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"Five Surprising Salaries
By Anthony Balderrama, writer

Much has been made of people who live beyond their means. When you see a neighbor bring home a fancy new car, you can't help but wonder how she can afford it on her salary. However, you can't assume you know how much she (or anybody) makes unless you've seen her tax returns.

Plenty of people earn surprising paychecks – some higher and others lower than you expect. For this reason we've put together a list of jobs and their unexpected salaries. It's good information to know just to satisfy your curiosity (or nosiness). Plus, the next time you're job hunting, use the list as a reminder not to make a snap judgment about any job before you do your research.

Court reporters
What they do: Court reporters transcribe court proceedings, meetings, speeches and other events where verbatim documentation is necessary. Any time someone says "Strike that from the record," court reporters are the ones writing that record.
Surprising salary: $59,970*. You might not have thought typing could earn you so much money, but once you realize court reporters can't miss a word – often in fast-talking situations – it makes more sense.

Elementary school principals
What they do: Elementary school principals ensure that students are meeting education requirements by communicating with other administrators, evaluating teachers, monitoring the curriculum and interacting with parents on a regular basis.
Surprising salary: $79,310. Careers in education, particularly those not at the college level, are notorious for being underpaid. Principals, however, earn significantly higher salaries than you might expect, sometimes as much as 40 percent more than an elementary schoolteacher.

What they do: Paramedics respond to emergency situations and attempt to provide the necessary medical care, whether it involves transporting patients to a hospital or treating them on the scene.
Surprising salary: $27,070. Seeing as paramedics have high stress jobs that require them to be on call and ready to save lives at a moment's notice, you might expect their mean annual salary to be higher.

What they do: Astronomers use their physics and math skills to study the universe and its origin, which includes galaxies, solar systems and the planets within. They use this research to analyze and solve problems dealing with satellites and space travel.
Surprising salary: $95,740. Though maybe it shouldn't be all that surprising considering a doctorate is the standard level of education and there are only 1,700 astronomers in the U.S.

Fashion designers
What they do: Fashion designers design and create new clothes and other fashion accessories to be sold to the public in retail stores. Depending on whether they work for their own label or for someone else's, they might set new trends or follow existing ones.
Surprising salary: $69,270. Aspiring fashion designers are warned that few people can be the next Marc Jacobs, with runway shows at Fashion Week, actresses wearing their dresses at awards shows and millions in the bank – but the less famous fashion designers, who include those working for retail chains, are earning more than you probably thought.

*Mean annual salary information based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Anthony Balderrama is a writer and blogger for He researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues."

Last Updated: Friday, March 21, 2008 - 11:12 AM

Balderrama, Anthony. "Five Surprising Salaries". 21 March 2008. MSN Careers. 12 April




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Comment by Justin Buck on September 18, 2008 at 7:24pm
i wish i could make as much Paramedic lol

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