15 Jobs That Pay Under $15 An Hour


With fast food workers striking in major cities in the United States for $15 per hour wages, it seemed fitting to check out some jobs that pay under $15 and see how they stack up against major fast food chains like McDonalds. And while I think $15 an hour is ridiculous, it’s better to show than tell.

An hourly rate of $15.00 equates to a weekly pay of $600 (working hours 9-5), monthly pay of $2,600, and an annual salary of $31,200. The following wages come just below the $15 mark. (Minimum wage is $7.25 in the U.S.)

So, as you’re going through them, ask yourself, “Would a McDonalds employee actually be making more than this person?”

1.) Line Cook

Pay: According to the the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May 2011 Occupational Employment Statistics, the highest-earning 25 percent only earn $12.98 per hour, while the lowest 25 percent making up to $8.96 per hour.

The average salary for an Applebee’s cook, for example, is $10.68 per hour, according to user-submitted accounts at Glassdoor. The average pay for a similar position at T.G.I Fridays is $10.56.

2.) Entry Level Regional Pilot

Image via Flickr/

Image via Flickr/ egmboeingpilot

Pay: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, citing data from the Airline Pilots Association, International, starting pay for most airline pilots is approximately $20,000, or $9.62 per hour assuming a full-time schedule.

Entry-level regional pilots fly within the U.S. It was revealed that one co-pilot for Continental Connection (no longer in service) was making just $16,200 per year, or $7.79 an hour. One NY Times article reads, “But many regional pilots, paid entry-level wages that are sometimes no better than a job at McDonald’s, can not afford even a crash pad.”

Requirements to become a pilot depend on the type of aircraft you want to fly. To fly for a major U.S airline, a bachelor’s degree is required. You’ll also need a rigorous training program and at least 40 hours of flight time before you can work for any airline.

3) Nurse’s Assistant

Image via Flickr/

Image via Flickr/ Lower Columbia College

Pay: The median salary of a nurse’s assistant, according to Salary.com, is $26,010, or $13.01 per hour.

Also known as nursing aides, these professionals perform basic day-to-day tasks to support the entire medical team in properly caring for ill, injured or disabled people. Though duties vary, there’s usually a lot of on-hands contact. Entry-level nursing assistant positions usually require a high school diploma or equivalent and certification.

4.) Editorial Assistant 
Pay: 236 anonymous people submitted their salaries as an editorial assistant for an average of $31,000, or $14.90.

Editorial assistants are typical starting points for journalism, English, or communication majors. They work in newspapers, magazines and online sites and typically require a Bachelor’s degree and at least one internship in a related field. More qualified candidates have either an impressive portfolio of writing clips or more than one internship.

5.) Teacher’s Aide:

Image via Flickr/

Image via Flickr/ Jonathan Nalder

Pay: The 2010 median pay for a teacher’s assistant is $23,220, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, $11.16.

The job of a teacher’s assistant is to work under a teacher’s supervision to give students additional instruction. Teaching assistants in elementary through high school are only required to have a high school diploma, but competitive applicants have college degrees. However, teaching assistants at the collegiate level are usually graduate students who are required to have a degree.

6.) Assembler
Pay: The average pay for an assembler is $25,000 per year, or $12.02 per hour.

Assemblers work in factory settings under typically strenuous conditions. Assembler positions vary with requirements; some require high school diplomas and a background check, while others require no more than the ability to life 25 pounds. Promotion within factories are obtained with experience.

7.) Hair Stylist
Pay: The median salary for a hair stylist is $24, 184, equating to $11.63 per hour.

“Since all U.S. states require licenses for hair stylists, you’ll need to get some basic training under your belt and take a state board exam to do your job. A graduate of a state-mandated cosmetology program will ideally know the fundamentals of doing hair and can successfully execute cuts, color, highlights, perms and relaxers. As with any career field, true mastery of the craft comes with practice and ongoing training.”

8.) Police Officer
Pay: The average pay for a police officer is $26,000, or $12.50 an hour.

The requirements for police officer eligibility vary from state to state, but most are generally the same. Applicants will need to pass a background, written and physical assessment test.

In Philadelphia, applicants also have to choose between four options: 1) Have at least 60 credits at an accredited university; 2) Education equivalent to completion of standard high school AND two years of full time, active military service with an honorable discharge ; 3) One year of full time employment as a commonwealth or state certfied Law Enforcement Officer which has been within the three year period prior to the closing date of applications; or 4) Education equivalent to completion of standard high school AND successful completion of the Philadelphia Police Explorers Cadet Program, which shall have included a minimum of two years service with the Philadelphia Police Explorers Cadet Program.

9.) Agricultural Workers
Pay: The average pay for an agricultural worker is $9.12 per hour.

There are no formal requirements, but the work is extremely laborious. Agricultural workers maintain the quality of farms, crops, and livestock using machinery and doing physical labor. Though, if working with animals, you’ll need to have experience or a degree.

10.) Firefighter
Pay: The lowest 10% of firefighters earn $23,050, or $11.08 per hour.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Firefighters typically work long and varied hours. Many work about 50 hours a week. Some firefighters work 24-hour shifts on duty and are off the following 48 or 72 hours.” For an entry-level position, only a high school education is needed, but additional education in the field is required. Most firefighters must pass written and physical tests, complete a series of interviews, and hold an emergency medical technician (EMT) certification, according to BLS.

11.) Legislators
Pay: The median pay for a legislator is $19,780, or $9.51.

As defined by WiseGeek, “A legislator is someone who creates laws. This process can often require dozens or hundreds of individuals, meetings, and debates but, in the end, the result is that a legislator is a person who establishes the laws of a country.” Each state has different laws and requirements for becoming a legislator. To become a legislator, you have to be elected, have a reputation, and substantial amount of groundwork built around your name. Legislators are expected be involved in a political party and have campaign experience.

12.) Surgical Technologists 
Pay: The lowest 10% of surgical technologists make less than $28,100, equating to $13.51 per hour.

Surgical technologists prepare operating rooms for surgery, sterilize equipment, prepare patients for surgery, and assist surgeons during surgery. Post-secondary education in the field is required to get the hands-on teaching needed for the job. Surgical technology education includes courses in anatomy, biology, medical terminology, and other topics.

13.) Private Detectives & Investigators 
Pay: The lowest 10% earned $25,760, or $12.38.

Most have a bachelor’s degree, but there are some cases of private detectives and investigators who learn on the job. However, most states require a license and some experience.

14.) Desktop Publishers

Image via paul prescott/Shutterstock

Image via paul prescott/Shutterstock

Pay: The lowest 10% earned less than $10.46 per hour.

Most desktop publishers have an associates or bachelor’s degree, though experience can sometimes substitute for education. Most study in the field of graphic design. “Desktop publishers use computer software to design page layouts for newspapers, books, brochures, and other items to be printed or put online. They collect the text, graphics, and other materials they will need and format them into a finished product,” reads the BLS.

15.) Marriage & Family Therapists 
Pay: The lowest 10% of marriage and family therapists earn $12,540 per year for an hourly salary of $12.28 per hour.

According to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, “Marriage and family therapy is a distinct professional discipline with graduate and post graduate programs. Three options are available for those interested in becoming a marriage and family therapist: master’s degree (2-3 years), doctoral program (3-5 years), or post-graduate clinical training programs (3-4 years).”