Looking for a new or a better paying job in Lake Charles? Good luck! Here are some surprising facts you need to know.

It’s generally assumed that most of the work in our area is in the petrochemical industry, which makes sense. After all, we do have a lot of plants that employ a lot of people. However, the truth might surprise you.

The most job opportunities in Lake Charles actually go to cashiers, with 3,330 local jobs and an average salary of only $15,770. After that, there are 3,140 retail jobs paying an average salary of $22,290. Then, it's laborers, secretaries, wait staff, etc...

Here’s a full list of the top ten most available jobs in Lake Charles:

  1. Cashiers - 3,330 local jobs - $15,770 average salary
  2. Retail salespeople - 3,140 jobs - $22,290 average salary
  3. Laborers - 2,020 jobs - $24,140 average salary
  4. Registered nurses - 1,820 jobs - $56,750 average salary
  5. Secretaries - 1,710 jobs - $22,910 average salary
  6. Wait staff - 1,700 jobs - $16,020 average salary
  7. General and operations managers - 1,550 jobs - $84,300 average salary
  8. Office clerks - 1,530 jobs - $22,080 average salary
  9. Maintenance workers - 1,430 jobs - $34,650 average salary
  10. Food preparation workers - 1,430 jobs - $16,060 average salary

Most of these jobs (with the exception of RNs) have one thing in common: they don't require college degrees. And they usually don't pay very well, either. This brings up the question of where all the money is coming from to pay for skyrocketing rent and living expenses, when most of the jobs out there seem to pay less per year than a Girl Scout selling cookies for a month. But I've already been over that here and here.

Unemployed middle aged woman

The top jobs that do require a degree pay much better, but are dramatically less available. If you're looking to be gainfully employeed after graduating college in Lake Charles, your safest best is to get a nursing degree, because that's where the jobs are. According to CityTownInfo.com, there were 1,820 RN jobs in the area, putting it at the top of the list by far. The second most popular job comes in well under half that number (and still doesn’t have anything to do with the petrochemical industry). Sales reps take the #2 spot at 790 jobs.

Here’s are the top jobs where the majority of workers have a college degree:

  1. Registered nurses - 1,820 jobs - $56,750 average salary
  2. Sales representatives - 790 jobs - $46,820 average salary
  3. Accountants and auditors - 490 jobs - $48,430 average salary
  4. Managers - 290 jobs - $72,720 average salary
  5. Engineers - 210 jobs - $78,720 average salary
  6. Compliance officers - 210 jobs - $51, 260 average salary
  7. Detectives and criminal investigators - 210 jobs - $40,090 average salary
  8. Social and human service assistants - 200 jobs - $31,730 average salary
  9. Pharmacists - 190 jobs - $99,980 average salary
  10. Sales managers - 190 jobs - $68, 340 average salary

Engineering managers make some of the best money around, with an average salary of $122,410, but there are only 130 jobs for them in the area. Lawyers also do really well, with an average salary of $102,080 and 180 local jobs.

As for plant jobs, there are a lot of them. There are 1,070 jobs for chemical plant and system operators, with an average salary of $61,860, which is nothing to sneeze at. Then there are petroleum pump system operators, refinery operators, and gaugers, who have 990 jobs at an average salary of $59,930. After that, welders get 680 jobs with an average salary of $46,850, first-line supervisors and managers have 450 jobs with an average salary of $61,540, followed by inspectors who also have 450 jobs, but a $43,490 average salary.

Hemera Technologies

The takeaway from all this is that, sure, Lake Charles and the surrounding area is, in fact, in the middle of that economic boom we all keep hearing about - and there are a lot of jobs being created. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of those jobs are low-paying, usually part-time, and without benefits. If you're lucky enough to land one of the better jobs, be sure to get your supervisors an extra nice box of chocolates or whatever on Boss's Day. And always laugh at their jokes, because there are hundreds - if not thousands - of other local people who want what you have.

The biggest problem with Lake Charles rears its ugly head when all these low-paying jobs come up against the rising cost of living in a city that's fond of putting short-term gains ahead of long-term growth and sustainability. We're not San Francisco, after all. It's not like we're shuttling residents over to Google or Microsoft for tech jobs that pay well enough to afford the astronomical rent in that city. We're all just a bunch of working people trying to make ends meet, which gets harder and harder as the cost of rent and utilities and taxes climbs higher and higher without the jobs to support them.

No employer is ever going to pay people any more than they have to, and everyone selling something is always going to price their goods and services the highest the market can bear. And, so far, we're all bearing it. Somehow.

Man covering his face in office
David De Lossy

Sure, a lot of people might be working multiple jobs and begging for all the overtime they can't get, but we're making it. The city hasn't experienced a major financial collapse (yet), so we've got that going for us, which is nice. Yeah, we're all being pushed to the absolute limit we can endure, but I guess a handful of people are living the good life.

So there's that.

Check out the full list over at CityTownInfo.com.

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