Authored by Olga Butyrina (Career Expert, GCL)
The Bureau of Labor Statistics annually publishes a national employment and wage estimates report. This report helps track the professions with the highest employment rates in every industry and reveals the hourly and annual pay for each of them. For this article, we have analyzed the most recent data and identified the most popular jobs in the USA entering 2020. Our list will show you which occupations form a solid foundation for the US economy.
The most common jobs in America
Today, the total number of workers in the United States has reached 147 million. Our list, in turn, contains the occupations with the largest number of employed people. These jobs differ in the required education and qualifications as well as the proposed working conditions and wages, but they all accept thousands of new hires annually.
1. Retail Salespeople
Retailers top the list of occupations with the highest employment rates over the past few years. They deal with different product categories but invariably provide a high level of customer service at salespoints through consultations, product presentations, and resolution of complaints. Total employment in this profession is 4,317,950. The average hourly wage is $14.12, and the average annual salary is $29,000. It is enough to have a high school diploma to start a career, but to get promoted requires training and development.
2. Fast Food Workers
Fast food establishments are an integral part of life for most citizens. They are located in every state and offer popular careers in America for students, graduates, and low-level workers. Often these jobs include preparing food and drink, serving visitors, and cleaning food outlets. These positions do not have educational requirements, and essential skills are mastered in the process. Hourly wages are around $11, and average annual employee income is $23,250. Currently, 3,996,820 people are involved in the fast-food sector.
Cashiers are responsible for accepting payments, packing purchases, and advising customers about discounts and gift cards. Total employment is more than 3.5 million people with an hourly wage of $11 and an average annual income of nearly $24,000.
4. Personal Care Aids
Personal care aides play an important role in the daily lives of people with disabilities and the elderly. They help their wards to eat, carry out hygiene procedures, and dress. Their duties also include cleaning, cooking, shopping, and other activities that simplify the lives of clients. Personal care aides must meet basic requirements such as physical endurance, empathy, and strong ethics. Hourly pay is $12-13, and average annual salaries range from $25,000 to $27,000. Total employment is 3,161,500.
5. Registered Nurses
A registered nurse is a popular occupation with total employment of nearly 3 million. Contrary to stereotypes, this occupation does not only accept women. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020, 12% of registered nurses are men. These health care providers must have a bachelor’s or master’s degree and pass the NCLEX-RN exam. They are involved in the treatment and care of patients and perform a number of administrative duties. Their average salary is $77,000 a year.
6. Office Clerks
Office clerks are in great demand in the public and private sectors. This occupation employs 2,956,060 people. They take on a wide range of administrative responsibilities and provide comprehensive support to the top management and staff. Employers prefer experienced candidates with advanced communication, organizational, and computer skills. Such specialists earn an average of $36,000 per year.
7. Material Movers
This job category includes all types of loading and unloading of products, baggage, and production materials. The number of employees exceeds 2.9 million. The only requirement for a candidate is physical strength and endurance. Employers pay workers an average of $15 per hour, which equates to approximately $32,000 a year.
8. Customer Service Representatives
A customer service representative is one of the best jobs in the United States for young professionals. This occupation offers a flexible work schedule, career opportunities, and an annual salary of $37,000, which has already attracted 2,919,230 employees. To get a job, candidates must prove their customer service, communication, and problem-solving skills. For this purpose, they often reinforce their resume with a cover letter. You can find some unique samples on the GetCoverLetter service website.
9. Waiters and Waitresses
Waiters and waitresses are required in almost all catering establishments from pizzerias to posh restaurants, which explains the total employment of 2,579,020. They do not just take orders, but provide comfort and a favorable atmosphere for guests, thereby increasing their loyalty. Average hourly earnings are $12, which is about $27,000 a year.
10. General and Operations Managers
General and operational managers are qualified and highly-paid specialists whose annual salary is $123,000. In exchange for such earnings, these employees are responsible for the productivity of human resources, rational budget allocation, and uninterrupted production. At the moment, these positions have become available for 2.4 million professionals in the United States.
11. Secretaries and Administrative Assistants
Secretaries and administrative assistants often work closely with CEOs and other senior management to carry out general administrative duties and personal assignments. They manage the calendar, make appointments, organize business trips, and so on. The employment rate in this occupation is 3,353,950, and wages average $43,000 per year.
12. Janitors and Cleaners
Today, more than 2 million people are engaged in the cleaning and maintenance of premises. That’s why janitors and cleaners are among the most common professions in the USA. Salaries vary by employer and scope of work, but on average this staff takes home $30,000 a year.
13. Stockers and Order Fillers
Stockers and order fillers work primarily in stores and warehouses and earn an average of about $15 per hour or $30,000 a year. Their responsibilities include unpacking, labeling, and inventorying goods as well as identifying damage and managing supplies. 2.1 million workers in the United States occupy these positions thanks to physical strength, manual dexterity, and attention to detail.
14. Bookkeepers and Accounting Clerks
1,512,660 people perform the duties of bookkeepers and accounting clerks. These specialists manage the financial data and documentation of the company and also prepare invoices and bills for employees and clients. This job does not require a degree, but course attainment certificates will increase the chances of getting a position. Average pay is almost $43,000 a year.
15. Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers
This type of driver is responsible for carrying cargo between cities or even countries. Although total employment is 1,856,130, demand still exceeds supply in this occupation. The right person for this position must be hardy, since trips can last several weeks. In exchange for the arduous working conditions, employers make an average of $46,850 a year.
16. Nursing Assistants
1,419,920 nursing assistants work under the supervision of registered or licensed practicаl nurses in hospitals and nursing homes. They monitor the health of patients and help them with bathing, eating, and dressing. Their annual income is $30,720.
17. Elementary and Middle School Teachers
The number of teachers in elementary and middle schools exceeds 2 million. They have at least a bachelor’s degree and a state teaching license. This career choice cannot be accidental or unconscious, as teachers are responsible for students’ personality formation and developing their social skills. Besides this, they create a lesson plan, select interesting materials, check homework, and monitor students’ academic progress. Their average annual salary is $63,820.
18. Maintenance and repair workers
Maintenance and repair workers ensure the equipment and machinery health and also keep buildings in mint condition. This occupation attracts nearly half a million specialists with technical skills, troubleshooting ability, and manual dexterity. Some employers turn a blind eye to the education of such workers, while others require a bachelor’s degree in a specialized field. The average hourly pay is $20, and the average annual income is $40,000.
19. Sales Representatives (Wholesale and Manufacturing)
Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives work in the B2B segment and sell products for businesses. They research the market and find potential customers, present goods, negotiate prices and supplies, conclude contracts, and expand the client base. This type of salespeople earns an average of about $36 an hour and $75,000 a year. The strong earnings explain the total employment of 1,651,500 people.
20. Cooks in Restaurants
Cooks create seasonal menus and delight guests with their favorite dishes daily. This occupation requires only a high school diploma, but promotion to the chef’s position implies a bachelor’s degree in culinary arts. Today, the US labor market has more than 1.4 million cooks with an average annual salary of $29,000.
21. Security Guards
Security guards protect the property of private and public companies and enterprises, ensuring the safety of personnel. Education requirements vary by employer. Some are content with a high school diploma, while others require a degree in criminal justice or police science. Besides this, security guards must obtain a gun permit. Total employment is 1,126,370. They earn $16 per hour and take home an average of $33,000 a year.
The US labor market offers many job opportunities for workers with everything from a high school diploma to a master’s degree, as well as advanced and basic skills. But this is no reason to grasp for the first available position. Success in any occupation is only possible when you know your stuff and start each new working day without regrets. Remember, your goal is not just to be a statistic but to become a worthy representative of the industry.