Registered Nurses: Largest Occupation With An Above-average Wage ($69,790) In May 2014

March 25th, 2015
in econ_news

from the Bureau of Labor Statistics

The occupations with the largest employment in May 2014 were retail salespersons and cashiers. These two occupations combined made up nearly 6 percent of total U.S. employment, with employment levels of 4.6 million and 3.4 million, respectively. Of the 10 largest occupations, only registered nurses, with an annual mean wage of $69,790, had an average wage above the U.S. all-occupations mean of $47,230. The highest paying occupations overall included several physician and dentist occupations, chief executives, nurse anesthetists, and petroleum engineers. National employment and wage information for all occupations is shown in table 1.

Follow up:

The data in this news release are from the Occupational Employment Statistics program, which produces employment and wage estimates for over 800 occupations for the nation, states, and metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas; and by industry or ownership at the national level. This release contains data on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) occupations. A list of occupations included in the STEM definition used for this release is available at


The 10 largest occupations accounted for 21 percent of total employment in May 2014. In addition to retail salespersons and cashiers, the largest occupations included combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food; general office clerks; registered nurses; customer service representatives; and waiters and waitresses. (See chart 1.)

Most of the largest occupations were relatively low paying. Excluding registered nurses, annual mean wages for the rest of the 10 largest occupations ranged from $19,110 for combined food preparation and serving workers to $34,500 for secretaries and administrative assistants, except legal, medical, and executive. Combined food preparation and serving workers also was one of the lowest paying occupations overall, along with fast food cooks ($19,030), shampooers ($19,480), and dishwashers ($19,540). (See chart 2.)

There were over 8.3 million STEM jobs in May 2014, representing about 6.2 percent of total U.S. employment. Seven of the 10 largest STEM occupations were related to computers. These occupations included applications software developers, with employment of 686,470; computer user support specialists (563,540); and computer systems analysts (528,320). Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives of technical and scientific products (335,540) was the largest STEM occupation that was not specifically computer related. (See table 1.)

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