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Summary

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Video transcript available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISmxPVS5O2c.
Quick Facts: Postsecondary Teachers
2023 Median Pay $84,380 per year
Typical Entry-Level Education See How to Become One
Work Experience in a Related Occupation See How to Become One
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2022 1,333,900
Job Outlook, 2022-32 8% (Faster than average)
Employment Change, 2022-32 108,100

What Postsecondary Teachers Do

Postsecondary teachers instruct students in a variety of academic subjects beyond the high school level.

Work Environment

Most postsecondary teachers work in public and private colleges and universities, professional schools, and junior or community colleges. Most work full time, although part-time work is common.

How to Become a Postsecondary Teacher

Educational requirements vary by subject and the type of educational institution. Typically, postsecondary teachers must have a Ph.D. However, a master's degree may be enough for some postsecondary teachers at community colleges, and others may need work experience in their field of expertise.

Pay

The median annual wage for postsecondary teachers was $84,380 in May 2023.

Job Outlook

Overall employment of postsecondary teachers is projected to grow 8 percent from 2022 to 2032, faster than the average for all occupations.

About 118,800 openings for postsecondary teachers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for postsecondary teachers.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of postsecondary teachers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about postsecondary teachers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Postsecondary Teachers Do About this section

Postsecondary teachers
Professors may teach a variety of subjects, such as history, science, or business.

Postsecondary teachers instruct students in a variety of academic subjects beyond the high school level. They may also conduct research and publish scholarly papers and books.

Duties

Postsecondary teachers typically do the following:

  • Develop an instructional plan (known as a course outline or syllabus) for the course(s) they teach and ensure that it meets college and department standards
  • Plan lessons and assignments
  • Teach courses in their subject area
  • Assess students’ progress by grading assignments, papers, exams, and other work
  • Advise students about which courses to take and how to achieve their goals
  • Work with colleagues to develop or modify the curriculum for a degree or certificate program involving in-person, online, or hybrid delivery of course material
  • Stay informed about changes and innovations in their field
  • Serve on academic or administrative committees, as needed

Postsecondary teachers, often referred to as professors or faculty, specialize in a variety of subjects and fields. At colleges and universities, professors are organized into departments by degree field, such as history, science, or business. A professor may teach one or more courses within that department. For example, a mathematics professor may teach calculus, statistics, and a graduate seminar on a topic related to polynomials.

Postsecondary teachers’ duties vary, often based on the size of their employing institution. In large colleges or universities, they may teach courses, conduct research or experiments, publish original research, apply for grants to fund their research, or supervise graduate teaching assistants. In small colleges and universities or in community colleges, they may spend most of their time teaching courses and working with students.

Full-time professors, particularly those who have tenure (that is, they cannot be fired without just cause), often are expected to devote a great deal of time on original research. Tenured professors must document their analyses or critical reviews and publish their research findings. They also may be expected to serve on college and university committees.

Part-time professors, often known as adjunct professors, usually spend most of their time teaching students.

Professors may teach large classes of several hundred students (often with the help of graduate teaching assistants), smaller classes of about 40 to 50 students, seminars with a few students, or laboratories in which students practice the subject matter. Some teach online, either exclusively or in addition to providing live instruction.

Professors’ tasks also may include collaborating with their colleagues and attending conferences to keep up with developments in their field.

Information about postsecondary teachers who provide vocational training in subjects such as repair, transportation, and cosmetology is available in the profile on career and technical education teachers.

Work Environment About this section

Postsecondary teachers
Most classes are held during the day, but some are held on nights and weekends.

Postsecondary teachers held about 1.3 million jobs in 2022. Employment in the detailed occupations that make up postsecondary teachers was distributed as follows:

Health specialties teachers, postsecondary 262,800
Art, drama, and music teachers, postsecondary 123,900
Business teachers, postsecondary 99,900
Nursing instructors and teachers, postsecondary 85,900
Education teachers, postsecondary 74,300
English language and literature teachers, postsecondary 70,100
Biological science teachers, postsecondary 62,400
Mathematical science teachers, postsecondary 55,900
Psychology teachers, postsecondary 50,900
Engineering teachers, postsecondary 45,500
Computer science teachers, postsecondary 42,000
Communications teachers, postsecondary 33,600
Philosophy and religion teachers, postsecondary 29,100
Chemistry teachers, postsecondary 25,900
Foreign language and literature teachers, postsecondary 24,700
History teachers, postsecondary 22,800
Law teachers, postsecondary 19,800
Political science teachers, postsecondary 19,300
Social sciences teachers, postsecondary, all other 19,200
Criminal justice and law enforcement teachers, postsecondary 16,500
Recreation and fitness studies teachers, postsecondary 16,300
Physics teachers, postsecondary 16,200
Social work teachers, postsecondary 15,500
Sociology teachers, postsecondary 15,000
Economics teachers, postsecondary 14,800
Atmospheric, earth, marine, and space sciences teachers, postsecondary 13,600
Area, ethnic, and cultural studies teachers, postsecondary 11,900
Agricultural sciences teachers, postsecondary 10,100
Architecture teachers, postsecondary 8,200
Environmental science teachers, postsecondary 7,900
Anthropology and archeology teachers, postsecondary 6,200
Library science teachers, postsecondary 5,400
Geography teachers, postsecondary 4,100
Family and consumer sciences teachers, postsecondary 2,900
Forestry and conservation science teachers, postsecondary 1,500

The largest employers of postsecondary teachers were as follows:

Colleges, universities, and professional schools; private 41%
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state 39
Junior colleges; local 10
Junior colleges; state 6

Postsecondary teachers often find it rewarding to share their expertise with students and colleagues. However, it may be stressful, especially for beginning teachers seeking advancement, to balance teaching duties with an emphasis on research and publication. At the community college level, professors are more likely to focus on teaching students.

Work Schedules

Most postsecondary teachers work full time, although part-time work is common. Postsecondary teachers who work part time may offer instruction at several colleges or universities. Some have a full-time job in their field of expertise in addition to a part-time teaching position. For example, an active lawyer or judge might teach an evening course at a law school.

College and university courses are generally during the day, although some are offered in the evenings or on weekends to accommodate students who have jobs or other obligations.

Academic calendars typically include breaks, such as between terms. The availability and type of course offerings during the summer vary by institution. Although some postsecondary teachers provide instruction in summer courses, others use the time to conduct research or engage in professional development.

Postsecondary teachers’ schedules generally are flexible. Full-time teachers typically need to be on campus to teach classes and have office hours but otherwise are free to set their own schedules.

How to Become a Postsecondary Teacher About this section

Postsecondary teachers
Institutions may prefer to hire those with teaching or other work experience.

Educational requirements vary with the subject taught and the type of educational institution. Typically, postsecondary teachers must have a Ph.D. or other doctoral degree in their field. However, a master's degree may be enough for some postsecondary teachers at community colleges. Other postsecondary teachers may need work experience in their field of expertise.

Education

Postsecondary teachers who work for 4-year colleges and universities typically need a Ph.D. or other doctorate in their field of degree. For some specialties or for part-time positions, schools may hire those with a master’s degree or who are doctoral degree candidates.

Doctoral programs usually take several years to complete, and students typically need a bachelor’s or master’s degree to enroll. Most Ph.D. programs require students to write a doctoral dissertation, a paper presenting original research in their field of study, which they then defend in questioning from experts. Candidates usually specialize in a subfield, such as organic chemistry or European history.

Community colleges may hire those with a master’s degree. However, some institutions prefer that applicants have a Ph.D.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Institutions may prefer to hire those with teaching or other work experience.

In some fields, such as health specialties, art, law, and education, hands-on work experience is especially important. Postsecondary teachers in these fields often gain experience by working in an occupation related to their field of study.

In other fields, such as biological science, physics, and chemistry, some postsecondary teachers have postdoctoral research experience. Sometimes called a “post-doc,” this experience takes the form of a job that usually involves working for 2 to 3 years as a research associate or in a similar position, often at a college or university.

Some postsecondary teachers gain teaching experience by working as graduate teaching assistants—students who are enrolled in a graduate program and teach classes at the institution in which they are enrolled.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Postsecondary teachers who prepare students for an occupation that requires a license, certification, or registration, may need to have—or may benefit from having—the same credential. For example, a postsecondary nursing teacher might need a nursing license or a postsecondary education teacher might need a teaching license.

Advancement

Postsecondary teachers with a doctoral degree often seek tenure—a guarantee that a professor cannot be fired without just cause. Attaining tenure may take up to 7 years of progressing through the positions by rank: assistant professor, associate professor, and professor. The decision to grant tenure is based on a candidate’s research, contribution to the institution, and teaching.

Some professors advance to high-level administrative positions, such as dean or president. For information on deans and other administrative positions, see the profile on postsecondary education administrators. For more information about college and university presidents, see the profile on top executives.

Important Qualities

Critical-thinking skills. To conduct original research and design experiments, postsecondary teachers need to analyze information logically.

Interpersonal skills. Postsecondary teachers need to work well with others for tasks such as instructing students and serving on committees.

Resourcefulness. Postsecondary teachers must be able to present information in a way that students will understand. They need to adapt to the different learning styles of their students and be able to use technology for lessons or assignments.

Speaking skills. Postsecondary teachers need good communication skills to present lectures and provide feedback to students.

Writing skills. Postsecondary teachers need strong writing ability to publish original research and analysis.

Pay About this section

Postsecondary Teachers

Median annual wages, May 2023

Postsecondary teachers

$84,380

Educational instruction and library occupations

$59,940

Total, all occupations

$48,060

 

The median annual wage for postsecondary teachers was $84,380 in May 2023. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $49,440, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $182,710.

Median annual wages for postsecondary teachers in May 2023 were as follows:

Law teachers, postsecondary $127,360
Economics teachers, postsecondary 115,300
Engineering teachers, postsecondary 106,910
Architecture teachers, postsecondary 105,770
Health specialties teachers, postsecondary 105,650
Forestry and conservation science teachers, postsecondary 101,650
Atmospheric, earth, marine, and space sciences teachers, postsecondary 100,690
Physics teachers, postsecondary 98,020
Business teachers, postsecondary 97,130
Computer science teachers, postsecondary 96,430
Political science teachers, postsecondary 93,810
Anthropology and archeology teachers, postsecondary 93,650
Environmental science teachers, postsecondary 88,410
Area, ethnic, and cultural studies teachers, postsecondary 86,030
Chemistry teachers, postsecondary 85,810
Geography teachers, postsecondary 85,600
Agricultural sciences teachers, postsecondary 85,260
Biological science teachers, postsecondary 83,920
Sociology teachers, postsecondary 82,670
Psychology teachers, postsecondary 82,140
History teachers, postsecondary 82,140
Mathematical science teachers, postsecondary 81,020
Nursing instructors and teachers, postsecondary 80,780
Art, drama, and music teachers, postsecondary 80,360
Library science teachers, postsecondary 80,310
Philosophy and religion teachers, postsecondary 79,930
Communications teachers, postsecondary 79,910
Foreign language and literature teachers, postsecondary 78,760
Family and consumer sciences teachers, postsecondary 78,410
English language and literature teachers, postsecondary 78,130
Social sciences teachers, postsecondary, all other 77,750
Recreation and fitness studies teachers, postsecondary 75,770
Social work teachers, postsecondary 75,020
Education teachers, postsecondary 73,240
Criminal justice and law enforcement teachers, postsecondary 69,030

In May 2023, the median annual wages for postsecondary teachers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Colleges, universities, and professional schools; private $88,090
Junior colleges; local 86,650
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state 84,490
Junior colleges; state 64,950

Wages vary by institution type. Postsecondary teachers typically have higher wages in colleges, universities, and professional schools than they do in community colleges or other types of schools.

Most postsecondary teachers work full time, although part-time work is common. Postsecondary teachers who work part time may offer instruction at several colleges or universities. Some have a full-time job in their field of expertise in addition to a part-time teaching position. For example, an active lawyer or judge might teach an evening course at a law school.

College and university courses are generally during the day, although some are offered in the evenings or on weekends to accommodate students who have jobs or other obligations.

Academic calendars typically include breaks, such as between terms. The availability and type of course offerings during the summer vary by institution. Although some postsecondary teachers provide instruction in summer courses, others use the time to conduct research or engage in professional development.

Postsecondary teachers’ schedules generally are flexible. Full-time teachers typically need to be on campus to teach classes and have office hours but otherwise are free to set their own schedules.

Job Outlook About this section

Postsecondary Teachers

Percent change in employment, projected 2022-32

Postsecondary teachers

8%

Total, all occupations

3%

Educational instruction and library occupations

2%

 

Overall employment of postsecondary teachers is projected to grow 8 percent from 2022 to 2032, faster than the average for all occupations.

About 118,800 openings for postsecondary teachers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

Projected employment of postsecondary teachers varies by occupation (see table). Both part-time and full-time postsecondary teachers are included in these projections.

The number of people attending postsecondary institutions is expected to grow over the projections decade. Students will continue to seek higher education to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to meet their career goals. As more people enter colleges and universities, more postsecondary teachers will be needed to serve these additional students. Colleges and universities are likely to hire more part-time teachers to meet this demand. In all disciplines, there is expected to be a limited number of full-time nontenure and full-time tenure positions.

A growing number of older people, who are more likely than young people to need medical care, will create increased demand for healthcare. More postsecondary teachers are expected to be needed to help educate workers who provide healthcare services.

However, despite expected increases in enrollment, employment growth in public colleges and universities will depend on state and local government budgets. If budgets for higher education are reduced, employment growth may be limited.

Employment projections data for postsecondary teachers, 2022-32
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2022 Projected Employment, 2032 Change, 2022-32 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Postsecondary teachers

1,333,900 1,442,000 8 108,100

Business teachers, postsecondary

25-1011 99,900 106,900 7 6,900 Get data

Computer science teachers, postsecondary

25-1021 42,000 44,300 5 2,200 Get data

Mathematical science teachers, postsecondary

25-1022 55,900 57,700 3 1,800 Get data

Architecture teachers, postsecondary

25-1031 8,200 8,500 4 300 Get data

Engineering teachers, postsecondary

25-1032 45,500 49,700 9 4,200 Get data

Agricultural sciences teachers, postsecondary

25-1041 10,100 10,500 5 500 Get data

Biological science teachers, postsecondary

25-1042 62,400 67,700 9 5,300 Get data

Forestry and conservation science teachers, postsecondary

25-1043 1,500 1,600 5 100 Get data

Atmospheric, earth, marine, and space sciences teachers, postsecondary

25-1051 13,600 14,100 4 500 Get data

Chemistry teachers, postsecondary

25-1052 25,900 26,800 4 900 Get data

Environmental science teachers, postsecondary

25-1053 7,900 8,200 4 300 Get data

Physics teachers, postsecondary

25-1054 16,200 16,800 4 600 Get data

Anthropology and archeology teachers, postsecondary

25-1061 6,200 6,400 4 200 Get data

Area, ethnic, and cultural studies teachers, postsecondary

25-1062 11,900 12,400 4 500 Get data

Economics teachers, postsecondary

25-1063 14,800 15,400 4 600 Get data

Geography teachers, postsecondary

25-1064 4,100 4,300 4 200 Get data

Political science teachers, postsecondary

25-1065 19,300 20,000 4 700 Get data

Psychology teachers, postsecondary

25-1066 50,900 53,600 5 2,700 Get data

Sociology teachers, postsecondary

25-1067 15,000 15,500 4 600 Get data

Social sciences teachers, postsecondary, all other

25-1069 19,200 19,700 3 500 Get data

Health specialties teachers, postsecondary

25-1071 262,800 313,000 19 50,200 Get data

Nursing instructors and teachers, postsecondary

25-1072 85,900 101,500 18 15,600 Get data

Education teachers, postsecondary

25-1081 74,300 77,100 4 2,800 Get data

Library science teachers, postsecondary

25-1082 5,400 5,600 4 200 Get data

Criminal justice and law enforcement teachers, postsecondary

25-1111 16,500 16,900 3 400 Get data

Law teachers, postsecondary

25-1112 19,800 20,400 3 600 Get data

Social work teachers, postsecondary

25-1113 15,500 16,100 4 600 Get data

Art, drama, and music teachers, postsecondary

25-1121 123,900 127,800 3 3,900 Get data

Communications teachers, postsecondary

25-1122 33,600 34,800 3 1,200 Get data

English language and literature teachers, postsecondary

25-1123 70,100 70,900 1 900 Get data

Foreign language and literature teachers, postsecondary

25-1124 24,700 25,000 1 300 Get data

History teachers, postsecondary

25-1125 22,800 23,100 1 300 Get data

Philosophy and religion teachers, postsecondary

25-1126 29,100 29,900 3 800 Get data

Family and consumer sciences teachers, postsecondary

25-1192 2,900 3,000 4 100 Get data

Recreation and fitness studies teachers, postsecondary

25-1193 16,300 16,800 3 500 Get data

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OEWS data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.org. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of postsecondary teachers.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help on Entry-Level Education 2023 MEDIAN PAY Help on Median Pay
Career and technical education teachers Career and Technical Education Teachers

Career and technical education teachers instruct students in various technical and vocational subjects, such as auto repair, healthcare, and culinary arts.

Bachelor's degree $63,580
Elementary, middle, and high school principals Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals

Elementary, middle, and high school principals oversee all school operations, including daily school activities.

Master's degree $103,460
Instructional coordinators Instructional Coordinators

Instructional coordinators oversee school curriculums and teaching standards. They develop instructional material, implement it, and assess its effectiveness.

Master's degree $74,620
Postsecondary education administrators Postsecondary Education Administrators

Postsecondary education administrators oversee student services, academics, and faculty research at colleges and universities.

Master's degree $102,610

Contacts for More Information About this section

For more information about postsecondary teachers, visit

American Association of University Professors

Council of Graduate Schools

O*NET

Agricultural Sciences Teachers, Postsecondary

Anthropology and Archeology Teachers, Postsecondary

Architecture Teachers, Postsecondary

Area, Ethnic, and Cultural Studies Teachers, Postsecondary

Art, Drama, and Music Teachers, Postsecondary

Atmospheric, Earth, Marine, and Space Sciences Teachers, Postsecondary

Biological Science Teachers, Postsecondary

Business Teachers, Postsecondary

Chemistry Teachers, Postsecondary

Communications Teachers, Postsecondary

Computer Science Teachers, Postsecondary

Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers, Postsecondary

Economics Teachers, Postsecondary

Education Teachers, Postsecondary

Engineering Teachers, Postsecondary

English Language and Literature Teachers, Postsecondary

Environmental Science Teachers, Postsecondary

Family and Consumer Sciences Teachers, Postsecondary

Foreign Language and Literature Teachers, Postsecondary

Forestry and Conservation Science Teachers, Postsecondary

Geography Teachers, Postsecondary

Health Specialties Teachers, Postsecondary

History Teachers, Postsecondary

Law Teachers, Postsecondary

Library Science Teachers, Postsecondary

Mathematical Science Teachers, Postsecondary

Nursing Instructors and Teachers, Postsecondary

Philosophy and Religion Teachers, Postsecondary

Physics Teachers, Postsecondary

Political Science Teachers, Postsecondary

Psychology Teachers, Postsecondary

Recreation and Fitness Studies Teachers, Postsecondary

Social Sciences Teachers, Postsecondary, All Other

Social Work Teachers, Postsecondary

Sociology Teachers, Postsecondary

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Postsecondary Teachers,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/postsecondary-teachers.htm (visited June 23, 2024).

Last Modified Date: Wednesday, April 17, 2024

What They Do

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Work Environment

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How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2023 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2023, the median annual wage for all workers was $48,060.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2022

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2022, which is the base year of the 2022-32 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2022-32

The projected percent change in employment from 2022 to 2032. The average growth rate for all occupations is 3 percent.

Employment Change, 2022-32

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2022-32

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2022 to 2032.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

2023 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2023, the median annual wage for all workers was $48,060.