15 jobs that pay $55K a year

Jobs that pay 55K

The average American household earns about $55,000 a year - so what jobs pay that kind of money?

We hear a lot about the “average American worker,” yet many of us have wildly different ideas of what exactly that means. To get a better idea, we took the median household income for the U.S. – about $55,000 a year – and found 15 occupations where you could earn exactly that.

There may be no universally-agreed-upon definition of the “average American worker,” but this list provides a clear look at just how diverse the occupations at the center of the earnings spectrum can be:

1. Fundraisers organize events and campaigns to raise money and other donations for an organization. They may design promotional materials and increase awareness of an organization’s work, goals, and financial needs.*

  • 2012-2017 job growth: 11 percent
  • Entry level education: Bachelor’s degree
  • Median hourly earnings: $26.22


2. Landscape architects design parks and the outdoor spaces of campuses, recreational facilities, private homes, and other open areas.

  • 2012-2017 job growth: 12 percent
  • Entry level education: Bachelor’s degree
  • Median hourly earnings: $26.81


3. Mechanical engineering technicians help mechanical engineers design, develop, test, and manufacture mechanical devices, including tools, engines, and machines. They may make sketches and rough layouts, record and analyze data, make calculations and estimates, and report their findings.

  • 2012-2017 job growth: 6 percent
  • Entry level education: Associate degree
  • Median hourly earnings: $26.23


4. Historians research, analyze, interpret, and present the past by studying historical documents and sources.

  • 2012-2017 job growth: 7 percent
  • Entry level education: Master’s degree
  • Median hourly earnings: $26.03


5. Educational, guidance, school and vocational counselors help students develop academic and social skills and succeed in school. Career counselors assist people with the process of making career decisions by helping them develop skills or choose a career or educational program.

  • 2012-2017 job growth: 5 percent
  • Entry level education: Master’s degree
  • Median hourly earnings: $26.24


6. Elementary school teachers (except special education) prepare younger students for future schooling by teaching them basic subjects such as math and reading.

  • 2012-2017 job growth: 5 percent
  • Entry level education: Bachelor’s degree
  • Median hourly earnings: $26.69


8. Curators, also known as museum directors, direct the acquisition, storage, and exhibition of collections, including negotiating and authorizing the purchase, sale, exchange, and loan of collections. They may authenticate, evaluate, and categorize the specimens in a collection.

  • 2012-2017 job growth: 18 percent
  • Entry level education: Master’s degree
  • Median hourly earnings: $26.58


9. Film and video editors manipulate images that entertain or inform an audience. They take footage shot by camera operators and organize it into a final product.

  • 2012-2017 job growth: 22 percent
  • Entry level education: Bachelor’s degree
  • Median hourly earnings: $26.66


10. Cardiovascular technologists and technicians create images, conduct tests, or assist with surgical procedures involving the heart.

  • 2012-2017 job growth: 13 percent
  • Entry level education: Associate degree
  • Median hourly earnings: $26.78


11. Control and valve installers and repairers (except mechanical door) install, repair, and maintain mechanical regulating and controlling devices, such as electric meters, gas regulators, thermostats, safety and flow valves, and other mechanical governors.

  • 2012-2017 job growth: 4 percent
  • Entry level education: High school diploma or equivalent
  • Median hourly earnings: $26.41


12. First-line supervisors of non-retail sales workers directly supervise and coordinate activities of sales workers other than retail sales workers. May perform duties, such as budgeting, accounting, and personnel work, in addition to supervisory duties.

  • 2012-2017 job growth: 6 percent
  • Entry level education: High school diploma or equivalent
  • Median hourly earnings: $26.95


13. Sales representatives, wholesale and manufacturing (except technical and scientific products) sell goods for wholesalers or manufacturers to businesses, government agencies, and other organizations. They contact customers, explain product features, answer any questions that their customers may have, and negotiate prices.

  • 2012-2017 job growth: 6 percent
  • Entry level education: High school diploma or equivalent
  • Median hourly earnings: $26.84


14. First-line supervisors of office and administrative support workers directly supervise and coordinate the activities of clerical and administrative support workers.

  • 2012-2017 job growth: 9 percent
  • Entry level education: High school diploma or equivalent
  • Median hourly earnings: $26.03


15. Executive secretaries and executive administrative assistants provide high-level administrative support for an office and for top executives of an organization. They often handle more complex responsibilities, such as reviewing incoming documents, conducting research, and preparing reports. Some also supervise clerical staff.

  • 2012-2017 job growth: 3 percent
  • Entry level education: High school diploma or equivalent
  • Median hourly earnings: $26.79


*Occupation descriptions from the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook. Job growth, entry level education and median hourly earnings from Emsi.