New Data Puts Spotlight on Popular Tennessee Occupations


Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD), in cooperation with the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, released occupational employment and wage information for 2016.  Using statistical data reported by employers across Tennessee, TDLWD analyzed information for 754 occupations in Tennessee, along with 14 metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas across the state.

Tennessee’s average wage from May 2015 to May 2016 increased by more than $1,000. Tennessee’s mean annual wage of $41,296 in 2015 was topped in 2016 by the annual average of $42,354.Tennessee’s median wage in 2015 of $31,818 also increased by $983 to $32,801.             

Construction and extraction occupations had employment of nearly 91,000 workers in Tennessee, based on the latest information released in May 2016.  This represents 3.1 percent of total state employment.  Over 68,000 of these jobs were in construction trades occupations, including construction laborers (18,000), electricians (10,800) and carpenters (6,650).

The highest paying construction and extraction occupations were elevator installers and repairers ($69,492) and boilermakers ($65,935). The lowest paying construction and extraction occupations were paperhangers ($26,841) and carpenter helpers ($27,857). The annual mean wage in Tennessee across all construction and extraction occupations was $39,996, slightly below the Tennessee average wage of $42,354 and the U.S. average wage of $49,630 for all occupations combined.

Metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) with the highest percentage of construction and extraction occupations were Kingsport MSA (4.1 percent) and Morristown (3.8 percent), compared with 3.1 percent of Tennessee employment.

Healthcare practitioners and technical occupations had employment of 195,290 and healthcare support occupations had employment of 76,020.  Both healthcare occupational groups combined made up 9.4 percent of Tennessee employment.  Registered nurses, with over 60,000 jobs, were the largest healthcare occupation.

Twelve of the 15 highest paying occupations were healthcare occupations, including several physician and dental occupations with the highest annual wage reported for anesthesiologists ($270,143).  The lowest paying healthcare occupations were home health aides ($20,663) and psychiatric aides ($20,157).

Production occupations had total employment of 268,120 and an annual mean wage of $34,151 across all industries in Tennessee. 

Pay for production occupations in manufacturing industries varied widely.  The two highest paid production jobs were nuclear power reactor operators ($85,274) and power plant operators ($68,133).

On the state level the highest annual mean wages for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) occupations were for nuclear engineers ($126,195) and architectural and engineering managers ($123,963), while the lowest annual mean wages were for agricultural and food science technicians ($31,499) and forest and conservation technicians ($36,773).  The Knoxville area has the highest concentration of STEM jobs.

The largest occupations overall were laborers and freight, stock, and material movers (96,260) and retail salespersons (93,500).

The next largest occupations in Tennessee were combined food preparation and serving workers (74,390), cashiers (72,320), team assemblers (62,800), and registered nurses (60,080).

Nine of the 10 largest occupations reported below-average wages. Cashiers ($19,969), waiters and waitresses ($19,668), and combined food preparation and serving workers ($18,800) which require only short-term training, had annual mean wages significantly below the all-occupations average for Tennessee of $42,354.

Registered nurses ($58,405) and general and operations managers ($109,343) were the largest occupations displaying above-average wages.

Source: State of TN

The East Tennessee Economic Development Agency markets and recruits business for the 15 counties in the greater Knoxville-Oak Ridge region of East Tennessee. Visit

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