Salary Statistics by State and Profession in 2022
Have you ever wondered what the average salary for a worker in the United States is? Income depends on so many factors: level of education, amount of experience, number of working hours, cost of living. In this research piece, we will break down the average salary, by profession and state across the U.S.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary in 2021 was $58,260. This is an increase of $1,950 from 2020. In 2020, with the average national wage was $56,310.
Salaries vary from state to state. The cost of living and the various industries that thrive in a state impact how much money employees are offered. In addition, the local state governments determine rates for minimum wage.
Highest paid state: Massachusetts
The state with the highest average salary is Massachusetts. The mean annual wage in Massachusetts is $72,940. Despite being the seventh smallest state in the country, Massachusetts is the third most densely populated area in the United States.
Massachusetts also has one of the highest educational attainment levels in the country — which often leads to higher-paying jobs. Another factor to receive a higher salary is the level and years of experience in the role.
Although not a state, it's worth noting that Washington, D.C.'s annual mean wage is $98,370.
Lowest paid state: Mississippi
The state with the lowest average salary is Mississippi. The mean annual wage in Mississippi is $42,700.
Mississippi happens to be one of the lowest cost of living states, due to factors like low economic output and low educational funding. Economic output per job is low in Mississippi, making it the "least productive" state according to CNBC. Mississippi's funding for K-12 education programs is one of the lowest in the country, according to the Education Data Initiative.
Full list of average salaries by state
Colorado: $62, 900
New Hampshire: $59,270
New Jersey: $67,120
New Mexico: $51,860
New York: $70,460
North Carolina: $53,100
North Dakota: $53,380
Rhode Island: $62,120
South Carolina: $ 47,490
South Dakota: $46,810
West Virginia: $46,490
Here are the top 10 professions with the highest salaries:
- Cardiologists: $353,970
- Anesthesiologist: $331,190
- Oral and maxillofacial surgeons: $311,460
- Emergency Medicine Physicians: $310,640
- Orthopedic Surgeons, Except Pediatric: $306,220
- Dermatologists: $302,740
- Surgeons: $297,800
- Radiologists: $301,720
- Obstetricians and Gynecologists: $296,210
- Pediatric Surgeons: $290,310
Data source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021
There seems to be a theme for most of the professions with the highest paying salaries. All of the top ten professions fall within the medical/health care field.
For the nine professions falling under the Physicians and Surgeons category, a medical degree is required. This is typically another four years of schooling in addition to four years of an undergraduate program. This required schooling can cost upwards of $200,000, varying due to institution type and location. After medical school, another three to nine years in internship and residency programs is required, depending on specialty. Most physicians and surgeons work full time — some more than 40 hours per week — and can make ~$120 per hour.
One of the top ten highest paying professions falls within the Dentistry industry. After completing an undergraduate degree, dentists get a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry/Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD). Training for a dental specialty can take two to six years to complete. This additional schooling could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Wages vary depending on the dentist’s location, number of hours worked, specialty, and number of years in practice.
Here are the top 10 professions with the lowest salaries:
- Shampooer: $25,160
- Fast food cooks: $25,490
- Hosts and Hostesses: $26,000
- Fast Food and Counter Workers: $26,060
- Amusement and Recreation Attendants: $26,110
- Ushers, Lobby Attendants, and Ticket Takers: $26,390
- Cashiers: $26,770
- Recreational protective services (for example, Lifeguards and Ski Patrol): $27,320
- Dishwashers: $27,350
- Childcare Workers: $27,680
Data source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021
The top ten professions with the lowest salaries span a variety of industries. They vary within the personal care industry, food preparation and serving industry, sales, and protective service occupations.
These jobs typically pay by the hour. Many are service jobs that require earning tips in order to make a decent income. Many of these jobs also don’t require more than a high school diploma and often offer on-the-job training.
Income can have a strong influence on the quality of life for most adults in the U.S. You can leverage this information to inform your career path and where you choose to live.
With the noticeable wage gap in the U.S., another factor to consider is industry. Having 20 years of experience as a shampooer will still earn a lower salary than those entering a career in the medical/healthcare industry, for example. The industry you work in has a major impact on your annual earnings.
How does your salary compare to the national average? What about others in your position? You can use our list of salary websites to compare your income and know your worth.