloth garments, blankets, curtains, and carpets. They typically learn how to perform critical duties through on-the-job training.

89/
Unsplash

#13. Lifeguards, ski patrol, and other recreational protective service workers

- Annual mean wage: $24,420 (53% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $10.77
- Number employed: 144,370

This occupation monitors areas like pools, beaches, and ski slopes to keep participants safe and potentially save lives in an emergency. Despite its importance, this job pays very little, and workers may need to get additional training to move into a better-paying role.

90/
Canva

#12. Pressers, textile, garment, and related materials

- Annual mean wage: $24,060 (53.7% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $11.23
- Number employed: 38,320

People who use their hands or a machine to get fabrics free of wrinkles are called pressers. In 2016, Business Insider found that this occupation had one of the most significant gender pay gaps, with women earning an average of nearly $9,000 less than their male counterparts each year.

91/
Canva

#11. Dining room and cafeteria attendants and bartender helpers

- Annual mean wage: $23,950 (53.9% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $10.71
- Number employed: 455,700

An entry-level role in food service, this occupation involves cleaning tables, transferring dirty plates to the dish room, and stocking service areas. This experience may give dining room and cafeteria attendants and bartender helpers the skills they need to advance to more lucrative positions, such as waiters or waitresses.

You may also like: Best jobs that require a bachelor's degree

92/
Siriport Pimpo // Shutterstock

#10. Ushers, lobby attendants, and ticket takers

- Annual mean wage: $23,610 (54.6% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $10.70
- Number employed: 133,970

Ushers, lobby attendants, and ticket takers take care of more straightforward tasks at entertainment facilities. They grant admission to ticketed patrons, help them find their assigned seats, locate lost items, and direct people to restrooms.

93/
Aileen Mitchell // pexels

#9. Amusement and recreation attendants

- Annual mean wage: $23,460 (54.8% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $10.70
- Number employed: 319,890

Workers in this occupation are often responsible for managing schedules at recreation facilities, providing participants with equipment, and operating concession stands and amusement park rides—most people in this occupation work at amusement parks in California and Florida.

94/
Canva

#8. Hosts and hostesses, restaurant, lounge, and coffee shop

- Annual mean wage: $23,260 (55.2% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $10.65
- Number employed: 416,950

Hosts and hostesses greet customers and keeping track of reservations and waiting lists. The position can be a stepping stone to eventually becoming a waiter, waitress, or bartender.

95/
Canva

#7. Cashiers

- Annual mean wage: $23,240 (55.3% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $10.78
- Number employed: 3,635,550

Cashiers work directly with customers to process payments for goods and services at stores, gas stations, restaurants, and pharmacies. They get trained on the job, and cashiers may advance to better-paying retail positions, such as customer service representatives.

96/
Pexels

#6. Counter attendants, cafeteria, food concession, and coffee shop

- Annual mean wage: $23,240 (55.3% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $10.74
- Number employed: 473,860

Counter attendants serve food from a counter or steam table. They are often employed at restaurants, stores, school cafeterias, and movie theaters. USA Today once called this occupation one of the “occupations with the worst job security.”

You may also like: 30 of the biggest scams in modern history

97/
Canva

#5. Dishwashers

- Annual mean wage: $23,190 (55.4% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $10.93
- Number employed: 504,770

Dishwashers keep a restaurant’s kitchen equipment, utensils, and plates clean. It's one of the lower-paid positions at restaurants, but it requires no education.

98/
Antoine Taveneaux // Wikimedia Commons

#4. Gaming dealers

- Annual mean wage: $23,070 (55.6% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $9.68
- Number employed: 92,530

Gaming dealers run table games like blackjack and roulette at casinos. Workers typically need to be high school graduates to be considered for a position as a gaming dealer. Casinos and gaming establishments may send workers to a gaming school to learn the ins and outs of the games.

99/
Unsplash

#3. Cooks, fast food

- Annual mean wage: $22,650 (56.4% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $10.74
- Number employed: 487,510

These cooks prepare meals at fast-food restaurants, like McDonald’s and Burger King. Corporations often have training programs that teach fast-food cooks how to perform the tasks at hand. Some fast-food workers have gone on strike for better wages in recent years.

100/
Canva

#2. Shampooers

- Annual mean wage: $22,160 (57.4% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $10.40
- Number employed: 13,720

Shampooers clean customers’ hair at salons. While low-paid, the role gives workers who are interested in hairstyling and cosmetology some hands-on experience in the industry.

101/
Unsplash

#1. Combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food

- Annual mean wage: $22,140 (57.4% below mean for all occupations)
- Median hourly wage: $10.22
- Number employed: 3,676,180

Workers in this occupation prepare and serve food, as well as non-alcoholic drinks, at schools, restaurants, and fast-food establishments. Some workers may soon see improvements in the salaries of these low-paying positions, as states increase the minimum wage.

You may also like: The cost of a beer the year you turned 21

2018 All rights reserved.