52 Career Starting Salaries

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November 2nd, 2008 in Money, Resource

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Starting Salaries

I have tried to come up with a wide range of career options that nearly anyone with any interest can take a look at. Some require many years of school, while others might not require any formal educational training at all. While I can’t list every career possible, hopefully this post will give you a great idea of what type of starting salaries might currently be available in this market.

Increase Your Salary By Getting An Online Degree

While I always suggest getting more schooling and education over taking the easier route of as little as possible, we live in a society where in many careers education is becoming more and more important.

Hopefully, you will find this list to be interesting, and informative.


Actor/Performer

While many people dream of being an actor, the Internet, video games, and our insatiable need for media is opening up new opportunities all the time, and if you can find a position with a company, you’ll start earning around $32,000 per year.

While you may not need any formal training there are many arts schools that will allow you to take degrees in Performance Art and depending on your aspirations, it would benefit you to take a degree related to the topic or interest you have.

Advertising Manager

With a fair bit of control and knowledge, you can secure a position as an Advertising Manager, and in doing so, you can expect to earn a starting wage of around $54,000 per year.

In order to be able to qualify for such positions, you’ll need to have a Bachelor’s Degree in either Marketing, Advertising or Communications.

Aerospace Engineer

Two words that mean a high intelligence and class of job are aerospace and engineer, together you create a job that has a starting salary of around $47,000 per year.

In order to get such a position, you’ll want to get a degree in Mechanical Engineering or Aerospace Engineering.

Ambulance Driver

Getting people from their homes or accidents to the hospital can be nerve wracking, but if you can handle the pressure, you can earn a starting wage of $25,000 per year depending on the local need for the position.

While you may not need a college education for this job, any Medical degree along with both Red Cross first-aid training and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) training should set you up for being able to get a job as an ambulance driver.

Automotive Mechanic

With a starting wage of around $25,000 a year, automotive mechanics can expect to average around $28,000 to $37,000 early on in their career.

You’ll want to get an Associate/Vocational Degree in Automotive Technology or Automotive Analysis to get yourself familiar with the complexities of the modern automobile.

Bartender

If you don’t have any experience, it can be hard to make it on the pay that a full time bartender first gets. At only $11,000 per year, you’ll be hard pressed sometimes to make ends meet, but the potential perks and tips might make the job worth it.

While there are no college degrees for Bar tending, some people that attend college almost feel that they’ve earned one by the time they graduate. If you want to make a career out of it though, you will want to pick up formal bar tending and serving courses from a local education center.

Biochemist

Medical careers, be they primary like doctors and nurses, or secondary like biochemists, are currently growing in demand, and as such, salary expectations are shifting upwards. A starting salary for a biochemist is currently around $35,00 per year, with the average ranging between $39,000 and $52,000.

Earning an advanced degree in Biochemistry, Biology or Chemistry should set you on the right path to getting yourself employed as a Biochemist.

Biologist

Earning an average starting wage of $37,000, a Biologist can expect to earn more depending on the demand in the location to fill the position.

A bachelors degree or higher in Biological Sciences including Genetics, Pathology and Biology is needed to get started in a career as a Biologist.

Bookkeeper

Keeping track of what companies are spending their money on and that it all balances out can be a much needed job at this point and time, an you can earn a no experience starting wage as a bookkeeper of $28,000 per year.

You will want to focus on getting a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting or Bookkeeping to gain access to this career option.

Bricklayer

Working with your hands, outside in a career that is looking for more skilled laborers, a bricklayer can earn around $37,000 starting with little to no experience.

One of the hardest parts about getting into certain careers that don’t require a College education is finding out how to gain the skills and experience. To become a bricklayer, you will need to find a company or school that sets up apprenticeships as this is one career where you need to learn from someone doing the job.

Clinical Research Manager

Testing various medicines, and other products to see their effects is an important step before releasing things into the general public, and for doing so, you can be compensated at the start of your career as much as $65,000 per year.

Advanced degrees in one of the following should gain you entrance as a Clinical Research Manager depending on which type of facility you want to serve: Genetics, Pathology, Biology, Pharmacological Medicine, or a Masters in Clinical Research Organization and Management.

College Professor

Teaching those in higher education can be very rewarding as we try to produce more degree holders than ever before in our society. If you want to be a professor, you can expect to earn a starting wage of around $51,000 per year.

You’ll want either a Masters or Doctoral Degree in pretty much any field of specialization to open up the door to teaching opportunities in Colleges. The higher your degree, the more likely you’ll have access to potential job opportunities.

Commercial Real Estate Manager

Getting companies into the real estate they need is much more involved than simple selling a nice family a home, and so their pay can be much higher than other real estate positions with a starting salary of around $108,000 per year.

Usually those that want to get into this industry get a College degree in Business, Real Estate or Finance, but there are many different degrees that can lead to being able to assist companies in buying and selling commercial real estate.

Computer Numeric Control Machine Programmer (CNC Programmer)

Cutting parts out using a computer controlled system can be amazing to watch, and once you understand the programming language, it can be even more fun to do. A starting salary for a CNC Programmer is $25,000.

A College degree in Engineering that includes drafting, metalworking, computer and blueprint interpretation is key to really doing well in this career, but many technical and trade schools also offer CNC related courses and certificates to get you into the work world quickly.

Consumer Loan Processor

Entry level starts at $22,876 per year, with the average being in the $26,000 to $33,000 range.

Nearly any financial degree, and some experience in the financial field will set you up to process the vast amount of paperwork that comes with loans.

Content Specialist

If organizing and writing content is your passion, then a career as a content specialist could be for you, and while you are enjoying your passion, you could also be making on average around $40,000 per year to start.

You will want to gain a Bachelor’s Degree in your field of interest.

Cook – Institution

The preparation of food at an institution will earn you around $22,000 per year starting.

While you don’t need a college degree to become a cook, a vocational degree in the culinary arts is very helpful, especially when looking at working in a Government Institution.

CopyWriter

Starting at a salary of $33,470, a CopyWriter can expect different yearly wages based on where they live, and what circumstances they are hired on under, as contract work seems popular for this career choice.

A College Degree in English, Journalism or Communications will open up the doors to becoming a CopyWriter.

Crane Operator

Expect to earn around $25,000 starting if you take a career in operating a crane in the US at this time with the middle range averaging around $32,000 to $49,000.

Another, non-College, career opportunity, but you can’t just apply to this job right out of high school, you’ll need to pass your Crane Operator Certification.

Dental Assistant

While some Dental Assistants I have talked to believe they do eighty percent of the work for one quarter the pay, most still take great pride in their job, and if that is something you are interested in, you will probably make around $26,000 to start.

An Associate Degree or Certificate as a Dental Assistant is needed to open up this career opportunity. There are a variety of privately run schools now dedicated to providing these courses outside of the normal Colleges and Universities.

Elementary School Teacher

Shaping the minds of the leaders of tomorrow, elementary school teachers can expect to earn a starting salary of $32,500 per year.

You will need both a Bachelor’s Degree in your area of interest, as well as going through your Elementary Teaching Certification course to be ready to teach a class of youths.

Forester

Keeping the country beautiful can earn you a starting salary of around $40,000 as a Forester with a mid-range of between $49,000 and $71,000 per year.

Get your College degree in Forestry, and you should be ready to go.

Gas Supply Manager

Making sure that the correct amount of the popular fuel is being bought, sold, transferred and stored is an important position in our gasoline powered economy, and securing a job as a Gas Supply Manager can mean a starting wage of around $91,000 per year.

You will need at least a College Degree in Engineering or Business Management, but it would be easier to attain the job right out of school if you work towards your MBA in Oil and Gas Management.

Geologist

With a starting salary of around $36,000 per year, a geologist could not only be an interesting career, but is one of those with what I’d personally consider a reasonable starting wage.

You will want to get your Bachelors of Science in Geology to qualify yourself as a Geologist.

GIS Analyst

Making on average, a starting wage of around $29,000, the wage of a GIS Analyst can range greatly depending on where in the United States they are located.

A BA/BS in Natural Sciences, Geography or related field should provide you with the background to get yourself a career as a GIS Analyst.

Graphic Design Specialist

While working for a company or a freelancer will greatly effect this figure, a Graphic Design Specialist with little to no experience can expect to earn a starting salary of $33,872 per year.

A degree in Commercial Art, Visual Communication, Graphic Design, Computer Graphics or Multimedia/Illustration will provide you access into the world of Graphic Design. Depending on your interests, you may want to take one of the more specialized courses as there will be a fair bit less competition than taking the more broad Graphic Design degree.

Groundskeeper

Earning $19,000 per year as a no experience starting salary, with an average of around $22,000 to $31,000 per year earnings, a groundskeeper is a position that will always be in demand.

While you don’t need a degree to gain entrance to this career choice, a degree in Landscape Design or Business Management can be extremely helpful.

Hairstylist

If you enjoy making people look silky smooth, (bad Adam Sandler reference), then a career as a hairstylist or hairdresser will earn you a no experience starting salary of around $15,000.

Despite how hairdressing and barbering has almost had itself into a McDonald’s like chain of various in-expensive salons, you still need to get an Associate or Vocational Degree in Barbering or Hairstyling before you can qualify for a position.

HVAC Mechanic

Keeping us all warm, or cool, depending on the season is the HVAC Mechanic, and if you decide to become one, you can expect to earn around $28,500 per year.

An Associate’s degree or equivalent formal training in HVAC repair and maintenance will allow you to work as an HVAC Mechanic.

Licensed Practical Nurse

While fairly low in the nursing totem poll, Licensed Practical Nurses are still in high need and as a starting wage, they do well at $32,000 per year. With an average range coming in at around $35,000 to $42,000 depending on experience and location.

You will be required to take a Vocational Degree in Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) to become one and there are many Colleges, including private businesses that offer such courses.

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Marketing Communications Manager

Even with the shift in the economy, marketing is still as important as ever, and a Marketing Communications Manager can earn an approximate salary of $59,000 per year, depending on the location of the position.

A College degree of any level in Marketing or Communications should open up the options to become a Marketing Communications employee, but if you want to become a manager quickly, taking the highest possible degree stream will usually open up such opportunities much sooner than those that have less schooling.

Medical Laboratory Technician

Taking blood, doing ECG’s, and dealing with various fluids that come out of people is a job that can be challenging in more ways than one, but it can also be a very rewarding career, and starts at $33,000 per year in compensation.

A College degree in Medical Technology, or a Vocational degree as a Medical Laboratory Assistant should get you into the lab environment rather quickly and easily.

Motorcycle Mechanic

If fixing two wheeled vehicles is your passion, you can expect to earn a no-experience starting salary of $18,600 per year, with the average running closer to $23,000 to $34,000.

Network Administrator

A junior Network Administrator role will earn you around $38,000 per year. With the average making around $42,000 to $54,000 per year.

You will want to take a degree in Information Technology, Computer Science, or Computer Engineering to become qualified to be a Network Administrator.

Nurse Practitioner

A much more complex job than most other nursing positions, a Nurse Practitioner is only a few steps away from being a Doctor, and the pay commemorates this with a starting wage of around $68,500 per year.

You will be required to get a Master’s or Doctoral degree in Nursing before being qualified as a Nurse Practitioner, most opportunities that I have seen require a Doctoral in Nursing, and over time, College experience for such positions are only going up, despite the ever increasing need for people.

Pastor

If religion is your calling, you will want to look at becoming a Pastor. The common misconception is that they live a “poor man’s life”, but they earn a starting salary of around $55,000 per year.

To become a Pastor, you will need to get your Bachelor’s Degree in Divinity or Theology.

Photographer

One of the employment opportunities with a wide variation on pay, a photographer can expect to earn a starting salary of $29,567 with the average ranging closer to the $40,000 to $60,000 range.

While not required, it is still recommended that those serious about becoming a Photographer take training in photography. There are many schools that provide certificates or degrees in Photography today.

Print Production Manager

With a starting wage of around $46,000 per year as a Print Production Manager, the opportunity can be a good one if you have a creative eye.

You will want to get yourself a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing, Advertising or Communications to gain access to those managerial positions early on.

Psychologist

Understanding the human mind and treating it is a prestigious career, and in hard economic times, people need even more support to pull through the rough times, so if you are interested in this career option, you have an opportunity to earn a starting wage of around $59,500 per year.

To become a Psychologist, you need a degree in Psychology. To earn higher rates, you will want to get higher levels of education. Many of those committed to psychology are looking towards getting their Doctoral level of education in order to both earn higher wages, and open up more career opportunities.

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Real Estate Clerk

While the home buying industry might be taking a nose dive, there are still jobs out there for Real Estate Clerks, and if you decide to take up the call, you can expect a starting salary of around $22,000 per year.

This isn’t a position that requires a college degree, but one in Business Management would be of benefit.

Retail Sales Staff

Working for one of the many clothing or other retail stores currently supplying America with everything it needs to fill its home, and wear on its back? Then you will probably have earned around $15,500 per year starting.

Another position that doesn’t need any College education, but in order to move beyond this position into managerial roles, you will want to gain a degree in Business Management, or a related interest.

Roofer

During the summer, being a roofer can be one of the best jobs. Working outside, getting a tan, and enjoying the heat. You can also expect a starting salary of $24,500 per year, with an average running closer to $30,000.

You’ll want to get a Vocational degree in Roofing, and seek out possible apprenticeship opportunities in order to gain the most opportunities in the field.

School Nurse

Taking care of the sick and injured children at a school might not be the most glamorous job, but if you enjoy helping children, you can also expect to earn $26,000 per year starting.

Earn your Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and it should provide you with access to the School Nurse positions.

Security Guard

With some positions having very few responsibilities and others almost being regarded as Police for hire, Security Guards can face a variety of situations dependent on where they are stationed, but you can expect a starting wage of approximately $21,000 per year, with an average occupational salary peaking at around $30,000.

While there is no degree for such a position, many guards that I know went for some Police Foundations training, as well as various Security Guard training courses both from an educational center, and from the company they were employed by.

Small Engine Mechanic

Fixing nearly everything other than cars, trucks and other larger engines, a small engine mechanic can expect to take home a starting salary of $25,000 per year.

It is recommended that anyone looking at becoming a Small Engine Mechanic get themselves at least a certificate related to the field, with those holding degrees gaining more opportunities in the field.

Solderer

Fusing two things together, either precisely, like electronics, or larger, like metal toys, a solderer can expect to earn a starting salary of around $23,000, depending on the job location.

Training in soldering or welding technology is preferred but no degree is needed to earn a job as a Solderer.

Systems Administrator

If understanding how various software and settings effect a computer is your passion, then a company can most definitely use you as a Systems Administrator, and you’ll end up earning a starting wage of around $53,000 per year.

Your best bet for this career is to earn a degree in Computer Science or Information Systems. The more training you take, the more likely you will be to qualify for positions.

Systems Support Assistant

For those into computer technology, there are many different career options out there, but one of the most basic, but informative to take a strong look at is Systems Support, and you can expect a starting salary of around $33,000 per year.

Just as above, a degree in Computer Science or Information Systems should be all you need to gain a career as a Systems Support Assistant.

Teller

Working for banks can open up doors to a variety of financial jobs, and even in these economically trying times, people depend on banks to help them manage their funds. Finding a job as a Teller may currently be a bit more difficult, but the position will earn you a starting wage of around $19,000 per year.

While you do not require a degree, one in Finance or Accounting could be beneficial. You will have to pass the Certified Bank Teller examination though before qualifying for many positions as a Teller.

Tool and Die Maker

Depending on where you live, and your experience level, you can expect a starting salary of around $32,000 as a Tool and Die Maker in the United States.

A vocational degree and formal training in tool and die making is important but not always required, though as with many employment opportunities, those with higher education are getting selected more and more over those that aren’t.

Truck Driver

Moving heavy loads all over the world, Truck drivers are in it for the long haul, and depending on if you own your own truck or not, you can expect a different salary, but the average starting wage is around $30,000 per year.

Most companies will not hire a truck driver until they have passed certain tests and examinations, but it all depends on the type of position that you are looking for with long-haul truck drivers expected to sometimes take more involved courses. There are truck driving schools that will assist you in qualifying for such positions.

Webmaster

Running nearly every facet of a companies overall web presence as a Webmaster can be an amazing job, and will also earn you $45,000 per year to start.

You will want to take a Computer Science degree, or one in Web Development, Information Systems or a Webmaster certificate from one of the private schools offering them.

Also see: Ten High Salary Jobs With A Bachelor’s Degree

  • 1

    gMoney States

    November 4th, 2008 at 3:00 am

    Sheesh….that’s actually astonishing that after a 100k+ education, many of these ‘starting’ salaries would barely cover rent, bills, and that massive student loan you’re bound to repay.

  • 2

    Levi Blackman States

    November 7th, 2008 at 10:55 am

    People really don’t get paid enough. 30k a year is hard to live off of, especially when you are supposed to be a professional in whatever field.

  • 3

    Susan Critelli States

    November 9th, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    Where do these statistics come from and do they apply to a particular region of the country? I mean no disrespect, but unless I had a particular passion for one of the fields you listed, I can’t imagine bothering to spend a gazillion dollars a year for four years of a college education only to have someone tell me that I am only worth the salary of one of these jobs. Until I saw this list, I guess I didn’t realize I am doing pretty darn well after all doing multilevel marketing part time on the internet!

  • 4

    Crane Operator States

    November 10th, 2008 at 12:05 am

    I think your salary range for crane operators is a bit low. I know a crane operator who is currently pulling in $500 per day + $300 per day in benefits.

  • 5

    Shawn States

    November 10th, 2008 at 1:50 am

    There are a couple key ones I thought would be useful for making, such as Software Engineers, Doctors, and Lawyers. You have similar ones, such as Webmaster or Network Administrator, but Software Engineer is the most common one you would get with a Computer Science degree.

  • 6

    Jacob from JobMob States

    November 11th, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    I would also like to know what your sources are.

  • 7

    David Peralty States

    November 11th, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    The information all came from Salary.com and their surveys. Thanks. :)

  • 8

    femmebot States

    December 2nd, 2008 at 10:07 am

    For the marcomm manager — how on earth do you start out at a manager level? Usually, you start as a marketing assistant or coordinator which I’m sure has lower starting salaries.

  • 9

    David Peralty States

    December 9th, 2008 at 10:59 pm

    Femmebot: If you get your master’s degree, then you can get a junior manager position right off the bat.

  • 10

    FupDuckTV States

    December 29th, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    Good article. It should be noted that different areas of the county (USA) command different starting salaries. Deciding what you want to do in life can have a huge impact on how you will leve the rest of your life. I wish they would teach this information to High School Sophomores and Juniors. By the time they are Seniors, it is almost too late.

  • 11

    TJ States

    January 22nd, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    @Levi
    LMAO… People don’t get paid enough?!?! You have got to be kidding me. So this is a problem with the employers not paying enough and has nothing to do with people trying to live above and beyond their means?

    Get rid of the 50k car… live in a reasonable home with reasonable amenities.

    @Susan
    A gazillion dollars on school?!?! If you spend a gazillion dollars on an education you would expect to make A LOT of money after graduation. I go to BSU and I’ve gone for 5 years and I’m at 25k right now with one semester left. All of this being paid for by the government. If I went to Harvard or Yale… 300k for about 4 years I would expect to be making a lot more then my 25k education (and yes a Harvard grad does get paid more than me in the exact same field).

    Stop making excuses NOT to go to school… and find a way to go to school. It isn’t impossible because I’m living proof. Flunked out of college at 20 and returned at 25.

  • 12

    Diane States

    April 30th, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    I have my doubts about some of the replies. I went back to school at the age of 45, (second career), and am now a LPN, (Licensed Practical Nurse). I work full time, which accounts to be 7 days in a 14 day period and am making approximately $39,500.00 a year, with full health benefits, 2 week paid vacation, 10 days paid sick leave, and retirement, as well as promotions according to my level of expertise. I am also enrolled in college as a part time student to be a Registered Nurse, which will end up costng me $15,000.00, BUT, the difference in pay between a LPN and RN will be about $25,000.00 a year more than I make now. Obtaining a higher education can NEVER be wrong for any one at any age.

  • 13

    vlizzle States

    May 10th, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    TJ I don’t know where you live but the salaries listed here would mean I would have to live in a shack, have no car and not much of anything else either. Don’t be so quick to pass judgment and assume that everyone’s goal in life is to have a flashy car and other luxuries. I made more money 20 years ago than I do now thanks to the economy. After several layoffs, living off of my savings and again just being laid off last Friday means that I am once again starting all over. It has nothing to do with living beyond my means. Does anybody else even take into account how many people are applying for the same job today? I was just laid off last week and before I left a position was being filled for Office Manager and HR received over 400 resumes. I knew in January that I was going to be laid off last week and I have since applied for at least 200 jobs. I have received no calls, no interviews, no nothing. I have 20+ years in the IT field.

  • 14

    ChazfromPA States

    May 11th, 2009 at 7:55 am

    In PA to be a school nurse, you need certification in education. Then you start out making the same scale as a beginning teacher. If you have only a nursing degree, your position will be nursing assistant or whatever they call it. A nurse with a degree in education will be the supervisory nurse. There are school districts in PA where the salary range starts as high as $42,000 per year. Check out the pay scale in your own state. It varries greatly what you can expect in pay and what the requirements are for positions.

  • 15

    rov States

    June 4th, 2009 at 12:53 am

    This just goes to show that companies are cheap.. It should be a law that companies be required to post the salary range of the position BEFORE you apply. It is totally ridiculous how the culture is that you shouldn’t ask. That is total BS. People have the right to know this information, capitalism for the people, not for the companies only.. Government jobs post the salary ranges, so should private companies.

  • 16

    Kay Taylor States

    October 8th, 2009 at 9:55 am

    Another aspect of finding the right job fit is to determine if the compensation being offered is a match for you skills. This can be difficult to ascertain initially, but a new site called SalaryFor.com http://www.salaryfor.com/ helps to make this challenge much easier by offering free salary records from an incredible number of companies and positions.

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