This is what $80,000 a year looks like.

There’s no one way to earn an $80,000 salary, as this list makes clear.

Have you ever wondered what your neighbour earns? Or that professional-looking woman sitting across from you on the train?

Well, we’ve had a bit of a snoop around some work-related online forums and uncovered some surprising truths about what kind of jobs earn the same levels of pay.

Here are five very different jobs that all earn around the $80,000 mark.

1. A mechanic.

Next time you take your car in for a service, consider that your friendly, local mechanic – if he or she has clocked up a few years’ experience – could be earning around $80,000.

One mechanic on a job forum said he earns $78K for a 40-hour week, with super on top (at 13 per cent) and overtime or shift work if he wants it.


An average mechanic would have made their way to this kind of work by completing high school, gaining a tertiary certificate, and then undergoing more on-the-job training with a future employer. The core skill set for a mechanic is obviously assessing and repairing cars, including the maintenance and testing of engines. Customer service skills also come in handy, especially when it comes to explaining how things works to non-car people. Ahem.

Considering what we put our cars through, and the technology of modern car systems, it makes sense to pay our mechanics a decent wage, no?

2. A senior paralegal.

An experienced paralegal worker can also earn around $80,000 a year. A senior paralegal within a state government department reports that she can earn between $74,000 and $81,000 for her role, for a 35-hour week. It’s a lot less physical than a mechanic and would involve a lot more paper, we’re guessing.

The primary work for a paralegal is to support legal work – so lots of research, admin, client work and case management. (Paralegals can’t actually provide legal advice directly to clients, but they can research into an area and provide advice to the lawyer, who can then advise the client).

The plus side of this work, compared to a lawyer, would arguably be the likelihood of less demanding hours and less pressure, being a step away from the client and the results of any legal action. A paralegal might have taken a few different pathways to their career – a TAFE or university course or traineeship – but won’t soar to the same salary heights as their lawyer counterparts who commonly earn six figure incomes.

3. A website developer.

Website developers, or ‘devs’ as they are commonly known, can speak a language you and I cannot. (Linux, C++, iOs, Java anyone? Thought not.)


This highly sought-after skillset can earn around the $80,000 mark and beyond, depending on skill level. Experience can have less of an impact on salary in this sector as most developers don’t have more than twenty years’ experience.

A 27 year-old software developer on a job forum said his income was $75,000 including super, for around 37 hours a week, plus “whatever is needed”. That sounds alarmingly like unpaid overtime…

The flipside of that, though is that he’s been able to “walk into every single development job without applying since the start of my career in software”.

That’s what having a high-demand skillset will do for you.

One more thing you’ll notice about developers? They’re usually male. It’s a heavily male-dominated arena, so the door is wide open for young female coders to muscle into this terrain and earn some big bucks!

4. A hairdresser.

You may be surprised to learn that your beloved hairdresser, charged with the care of your luscious locks, could be earning more than you. Known for low entry-level pay, hairdressers’ pay can rise up the scale with their years’ of experience.

A 27 year-old hairdressing manager says she earns $85,000 plus super and bonuses, for her 11 years of experience.

That’s not bad bikkies for doing something essentially creative and fun, but then it’s an on-your-feet job, and a service industry, and that would be tough.

5. A doctor.

This was the most surprising job to come in at around the $80,000 mark – a 31 year-old doctor working as an RMO (Resident Medical Officer) said he earned $72,000 plus super, for highly irregular hours including one 14 hour weekend shift. Cripes!

Most doctors spend two to three years practicing as an RMO in a hospital setting before beginning more specialised training. Some doctors may continue working as a RMO indefinitely as it suits them and they enjoy the variety of the role.

Obviously, pay for doctors in Australia who go on to specialise or work in their own practice rises well above $80,000, with average income for a GP at over $100 big ones.

Do any of these incomes surprise you? What other professions would you expect to see at the $80,000 mark?

Want more? Try these:

Why we need older women in the workplace.

The 6 stages every person goes through in the hours after a job interview.

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