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Is Your Job on the Bottom 25 List?

This article was written by in Career and Work, Salaries. 13 comments.

If you’re reading this blog, the answer to the question in the title is, “Probably not.” Perhaps a better question is whether you can live on the mean incomes provided by the occupations on Forbes’ 25 Worst-Paying Jobs. As I said when commenting on the top 25 jobs, the “mean” calculation is often meaningless as it doesn’t give a full story of a wide range of incomes. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting statistic for starting discussions.

* Combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food: $15,930
* Cooks, fast food: $15,960
* Dishwashers: $16,190
* Dining room and cafeteria attendants and bartender helpers: $16,320
* Hosts and hostesses, restaurant, lounge, and coffee shop: $16,860
* Counter attendants, cafeteria, food concession, and coffee shop: $16,950
* Gaming dealers: $17,010
* Shampooers: $17,050
* Waiters and waitresses: $17,190
* Ushers, lobby attendants, and ticket takers: $17,500
* Amusement and recreation attendants: $17,530
* Farm workers and laborers, crop, nursery, and greenhouse: $17,630
* Cashiers: $17,930
* Personal and home care aides: $18,180
* Lifeguards, ski patrol, and other recreational protective service workers: $18,410
* Parking lot attendants: $18,450
* Pressers, textile, garment, and related materials: $18,470
* Food preparation workers: $18,480
* Bartenders: $18,540
* Graders and sorters, agricultural products: $18,610
* Maids and housekeeping cleaners: $18,700
* Cooks, short order: $18,710
* Child care workers: $18,820
* Laundry and dry-cleaning workers: $18,890
* Service station attendants: $19,150

BaristaFood service seems to be one of the biggest industries for low-paying jobs. Since the survey did include part-time wage earners, it’s possible these salaries are skewed downward by jobs requiring less than 40 hours of work each week. Have you ever worked in any of these positions? I’ve never worked in any of these industries. My retail job for one spring break in high school (Radio Shack) isn’t included above.

Feel free to share your experiences.

Updated January 8, 2018 and originally published June 6, 2007.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar 1 Anonymous

I worked as a waiter, and a bartender and I can tell you that the money is a lot better that that. That being said, it does matter where you work. If you are in a city it is much more likely that you will make more money.

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avatar 2 Anonymous

“Gaming Dealers: $17,010”

I’m presuming that these salaries are quoted in USD, which converts to about $20,356 AUD.

After a few years running a web consultancy, I became burned out and worked as a casino dealer here in Melbourne, Australia to get away from the tech industry and focus on settling my debts. As a part time dealer, I can tell you that my salary was in excess of $35,000 AUD (about $29,246 USD). Though, bare in mind that I often worked full time hours and there were periods where I picked up shifts and worked a ridiculous number of hours, because the overtime was just so alluring.

As a casino dealer, there were a few perks that really helped me save money and knocked larger dents out of my debt: my uniform was provided and laundered by the casino, I received free two meals for every shift that I worked, a decent wage (with small raises based on skill set and years of service) and received full employee benefits such as sick leave, annual leave, overtime and superannuation (which I believe is the equivalent to a 401(k)).

My training was also paid, including the one month of training prior to my employment required to actually learn how to deal. All of my subsequent training was also paid.

One thing, that I was told by my trainers and superiors was that our base rate was typically much higher in standard to dealers in say Las Vegas. The reason apparently being that casino dealers in the US work on commission or tips which makes up for their lower base rate. In Australia, the Government regulations prohibits casino dealers from receiving tips or gratuities of any kind from patrons.

A month ago I happily left the casino, and I’ve resumed my career in the tech industry with a whole new perspective.

Not sure if that’s of interest to anyone, but I thought I’d share my experience. I’ve obviously only talked about the perks and none of the downsides. If anyone is interested, I’d be happy to share these experiences as well.

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avatar 3 Anonymous

My guess is that for some of these professions, this is reported income and tips, etc make make the totals quite a bit higher. This is based on what I remember the fulltime waitresses doing when I was in highschool. The part-time factoring in is probably a factor as well.

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avatar 4 Anonymous

many of the jobs listed are “tipping” jobs, which the article alludes that the figures are based on salaries.

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avatar 5 Anonymous

what are some of the downsides? =)

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avatar 6 Anonymous

Does it count if I am also the owner of the laundry?

Thanks for the blow though. Ouch :)

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avatar 7 Luke Landes

D: I think owners of the laundromat are not lumped in with laundry workers, even though you probably do that as well. I’m thinking that the results of the survey have more to do with laundries in hotels, etc.

Everyone: I agree that some of these salaries (bartenders, waiters, dealers… maids?) are kept low by the anticipation of tips.

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avatar 8 Anonymous

I’ve worked as a retail cashier and doing food-service stuff, in high school and college, and in the years just after graduating from college– i.e., when it was my “real job.”
Why don’t you think people in these occupations would be reading your blog?

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avatar 9 Anonymous

From my experiences, this article seems pretty accurate. I was surprised to see that waiters and waitresses were so low, though. My part-time waitressing gig grosses me $12k a year. Keep in mind however, a servers’ hourly wage is $2.37 an hour… give or take state by state… That’s mine, too…

$18k doesn’t go very far no matter where you are in the U.S.

Say “hello” to America’s WORKING Poor.

In this country, there should be no such thing. It’s a shame.


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avatar 10 Anonymous

“what are some of the downsides? =)”

In terms of the downsides to being a casino dealer, there were many. First of all, the hours are hard as you are required to work on a 24 hour rotating roster. Secondly, it can be extremely difficult to get weekends and public holidays off. During my time there, I met many staff who hadn’t spent Christmas with their families in years. When I was on nightshift, it wasn’t uncommon for me to go 1-2 months without going out and socialising.

Then there are the patrons. As a dealer, your job is not only to deal the game, but to also provide customer service. Now as many people already know, it’s not the easiest thing to be nice to someone when your job is revolves around taking money from them.

However, one of the most absolutely shocking experiences of working in a casino for me, was to see people’s relationships with money. As almost everyone on this weblog knows, one of the most important elements of sound personal finance is one’s relationship with money. I believe this relationship is founded on our attitudes towards money.

It’s not until you work in such an environment where you see countless numbers of gambling addicts squander away hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars that you begin to realise how money can truly bring out one’s true characteristics.

On one hand, I was truly making massive progress on my debt; on the other hand, one could argue that it was at the expense of other people. It’s something that will probably remain with me for a long time.

But I digress, I’ve written on this topic before on my own weblog:

I apologise for the shameless plug, but I hope that what I’ve written can be of value to someone.

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avatar 11 Anonymous

I have worked as a hamburger flipper, dishwasher, service station attendant, and cashier and never earned more than 25 cents per hour above minimum wage in any of these mcjobs.

The War on Poverty was not won because it was the wrong war. It should have been a War on Working Poverty which is winnable.

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avatar 12 Anonymous

Nope. I almost got a job as a masseuse but it’s not there either when I thought it’d be included.

I’m doing part-time child care for my niece but I do it for free because she’s priceless. :-D

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avatar 13 Anonymous

I’ve worked as a waitress, a barista, cook and bartender in Australia and doing those jobs for over fifteen years has motivated me to get a degree. I am back home with my parents now at age 35. I lived in a ski resort for five years and was jumping off cliffs on a snowboard instead of going to university when I finished high school. I had alot of fun but doing those jobs away from the snow environment was depressing, no snowboarding in between shifts to look forward too. My younger sister is a lawyer and owns her home. I sometimes feel depressed that I made the wrong decisions when I was younger. But I sure had alot of fun. I am not money hungry. I am lifestyle hungry. I want a fun life and I need a higher income to have more fun. It’s shocking how low the wages are in America for food and beverage related jobs because you work really hard on your feet non stop. The positives are it keeps you fit but if you are run down you are exposed to the public all the time and all their colds and flu’s. At the same time you build up a strong immune system from that exposure. You can live week to week on the wages but it’s hard to build up savings. If you work casually for an agency you can get $18 to $22 an hour but if you work fulltime you are on a set wage of about $400 to $500 a week take home. I have also worked in factories and they pay you $17 to $26 an hour which is good but the work is so repetitve it bores you silly. Hospitality is mentally stimulating and you are so busy the time passes really quickly. I guess it all comes down to the choices you make in life. I think lifeguards and ski patrol workers should be paid more as they work in life or death situations and are responsible for people’s lives’.

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