America's best- and worst-paying jobs

The size of your paycheck will depend largely on the line of work you choose -- or qualify to do. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics offers a look at where you can expect to earn the most and the least.
The biggest paychecks
Though top-level executives are infamous for what many consider to be their excessive pay, it turns out those sporting scrubs and white coats in the operating room bring in bigger paychecks, on average, than those wearing suits and neckties in the corner office. That's according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates survey. (Chief executives did turn up in the top 10 -- the only nonmedical occupation to do so.)

The BLS survey reflects May 2011 salary and employment data gathered from nearly 1.2 million businesses. The annual wages for all occupations were calculated by multiplying the hourly mean wage by 2,080 hours, a year-round, full-time hours figure.


No. 5 best-paying: Orthodontist
  • Average annual pay: $204,670
  • Employees in field: 5,040


The state with the most orthodontists is California, with 760. But orthodontists earn the most in Virginia.


No. 4 best-paying: Oral and maxillofacial surgeon
  • Average annual pay: $217,380
  • Employees in field: 5,800


The state with the most oral and maxillofacial surgeons is New York, with 790. The top-paying state is Washington.


No. 3 best-paying: Obstetrician/gynecologist
  • Average annual pay: $218,610
  • Employees in field: 20,540


The state with the most obstetricians and gynecologists is California, with 2,840. The top-paying state is Idaho.


No. 2 best-paying: Surgeon
  • Average annual pay: $231,550
  • Employees in field: 42,340


The second highest-paying job in America: general surgeon. These high-earning medical professionals bring in $111.32 an hour, for an average annual salary of $231,550. That's an increase of about $6,000 from the year before.

California has 4,830 surgeons, more than any other state. The top-paying state is Wyoming.


No. 1 best-paying: Anesthesiologist
  • Average annual pay: $234,950
  • Employees in field: 33,310


In operating rooms across the country, anesthesiologists, the highest-paid workers in the U.S., earn an average of $112.96 an hour, for a mean annual salary of $234,950, according to the BLS. That's about $15,000 more than they made last year -- but anesthesiologists, like others in medical work, can pay well into six figures a year in medical malpractice premiums.

The 33,310 anesthesiologists in the U.S. also work long shifts and play an integral role in keeping patients alive during surgery to earn their sizable salaries. According to the American Society of Anesthesiologists, the high pay reflects the responsibility and risk involved in their jobs.

California has the most anesthesiologists, with 5,030. The top-paying state is Wyoming.


The worst-paying jobs in America
At the other end of the wage spectrum, employees in the food-service industry dominate. Six of the 10 lowest-paying jobs are food preparation and serving-related occupations, while three are personal care and service occupations, according to BLS data. (The other occupation among the 10 lowest-paying is farm worker.)


No. 5 worst-paying: Cafeteria, food concession and coffee shop counter attendant
  • Average annual pay: $19,450
  • Employees in field: 441,830


The state with the most counter attendants is California, with 61,040. The top-paying state is Nevada, where they earn $23,030 a year, on average. The bottom 10% of these workers in the United States make $7.73 an hour, or $16,080 a year.


No. 4 worst-paying: Shampooer
  • Average annual pay: $19,130
  • Employees in field: 13,240


The state with the most people working in this occupation is New York, with 2,130 shampooers. The top-paying state is Massachusetts, where shampooers earn $26,840 a year, on average. The bottom 10% of these workers earn $7.70 an hour, or $16,020 a year.


No. 3 worst-paying: Dishwasher
  • Average annual pay: $18,840
  • Employees in field: 504,280


California, with 67,990 dishwashers, has the most people working in this occupation. The top-paying state is Hawaii, where dishwashers earn $24,590 a year, on average. The bottom 10% of these workers in the United States make $7.71 an hour, or $16,040 a year.


No. 2 worst-paying: Food-preparation and serving worker
  • Average annual pay: $18,790
  • Employees in field: 2,799,430


The state with the most workers doing this job is California, with 269,310 combined food-preparation and serving workers (including fast food). Such workers earn the most in Washington, D.C., where they make $23,470 a year, on average. The bottom 10% of these workers make $7.68 an hour, or $15,960 a year.


No. 1 worst-paying: Fast-food cook
  • Average annual pay: $18,720
  • Employees in field: 502,450


The lowest-paid workers, fast-food cooks, earn an average of $9 an hour. The state with the highest employment level in this occupation is California, with 103,230 fast food cooks. The top-paying state is Connecticut, where fast-food cooks earn an average $23,360 a year, on average. The bottom 10% of these workers make $7.74 an hour, or $16,090 a year.








Source: msn

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