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Pay gap

Data from the Census Bureau shows that the average full-time working woman earns about 80% of what the average full-time working man does. But this pay gap is different across every profession. Below SmartAsset looks at the occupations with the largest pay gap and the occupations with the smallest pay gap in America.

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In order to find the occupations with the largest pay gaps, SmartAsset analyzed data on earnings for men and women across different occupations. Check out our data and methodology below to see where we got our data and how we analyzed it.

Key Findings

  • Boys’ club – The financial industry has a reputation for being a bit of a boys’ club. Data on earnings show that this is still true. Many of the top 10 occupations with the largest pay gaps are in finance. Personal financial advisors, for example, have the largest pay gap. Women in that occupation earn only 55% of what men make.
  • Struggling in sales – Women who work in sales tend to be paid less than their male counterparts. This trend goes across many industries, from insurance sales to real estate sales. In both of those occupations, women earn less than 65% of what men earn.
  • Pay is more equal in lower-paying occupations – Weekly average earnings for women in the 10 occupations with the lowest pay gap is $726. In the 10 occupations with the largest pay gap, women earn an average of $1,434 per week.

Occupations With the Largest Pay Gap

Largest Pay Gap

1. Personal Financial Advisors

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, female personal financial advisors face the largest pay gap. On average, they make about $953 per week, which is 55% of what the average male personal financial advisor makes. Male financial advisors make an average of $1,714 per week.

2. Insurance Sales Agents

Insurance sales agent is the profession with the second-largest pay gap. Women in this profession make about 58% of what men make on average. There are about 218,000 men who work in this profession compared to 205,000 women. Women in this profession make $676 per week. That’s the lowest average earning in the top 10.

3. Physicians and Surgeons

Physicians and surgeons break the streak of finance and sales positions which dominate this list. Our data suggests that men who become physicians and surgeons are much better compensated for their work than women. The average women in this profession make only 63% of what men make.

Both male and female physicians and surgeons are well paid however. Men make about $2,340 per week and women make $1,470 per week, on average. Of course, given how much student debt physicians and surgeons usually need to take on, that income comes in handy. For doctors who are struggling with student debt, refinancing their student loans may be a good option.

4. Real Estate Brokers and Sales Agents

Women who work as real estate brokers or sales agents earn only about 64% of what their male counterparts earn. This is the first occupation on our list where the number of women working in the profession outnumber the men. There are about 284,000 female real estate brokers and 209,000 male real estate brokers.

Real estate brokers and sales agents earn around half of what physicians earn. Male real estate brokers take home about $1,200 per week and female real estate brokers earn about $780 per week, on average.

5. Securities, Commodities and Financial Services Sales Agents

Securities, commodities and financial services sales agents make, on average, $1,351 per week. However, men make more than that number on average, while women earn significantly less. On average, women take home around $951 per week and men earn $1,450.

This is a male-dominated field. A financial services sales agent is more than twice as likely to be a man than a woman.

6. Marketing and Sales Managers

This is one of the most popular occupation in our top 10. Overall there are about 920,000 marketing and sales managers in the country. Both men and women in this job are well-compensated.

Men however make significantly more than women on average. The average male marketing and sales manager earns about $1,750 per week and the average female marketing and sales manager earns about $1,150 per week.

7. Administrative Services Managers

Administrative service managers are the people who plan and coordinate supportive services for an organization. Typically, men are better compensated for this type of work than women. The average woman in this occupation makes about $952 per week, while the average man makes just shy of $1,400 per week.

8. Financial Managers

Financial managers are the people who plan for the long-term financial viability of their company. There are over 1 million people doing this across the U.S., with women slightly outnumbering men.

However, while women may be more likely to do the job, they tend to be paid less. The average male financial manager earns $1,670 per week compared to $1,157 for women. This means women in this occupation get paid 69.28% of what men get paid.

9. Credit Counselors and Loan Officers

Credit counselors and loan officers determine whether or not consumers and businesses are able to get loans. Once again this is an occupation with larger numbers of women working in it than men. Women credit counselors earn an average of $926 per week and men earn $1,331 per week. This means the average woman in this occupation earns only 69% of what the average man does.

10. Inspectors, Testers, Sorters, Samplers and Weighers

This is the lowest-paying occupation in our top 10. People in this occupation are responsible for inspecting raw or finished goods. Men in this occupation earn only $834 per week on average, and yet women still earn significantly less. On average women in this occupation earn $584 per week.

Occupations With the Smallest Pay Gap

Smallest Pay Gap

1. Transportation, Storage and Distribution Managers

This is the occupation with the smallest difference between men’s and women’s average earnings in our data set. Women working as transportation, storage and distribution managers earn 99.8% of what men do, on average. Both groups make just under $1,000 per week.

Men are more likely to be transportation, storage and distribution managers. There are about 237,000 men in this occupation compared to 51,000 women.

2. Stock Clerks and Order Fillers

In general, stock clerks and order fillers tend to get paid similar amounts regardless of gender. Female stock clerks earn $526 per week and male stock clerks earn $533 per week, on average. This is also one of the most common occupations we analyzed. There are about 1.1 million stock clerks in the U.S., the majority of whom are women.

3. Counselors

Women are more prevalent in the counseling profession than men are. There are about 473,000 female counselors compared to 184,000 men. On average, women in this profession make about $907 per week and men make $892 per week. That’s right, female counselors outearn male counselors on average. Men earn 98.35% of what women earn in this profession, for a pay gap of 1.65%.

For the three other professions where women earn more on average than their male counterparts, see the section below this one.

4. Physical Therapists

Physical therapist is the second-highest-earning profession in the top 10 occupations with the smallest pay gaps. Male and female physical therapists both earn just over $1,300 per week, with women earning $1,306 on average and men earning $1,348 on average.

However, this is a relatively uncommon job to have. There are only about 200,000 physical therapists in the country and about 128,000 are women.

5. Shopping, Receiving and Traffic Clerks

People in this occupation are tasked with maintaining an accurate record of incoming and outgoing shipments. The job includes packing and unpacking of shipments. In general, this is not a high-paying job, but on average men earn slightly more than women do.

On average, women are paid about $583 per week, which is 96% of what men earn. Despite being paid similar amounts, workers in this occupation may find it hard to afford housing, or save for retirement.

6. Receptionists and Information Clerks

Receptionists have traditionally been women. Today women are eight times more likely to be receptionists than men. Unfortunately, despite dominating the field, female receptionists tend to be paid slightly less than men. On average female receptionists earn about $581 per week which is $19 less than the average male receptionist makes per week.

7. Advertising Sales Agents

Advertising sales agents are one of the few sales roles where men and women earn about the same amount. On average, female advertising sales agents earn just under $1,000 per week, while males in the same occupation earn about $1,034 per week. There are about 50% more male advertising sales agents than females.

8. Data Entry Keyers

Men and women who work as data entry keyers tend to get paid a similar amount. Male data entry keyers earn about $655 per week while female data entry keyers earn about $630 dollars per week.

While a difference of $20 per week may not sound like a lot, it equals about $1,300 per year. Or about two full weeks of average pay for data entry keyers. Women are over three times as likely to work in this profession than men are.

9. Computer and Information Systems Managers

Computer and information systems managers, or IT managers as they are better known, tend to be paid well. On average both men and women earn over $1,650 per week. Men, however, earn slightly more than women. The average male in this field earns $1,756 per week while the average female earns $1,680 per week.

This means when it comes to managing computer and information systems, women earn about 95.6% of what men earn.

10. Food Preparation Workers

Preparing food is the lowest-paid job in this top 10. The average female food preparer earns $413 per week. That equals $21,476 per year. Men earn about $432 per week. Food preparation fits the pattern of lower-paying jobs being mostly done by women. There are about 20% more female food preparation workers than there are men.

Occupations Where Women Outearn Men

1. Sewing Machine Operators

Men who operate sewing machines earn less on average than women who work in this field. On average, men get paid about $400 per week in this profession while women earn $452. That means women earn just over 11% more than men in this profession.

Women are also twice as likely to be sewing machine operators as compared to men.

2. Combined Food Preparations and Serving Workers

Workers in this occupation tend to work in fast food businesses. On average, you are more likely to find a woman doing this job than a man. Of the 200,000 people in this occupation 125,000 are women. Women in this occupation earn about 5% more than men on average.

3. Teachers Assistants

If you come across a teaching assistant, odds are she’s a woman. Woman are almost 10 times more likely to work in this role than men.

Women teaching assistants also earn more than men. The average female teaching assistant earns $525 per week while the average male teaching assistant earns $501 per week. The pay gap here is 4.57% in favor of women.

Data and Methodology

In order to find the occupations with the largest and smallest pay gaps, we looked at data on 120 detailed occupations. We analyzed data on the following two factors:

  • Men’s weekly earnings. This is the average weekly earnings for full-time working men. Data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and is from 2016.
  • Women’s weekly earnings. This is the average weekly earnings for full-time working women. Data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and is from 2016.

To create our rankings, we compared the weekly earnings for women in each occupation to that of men. We arranged the occupations by women’s earnings as a percent of men’s earnings.

Note: For our final rankings, we did not include occupations with the phrase “other” in them due to a lack of clarity.

Tips for Paying Off Student Debt

To get the highest-paying jobs, you typically need to have a good education. That can mean taking on a lot of student debt, which can be troublesome to pay off. Here are some tips for the best strategies to handle student debt.

Like many solutions to financial problems the first step is setting up a budget. Make student debt a priority in your budget so that you put money toward it. By having a budget you see clearly where there is slack in your spending. For example, if your budget shows you are spending too much on eating out, maybe cooking more will help.

Another tip is to set up automatic student loan payments. By doing this you will never make a late payment and can avoid paying those troublesome late fees. Some student loan providers will also shave a few points off your interest rate if you set up an automatic payment plan.

Finally,even though student loan debt can be stressful, it may not be a great idea to pay it off early. For one, student loan interest payments are tax-deductable. Another reason is that if you received a federal student loan and are on an income-based repayment plan, your student debt can be forgiven after 25 years. Watch out though: the amount of debt forgiven will be treated as taxable income.

Questions about our study? Contact us at press@smartasset.com.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/PeopleImages

Derek Miller, CEPF® Derek Miller is a graduate of the University of Edinburgh where he studied economics. He is passionate about using data to help people make better financial decisions. Derek is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance® (CEPF®) and a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing. He is a data journalist whose expertise is in finding the stories within the numbers. Derek's writing has been featured on Yahoo, AOL, and Huffington Post. He believes the biggest financial mistake people make is waiting too late to save for retirement and missing out on the wonders of compounding interest. Derek lives in Brooklyn.
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