Special Report

25 Lowest Paying Jobs in America

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15. Hotel, motel, and resort desk clerks
> Median annual earnings: $26,988
> Total number of workers: 90,000
> Projected employment change 2018-2028 -6.3%
> Hotel, motel, and resort desk clerks with a bachelor’s degree: 20.0%

The median annual income for hotel, motel, and resort desk clerks is just under $27,000. For context, the typical American working full time earns an estimated $47,684 annually. Not only is the job one of the lowest paying in the country, it is also one of the fastest disappearing. The BLS projects that over the decade between 2018 and 2028, the number of Americans working in such jobs will fall by 6.3% while total employment across all jobs is expected to increase by 5.2%.

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14. Automotive and watercraft service attendants
> Median annual earnings: $26,936
> Total number of workers: 67,000
> Projected employment change 2018-2028 4.9%
> Automotive and watercraft service attendants with a bachelor’s degree: 7.6%

Automotive and watercraft service attendants work in places like gas stations and docks and are typically responsible for tasks like filling fuel tanks, checking tire pressure and vehicle fluid levels, and making minor repairs. The job is one of only 15 in the United States where full-time workers earn less than $27,000 a year. There is typically no formal education requirement for workers in the occupation.

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13. Personal care aides
> Median annual earnings: $26,832
> Total number of workers: 815,000
> Projected employment change 2018-2028 36.4%
> Personal care aides with a bachelor’s degree: 13.6%

Personal care aides help the eldery and people with disabilities with their daily living activities. Though the job ranks among the lowest paying in the country, with a median annual salary of just $26,832, demand for these workers is expected to spike in the coming years. The BLS projects employment of personal care aides to climb by 36.4% between 2018 and 2028, largely due to the aging baby boom generation. Meanwhile, overall employment across all occupations is expected to climb by only about 5% over the same period.

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12. Food servers, non-restaurant
> Median annual earnings: $26,780 (tied)
> Total number of workers: 89,000
> Projected employment change 2018-2028 7.6%
> Food servers, non-restaurant with a bachelor’s degree: 9.1%

Non-restaurant food servers can work in any number of environments, including hospitals, residential care facilities, or hotels. The typical food server who does not work in a restaurant earns only $26,780 a year, about $21,000 less than the typical full-time worker in the U.S. Like most low-paying jobs, non-restaurant food service work does not typically require any formal education. Fewer than one in every 10 Americans working in the occupation have a bachelor’s degree.

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11. Nonfarm animal caretakers
> Median annual earnings: $26,780 (tied)
> Total number of workers: 105,000
> Projected employment change 2018-2028 16.0%
> Nonfarm animal caretakers with a bachelor’s degree: 21.9%

Nonfarm animal caretakers typically bathe, feed, and exercise different animals in places like kennels, zoos, and shelters. The median annual wage in the job is just $26,780, less than all but 10 other occupations.

While most jobs in this field only require a high school diploma, 21.9% of American adults working as nonfarm animal caretakers have a bachelor’s degree, the highest bachelor’s degree attainment rate of any job on this list.

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