Low-salary jobs that pay off big in retirement

Most Americans aren’t contributing enough to their retirement plans in order to comfortably retire by the age of 65.

While many people think finding a higher-salary career might be a key solution to their savings woes, in reality, income is only one portion of total compensation.

For workers in some traditionally lower-paying careers, for example, lifetime retirement benefits could factor in as a big plus.

GOBankingRates used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to determine the best occupations for retirement benefits, based on the fields with the largest employer contribution per hour.

Here’s a look at the results:

1. Teachers- state and local governments

While teachers bring in an annual salary of about $58,700, state and local governments can contribute large amounts to net retirement savings.

Contributions per hour can total $8.00.

At that rate annual retirement benefits for people in this profession average about $16,640 per year.

2. Special education teachers

Special education teachers receive an annual salary around $59,980.

Employer contributions per hour are around $7.58, which is equal to about 12.2 percent of total compensation. Annual retirement benefits are about $15,766.

3. Utilities

Utilities workers – including those who work in the electric, gas and water industries – don’t necessarily earn the lowest salaries, with an average annual pay of $76,731, but they also receive impressive retirement benefits.

As a percent of total compensation, retirement benefits for these workers make up 10.4 percent – with employers contributing about $6.52 per hour.

Overall, annual retirement benefits average out to $13,562.

4. Elementary school workers – state and local

People that work in elementary school earn an annual pay of about $62,280, but as another state and local government job, the benefits tend to be pretty attractive.

Annual retirement benefits average out to an estimated $13,354 per year – which is about 12.3 percent of income.

5. Public administration

Public administrators’ salaries also aren’t the lowest – averaging about $62,600 per year – but their retirement benefits make up nearly 13 percent of total compensation.


Among the other jobs with top-paying retirement plans are:

Aircraft manufacturers:

Annual retirement benefits: $10,670

Service occupations — State and Local Government:

Annual retirement benefits: $9,797

Healthcare and social assistance — State and Local Government:

Annual retirement benefits: $7,987

Office and administrative support occupations — State and Local Government

Annual retirement benefits: $7,634