Americans may have a split personality when it comes to money. Many don't feel comfortable talking about their own financial situations, yet at the same time want to know how much their colleagues or neighbors are earning.
That's partly due to human nature, with many adults feeling a desire to keep up with the earning and spending patterns of their neighbors. With the post-recession years rewarding top workers with big wage increases, some middle-income Americans are scrambling to keep up by taking on more debt, according to a recent study from the Federal Reserve Board.
But not every highly skilled career rewards its workers with hefty salaries, according to a new study from employment site Glassdoor. Even some jobs that are thought of as providing cushy salaries may pay less than you might imagine. The average American worker earned $48,320 in 2015, and some of these jobs, which require college degrees and specialized training, pay below that benchmark.
Read on to learn about 11 jobs with salaries that may surprise or even shock you.
These first responders earn just $36,000 each year, which is considerably less than what a physician or registered nurse earns, at $175,929 and $63,070, respectively. Paramedics, while requiring training, licensing and certification, aren't required to have college degrees, which may be one reason why the pay isn't as high as for other health-care roles.
While physicians are known for earning high salaries, this speciality out-earns many other types of health care professionals. With median annual pay of almost $300,000, these physicians have not only attended medical school but completed four years in an anesthesiology residency. It's a high-stakes role which has been linked to burnout, however.
Software engineer intern: $68,576
For college students, securing an internship is often a standard summer rite of passage. Yet those in fields such as software engineering can take away not only hands-on experience, but hefty pay. The median monthly pay for software engineer interns is $5,275, or the annual equivalent of $68,576. Because companies have more jobs than they can fill, many turn to students to plug the gap and to groom them for full-time jobs after they graduate.
Hollywood's biggest stars may make millions, but most actors are struggling to get by. The typical actor earns $35,310 annually, with their earnings stemming from commercials, local theater, and other gigs. A college degree isn't required for an acting career, but many actors go through years of training to hone their skills.
News reporter: $34,746
With the heyday of newspapers long gone, the typical news reporter is losing ground on a number of fronts, including pay. A news reporter may be trusted with reporting on local or national government, but they are likely earning far less than the people they are reporting on. Glassdoor found that the median annual pay for news reporters is $34,746.
More than a decade ago, reporters and correspondents earned more than the average wage for U.S. workers, but the intervening years have brought wage stagnation and job cuts to the profession, according to the American Journalism Review. Reporters typically have a bachelor's degree and often a master's in journalism as well.
While much attention has been paid to the skyrocketing salaries and annual bonuses of America's top-paid CEOs, the average corporate leader may be making less than you expect. The median base salary for a CEO is $177,800, Glassdoor found. Almost 9 out of 10 American CEOs run relatively small businesses, with fewer than 20 employees.
Railroad conductor: $66,238
Working on the railroad remains a solid profession, even though the career isn't as top of mind as it was a century ago. Railroad conductors earn a median salary of $66,238, or more than one-third more than the typical American worker. The job doesn't require a college degree, although it does demand specialized training. Even though it pays well, the job isn't in a growth field, given that railroad worker jobs are forecast to decline by 3 percent during the next eight years, Glassdoor noted.
Food scientist: $58,085
These scientists earn more than the typical American, yet far less than the median pay of almost $87,000 earned by other scientists, Glassdoor noted. The job requires a hefty investment in education, with food scientists typically holding a college degree as well as a master's degree.
Elementary school teacher: $46,967
Elementary school teachers aren't earning cushy salaries, with Glassdoor finding that the median pay stands slightly below that of the average worker. Teacher pay has been a matter of debate, with policy makers and think tanks suggesting they either earn far too little or too much.
Becoming a teacher requires a college education and specialized training, although the Teacher Salary Project says educators earn 14 percent less than people in professions with similar educational requirements.
School principal: $100,438
Climbing the ranks of school administration can pay off, with Glassdoor noting that school principals earn slightly more than $100,000 annually, or more than double what their teachers take home. The role is typically filled by former teachers who want to switch into administration, with a master's degree typically required for the post.
U.S. president: $400,000
If Donald Trump's claim is accurate that his annual income tops $550 million, he'll be in for a major pay cut if he wins the election in November. The president of the United States earns $400,000 annually, as well as an expense account of $50,000, a nontaxable travel account of $100,000 and $19,000 for entertainment.
That's certainly lavish compared with the typical American, but far below what the top paid American CEOs earn or what celebrities pull in. Of course, after leaving office, presidents can score millions in book deals, speaking engagements, and other work.