Most Health Care Workers Paid Below-Average Wages

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By Larry Swisher

March 30 — Wages in seven of the top 10 health care occupations by employment were less than the average wage for all occupations in 2015, a Labor Department report showed March 30.

Home health aides had the lowest average wage at $11.00 per hour or $22,870 annually, compared with the U.S. average of $23.23 per hour or $48,320 per year for all jobs. The next lowest-paying health care jobs were nursing assistant ($12.89 or $26,820) and pharmacy technician ($15.23 or $31,680).

Two of three lowest-paid jobs were among the largest health care occupations in employment last year —nursing assistant (1.42 million) and home health aide (820,000).

Registered nurse, one of three jobs with above-average pay, was the most populous health care occupation, employing 2.75 million workers. Registered nurses earned an average of $34.14 per hour or $71,000 per year.

Wages include base pay, commissions and bonuses and tips, but exclude overtime pay, shift differentials and nonproduction bonuses. For most workers, annual wages are calculated based on a full-time, year-round schedule of 40 hours per week. For workers who spend less time on the job, annual pay is reported by employers.

Physicians and surgeons had the highest average earnings, at $95.05 per hour or $197,700 per year, followed by pharmacists, at $57.34 per hour or $119,270 per year.

These fields had among the lowest numbers employed, with 323,000 physicians and surgeons and 296,000 pharmacists.

Emergency medical technician and paramedic jobs employed the fewest workers (237,000) and ranked sixth in earnings at $17.04 per hour or $35,430 per year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Larry Swisher in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Susan J. McGolrick at