Experience is a big driver of growth in pay, but which occupations reward experience the most? We wanted to know which levels of experience translate to the biggest increases in pay, and what professions enjoy the biggest rewards for achieving higher experience levels. Further, what are the best states to work in for professionals looking to see significant pay growth in their respective occupations?
We analyzed data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to see how experience affects pay in different occupations; which jobs have experienced the most growth in pay since 2014; and which states were best for growth in those professions. Read on to discover what occupational growth has looked like in the past years.
What does the salary trajectory look like for the average American worker? Our study of BLS data by professional experience level shows that across all industries, worker pay jumps around $36,700 per each experience level gained. Here is a detailed breakdown of pay jumps between levels:
The reality for many industries, however, is certain occupational ladders are more lucrative to climb than others. Health care practitioners, despite a modest entry-level salary of just over $29K, according to our analysis of BLS data, had the biggest pay bumps and the highest earning potential for the most experienced workers. From an entry-level position in health care to a senior-level management position, workers in this vertical can potentially see an increase in earnings of over $250K.
Transportation and material moving jobs had a difference of nearly $153K in earnings from an entry-level position to a senior management role, with the most experienced earners bringing in around $183K, on average, per year. Building cleaning and maintenance workers, however, saw just a $27,400 increase by climbing the ladder from entry to senior-level positions.
Health care wages have seen the biggest growth since 2014, followed by food service workers, though earning potential for food service workers is much lower, with most high-experienced professionals in the industry earning just around $60K and entry-level salaries starting at $24K. There remains a great historical inequity between the highest paying jobs and the lowest paying jobs, with big growth reported by the top 1% of earners.
We measured the growth of each profession at the state level to determine which professions experienced the biggest growth and the biggest losses in each state since 2014.
The sales and personal care occupations grew the most over this time period, accounting for 9 out of the top 10 growth figures for occupations nationwide. Texas experienced over 60% growth in the sales industry and boasts no state income tax and a cost of living below the national average. The only other profession to crack the top ten in growth figures for wages was educational instruction and library service occupations in Iowa. While many states saw drops in education and library services, those wages grew nearly 70% in Iowa, which leads the nation in library visits per capita and is home to the oldest creative writing program in the country at the University of Iowa.
The health care industry had the fastest-growing wages across the country, and workers at the highest level had the potential to earn some of the highest salaries across industries. Food service workers, despite seeing a 38% increase in pay in recent years, are still in the bottom five industries when it comes to earnings. Alongside pay disparities in each industry, cost of living and industry growth by state are also important factors to consider for professionals who are making a move. While pay rates for some occupations are declining, others are experiencing rapid growth in various locations.
Skynova is a provider of online software solutions for small-business needs. We provide the tools needed for services like invoices, accounting, timesheets, and more.
For this study, we conducted an analysis using wage and occupations data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) Modeled Wage Estimates. We analyzed data from 2014 to 2020. We created our level of experience groups based on the BLS job leveling guide and average salaries.
If you enjoyed our study on the effect experience has on pay increases across a variety of professions and locations, please go ahead and share it for noncommercial use. Just be sure to link back to the original article so our contributors can receive credit for their work!