Top 10 Best Paying Hourly Jobs

By Michael Klazema on 3/18/2019
Hourly workers are much more likely to be part-time than salaried workers, which means they are getting paid for less time. More hourly jobs are entry-level and relatively low-skill, which means they naturally fall toward the minimum wage end of the spectrum. Those points considered, hourly jobs can and do pay very well in some instances. Here are ten jobs that tend to be hourly rather than salaried and are typically very well compensated.

Secretary: When The Balance Careers compiled their list of the highest paid hourly jobs, the role of secretary (or administrative assistant) topped the list. There are a few reasons this job is such an appealing hourly role. First, administrative assistants are needed in many industries, from law to healthcare to media and beyond. Second, the average secretary salary—$19.74—would be a high average for any hourly job. Third (and perhaps most importantly), administrative assistants have the potential to earn even more. Individuals working as administrative assistants to high-profile CEOs or other C-suite executives routinely see wages of $30 per hour (or thereabouts).

Construction worker: Jobs in construction range from $10 per hour to $24, with the average falling between $18 and $19 per hour. More experienced laborers with higher levels of responsibility—such as construction project foremen—can make even more. Earning certificates in specific skills and specialties including electrical work and heights work can earn these hourly professionals more for their skills. Depending on the timeline of the project and the amount of work required, overtime pay may be on the table as well.

Dental assistant: Dental assistants serve various capacities in a dental office from arranging tools for procedures to keeping records to directly assisting with procedures. Dental assistants make an average of $18 per hour, though they can make more depending on how busy the dental office is and how much responsibility they have. Some dental offices will offer this job as a full-time salaried position rather than an hourly job. Dental assistants usually need to have an associate’s degree in dental hygiene but requirements might vary from state to state.

Retail sales associate: Wages for retail sales jobs can vary significantly depending on the store and the job role. The best jobs in this category tend to be the ones in which sales associates are working closely with customers, discussing features of different products and moving the customer toward a (usually high-priced) purchase. These sales associates—whether they are selling big screen TVs at Best Buy, cars at a Ford dealership, or iPhones at an Apple Store—often collect commissions for their sales on top of their base wages. Some retailers pay well even for jobs for which this kind of direct sales skill is not required. Costco, for instance, has a corporate minimum wage of $14 per hour for all employees, and the company’s CEO insists the average wage with the company is $22.50.

Bartender: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average bartender makes $10.36 per hour. However, bartenders can also make much, much more than that depending on where they work and how good they are at their job. A charming, attentive, and quick bartender at a busy college bar or city nightclub can pull in hundreds of dollars per night, especially on the weekends. Everything depends on tips, which means there is really no ceiling on a bartender’s true hourly wage.

Waiter: Waiters or servers make a bit more than bartenders on average: $11.73, according to the BLS. Again, this position is a job for which pay depends in large part on tips. Waiters don’t usually get as many tips in a night as a busy bartender, simply because they can’t serve as many people in a three or four-hour period. However, waiters who make a good impression on their patrons, or serve large parties, can often get enough in one or two tips to justify a whole evening of work.

Customer service representative: The Balance Careers puts the average hourly wage of a customer service representative at $17.14. Customer service reps take calls from customers, answer questions about products or services, troubleshoot customer issues, initiate returns, and perform other functions. In addition to the favorable pay, this kind of job has appeal for its universality (almost every industry has some need for this kind of customer assistance) and flexibility (customer service reps often have their pick of hours). As the part-time economy grows, this job is only becoming more flexible, with some companies even letting their customer service representatives work from home. If there’s a drawback to the job, it’s the possibility of stressful communications with angry customers.
Bus driver: Bus drivers tend to earn between $15 and $20 per hour depending on location and capacity of work. Public transit bus drivers in big cities tend to earn the most—usually $20 or more—while school bus drivers sit toward the lower end of the spectrum. The catch is that many parts of the country are experiencing school bus driver shortages caused by the low unemployment rate and the sometimes stressful nature of the work. As school districts struggle to cover their routes and get kids to and from school, there is a good chance school bus driver wages will increase.

If you are a job seeker looking for a competitively-paid hourly position, these jobs and industries are likely the best places to look. If you are an employer curious about what your competition looks like for attracting hourly workers, these jobs and wage ranges are likely what your prospective employees are looking for. Arrange your payment structures accordingly.

Finally, remember that background checks are an important part of the hiring equation, even for hourly jobs. Read’s whitepaper about background checks and hourly positions to learn more.

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