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10 Essential Jobs Across America With Big Paychecks for Employees

Joel Anderson

America’s essential workers have been putting their health at risk to help keep the economy open enough to provide the basics while the rest of the country hit the pause button to wait out the coronavirus. And though some might have felt fortunate to still be working while friends and family were furloughed or laid off, many of these workers were putting in long hours in dangerous conditions for low wages.

On top of that, the wages for these essential workers are far from consistent. Not only are some jobs much better compensated than others, but where you live also plays a major role in how much you make. Through a variety of economic factors — from regional differences in supply and demand to basic differences in cost of living — the wages for essential work in your state may vary widely from those in other parts of the country.

So, what sort of work in your area pays the best compared to the national average? That’s the question this GOBankingRates study sets out to answer. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on how average wages differ from state to state, the study found what essential jobs (if any) were earning more over the course of a year than the national average.

Last updated: Sept. 4, 2020

Alabama

No essential jobs GOBankingRates analyzed made more than the national average in Alabama.

See: These Hourly Workers Benefit the Most From Overtime

Alaska

  • Pharmacists:

    • Median annual salary: $147,020

    • Difference from national average: $18,930

  • Fast food and counter workers:

    • Median annual salary: $24,320

    • Difference from national average: $1,580

  • Correctional officers and jailers:

    • Median annual salary: $62,560

    • Difference from national average: $17,380

  • Police and sheriff’s patrol officers:

    • Median annual salary: $84,230

    • Difference from national average: $21,080

  • Registered nurses:

    • Median annual salary: $90,550

    • Difference from national average: $17,250

  • Home health and personal care aides:

    • Median annual salary: $34,170

    • Difference from national average: $8,890

  • Stockers and order fillers:

    • Median annual salary: $31,190

    • Difference from national average: $3,810

  • High school teachers:

    • Median annual salary: $74,910

    • Difference from national average: $13,250

  • Cashiers:

    • Median annual salary: $26,980

    • Difference from national average: $3,320

Arizona

  • Pharmacists:

    • Median annual salary: $131,050

    • Difference from national average: $2,960

  • Fast food and counter workers:

    • Median annual salary: $24,490

    • Difference from national average: $1,750

  • Police and sheriff’s patrol officers:

    • Median annual salary: $67,440

    • Difference from national average: $4,290

  • Postal service mail carriers:

    • Median annual salary: $52,010

    • Difference from national average: $700

  • Registered nurses:

    • Median annual salary: $76,820

    • Difference from national average: $3,520

  • Stockers and order fillers:

    • Median annual salary: $28,360

    • Difference from national average: $980

  • Cashiers:

    • Median annual salary: $24,630

    • Difference from national average: $970

Arkansas

No essential jobs GOBankingRates analyzed made more than the national average in Arkansas.

California

  • Pharmacists:

    • Median annual salary: $148,270

    • Difference from national average: $20,180

  • Fast food and counter workers:

    • Median annual salary: $25,960

    • Difference from national average: $3,220

  • Correctional officers and jailers:

    • Median annual salary: $79,930

    • Difference from national average: $34,750

  • Police and sheriff’s patrol officers:

    • Median annual salary: $108,840

    • Difference from national average: $45,690

  • Postal service mail carriers:

    • Median annual salary: $64,400

    • Difference from national average: $13,090

  • Registered nurses: 

    • Median annual salary: $110,620

    • Difference from national average: $37,320

  • Home health and personal care aides:

    • Median annual salary: $26,170

    •  Difference from national average: $890

  • Stockers and order fillers:

    • Median annual salary: $29,670

    • Difference from national average: $2,290

  • High school teachers:

    • Median annual salary: $87,120

    • Difference from national average: $25,460

  • Cashiers:

    • Median annual salary: $27,940

    • Difference from national average: $2,950

Colorado

  • Pharmacists:

    • Median annual salary: $129,060

    • Difference from national average: $970

  • Fast food and counter workers:

    • Median annual salary: $24,540

    • Difference from national average: $1,800

  • Correctional officers and jailers:

    • Median annual salary: $47,340

    • Difference from national average: $2,160

  • Police and sheriff’s patrol officers:

    • Median annual salary: $77,210

    • Difference from national average: $14,060

  • Registered nurses:

    • Median annual salary: $75,100

    • Difference from national average: $1,800

  • Home health and personal care aides:

    • Median annual salary: $26,080

    • Difference from national average: $800

  • Stockers and order fillers:

    • Median annual salary: $31,270

    • Difference from national average: $3,890

  • Cashiers:

    • Median annual salary: $25,360

    • Difference from national average: $1,700

Connecticut

  • Fast food and counter workers:

    • Median annual salary: $24,740

    • Difference from national average: $2,000

  • Correctional officers and jailers:

    • Median annual salary: $51,290

    • Difference from national average: $6,110

  • Police and sheriff’s patrol officers:

    • Median annual salary: $73,840

    • Difference from national average: $10,690

  • Postal service mail carriers:

    • Median annual salary: $52,140

    • Difference from national average: $830

  • Registered nurses:

    • Median annual salary: $81,630

    •  Difference from national average: $8,330

  • Home health and personal care aides:

    • Median annual salary: $26,560

    • Difference from national average: $1,280

  • Stockers and order fillers:

    • Median annual salary: $27,960

    • Difference from national average: $580

  • High school teachers:

    • Median annual salary: $78,910

    • Difference from national average: $17,250

  • Cashiers:

    • Median annual salary: $24,410

    • Difference from national average: $750

Delaware

  • Pharmacists:

    • Median annual salary: $132,580

    • Difference from national average: $4,490

  • Postal service mail carriers:

    • Median annual salary: $72,120

    • Difference from national average: $8,970

  • High school teachers:

    • Median annual salary: $66,870

    • Difference from national average: $5,210

Florida

  • Postal service mail carriers:

    • Median annual salary: $52,950

    • Difference from national average: $1,640

Georgia

No essential jobs GOBankingRates analyzed made more than the national average in Georgia.

Hawaii

  • Pharmacists:

    • Median annual salary: $130,780

    • Difference from national average: $2,690

  • Fast food and counter workers:

    • Median annual salary: $24,840

    • Difference from national average: $2,100

  • Correctional officers and jailers:

    • Median annual salary: $59,330

    • Difference from national average: $14,150

  • Police and sheriff’s patrol officers:

    • Median annual salary: $77,480

    • Difference from national average: $14,330

  • Postal service mail carriers:

    • Median annual salary: $64,400

    • Difference from national average: $13,090

  • Registered nurses:

    • Median annual salary: $110,700

    • Difference from national average: $37,400

  • Home health and personal care aides:

    • Median annual salary: $26,960

    • Difference from national average: $1,680

  • Stockers and order fillers:

    • Median annual salary: $30,160

    • Difference from national average: $2,780

  • Cashiers:

    • Median annual salary: $25,910

    • Difference from national average: $2,250

Idaho

No essential jobs GOBankingRates analyzed made more than the national average in Idaho.

Illinois

  • Pharmacists:

    • Median annual salary: $129,310

    • Difference from national average: $1,220

  • Correctional officers and jailers:

    • Median annual salary: $59,460

    • Difference from national average: $14,280

  • Police and sheriff’s patrol officers:

    • Median annual salary: $85,070

    • Difference from national average: $21,920

  • Postal service mail carriers:

    • Median annual salary: $54,040

    • Difference from national average: $2,730

  • Home health and personal care aides:

    • Median annual salary: $25,470

    • Difference from national average: $190

  • Stockers and order fillers:

    • Median annual salary: $27,450

    • Difference from national average: $70

  • High school teachers:

    • Median annual salary: $69,610

    • Difference from national average: $7,950

Indiana

No essential jobs GOBankingRates analyzed made more than the national average in Indiana.

Iowa

  • Correctional officers and jailers:

    • Median annual salary: $51,170

    • Difference from national average: $5,990

  • Home health and personal care aides:

    • Median annual salary: $26,090

    • Difference from national average: $810

  • Stockers and order fillers:

    • Median annual salary: $28,650

    • Difference from national average: $1,270

Kansas

No essential jobs GOBankingRates analyzed made more than the national average in Kansas.

Kentucky

No essential jobs GOBankingRates analyzed made more than the national average in Kentucky.

Louisiana

No essential jobs GOBankingRates analyzed made more than the national average in Louisiana.

Maine

  • Pharmacists:

    • Median annual salary: $137,610

    • Difference from national average: $9,520

  • Fast food and counter workers:  

    • Median annual salary: $24,000

    • Difference from national average: $1,260

  • Home health and personal care aides:

    • Median annual salary: $26,340

    • Difference from national average: $1,060

  • Cashiers:

    • Median annual salary: $24,190

    • Difference from national average: $530

Maryland

  • Fast food and counter workers:

    • Median annual salary: $23,780

    • Difference from national average: $1,040

  • Correctional officers and jailers:

    • Median annual salary: $47,720

    • Difference from national average: $2,540

  • Police and sheriff’s patrol officers:

    • Median annual salary: $70,340

    • Difference from national average: $7,190

  • Registered nurses:

    • Median annual salary: $76,780

    • Difference from national average: $3,480

  • Home health and personal care aides:

    • Median annual salary: $26,760 

    • Difference from national average: $1,480

  • High school teachers:

    • Median annual salary: $75,330

    • Difference from national average: $13,670

  • Cashiers:

    • Median annual salary: $23,720

    • Difference from national average: $60

Massachusetts

  • Fast food and counter workers:

    • Median annual salary: $26,240

    • Difference from national average: $3,500

  • Correctional officers and jailers: 

    • Median annual salary: $69,740

    • Difference from national average: $24,560

  • Police and sheriff’s patrol officers:

    • Median annual salary: $70,990

    • Difference from national average: $7,840

  • Postal service mail carriers:

    • Median annual salary: $61,180

    • Difference from national average: $9,870

  • Registered nurses:

    • Median annual salary: $87,540

    • Difference from national average: $14,240

  • Home health and personal care aides:

    • Median annual salary: $31,210

    • Difference from national average: $5,930

  • Stockers and order fillers:

    • Median annual salary: $29,590

    • Difference from national average: $2,210

  • High school teachers:

    • Median annual salary: $79,950

    • Difference from national average: $18,290

  • Cashiers:

    • Median annual salary: $26,100

    • Difference from national average: $2,440

Michigan

  • Correctional officers and jailers:

    • Median annual salary: $57,640

    • Difference from national average: $12,460

Minnesota

  • Pharmacists:

    • Median annual salary: $138,290

    • Difference from national average: $10,200

  • Fast food and counter workers:

    • Median annual salary: $24,360

    • Difference from national average: $1,620

  • Correctional officers and jailers:

    • Median annual salary: $52,000

    • Difference from national average: $6,820

  • Police and sheriff’s patrol officers:

    • Median annual salary: $72,830

    • Difference from national average: $9,680

  • Registered nurses:

    • Median annual salary: $78,560

    • Difference from national average: $5,260

  • Home health and personal care aides:

    • Median annual salary: $28,060

    • Difference from national average: $2,780

  • Stockers and order fillers:

    • Median annual salary: $29,770

    • Difference from national average: $2,390

  • High school teachers:

    • Median annual salary: $62,850

    • Difference from national average: $1,190

  • Cashiers:

    • Median annual salary: $24,760

    • Difference from national average: $1,100

Mississippi

No essential jobs GOBankingRates analyzed made more than the national average in Mississippi.

Missouri

  • Pharmacists:

    • Median annual salary: $130,240

    • Difference from national average: $2,150

Look: How Much You Need To Be in the Top 5% in Every State

Montana

No essential jobs GOBankingRates analyzed made more than the national average in Montana.

Nebraska

  • Home health and personal care aides:

    • Median annual salary: $25,770

    • Difference from national average: $490

Nevada

  • Pharmacists:

    • Median annual salary: $128,140

    • Difference from national average: $50

  • Correctional officers and jailers:

    • Median annual salary: $58,340

    • Difference from national average: $13,160

  • Police and sheriff’s patrol officers:

    • Median annual salary: $72,660

    • Difference from national average: $9,510

  • Postal service mail carriers:

    • Median annual salary: $53,510

    • Difference from national average: $2,200

  • Registered nurses:

    • Median annual salary: $87,400

    • Difference from national average: $14,100

  • Stockers and order fillers:

    • Median annual salary: $27,960

    • Difference from national average: $580

New Hampshire

  • Pharmacists:

    • Median annual salary: $131,770

    • Difference from national average: $3,680

  • Correctional officers and jailers:

    • Median annual salary: $46,100

    • Difference from national average: $920

  • Home health and personal care aides:

    • Median annual salary: $26,770

    • Difference from national average: $1,490

New Jersey

  • Correctional officers and jailers:

    • Median annual salary: $71,270

    • Difference from national average: $26,090

  • Police and sheriff’s patrol officers:

    • Median annual salary: $88,130

    • Difference from national average: $24,980

  • Postal service mail carriers:

    • Median annual salary: $63,010

    • Difference from national average: $11,700

  • Registered nurses:

    • Median annual salary: $83,920

    • Difference from national average: $10,620

  • Home health and personal care aides:

    • Median annual salary: $25,400

    • Difference from national average: $120

  • High school teachers:

    • Median annual salary: $76,910

    • Difference from national average: $15,250

New Mexico

  • Pharmacists:

    • Median annual salary: $128,680

    • Difference from national average: $590

New York

  • Fast food and counter workers:

    • Median annual salary: $26,410

    • Difference from national average: $3,670

  • Correctional officers and jailers:

    • Median annual salary: $64,250

    • Difference from national average: $19,070

  • Police and sheriff’s patrol officers:

    • Median annual salary: $80,540

    • Difference from national average: $17,390

  • Postal service mail carriers:

    • Median annual salary: $55,240

    • Difference from national average: $3,930

  • Registered nurses:

    • Median annual salary: $87,330

    • Difference from national average: $14,030

  • Home health and personal care aides:

    • Median annual salary: $27,910

    • Difference from national average: $2,630

  • Stockers and order fillers:

    • Median annual salary: $27,680

    • Difference from national average: $300

  • High school teachers:

    • Median annual salary: $85,050

    • Difference from national average: $23,390

  • Cashiers:

    • Median annual salary: $25,500

    • Difference from national average: $1,840

North Carolina

  • Pharmacists:

    • Median annual salary: $128,450

    • Difference from national average: $360

North Dakota

  • Fast food and counter workers:

    • Median annual salary: $24,590

    • Difference from national average: $1,850

  • Home health and personal care aides:

    • Median annual salary: $33,140

    • Difference from national average: $7,860

  • Stockers and order fillers: 

    • Median annual salary: $29,050

    • Difference from national average: $1,670

  • Cashiers:

    • Median annual salary: $24,290

    • Difference from national average: $630

Ohio

  • Correctional officers and jailers:

    • Median annual salary: $47,760

    • Difference from national average: $2,580

  • High school teachers:

    • Median annual salary: $64,370

    • Difference from national average: $2,710

Oklahoma

No essential jobs GOBankingRates analyzed made more than the national average in Oklahoma.

Oregon

  • Pharmacists:

    • Median annual salary: $141,220

    • Difference from national average: $13,130

  • Fast food and counter workers:

    • Median annual salary: $25,180

    • Difference from national average: $2,440

  • Correctional officers and jailers:

    • Median annual salary: $62,590

    • Difference from national average: $17,410

  • Police and sheriff’s patrol officers:

    • Median annual salary: $74,870

    • Difference from national average: $11,720

  • Registered nurses:

    • Median annual salary: $93,370

    • Difference from national average: $20,070

  • Home health and personal care aides:

    • Median annual salary: $28,030

    • Difference from national average: $2,750

  • Stockers and order fillers:

    • Median annual salary: $30,390

    • Difference from national average: $3,010

  • High school teachers:

    • Median annual salary: $70,930

    • Difference from national average: $9,270

  • Cashiers:

    • Median annual salary: $25,480

    • Difference from national average: $1,820

Pennsylvania

  • Correctional officers and jailers:

    • Median annual salary: $51,900

    • Difference from national average: $6,720

  • Police and sheriff’s patrol officers:

    • Median annual salary: $69,830

    • Difference from national average: $6,680

  • Postal service mail carriers:

    • Median annual salary: $52,130

    • Difference from national average: $820

  • High school teachers:

    • Median annual salary: $65,170

    • Difference from national average: $3,510

Rhode Island

  • Fast food and counter workers:

    • Median annual salary: $24,440

    • Difference from national average: $1,700

  • Correctional officers and jailers:

    • Median annual salary: $71,330

    • Difference from national average: $26,150

  • Police and sheriff’s patrol officers:

    • Median annual salary: $63,490

    • Difference from national average: $340

  • Registered nurses:

    • Median annual salary: $83,140

    • Difference from national average: $9,840

  • Home health and personal care aides:

    • Median annual salary: $28,780

    • Difference from national average: $3,500

  • Stockers and order fillers:

    • Median annual salary: $28,910

    • Difference from national average: $1,530

  • High school teachers:

    • Median annual salary: $80,050

    • Difference from national average: $18,390

  • Cashiers:

    • Median annual salary: $24,670

    • Difference from national average: $1,010

South Carolina

No essential jobs GOBankingRates analyzed made more than the national average in South Carolina.

South Dakota

  • Home health and personal care aides:

    • Median annual salary: $25,980

    • Difference from national average: $700

Tennessee

No essential jobs GOBankingRates analyzed made more than the national average in Tennessee.

Texas

  • Pharmacists:

    • Median annual salary: $130,060

    • Difference from national average: $1,970

  • Registered nurses:

    • Median annual salary: $73,400

    • Difference from national average: $100

Utah

  • Correctional officers and jailers:

    • Median annual salary: $45,730

    • Difference from national average: $550

  • Home health and personal care aides:

    • Median annual salary: $25,420

    • Difference from national average: $140

Vermont

  • Pharmacists:

    • Median annual salary: $140,900

    • Difference from national average: $12,810

  • Fast food and counter workers:

    • Median annual salary: $25,460

    • Difference from national average: $2,720

  • Correctional officers and jailers:

    • Median annual salary: $45,400

    • Difference from national average: $220

  • Home health and personal care aides:

    • Median annual salary: $29,930

    • Difference from national average: $4,650

  • Stockers and order fillers:

    • Median annual salary: $28,750

    • Difference from national average: $1,370

  • High school teachers:

    • Median annual salary: $64,600

    • Difference from national average: $2,940

  • Cashiers:

    • Median annual salary: $24,910

    • Difference from national average: $1,250

Virginia

  • Pharmacists:

    • Median annual salary: $131,860

    • Difference from national average: $3,770

  • High school teachers:

    • Median annual salary: $63,800

    • Difference from national average: $2,140

Washington

  • Pharmacists:

    • Median annual salary: $132,950

    • Difference from national average: $4,860

  • Fast food and counter workers:

    • Median annual salary: $27,370

    • Difference from national average: $4,630

  • Correctional officers and jailers:

    • Median annual salary: $56,790

    • Difference from national average: $11,610

  • Police and sheriff’s patrol officers:

    • Median annual salary: $82,140

    • Difference from national average: $18,990

  • Registered nurses:

    • Median annual salary: $83,490

    • Difference from national average: $10,190

  • Home health and personal care aides:

    • Median annual salary: $29,970

    • Difference from national average: $4,690

  • Stockers and order fillers:

    • Median annual salary: $32,780

    • Difference from national average: $5,400

  • High school teachers:

    • Median annual salary: $71,470

    • Difference from national average: $9,810

  • Cashiers:

    • Median annual salary: $28,650

    • Difference from national average: $4,990

West Virginia

No essential jobs GOBankingRates analyzed made more than the national average in West Virginia.

Wisconsin

  • Pharmacists:

    • Median annual salary: $135,350

    • Difference from national average: $7,260

  • Police and sheriff’s patrol officers:

    • Median annual salary: $64,080

    • Difference from national average: $930

Wyoming

  • Home health and personal care aides:

    • Median annual salary: $27,180

    • Difference from national average: $1,900

  • Stockers and order fillers:

    • Median annual salary: $29,160

    • Difference from national average:$1,780

More From GOBankingRates

Chris Jennings contributed to the reporting for this article.

Methodology: GOBankingRates first used the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics for States to find how much these “essential” jobs pay in every state. GOBankingRates looked at a variety of “essential” jobs for this piece hoping to get a wholesale look at the jobs being deemed essential during the coronavirus pandemic. GOBankingRates looked at the median annual salary as well as the median hourly wage for each job in all 50 states. The national averages for each “essential” job were then found as well. GOBankingRates then singled out the states that had a median annual salary above the national average for each “essential” job. All data was collected and is up to date as of May 27, 2020.

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: 10 Essential Jobs Across America With Big Paychecks for Employees