Anesthesiologists, dentists among area's best-paid workers
Post and Courier Staff
Next time you
go in for surgery and meet the anesthesiologist, know that you're in the hands
of one of the highest-paid workers in the Lowcountry.
Anesthesiologists in the Charleston
area average more than $208,000 a year in wages -- $50,000 more than dentists,
who rake in a mere $152,230, on average.
Of course, not
everyone in Charleston
earns a six-digit annual salary. In fact, the average worker in the Charleston
metropolitan area made only $31,380 in 2003, according to recently released
figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
At the low end
of the area's wage scale, workers in movie theaters and restaurants generally
make less than $14,000 a year.
Some of the
differences in pay along the scale seem a little puzzling.
preschool teacher, for example, probably is making a little more than $17,000,
but when your kids enter kindergarten, their teacher will earn in $38,500 on
disparity? Amy Beauston, assistant principal of Mount Pleasant preschool
Chesterbrook Academy, said it's a combination of education and experience --
more education equals more money. And while kindergarten teachers need a college
degree, preschool ones don't.
is known for being a city filled with attractive people, and its residents are
willing to pay the price for quality attention. For example, while your
dietitian is helping you lose those extra pounds, he or she is earning 36
percent above the average salary -- $42,800 a year. As your dental hygienists
clean your pearly whites, know they're compensated well -- receiving more than
$51,000, 63 percent above the average.
next time you go to a show in Charleston, because the musicians and singers are
averaging only $26,230, with choreographers receiving a touch more at $26,500.
The Bureau of
Labor Statistics says there are 248,010 people in the Charleston labor force,
making an average of $15.08 an hour. That average is almost $2 an hour more than
Myrtle Beach's $13.09 an hour and a touch under Columbia's
average pay for Charlestonians exceeds that of Grand Stranders, the lowest-paid
workers in the Lowcountry get $6.37 an hour, whereas up north they're receiving
spot on the pay scale is filled by approximately 150 ushers, lobby attendants
and ticket takers, with an average annual salary of $13,250. Ranking a close
second are 2,420 people working as fast-food clerks and making only $500 more a
year. The area's approximately 6,000 waiters and waitresses come in a tight
third from the bottom, averaging $13,720 a year -- based on the salary and tips
they report to the IRS, of course.
about 26,200 people earning less than $15,000 a year in the tri-county region,
in jobs ranging from dishwashers and child care workers to taxi drivers and
top of the spectrum are the expected doctors, lawyers and chief executives. But
personal-finance advisers rank high with an average $114,310 yearly paycheck,
and natural-science managers make $103,730.
So does an
anesthesiologist deserve the top spot on the charts?
Medical University of
South Carolina anesthesiologist and assistant professor Mitchell Weinstein said
he's not sure who should get paid the most, but his is a risky job that required
many years of schooling.
"The job is
extremely stressful. Your life is in our hands," Weinstein said. "Plus, you pay
$50,000 a year to go to medical school, and then have a four-year residency when
you get out. Then you work, and even when you're done with your residency, you
still average 65- to 70-hour weeks."
schooling also pays off for lawyers in Charleston, with their average salary
reaching about $111,000. On the other hand, paralegals make about $30,790. But
next time you see a judge or magistrate, remember they gave up the six-figure
salary of an attorney for their current $66,270.
more than paralegals are diesel mechanics, who bring in $34,470. But if fixing
engines is your thing, you should aim for a position as an aircraft mechanic --
they make about $3,000 more.
at broad job categories, BLS figures show that legal occupations offer the
highest average wages at $69,990. Management positions rank second at $64,280