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20 Jobs That Earn $20 an Hour

Anthony Balderrama, writer

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Watch the news for 30 minutes and you'll quickly lose perspective of the value of a dollar. That idea might seem paradoxical in this recession, where every dollar counts, but think about the figures we're hearing about: trillion-dollar deficit, $800-billion stimulus, 7,000-point drop in the Dow. That's a lot of zeros.

I'm going to go out on a limb and guess your bank account doesn't have that many digits in it. In fact, if it does, you're probably paying someone to read this article to you.

For the rest of us who don't have a billion dollars in the bank and are just happy to have more money coming in than going out (even if barely), we need to re-evaluate the value of a dollar. Or, in this instance, the value of $20.

In the age of astronomical governmental spending and foreclosures, our salaries can seem like insignificant sums in the grand scheme of things. So to give you an idea of what occupations we "regular people" earn, here are 20 jobs that pay a median hourly wage of $20, which works out to $41,600 annually based on a 40-hour workweek.

Here are 20 jobs that earn $20 per hour:

1. Carpet installers
What they do:
As their name implies, carpet installers prepare surfaces for carpet and then cut the pieces into the appropriate size for the room and ensure it's properly installed.  
Hourly median earnings: $20.00*

2. Massage therapists
What they do:
Massage therapists use their training in massage to help patients with pain, tension or other physical ailments.
Hourly median earnings: $20.00

3. Outside collector
What they do:
Outside collectors work on behalf of an organization to contact customers and clients who are delinquent in paying their bills.
Hourly median earnings: $20.00

4. Vocational training instructor
What they do:
Vocational training instructors educate students in vocational fields, often in vocational schools or other post-secondary institutions.
Hourly median earnings: $20.02

5. Truck mechanic
What they do:
Truck mechanics service large diesel trucks (think big rigs, not pickups) and ensure they're working properly.
Hourly median earnings: $20.04

6. Tax examiners, collectors and revenue agents
What they do: Tax examiners, collectors and revenue agents each have specific duties, but all include ensuring that the government collects all the money it is owed and that people are handling their taxes properly.
Hourly median earnings: $20.05

7. Disc jockeys
What they do:
At weddings, class reunions or bar- and bat-mitzvahs, disc jockeys play music that keeps everyone dancing and having a good time.
Hourly median earnings: $20.11

8. Funeral directors
What they do:
When families are arranging funerals, the director sees that their wishes are carried out and oversees all tasks related to preparing the services.
Hourly median earnings: $20.10

9. Religious activities and education directors
What they do:
Religious activities and education directors are responsible for a church or religious group's membership drives, outings and other interactive events.
Hourly median earnings: $20.11

10. Counselors
What they do:
Counselors can work in a variety of specializations to address problems in marriages and families; at school or work; or with mental health issues.
Hourly median earnings: $20.19

11. Paralegals and legal assistants
What they do:
Paralegals and legal assistants help attorneys prepare for trials and legal proceedings through research and by carrying out tasks.
Hourly median earnings: $20.19

12. Advertising sales agents
What they do: Advertising sales agents work for various media outlets to secure advertising, whether it's in the form of commercials or print ads.
Hourly median earnings: $20.19

13. Construction equipment operator
What they do:
At construction and mining sites, these operators use equipment to move large objects, dig into soil and perform other tasks that are too laborious for manual labor.
Hourly median earnings: $20.36

14. Machinists
What they do:
Machinists are responsible for creating precision metal components, which can be done on a large scale or in small batches.
Hourly median earnings: $20.40

15. Television, video and motion-picture camera operators and editors
What they do:
They film footage for a variety of outlets and decide what helps the director achieve his or her vision for that specific project.
Hourly median earnings: $20.48

16. First-line supervisors/managers of office and administrative support workers
What they do:
In order for office and administrative support workers to do their jobs, their supervisors and managers ensure that they have the equipment and guidance they need.
Hourly median earnings: $20.60

17. Mechanical engineering technicians
What they do: Mechanical engineering technicians use their education and research to create and test all types of machinery.
Hourly median earnings: $20.64

18. Electricians
What they do:
Electricians are responsible for installing and maintaining the electrical wiring in homes, buildings and offices.
Hourly median earnings: $20.83

19. Insurances sales agents
What they do:
When you're trying to select the most appropriate insurance plan for your needs, insurance sales agents explain the differences between policies and help you make the right choice.
Hourly median earnings: $20.87

20. Septic tank service and sewer pipe cleaners
What they do:
These cleaners treat and repair septic tanks and sewer pipes that are experiencing problems or need to be replaced.
Hourly median earnings: $20.87

*Salary information based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and from

Anthony Balderrama is a writer and blogger for He researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues. 

Last Updated: 03/04/2009 - 10:02 AM

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