5 jobs with huge pay gaps across the country

Posted July 7

Air traffic controllers are paid the highest in Georgia of all states with an average salary of $147,797. However, in Hawaii they are paid about $64,176. (Deseret Photo)

Same job, but different pay.

Not all states pay equally for certain jobs — in fact, the more populated and expensive state you live in correlates with a lower salary, according to Real Work Matters data analyst Katherine Rainey.

The importance of specific industries within a state's economy may also affect an individual's salary, Rainey added.

To analyze pay gaps in 48 vocational jobs, Rainey pulled and compared data from government and organization statistics.

Among the jobs analyzed, there were a few that stood out with significantly large pay disparities across the nation — all of them requiring an associate's degree or less. All of the salaries were adjusted for the price of living in each state.

1. Air traffic controller

Air traffic controllers are paid the highest in Georgia of all states with an average salary of $147,797. However, in Hawaii they are paid about $64,176. Pay Scale noted permanently living in Hawaii is 65 percent more expensive than the national average with more expensive housing, utilities, health care and transportation and is continually on the rise. Although Hawaii has a lower population and is less-urban than most major U.S. cities, the main issue is the isolation of the state, making it more expensive to import goods, according to Rainy.

RWN noted the popularity of the airport in a city may impact air traffic controller salaries. "It's important to note that Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Georgia is one of the busiest airfields in the world. This also plays a role in the state paying air traffic controllers a premium paycheck," RWN explained. Air traffic controllers had the biggest difference between the highest- and lowest-paying salaries from the data analyzed. Air traffic controllers are required to complete about a three year process of FFA training and assessment as well as medical and background checks.

2. Aerospace engineering and operations technicians

Aerospace engineering and operations technicians are paid an average of $93,689 in Mississippi compared to $47,874 in New Jersey. RWN stated aerospace and engineering operations technicians may find better employment opportunities in Midwestern and Southern states due to large employers in that area. "Mississippi is teeming with potential employers, including GE Aviation and Lockheed Martin, and that's one factor that may be driving up wages," RWN noted.

Mississippi is home to global aerospace leaders and is known for a skilled and productive aerospace workforce, according to Mississippi Works — making Mississippi a preferable place to work for aerospace engineering and operation technicians.

3. Chemical technicians

Chemical technicians are paid an average of $71,146 in North Dakota and $31,1622 in Oregon. The average chemical technician earned $44,660 in 2015, according to the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook. "North Dakota's manufacturing sector, along with a low cost-of-living, likely contributes to the state topping the list when it comes to chemical technician salaries," according to RWN. My Move noted the cost of living in North Dakota is 25 percent lower than the national average with a large agricultural base making food cheaper and a considerably low state population.

4. Industrial engineering technicians

Industrial engineering technicians make an average of $74,769 in Washington and $40,627 in New York. "Because of its strong manufacturing and technology sector, Washington is also a great place to be in terms of income for industrial engineering technicians," RWN stated. In 2015, industrial engineering technicians made a median salary of $53,780, the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook mentioned. According to Smart Asset, New York has the least affordable housing the country and highest tax rate ranging from 7 to 12 percent.

5. Web developers

Web developers earn an average of $85,245 in Georgia and $43,462 in West Virginia. "Atlanta is home to a number of web design firms which may help explain the high salaries for developers in Georgia," RWN noted. According to BLS, the median salary for web developers in 2015 was $64,970. The Entrepreneur illustrated in an infographic of the best cities to work for tech jobs including Atlanta, Georgia, San Francisco California, Boston, Massachusetts and Austin, Texas.

To avoid these pay disparities, Rainey suggested "It might be wise to consider what jobs are in demand in the area where they live or would like to live, based on the local economy."

Rainey added Nevada, Texas, Georgia, Mississippi, Washington and New Mexico appeared the most as the highest-paying states among the data analyzed while Hawaii appeared 33 times as the lowest-paying state.


Twitter: megchristine5


Please with your account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all