Education - one key to landing a top-paying job

February 19, 2014 08:57 am
People hoping to build careers in Eastern Oregon should pay attention to the tried and true maxim: get an education. Not surprisingly, the top-paying jobs in the region belong to those with solid technical, professional or management training and experience.

According to statistics from the Oregon Employment Department, people at the top of the medical care hierarchy do best in the local region. The highest paying job in Northeast Oregon in 2012 (the most recent year the department compiled them), was physician or surgeon, with earnings averaging estimated at $191,000. Family and general practitioners lagged a little behind, bringing down $170,000. Dentists managed $146,450 and pharmacists $120,000.

Management positions also provided decent earnings in 2012. Chief executive officers averaged an estimated $110,800, medical and health service managers $93,920, elementary and secondary school administrators $89,030, natural sciences managers $87,710. At the other end of the management scale, food service and lodging managers averaged $40,000-$43,000 a year.

In terms of workers employed, office and administrative support yielded the most jobs in Eastern Oregon in 2012.

 The sector, including positions like bill and account collector, payroll and timekeeping clerk, bank teller, file clerk, library assistant and loan interviewer, employed more than 8,500 people in Eastern Oregon in 2012.

The average annual wage was $29,600.

Education also remains a big employer in the region, with more than 4,000 people laboring in teaching and training-related jobs in 2012. Average wage was $43,000. Other categories employing healthy numbers include sales, with 5,700 workers in 2012, and food preparation, with 5,100.

Production jobs — think sawmills and recreational vehicle manufacturers —employed 3,400 workers in 2012, with an average wage of $33,500.

Transportation, including several categories of truck drivers, employed 4,050, average wage $31,070. Construction and extraction trades employed 2,130, average earnings $42,920.

At the lower end of the wage scale, dishwashers and restaurant hosts and hostesses brought home barely enough to pay the rent. On average, dishwashers made $19,430 in 2012, restaurant hosts and hostesses $19,740.

Also near the bottom of the scale, dining room and cafeteria attendants made about $22,950, veterinary assistants $21,960, and maids and housekeepers $20,670. Janitors and cleaners earned $24,500, while restaurant and food servers made $20,650

According to the employment department, wages in Eastern Oregon still lag well behind those paid across the state. Workers made $42,250 on average throughout Oregon, while those in the eight eastern Oregon counties including Union, Wallowa, Baker, Grant, Harney, Klamath, Lake, and Malheur averaged $37,520.


Benefits of graduating from college

• Young employed college graduates are more likely than those with a high school diploma or less to say their job is a career or stepping stone to a career. In contrast, those with a high school diploma or less were three times more likely than college graduates to say their work is “just a job” to help them get by — 42 percent vs. 14 percent.

• The field of study in college does seem to matter. Those who studied science or engineering were most likely to say that their current job is “very closely” related to their college or graduate field of study, at 60 percent, compared to 43 percent for both liberal arts and business majors.

• About three-fourths of all college graduates say they regretted not doing more during school to better prepare themselves to find a job, such as getting more work experience, studying harder or looking for work sooner.

Source: Pew Research Center Findings based on the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey as of March 2013, as well as its own survey of 2,002 adults interviewed by cellphone or landline from Oct. 7-27, 2013. The Pew poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.