Glassdoor Updates, Salaries

11 Jobs With Shocking Salaries

Everyone wants to make more money. But you may be surprised to find out just how much (or how little) some jobs really pay. For perspective, the average American worker earned $48,320 last year. Do you think employees working these 11 jobs should get paid more or less money?

As a reminder, on Glassdoor, employees can anonymously and voluntarily share salary reports, including base salary and the option to share other pay details. See how your salary compares.

[Related: Employers, surprised by these salaries? Use Glassdoor’s new tool, Know Your Worth(tm) to see if your salaries compete.]

In no particular order, check out 11 Jobs With Shocking Salaries:

1. Paramedic – See Open Jobs

rescue team save lives

  • Median Base Salary: $36,000
  • Job Openings: 800

Salary Insight: If you think working in healthcare will bring in a big payday, that’s not the case for every job. Paramedics, who are typically first to respond and treat people when emergencies happen, earn $36,000, substantially less than a physician ($175,929) or registered nurse ($63,070). However, a college degree is not required for this position, though specialized training is to be licensed and certified.

2. Anesthesiologist – See Open Jobs

Anesthesiologist checking monitors while sedating patient for surgery in hospital

  • Median Base Salary: $294,811
  • Job Openings: 543

Salary Insight: It’s no secret physicians can earn a lot of money ($175,929), but if you want to earn even more money, you may want to specialize as an anesthesiologist. Earning nearly $300,000 per year, these doctors not only attend medical school, but then they go on to complete another four years in an anesthesiology residency. As part of the job, there are high stakes as well – Anesthesiologists must be meticulous in maintaining a patient’s level of consciousness and amount of oxygen in the blood, among other things, during surgeries.

3. Software Engineer Intern – See Open Jobs

Business training

  • Median Monthly Pay: $5,715 *If worked year-round, equates to a median base salary of $68,576
  • Job Openings: 305

Salary Insight: The number of software engineer jobs is expected to grow by 17% through 2024, which is more than double the growth rate of all jobs (7%). With demand outpacing supply for software engineers, companies that can find and keep the best and brightest young talent will have the competitive edge. This is why a good college student (intern) with great software engineering skills is worth $68,576 per year (or $5,275 per month), translating to pay that is 42% more than what the average American worker took home last year.

4. Actor – See Open Jobs

Three People at Casting Call

  • Median Base Salary: $35,310
  • Job Openings: 157

Salary Insight: From Nicole Kidman to Zac Efron, Hollywood’s biggest movie stars are famous for making millions of dollars each year, or for just one single movie. But the average actor makes nowhere near this amount, bringing in $35,310 per year, typically thanks to local theatre, commercials and/or supporting gigs. A college degree is not required, but talent is. If you’ve got that ‘it factor,’ an actor’s salary can grow exponentially overnight.

5. News Reporter – See Open Jobs

NBC Reporter and Camera Man with News Van

  • Median Base Salary: $34,746
  • Job Openings: 522

Salary Insight: You trust them to bring you the latest news as it happens – day or night, 365 days of the year – but the average news reporter earns just $34,746, 28% less than the average American worker. With the rise of non-traditional ways to consume news these days, news reporter jobs are expected to decrease by 9% through 2024.

6. Chief Executive Officer – See Open Jobs

My challenging training session

  • Median Base Salary: $177,800
  • Job Openings: 196

Salary Insight: While CEOs at dozens of the world’s biggest brands rake in more than $20 million each year, the average CEO earns far less ($177,800). While these multi-million dollar leaders may get most of the attention, consider that most businesses in the U.S. (89.6%) are actually very small companies, with less than 20 employees. Someone is still in charge – and still earning a handsome paycheck – just not several millions of dollars in most cases.

7. Railroad Conductor – See Open Jobs

Cape Cod Central

  • Median Base Salary: $66,238
  • Job Openings: 79

Salary Insight: While you may fly or drive to get somewhere far, millions of people still travel by train and someone has to be responsible for their well being and safety, plus the train itself, the freight and the crew. That’s where railroad conductors come in, earning $66,238 per year, 37% more than the average American worker. Specialized training is required, but a college degree is not, and some conductors can earn more than $40,000 in their first year. However, railroad worker job growth is expected to decrease by 3% over the next eight years.

8. Food Scientist – See Open Jobs

Food scientists using the microscope for research

  • Median Base Salary: $58,085
  • Job Openings: 156

Salary Insight: Did you know that you can get paid to study food? Food scientists bring in $58,085 per year, about 20% more than what the average American worker earns, but less than what the average scientist ($86,909) earns. To get hired, a college degree is required and a master’s degree is preferred, as this job combines biology, chemical engineering and biochemistry to enhance food products (and make sure they’re safe to eat) for everyone.

9. Elementary School Teacher – See Open Jobs

Happy elementary teacher congratulating his student on good answer.

  • Median Base Salary: $46,967
  • Job Openings: 996

Salary Insight: Tasked with educating today’s young minds to help them grow into tomorrow’s leaders, elementary school teachers earn $46,967 per year, less than their middle school teacher ($54,978) counterparts. Many people believe teachers at all levels should be paid more – Teachers and supporters at school districts from California to Virginia have already demonstrated for pay raises this year alone.

10. School Principal – See Open Jobs

African American businesswoman listening to seminar speaker at business conference

  • Median Base Salary: $100,438
  • Job Openings: 300

Salary Insight: While most teachers earn right around what the average American earns, the people they answer to typically earn about twice as much, with principals bringing in $100,438 on average each year. While many are former teachers themselves, to get hired as a principal – managing all school operations – a master’s degree is required in most cases.

11. President of the United States of America – See Open Job

Shockingblogpresident (1)

  • Base Salary: $400,000
  • Job Openings: 1

Salary Insight: In just a few months, Democrat Hillary Clinton or Republican Donald Trump will likely win the 2016 Presidential election. As the 45th President of the United States, Clinton or Trump will earn a salary of $400,000, along with a $50,000 annual expense account, a $100,000 nontaxable travel account and $19,000 for entertainment. As leader of the free world, this is significantly higher than what the average CEO earns ($177,800), but still far below the millions of dollars that CEOs of major companies earn. For more comparison, President Harry Truman earned $100,000 in 1949 and President Richard Nixon earned $200,000 in 1969.


Want to make more money? Check out Glassdoor’s report revealing the 25 Highest Paying Jobs in America.

Ready for a new job? Check out our report on the 25 Best Jobs in America for 2016.

How much money do you make? Share your salary anonymously to help others. #ShareYourPay


Methodology: This list reveals just a sample of jobs, in no particular order, along with each job’s respective median annual base salary, as displayed on Glassdoor as of July 22, 2016. Each job and its median annual base salary on Glassdoor is based on at least 30 salary reports shared by employees. Job openings for this report take into account job title normalization that groups similar jobs titles. Job openings represent active job listings on Glassdoor as of 7/27/16.