“It’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it.”
This phrase has become a cliché over the years, but like most clichés it endures because there is truth in it. All around the world there are jobs that need to be done, and people that are willing to do them, even if the work is hard and the compensation is sometimes lacking.
As experts in global relocation services, here at CapRelo we strive to better understand the global workforce in any number of industries. To that end, we recently took a look at how salaries differ for a number of common jobs from country to country around the world and found some very interesting results that we just had to share.
For the specific jobs we researched, we relied on self-reported salary information supplied by workers from around the globe. Before we get to those graphics, however, we wanted to supply some additional context and perspective by finding out what the average annual salary would be in the countries we examined if workers were paid their nation’s federal minimum wage, regardless of job title. Several countries such as Norway and Sweden do not have federally mandated minimum wages, instead relying on other processes such as union negotiations within each industry to set standards. In those cases we have listed a minimum wage as “n/a.”
One of the jobs we were most interested to look at in this study was the nursing field. While it’s doctors that are known for making lots of money and are the ones glorified on medical television shows and in the popular conscience at large, anyone working in the medical field in the real world knows that nurses are a truly indispensable part of any good medical team, without whom countless doctors and patients would be much worse off.
Our analysis found that pay for nurses varies wildly across the globe from $3,556 annually in India to $63,000 in the United States, the best of any nation in the study. The average nursing salary in the USA is over twice the global average for the profession, showing that the American medical industry recognizes just how important nurses are. Along those lines, it is worth noting that while the amount paid to nurses in India is a pittance compared to the United States and other countries, that $3,556 figure represents an annual salary over 4 times higher than the annual minimum wage in that country, showing that nurses are highly valued highly even in poorer countries.
Another profession with a reputation for being underappreciated and underpaid is education. Many teachers around the United States have been fighting for better pay and better job support in recent years, and it’s easy to see why once you dive into the salary data from around the world.
While American teachers were among the top-10 best paid in our analysis, they earn almost $20,000 a year less than the average teacher in Switzerland, the country that compensates their educators the best. Even more interesting is to look at these salaries through a lens of relativity, as teachers in the United States make less than 3 times the national minimum wage, while those in the country with the lowest minimum wage - India - make over 5.5 times their nation’s minimum wage. This is just one instance of other nations prioritizing education higher than the USA, a trend that is driven home by the fact that the global average salary for teachers actually exceeds that of nurses, meaning a number of countries see their educators as worthy of compensation on par with or exceeding that of crucial healthcare providers.
Similar to the educator’s initiatives, there have been many highly public efforts in the United States in recent years to increase pay for people that work in the food service industry. Our analysis found that it’s not just America where food servers are paid very little, as there are only two countries - Switzerland and Turkey - where workers in this industry average more than $30,000 a year in earnings. This was also the job with the lowest average global salary, clocking in at a measly $15,861.
The only other job we evaluated that even came close to matching food servers was retail associates. People who work in this industry keep malls, boutiques, and everything in between running smoothly, and they are not paid very well for it. In the United States they make slightly more money than food servers, a trend that is fairly common around the world.
With all this talk of money and salaries, CapRelo would have been remiss if we didn’t take a look at how those who manage everyone else’s money are compensated. As is true for many jobs we evaluated, Scandinavian countries like Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Norway paid accountants the best, along with Switzerland. It is worth noting that while those nations pay well for most jobs, they also typically have high tax rates. Of those five nations in our analysis that pay accountants over $60,000 a year, only Switzerland has an income tax rate lower than 27%.
A crucial part of any company is their HR department. When looking at the average salaries for human resources managers around the world, we found that the vast majority of countries we evaluated understood just how important HR is. Salaries for those in this profession are typically paid well above their national minimum wage, with Switzerland even averaging six-figure salaries for top-level human resources managers. In fact, of the nine professions CapRelo looked at for this project, HR managers had the highest average global salary at $46,767.
With technology playing the prominent role it does in modern society, we at CapRelo wanted to make sure we took a look at how those that develop some of that technology are paid. To that end, we evaluated general software engineer salaries. Unsurprisingly, given the prominence of Silicon Valley to the American economy, this was the job with the highest salary in the United States of all the professions we evaluated in this study. In fact, the $85,000 average salary for an American software engineer was the second highest in the world, trailing only Switzerland’s $94,567.
Finally, we wanted to look at a pair of job titles that are incredibly important to so many companies even though their specific duties can differ from industry to industry. First, operations managers, which typically oversee a company’s production process. People in these jobs are crucial to running an efficient and profitable business, and are paid as such in many countries. Almost 20 of the countries we examined pay operations managers over $50,000 a year on average, which helped bring the global average in excess of $45,000 annually.
The last job we looked at was project managers. People with these titles can have job duties that vary even more than operations managers as different companies have different responsibilities that fall under the purview of project managers. While there is decent variance in day-to-day duties for people in these roles, what is consistent is how well they are compensated. Project managers are one of only two jobs we looked at where all 43 countries we evaluated where workers are paid at least $10,000 annually, the other being operations managers.
This analysis covered just a sliver of the global workforce, but here at CapRelo we found even that little bit to be truly illuminating. The differences in pay from job to job and country to country allow for interesting looks into what different nations value in their workforce, something that is made all the more interesting when viewed through the prism of different national minimum wages.
Whether your job was a part of this analysis or not, we hope it has been interesting and informative. And if you or your company are considering a move to another country (maybe one where they pay better), remember that CapRelo offers world-class global mobility services to simplify any such move!