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Highest-paying state for 50 different jobs

  • Highest-paying state for 50 different jobs

    Bartenders in Hawaii earn nearly $20,000 more per year than they would in any other state in the country; likewise for motorboat mechanics. Computer systems analysts earn six figures in New Jersey, and nowhere else. Location, location, location is not just a mantra for real estate. Labor, too, is assigned a different value depending on where that labor takes place, even for the same job. Compensation for the same occupation can swing by thousands, or even tens of thousands, of dollars a year and from state to state—even if those states are neighbors.

    Sometimes, salaries are dictated by regions. Neighboring states that rely heavily on tourism, for example, might pay people in that industry more than states that aren’t popular destinations. Other times, variations in salary are industry-specific. Major oil states, for example, tend to pay their chemical engineers much more than the national average. In other cases, spikes and dips in pay seem arbitrary. Crossing guards in Alaska, for example, earn more than $54,000, compared with the sub-$38,000 median salaries earned in the next-highest-paying state.

    Using 2018 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most recently updated in August 2019, Stacker analyzed 50 occupations across a wide range of industries and pay scales. We then examined median annual wage data to determine the five states that pay the most for each of those chosen positions. The list consists of a wide variety of jobs and identifies the states that pay well for them. Jobs on the list are arranged alphabetically. The analysis does not take into account the cost of living in each state, although cost-of-living dynamics are occasionally discussed because median pay is frequently influenced by how expensive or inexpensive it is to live in a particular state or region.

    Here are the states that pay the most for 50 top jobs across the country.

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  • Accountants and auditors: New York

    - #1 highest-paying state: New York (annual wage: $83,250; employment: 110,780)
    - #2 highest-paying state: New Jersey (annual wage: $81,190; employment: 37,370)
    - #3 highest-paying state: Rhode Island (annual wage: $76,770; employment: 4,420)
    - #4 highest-paying state: Virginia (annual wage: $76,490; employment: 41,230)
    - #5 highest-paying state: Connecticut (annual wage: $76,450; employment: 14,550)

    New York City is the beating heart of global trade and commerce—a designation that requires many accountants. They provide financial and tax services to businesses, government agencies, and individuals across the board. The hefty salaries accountants and auditors command in the Empire State are reflected in the recent growth of the industry in the state’s namesake city. There were fewer than 42,000 accountants in the Big Apple in 2010 compared with 52,600 in 2019.

  • Agricultural equipment operators: Michigan

    - #1 highest-paying state: Michigan (annual wage: $38,620; employment: 360)
    - #2 highest-paying state: New York (annual wage: $38,220; employment: 120)
    - #3 highest-paying state: North Dakota (annual wage: $37,450; employment: 150)
    - #4 highest-paying state: Pennsylvania (annual wage: $36,960; employment: 450)
    - #5 highest-paying state: Nebraska (annual wage: $36,760; employment: 870)

    Agricultural equipment operators drive, control, and sometimes maintain the massive and complex machines that make modern farming possible. New York ranks #2 in terms of wages for agricultural equipment operators and also comes in second for average farmer salaries, according to Zippia—but the similarities between the two related occupations stop there. Michigan, the highest-paying state for operators, ranks #36 in terms of farming salaries, North Dakota comes in at #17. Pennsylvania ranks #14 and Nebraska is way back at #48.

  • Air traffic controllers: Illinois

    - #1 highest-paying state: Illinois (annual wage: $150,960; employment: 940)
    - #2 highest-paying state: Virginia (annual wage: $150,880; employment: 1,090)
    - #3 highest-paying state: New Hampshire (annual wage: $146,080; employment: 440)
    - #4 highest-paying state: Georgia (annual wage: $145,770; employment: 990)
    - #5 highest-paying state: Texas (annual wage: $142,980; employment: 1,880)

    Air traffic controllers monitor and manage the movement of aircraft on the ground and in the air while communicating with airports and directing pilots. Three of the five states where air traffic controllers earn the highest salaries are also home to airports that rank among the five busiest in the country. The busiest airport in the United States is Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta, the second-busiest is O’Hare in Chicago, and coming in at #4 is Dallas/Fort Worth in Texas.

  • Animal control workers: California

    - #1 highest-paying state: California (annual wage: $54,770; employment: 1,240)
    - #2 highest-paying state: Massachusetts (annual wage: $49,350; employment: 360)
    - #3 highest-paying state: Alaska (annual wage: $49,030; employment: 70)
    - #4 highest-paying state: Washington (annual wage: $48,270; employment: 190)
    - #5 highest-paying state: Nevada (annual wage: $47,840; employment: 70)

    Animal control workers capture, impound, care for, and find housing for stray or problem animals, while also working on animal abuse cases and providing expert testimony in court. They earn the highest wages in California, which is home to the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control, one of the largest animal control organizations in the country. The L.A. department alone serves Los Angeles County, as well as 44 contract cities, including 3 million combined residents across 3,400 square miles of Southern California. On the opposite end of the spectrum are top-five earners Alaska and Nevada, which employ only 70 animal control workers in the entirety of their respective states.

  • Bakers: Alaska

    - #1 highest-paying state: Alaska (annual wage: $33,670; employment: 250)
    - #2 highest-paying state: Hawaii (annual wage: $32,210; employment: 1,460)
    - #3 highest-paying state: Washington (annual wage: $31,140; employment: 5,850)
    - #4 highest-paying state: Wyoming (annual wage: $30,660; employment: 270)
    - #5 highest-paying state: Massachusetts (annual wage: $30,550; employment: 4,460)

    Bakers create, prepare, cook, and decorate baked goods in a range of settings, including in restaurants, on their own as freelancers, in grocery stores, and, of course, in bakeries. Although the sparsely populated state employs just 270 bakers, Wyoming is a leader in the so-called food freedom movement. In 2015, Wyoming became the first state to lift virtually all regulations on the sale of local, homemade foods that don’t contain meat, paving the way for home bakers to cash in on their talent and passion without bureaucratic regulation. Many other states have since followed suit.

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  • Bartenders: Hawaii

    - #1 highest-paying state: Hawaii (annual wage: $54,470; employment: 3,450)
    - #2 highest-paying state: Vermont (annual wage: $36,010; employment: 2,070)
    - #3 highest-paying state: Washington (annual wage: $29,820; employment: 13,630)
    - #4 highest-paying state: New York (annual wage: $29,350; employment: 44,370)
    - #5 highest-paying state: New Jersey (annual wage: $27,850; employment: 17,360)

    Bartenders create, mix, and serve drinks, handle inventory and stocking while doubling as servers in many cases. It’s hard to pinpoint why bartenders earn so much in Hawaii, but there seems to be a direct correlation between a state’s cost of living and the wages its bartenders earn—possibly because bartenders rely so heavily on tips, and drinks cost more in expensive states. Three of the 10 most expensive states—New York, New Jersey, and Hawaii—also rank among the highest-earning states for people who sling drinks. Hawaii has the highest cost of living in the country and ranks first in terms of bartender wages.

  • Bus drivers, school or special client: Alaska

    - #1 highest-paying state: Alaska (annual wage: $44,630; employment: 1,110)
    - #2 highest-paying state: Washington (annual wage: $42,590; employment: 12,960)
    - #3 highest-paying state: Rhode Island (annual wage: $41,120; employment: 1,640)
    - #4 highest-paying state: North Dakota (annual wage: $40,780; employment: 1,700)
    - #5 highest-paying state: Utah (annual wage: $40,480; employment: 2,480)

    Not only is Alaska one of the most expensive states in terms of the cost of living, but it’s notorious for its treacherous roads and remote village schools. Those factors likely contribute to the fact that school bus drivers earn more there than anywhere else in the country. Other high-paying states, like Rhode Island, North Dakota, Washington, and Utah, are expensive, cold, remote, or a combination of all three.

  • Carpenters: Hawaii

    - #1 highest-paying state: Hawaii (annual wage: $73,600; employment: 5,590)
    - #2 highest-paying state: Illinois (annual wage: $69,470; employment: 26,970)
    - #3 highest-paying state: Alaska (annual wage: $65,350; employment: 2,110)
    - #4 highest-paying state: New Jersey (annual wage: $58,190; employment: 15,960)
    - #5 highest-paying state: Washington (annual wage: $57,240; employment: 26,350)

    Carpenters do everything from analyzing blueprints and consulting with contractors to building frameworks and repairing buildings. In Hawaii, where the state recently earmarked $3.4 billion for capital construction projects alone, carpenters are busy, numerous, and well paid. Lawmakers are currently considering a controversial bill that would require general contractors bidding on big construction projects in Honolulu to hire union workers, even if the firm is not a union shop.

  • Chefs and head cooks: New Jersey

    - #1 highest-paying state: New Jersey (annual wage: $66,790; employment: 2,640)
    - #2 highest-paying state: Hawaii (annual wage: $63,810; employment: 1,080)
    - #3 highest-paying state: West Virginia (annual wage: $58,570; employment: 340)
    - #4 highest-paying state: Pennsylvania (annual wage: $57,500; employment: 3,100)
    - #5 highest-paying state: Delaware (annual wage: $57,340; employment: 530)

    Chefs and head cooks create menus and dishes; ensure cleanliness and quality control of the workspace, tools, and ingredients; delegate tasks to subordinate cooks and chefs; and, of course, cook and prepare dishes. The restaurant industry is a powerhouse in New Jersey, where chefs and head cooks earn higher wages than anywhere else in the country. There are more than 19,000 places to eat and drink in the Garden State, and those businesses account for nearly 350,000 jobs—that’s 8% of the state’s total workforce. In 2018, restaurants in the state did $18.1 billion in sales.

  • Chemical engineers: Texas

    - #1 highest-paying state: Texas (annual wage: $128,490; employment: 7,870)
    - #2 highest-paying state: Alaska (annual wage: $125,160; employment: 70)
    - #3 highest-paying state: Delaware (annual wage: $117,080; employment: 550)
    - #4 highest-paying state: New Jersey (annual wage: $115,330; employment: 1,430)
    - #5 highest-paying state: Maryland (annual wage: $114,300; employment: 690)

    Chemical engineers are well-educated, well-paid professionals who use both engineering and scientific approaches to analyze, research, develop, and implement chemistry-based solutions to challenges in industries like those that deal with food, fuel, and drugs. The oil industry, however, employs a disproportionate number of chemical engineers. It’s no surprise, then, that Texas and Alaska, the #1 and #2 biggest oil-producing states, respectively, also pay their chemical engineers the highest salaries.

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