From paramedics to firefighters and surgeons, here's what the average American makes in 19 life-saving jobs


Firefighters, paramedics, and nurses save and protect people’s lives every day.

The Bureau of Labour Statistics’ Occupational Employment Statistics program offers data on employment and wages across different occupations and industries.

We took a look at the average annual salaries, as reported by the BLS, for 19 medical and protective-service roles where saving lives is a part of the job.

Lifeguards tend to make a relatively low annual salary, while firefighters and police officers are well compensated on average. Surgeons are very highly paid.

Here are those occupations, ranked from lowest to highest average salary as of May 2018, the most recent period for which BLS data is available:


19. Lifeguards, ski patrol, and other recreational protective service workers earn an average of $US24,420 a year.

There are 144,370 employed in the US.


18. Ambulance drivers and attendants (except EMTs) earn an average of $US29,010 a year.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

There are 15,380 employed in the US.


17. Crossing guards earn an average of $US31,970 a year.

There are 79,880 employed in the US.


16. Security guards earn an average of $US32,050 a year.

Scott Barbour / Stringer / Getty Images

There are 1,114,380 employed in the US.


15. Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics earn an average of $US37,760 a year.

Joerg Koch / Stringer / Getty Images

There are 257,210 employed in the US.


14. Substance abuse, behavioural disorder, and mental-health counselors earn an average of $US47,920 a year.

wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock

There are 267,730 employed in the US.


13. Forest-fire inspectors and prevention specialists earn an average of $US49,610 a year.

There are 2,130 employed in the US.


12. Firefighters earn an average of $US53,240 a year.

There are 321,570 employed in the US.


11. Fire inspectors and investigators earn an average of $US64,140 a year.

There are 12,530 employed in the US.


10. Police and sheriff’s patrol officers earn an average of $US65,400 a year.

There are 661,330 employed in the US.


9. Transit and railroad police earn an average of $US74,450 a year.

Roman Tiraspolsky/Shutterstock

There are 4,470 employed in the US.


8. Registered nurses earn an average of $US75,510 a year.

Getty Images

There are 2,951,960 employed in the US.


7. Epidemiologists earn an average of $US75,690 a year.

There are 7,060 employed in the US.


6. First-line supervisors of fire-fighting and prevention workers earn an average of $US80,310 a year.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

There are 65,920 employed in the US.


5. Emergency management directors earn an average of $US82,570.

(AP Photo/Carlos Giusti, File)

There are 9,550 employed in the US.


4. Detectives and criminal investigators earn an average of $US85,020 a year.

BrandonKleinVideo/Shutterstock

There are 103,450 employed in the US.


3. First-line supervisors of police and detectives earn an average of $US93,100 a year.

There are 116,660 employed in the US.


2. Air-traffic controllers earn an average of $US120,830 a year.

There are 22,390 employed in the US.


1. Surgeons earn an average of $US255,110 a year.

Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

There are 34,390 employed in the US.

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