Nurse aides, pharmacists see salaries jump

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Nurse aides have risen out of the "Bottom 20" of hourly wage earners in the country, according to new government statistics.

Between 1997 and 2005, nursing aides, orderlies and attendants saw a 31% bump in their average hourly earnings - from $8.23 to $10.77 per hour, according to the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics. This puts them at 392 out of 418 occupations, or 26 from the bottom.

In 2005, aides were among the absolute lowest earning occupations, which ranged from $4.71 per hour for wait staff to $10.05 per hour for agricultural products inspectors, vehicle washers and equipment cleaners.

Pharmacists joined physicians, airline pilots, medical science teachers and dentists in the "Top 20" earning professions for 2005. Pharmacists had ranked 57th in 1997, but their hourly average wage soared from $26.59 to $45.25 in eight years.

The full BLS analysis is available at