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America's Lowest Paying Jobs

Kate Lorenz, CareerBuilder.com Editor

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You've heard the clichés: Money doesn't buy happiness, you should do what you love, blah, blah, blah. But survey after survey show that pay is the No. 1 motivating factor for work.

It's a fact of life that not all jobs are going to pay six figures and have a million benefits. Like teachers and firefighters, many jobs that are essential to our day-to-day lifestyles don't pay a hefty salary.

We've identified the 25 lowest-paying jobs in America, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The pros: Most of the jobs in this list offer on-the-job training, need no experience and have little to no educational requirements. The cons: Did we mention the pay?

A lower-paying, entry-level job can help you to build up your résumé, test-drive different industries and carve a path for success. Consider Janice L. Fields. Fields started her career with McDonald's in 1978 as a crew member; today she's executive vice president and chief operations officer for McDonald's USA.

Yes, the road to the top is often a long one and it takes hard work, but it is possible to achieve large amounts of success with a very simple start. Consider one of these jobs that could be your ticket to professional glory.

Combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food                  
Average hourly earnings: $7.66            
Average annual earnings: $15,930

Cooks, fast food
Average hourly earnings: $7.67
Average annual earnings: $15,960

Dishwashers
Average hourly earnings: $7.78            
Average annual earnings: $16,190

Dining room and cafeteria attendants and bartender helpers
Average hourly earnings: $7.84            
Average annual earnings: $16,320

Hosts and hostesses, restaurant, lounge and coffee shop
Average hourly earnings: $8.10            
Average annual earnings: $16,860

Counter attendants, cafeteria, food concession and coffee shop
Average hourly earnings: $8.15            
Average annual earnings: $16,950

Gaming dealers                  
Average hourly earnings: $8.18            
Average annual earnings: $17,010

Shampooers
Average hourly earnings: $8.20            
Average annual earnings: $17,050

Waiters and waitresses                
Average hourly earnings: $8.27            
Average annual earnings: $17,190

Ushers, lobby attendants, and ticket takers           
Average hourly earnings: $8.41            
Average annual earnings: $17,500

Amusement and recreation attendants                  
Average hourly earnings: $8.43            
Average annual earnings: $17,530

Farmworkers and laborers, crop, nursery, and greenhouse        
Average hourly earnings: $8.48            
Average annual earnings: $17,630

Cashiers                  
Average hourly earnings: $8.62            
Average annual earnings: $17,930

Personal and home care aides
Average hourly earnings: $8.74            
Average annual earnings: $18,180

Lifeguards, ski patrol, and other recreational protective service workers                  
Average hourly earnings: $8.85      
Average annual earnings: $18,410

Parking lot attendants
Average hourly earnings: $8.87           
Average annual earnings: $18,450

Food preparation workers             
Average hourly earnings: $8.88           
Average annual earnings: $18,480

Pressers, textile, garment, and related materials
Average hourly earnings: $8.88            
Average annual earnings: $18,470

Bartenders            
Average hourly earnings: $8.91            
Average annual earnings: $18,540

Graders and sorters, agricultural products
Average hourly earnings: $8.95            
Average annual earnings: $18,610

Cooks, short order            
Average hourly earnings: $8.99            
Average annual earnings: $18,710

Maids and housekeeping cleaners     
Average hourly earnings: $8.99            
Average annual earnings: $18,700

Child care workers            
Average hourly earnings: $9.05            
Average annual earnings: $18,820

Laundry and dry-cleaning workers        
Average hourly earnings: $9.08               
Average annual earnings: $18,890

Service station attendants             
Average hourly earnings: $9.21            
Average annual earnings: $19,150


Last Updated: 06/06/2008 - 3:50 PM


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