Salary Survey Reveals Who Pockets What for a Job Well Done
Tipping the Pay Scale
Admit it. You’d love to sneak a peek at certain payroll stubs. According to a July 2013 poll in CNN Money, the average U.S. annual salary is $54,450. The only country that came close was Japan, where workers toil for 1,765 hours a year for an average pay of $35,143.
Americans work hard to earn their paychecks. In fact, we are one of the hardest working nations (ranked right behind Poland, which is listed at No. 7). But we earn more than five times the average wage paid in Mexico —ranked as the No. 1 hardest working nation — for more than 500 less hours of work per year.
But where Americans are winning the war on income, we are losing the battle on some benefits. CNN cites the U.S. as the only developed country not to guarantee workers vacation time each year, and one of the few where there is no mandate to provide workers with paid sick or maternity leave.
And what do we get for “working 9 to 5”? Apparently, top dollar. Americans get paid more — much more — than every single other hard-working country on the CNN list.
Here in Northwest Florida many live the mantra “work to live,” while some “live to work.” We met with several Emerald Coasters who are proud and passionate about what they do for a living. No matter what title they have on their business card, they all have one thing in common — they love their jobs.
Brittany A. Spain, 25, Pensacola
Closing Coordinator, Allure Title
Average workweek: 45 hours
Salary: $10.30 per hour with the opportunity to earn bonuses
Job overview: I assist in residential and escrow closings for surrounding areas, manage client accounts, ensure the closing process is handled accurately and network with local business members.
Most important on the job tool. Without a doubt a computer and/or printer, of course. A smile always helps as well!
What do you love about your job? The fact that I have the opportunity to assist someone through a major decision that affects their life is very important to me.
What was your first job? My first job was at Pretzel Time in University Mall. I was 15 and thought it was the best thing in the world to receive a paycheck.
What is the most thankless job? Anything in the food industry. I’ve seen a lot of people have zero appreciation for the assistance they receive.
What do you think minimum wage should be? $8 per hour
What benefit or perk do you wish you had? Unlimited chiropractor and massage therapy visits.
How much vacation time do you have saved? I have 30 hours left to use.
What is the first thing and last thing you do each workday? The first things I always do are check my email and balance the escrow account. The last thing I do is make a to-do list for the following day.
What was your last paycheck splurge? Dinner and wine at Jackson’s in downtown Pensacola.
Do you have a professional mentor? I prefer to learn something from every professional I come in contact with. There is something great to learn from each person you work with in this industry.
Put these in order of importance to you: Title, benefits, salary
At what age would you like to retire and what will you be doing then? Unfortunately, 25 is not feasible, so I will say 60. I would like to travel as much as possible.
Are you a Spendthrift Sally? Tightwad Ted? Moderate Milly? Just call me Moderate Milly!
Most likely “water cooler” topic. It would depend, but the local news or weather is always a safe bet, especially in Florida!
Tara Russo, 32, Destin
Make-up Artist/Aesthetician, Owner, Powder & Paint
Average workweek: 80 hours
What do you do in your current job? I consult with and educate clients on how to take care of their skin on a daily basis. I perform custom facials, chemical peels, body wraps and body scrubs, and I also do airbrush and mineral makeup for weddings and special occasions.
What do you love about your job? I love everything about my job. I love seeing my clients happy when their skin looks amazing. I love seeing brides’ photos of my makeup and how happy and gorgeous they are.
What was your first job? I started working at 15. I waited tables at a pizzeria in Lafayette, La., then went on to work for my father’s construction company throughout high school.
What is your dream job? I worked in an accounting firm for six years and decided that I did not want to do that for the rest of my life. I wanted to work in aesthetics and do makeup, my dream job!
If money were no object, I would spend my day … at Crab Island on a gorgeous boat!
What do you think minimum wage should be? It should be enough so families can actually live on the hourly wage they make. Many people I know work so hard and can never get ahead, especially in our seasonal town. It should be at least $9 per hour.
What benefit or perk do you wish you had? I wish I still had health insurance along with a 401(k).
How much vacation time do you have saved? In my career there are no vacation times given. You just have to schedule around wedding season and summertime. It is very hard to get away for more than a couple of days.
Do you get a bonus? My bonus is that I get to do what I love!
Do you have a professional mentor? Jackie Ely, owner of JEly Business Services. She is a bold, very strong-willed woman. She has taught me so much. I am forever grateful for everything she has shown me.
If your job were a movie, what would the movie soundtrack song be? It would be “Roman Holiday”! It’s so charming and stylish and the romance of being in Rome … it’s what dreams are made of.
Put these in order of importance to you: Salary, benefits, title
At what age would you like to retire, and what will you be doing then? I would love to be retired by 55. I will start traveling the world!
Are you a Spendthrift Sally? Tightwad Ted? Moderate Milly? I would say a Spendthrift Sally. I love to shop, but bargain shopping all the way!
Life quotes: “Life is a song, sing it. Life is a game, play it. Life is a challenge, meet it. Life is a dream, realize it. Life is a sacrifice, offer it. Life is love, enjoy it!”
Jeff Danick, 38, Computer Repair, Niceville
President/Owner, JWD Tech
Salary: Daily rates — $250 for home users, $350 for home-offices/home businesses, $500 for businesses/offices
Job overview: In-home/on-site tech support, training, computer upgrades, pre-purchase consulting, facilitator, preacher of the gospel of “Backup, backup, backup!”
Most important on-the-job tool. My iPhone. What do you love about your job? Showing someone something new, teaching them something new and seeing that “Ah ha!” moment.
How old were you when you had your first job, and what did you do? When I was 15 years old I worked at a yacht club marina, doing everything from washing and bottom painting boats to cleaning bathrooms and answering phones.
What is your dream job? Hard to choose between race car driver, Maxim photographer or seaplane pilot.
If money were no object, I would spend my day … in Italy.
Have you ever played hooky from the office? Every year I make a point of going to 5 Flags Speedway to enjoy the Snowball Derby. I try to sneak in a trip to Southern Raceway, in Milton, from time to time as well.
What do you think minimum wage should be? Should be more directly tied to the average cost of living wherever you live, more fluid, more responsive to real-life conditions.
Do you get a bonus? The best bonus I can get is a good review from a satisfied customer, or a satisfied customer recommending me to friends, family or co-workers.
If your job were a movie, what would the movie soundtrack song be? Just one song? I can think of 15! Opening credits/montage of past jobs that convinced me to start my own business rolling to “Code Monkey” by Jonathan Coulton … a typical workweek would include “Kick in the Head” by Dean Martin. End credits would have to be Jimmy Buffett’s “You’ll Never Work In Dis Bidness Again.”
Put these in order of importance to you: title, salary or benefits. None of the above. “Job satisfaction” matters more than the others combined.
At what age would you like to retire, and what will you be doing then? 101. Realistically, still working with technology, and doing my best to see as many of those “Ah ha!” moments as possible. But, I can see anything from owning/running a rum distillery, owning a competitive auto-racing team or a trattoria in Italy, to being a photographer, as being nothing more than a twist and a turn away.
Do you live to work or work to live? Work for sanity.
Christian Williams, 21, Mary Esther
Average work week: 68 hours
Salary: $60 per performance + tips
Job overview: Perform children’s theater shows at HarborWalk Village and The Village of Baytowne Wharf and work in character as a pirate on the Buccaneer Pirate Ship at the Destin Harbor.
Most important on-the-job tool. Sense of humor
What do you love about your job? Everything! The smile on the kids’ faces makes it worth it.
What was your first job? At 16 I was a busser at a small restaurant at the Holiday Inn on Okaloosa Island.
What is the most thankless job? In my experience, food service. It can be a very tough environment.
Have you ever played hooky from the office? If so, what did you do? SLEPT! What do you think minimum wage should be? $10 per hour
What benefit or perk do you wish you had? Insurance.
How much vacation time do you have saved? What’s this word “vacation”? I’m unfamiliar with it.
What is the first thing and last thing you do each workday? First, grab coffee. The last thing is to make sure I smile and know I put in a hard day’s work.
What was your last paycheck splurge? Can’t splurge, saving for college.
Do you have a professional mentor? Nathanael Fisher, the director of Emerald Coast Theatre Company.
If your job were a movie, what would the movie soundtrack song be? Right now, the soundtrack to “Pirates of the Caribbean,” obviously.
Put these in order of importance to you: Benefits, salary, title
At what age would like to retire, and what will you be doing then? Probably never. I want to always be performing or teaching somehow.
Casey Tindell, 23, Santa Rosa Beach
Public Relations and Marketing Coordinator, Amavida Coffee
Average workweek: 35-40 hours that are accounted for
Job overview: My responsibilities include graphic design, media planning, social media management, creating and editing email newsletters, brand management and internal communication. I also focus on educating our customers on what it means to be an organic, free trade coffee company.
Most important on the job tool. Adobe Illustrator
What do you love about your job? Besides the constant stream of great coffee, I love that if I attract customers to Amavida they are directly supporting hard-working coffee farmers all over the world.
How old were you when you had your first job, and what did you do? My first job was at 16 years old as a dance instructor in Navarre. I was fortunate to have grown up studying an art that literally paid off.
If money were no object, I would spend my day … working to help women support themselves in Central America. If money were no object whatsoever I would have more kids, go on long trips on our dreamt-up and entirely no-cost sailboat, and work for theater companies whenever I make it back to dry land.
What is the most thankless job? The most thankless job would be one without gratification or creativity, like a knick-knack salesman or something of the sort.
What benefit or perk do you wish you had? It would be nice to have paid sick leave.
How much vacation time do you have saved? I don’t have that perk, yet. Maybe this article will help my case.
What is the first thing and last thing you do each workday? To begin my day I make a fresh, pour-over coffee and check our Facebook page, and the last thing I do is take a few minutes to brainstorm on possible new strategies.
Do you get a bonus? Not a traditional monetary bonus, no, but I have traveled with Dan Bailey, the owner of Amavida, to the Dominican Republic to meet our coffee producers first-hand. That, to me, was better than any bonus.
If your job were a movie, what would the movie soundtrack song be? I’m imagining it as a fun, quirky film, so I would think somewhere in it would play Cantata No. 211, from J.S. Bach’s “Coffee Cantata,” where basically a man asks his daughter to stop drinking coffee, and she tells him off by singing a love song to coffee. It’s great.
Do you live to work or work to live? At Amavida, I live to work, though I wouldn’t feel the same way at other jobs. If I am doing a job that creates environmentally and socially responsible ripples past what I put into it, I live to do it.
Are you a Spendthrift Sally? Tightwad Ted? Moderate Milly? Moderate Milly, for sure. I don’t want to spend my life hoarding all the money I possibly can and forget to live a little.
Most likely “water cooler” topic. Well, at Amavida the water cooler is a hot pot of coffee, and the conversation usually flows to a cool, new brewing method we just have to try out or a grapevine tale of a customer who ordered “what?!”
Staff Sergeant Jeremy Deck, 34, Crestview
F-35 Dedicated Crew Chief 33rd Fighter Air Wing
Average workweek: 50-60 hours
What do you do in your current job? I’m in charge of the F-35 jets. Your name is on the side of it, so you need to know everything that is involved that needs to be done to maintain it. Most important on the job tool. We have a specially made tech book laptop computer for the aircraft. It allows us to tell the aircraft what we want it to do.
What do you love about your job? As far as being in the Air Force, I love what I am doing and serving my country. The F-35 is a great jet and well worth the time and effort we’re putting into it. We have a responsibility no one else can say they have — building an airplane for the next 30, 40 years.
What was your first job? After high school I worked in a factory in Greenville, Ind., making bolts for automobiles for 10 years. I started on the ground level as a machine operator and worked into management.
What is your dream job? My dream job wouldn’t be a job. What I like to do on my off time is race motor cross bikes. Being able to do that would be unreal to me. If money were no object, I would spend my day … doing a family sport my kids enjoy, so we can be together.
Have you ever played hooky from the office? I haven’t myself, but I’ve thought about it. There are so many ways it wouldn’t pan out. I’d want to go to the track (but) then there’d be a chance of getting hurt, and how would I explain that?
What do you think minimum wage should be? I want people to make enough to get by and do what they want to do, but on the other hand the higher you make it, the higher it will drive up prices of everything else. It’s a lose-lose situation I guess.
What benefit or perk do you wish you had? Some sort of discount through airline companies would really be nice. Everyone is so spread out it’s hard to visit families.
What is the first thing and last thing you do each workday? I get up about three hours before I have to be at work, go to the gym and try to stay in shape. We have Roll Call and get our job assignments for the day. At the end of the day, I take accountability for tools, document, do a last minute check out and get an OK.
What was your last paycheck splurge? Beds for my kids; they each picked out one they wanted.
Do you have a professional mentor? I really don’t have a mentor at work. As far as the lifestyle I try to lead, the mentor I have is my grandfather, who was also in the military, worked on a farm and in a factory.
Put these in order of importance to you: Benefits, salary, title
At what age would you like to retire, and what will you be doing then? As of right now, it will be my 50s. I’m looking to go into criminal justice, perhaps the law enforcement side.
What is the most thankless job? I’m living it. Being a part of the military. Without the people who get it done I don’t know what would happen. I think it’s something everyone should actually do.
Santa Claus, Young at Heart, North Pole
Average workweek: When you love what you do, you don’t work a day in your life.
Salary: Cookies and milk and smiles, if I do things right.
Job overview: Basically, I say “yeah” and “nay” while overseeing all toy production. And I ensure there is peace and harmony on the job. A happy elf is a productive elf.
Most important on-the-job tool. I cannot do my job without love. Rudolph is important, too, but he only comes out on those real foggy nights.
What was your first job? I was a carver as a young man. I’d whittle little toys for village children who didn’t have any.
If money were no object, I’d spend the day … money is never the object. I do everything pro bono. I would fill in my day traveling in the off-season to get a pulse on how things are going with kids.
What benefit or perk do you wish you had? I don’t know if I can add another perk. I’m almost perked out.
How much vacation time have you saved? Vacation is a state of mind.
What is the first and last thing you do each day? The first and last thing I do is kiss Mrs. Claus. In the morning I give a pep talk to the elves, and at the end of the day we do a recap.
If your job were a movie, what would the soundtrack song be? Goodness there are so many possibilities. “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas,” “Let it Snow,” “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” and, of course, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”
Are you a Spendthrift Sally? A Moderate Milly or a Tightwad Ted? I guess you could call me a Cookie Monster.
At what age would you like to retire, and what will you be doing then? The day I retire is the day children stop believing in me. I hope that day never comes.
Continue on for more facts and figures about salaries…
Emerald Coast Salary Survey Says …
Custodian — $8,484
Bus driver — $7.79/hour ($16,203)
Day care worker — $7.79/hour ($16,203)
School nurse — $10.50/hour ($21,840)
Park ranger — $23,645
Music teacher — $24,000
Substitute teacher — $11.89/hour ($24,731)
Florida Lottery Computer Operator — $28,647
Juvenile Probation Officer — $29,344
Forensic Technologist — $29,344
Non-profit manager — $30,000
Non-profit executive director — $40,000
Correctional officer — $32,527
Law Enforcement Officer — $33,977
Historic preservationist — $40,938
Tax Auditor — $41,462
Kindergarten teacher — $42,939
Piano teacher — $45,000
Law clerk — $45,556
Pharmacist — $55,000
Math Tutor — $49,000
Freelance writer — $50,100
College campus librarian — $51,347
College professor — $53,125
Firefighter Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) — $48,000
Public Defender — $64,000
Advertising Agency Account Manager — $60,000
Cardiac Lab Nurse — $62,000
Resort marketing and public relations director — $65,000
Veterinarian — $69,000
University campus librarian — $71,412
Emergency Registered Nurse — $74,000
Systems Programmer — $77,000
Inspector General for military affairs — $84,813
Actuary — $97,494
Trial Attorney — $99,000
Civil service senior engineer — $110,580
University professor — $102,695
School superintendent — $121,451
Tax Attorney — $125,000
Circuit court judge — $145,080
Dentist — $151,000
Oral Surgeon — $224,000
The Richest Person in Florida
Florida is officially home to 31 billionaires, according to the latest Forbes list (and that doesn’t even count the ones who have second, third or fourth homes here). Miami Heat owner and Carnival Cruise’s chief executive officer Micky Arison is the richest of them all. Forbes estimates the 63-year-old has a net worth of $5.7 billion, making him the richest guy in Florida and 211th richest person in the world.
Richest Woman in America
Christy Walton’s net worth — $28.2 billion — reached new highs as Walmart stock jumped in 2012. She remains the richest woman in the United States. Christy inherited her wealth when husband John Walton, a former Green Beret and Vietnam War medic, died in an airplane crash in 2005.
The Richest Person in the World
Forbes’ Billionaire list boasts 1,426 names this year. The U.S. leads the list with 442 billionaires, but topping the list is Carlos Slim Helu, a telecom mogul from Mexico worth $73 billion. Microsoft’s Bill Gates is the top American with a net worth of $67 billion.
Wages of the World
Minimum wage per hour.
Closing the Gender Gap
Men’s Labor Force
Women’s Labor Force
It Pays to Stay in School
By educational attainment, full-time workers age 25 and over without a high school diploma had median weekly earnings of $477, compared with $647 for high school graduates (no college) and $1,193 for those holding at least a bachelor’s degree. Among college graduates with advanced degrees (professional or master’s degree and above), the highest earning 10 percent of male workers made $3,510 or more per week, compared with $2,339 or more for their female counterparts.
Gender and Ethnicity
The women’s-to-men’s earnings ratio varied by race and ethnicity. White women earned 81.1 percent as much as their male counterparts, compared with black (91.6 percent), Asian (77.1 percent) and Hispanic women (94.2 percent).
Hardest Working Countries
In this case it doesn’t really pay to be No. 1
Mexico (No. 1)
Average annual hours: 2,317
Average annual wages: $9,885
United States (No. 8)
Average annual hours: 1,798
Average annual wages: $54,450
Slovak Republic (No. 10)
Average annual hours: 1,749
Average annual wages: $19,068
What Some of Those in Office Make
Mike Anderson, mayor of Fort Walton Beach
David Cadle, mayor of Crestview
C. Harold Carpenter, mayor of DeFuniak Springs
Sarah Seevers, mayor of Destin
Randall Wise, mayor of Niceville
Matt Gaetz, Florida House of Representatives
Marco Rubio, U.S. senator
Rick Scott, governor of Florida
Joe Biden, vice president of the United States
Barack Obama, president of the United States