Special Report

25 Lowest Paying Jobs in America

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25. Misc. personal appearance workers
> Median annual earnings: $29,692
> Total number of workers: 227,000
> Projected employment change 2018-2028 10.2%
> Misc. personal appearance workers with a bachelor’s degree: N/A

The majority of Americans who fall into the miscellaneous personal appearance workers — a category which includes manicurists — are making less than $30,000 a year. Though the industry is dominated by women — over 85% of personal appearance workers are female — women in the job earn slightly less than their male counterparts. The median annual earnings among women in the job is about $1,000 below the median earnings among all workers.

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24. Hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists
> Median annual earnings: $29,640
> Total number of workers: 310,000
> Projected employment change 2018-2028 8.5%
> Hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists with a bachelor’s degree: 7.0%

The typical American working full time as a hairdresser, hairstylist, or cosmetologist earns $29,640 a year, well below the median earnings of $47,684 among all full-time workers. Like many of the jobs on this list, a bachelor’s degree is not a requirement, and only 7% have a four-year college degree. Still, Nearly 94% of hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists have a high school diploma, and many obtain an associate’s degree in cosmetology.

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23. Graders and sorters, agricultural products
> Median annual earnings: $29,328
> Total number of workers: 78,000
> Projected employment change 2018-2028 -1.5%
> Graders and sorters, agricultural products with a bachelor’s degree: 3.7%

Agricultural workers who grade and sort unprocessed produce are some of the lowest paid workers in the United States, with a median annual salary of $29,328. Like many jobs on this list, typically there are no formal educational prerequisites for these jobs, though most graders and sorters of agricultural products have some short-term on-the-job training.

Not only are jobs in this field low paying, but also they are not especially secure. In over roughly the next decade, total employment in the occupation is projected to fall by 1.5%.

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22. Nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides
> Median annual earnings: $29,224
> Total number of workers: 1.5 million
> Projected employment change 2018-2028 18.3%
> Nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides with a bachelor’s degree: N/A

While many jobs in the health care industry pay high salaries, positions as nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides are often notable exceptions. As the job title suggests, people working in these jobs serve as aides or assistants to nurses, psychiatrists, and health workers who make home visits.

As is the case with many low paying jobs, demand for nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides is projected to spike by 18.3% over the decade ending with 2028. Employment growth is largely attributable to the aging population and the increased need for health care services.

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21. Bakers
> Median annual earnings: $29,172 (tied)
> Total number of workers: 151,000
> Projected employment change 2018-2028 5.8%
> Bakers with a bachelor’s degree: 12.0%

Baking is one of a relatively small number of jobs in the United States where the majority of workers earn less than $30,000 a year. Bakers can work in a broad range of environments, including grocery stores, restaurants, and commercial bakeries. While there are typically no formal educational attainment requirements to become a baker, most people working in the profession have had long-term on-the-job training.

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