What People Earn: Lessons for a Salary Stalker

Last Updated Mar 14, 2011 11:27 AM EDT

How much money do you make?
An impolite question? Perhaps. But who doesn't wonder, "What does that guy make for doing his job?" (Or, more likely: 'Am I getting shafted on my own salary?') In Parade Magazine's Annual What People Earn Issue, they take the guesswork out of salary suspicions. Here's a roundup of Parade's pay profiles, for all you salary stalkers out there - plus a few takeaways for your own career decisions.

Real Jim Halpert (aka The Office's resident good-looking, good guy)
Who: Ross McArthur, 26, a sales executive from Scranton, Pa.
What He Makes: $70,000
What We Learned: Sales can pay--but maybe not well enough to buy a $1.8 million home in LA's Sunset Strip, like John Krasinski did in '09.

Mark Zuckerberg in the Making Who: Angela Ten Clay, 25, a social-media manager from Des Moines, Iowa
What She Makes: $42,000
What We Learned: A solid middle-class salary like this one puts social media on the mainstream employment map. (Of course, inventing a Social Network pays better -- Zuckerberg made $7 billion last year.)

Dreaming Dancer Who: Virginia Horne, 32, ballet dancer, from New York City
What She Makes: $16,800
What We Learned: Dancing is like acting -- or writing, for that matter. Even in this Black Swan moment, you don't take to the stage for the paycheck.

Face Fixer Who: Frank Stile, 44, plastic surgeon, from Las Vegas, Nevada
What He Makes: $1 million
What We Learned: Know your market. Women whose looks are their livelihood and for whom aging is the enemy? We see why he's winning big in Sin City.

Package Pilot Who: Bryan Birchem, 43, Fedex pilot from O'Fallon, Ill.
What He Makes: $147,748
What We Learned: Explore different jobs in your industry (especially if yours, like the airline business, is shrinking). We bet Birchem prefers his silent passengers to screaming babies and other tired travelers.

(Legal) Drug Dealer Who: Deanna Candek, 38, a pharmacist from Vail, Ariz.
What She Makes: $127,054
What We Learned: Learning a trade is still a solid way to secure a steady salary.

Real-Life Gleek Who: Stephen Popa, 41, a choir director from Lima, Ohio
What He Makes: $48,601
What We Learned: Popa tells Parade that his day-to-day doesn't involve hanging with Gwyneth Paltrow: "The frustrations of a music teacher are the same ones any teacher has."

What salaries are you curious about? Which of these surprised you and why? Please sign in below and share your thoughts. And for more career advice, follow @MWOnTheJob on Twitter.
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  • Amy Levin-Epstein On Twitter»

    Amy Levin-Epstein is a freelance writer who has been published in dozens of magazines (including Glamour, Self and Redbook), websites (including AOLHealth.com, Babble.com and Details.com) and newspapers (including The New York Post and the Boston Globe). To read more of her writing, visit AmyLevinEpstein.com.

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