Chapter 35



Some Golden Plums—What Electrical Experts Get—The Confidential Man—Rapid Rise of an Advertising Agent—Editors in Clover—Railroad Presidents Come High—A $25,000 Engineer—The Paying Berths in Medicine—Some Astonishing Lawyers’ Fees—What Vanderbilt Paid a Steamboat Man.

There are some positions in which enormous salaries are paid. They are, of course, places where great responsibilities are incurred. Strange as it may seem, however, occupations where thousands of human lives are imperiled are not compensated at so high a rate as those where great finances are at stake. Here are a few of the golden plums:

  1. Electrical Experts.—The use of electricity has so increased in the last few years, and so many new uses have been found for it, that there are to-day nearly fifty different departments of human labor where it is employed, and naturally these have differentiated as many kinds of electricians. A young man in a New York establishment says “I am in receipt of a salary of $4,000 as superintendent of the dynamo building, and recently I had an offer of $7,000 to go with a new company out West.”
  2. The Confidential Man.—Another man in New York began his career in a store at wages of only $7 a week. He is now the firm’s confidential man, who decides on all important purchases, and receives a salary of $8,000 a year.
  3. The Advertising Agent.—The advertising agency is from a financial standpoint the most important department in the make-up of a paper or periodical. On one of our most popular magazines there is to-day a young man hardly over thirty years of age who has advanced through the various grades of work until he is now superintendent of the advertising department, receiving a remuneration of $7,000 a year.
  4. Great Daily Editors.—Editors of leading departments in our great dailies receive from $2,000 upward. Managing editors and editors-in-chief receive many times that sum. One man in the New York Sun office has for his services a salary of $15,000, and besides this does outside literary work to the amount of $5,000 yearly.
  5. Medical Specialists.—There is still “room at the top” of the medical world. The largest harvests are reaped by those who devote themselves to particular parts of the human framework, and at last are able to set up as “consulting physicians.” One doctor, whose apartments are crowded daily, informed the author of this work that he was treating eleven hundred and fifty patients. The celebrated Dr. Loomis for some time before his death made $50,000 a year.
  6. Legal Counselors.—What is true of medicine is equally so of the law. Specialists in such branches as real estate, legacies, insurance, etc., are in receipt of immense revenue. Celebrated bar-pleaders also have grown rich. The names of Rufus and Joseph Choate, of Wm. Evarts and Ben. Butler, are examples of men who have received single fees of $10,000. One young lawyer says: “I began seven years ago and during this period my earnings, with their investments, amount to $200,000.” Legal talent is also liberally paid for by the great corporations, all of which employ at a regular salary one or more attorneys.

1,000. Corporation Presidents.—Presidents of banks receive from $5,000 to $50,000; of insurance companies, there are at least three which pay their presidents $50,000; of railroad presidents, one receives $100,000, three receive $50,000, eight receives $20,000, and twelve $10,000.

In other occupations, deep-water divers are paid at the rate of $10 an hour and fractions thereof; circus managers, $5,000 a year; and the buying man of great mercantile firms about the same. Bank cashiers get from $4,000 to $7,000; custom house officers from $3,000 to $7,000; judges of city courts (New York), $6,000; lecturers from $10 to $200 per night; preachers, from $20,000 in John Hall’s pulpit to a pitiful $300 in some country town; school principals from $1,500 to $3,000. Among exceptional salaries may be, mentioned that of a steamboat manager of the Vanderbilt lines on the Mississippi, who once received $60,000 a year; also the engineer of a large manufactory, who is paid $25,000. “Is not that high?” inquired a visitor at the works. “He is cheap for us,” was the reply, illustrating the truth that talent and skill are everywhere and always in demand. The concern could not afford to lose him to rival firms who wanted his services, and so found it cheaper to retain him even at that high figure.


We subjoin a table showing the average salary or wages in one hundred of the leading occupations. In most cases the figures have been compiled from government reports, but where no reports could be obtained an estimate has been made by taking the average receipts from certain districts. In the latter instances, of course, the table cannot be considered perfectly reliable; this is especially the case with the professions of the lawyer, the doctor, and the clergyman. Still, as the sections of the country taken may be considered as fairly representative of the whole, the figures will probably be found not far amiss.

Some persons will be surprised to learn the average lawyer and physician receive respectively only $1,210 and $1,053, but they should bear in mind that while the pay in these professions is sometimes as high as $25,000 and even $50,000 a year, a great number of beginners and unsuccessful men are toiling—or not toiling—for a mere pittance. Were it not for the ten per cent. of very successful men in these professions who are making fortunes, the average receipts would be even smaller by two or three hundred dollars than they appear in the table.

Other cases where the figures may not have as much value as could be desired are under the headings which really comprise a group of occupations instead of a single one, as that of the journalist and the electrician; yet others where the general name is that of a genus comprising many species, as that of the engineer; and still others where there is a great difference in the value of the work performed, as in the case of teachers and factory operatives. Again, in business ventures, such as those of storekeepers, bankers, brokers, and others, many have actually lost money, and this reduces immensely the average, while among the so-called working classes, days of idleness, willing or enforced, operate in the same way.

Yet, on the whole, if any one consults the table as a general guide to the pecuniary rewards of the various trades and professions, he will find that they have been placed in their relative financial standing. In the occupations named, employees are generally meant, employers and independent workers being printed in capitals.


Engravers (wood),$1,684SURGEONS,1,616THEATRICAL MANAGERS and SHOWMEN,1,605BANKERS and BROKERS,1,601Electricians,1,560SALOON-KEEPERS,1,475Designers (textile),1,383Decorators (china and stone ware),1,248HOTEL-KEEPERS,1,245LAWYERS,1,210Architects,1,206Teachers (all kinds of schools),1,153DAIRYMEN,1,152MERCHANTS,1,149DENTISTS,1,115Engineers (all kinds),1,092Draughtsmen,1,090Furniture-Workers,1,087PHYSICIANS,1,053Dyers,1,040Furriers,1,036Engravers (metals),1,014Actors,989LIVERY-STABLE KEEPERS,981Journalists,979CLERGYMEN (house-rents not included),963MEAT-DEALERS,951Painters (house),936GROCERS,935Gunsmiths,930RESTAURANT-KEEPERS,924Masons, bricklayers and plasterers,919Plumbers,919Electrotypers,911Hatters,910Musicians,899Miners,892Bookbinders,884Goldbeaters,858Watchmakers,832Door, sash, and blind-makers,780Glass-workers,778Boot and shoemakers,773Blacksmiths,750Carpenters,750FARMERS (including living),749Conductors and, motormen,728Telegraphers,720Cooks,720ARTISTS,713PHOTOGRAPHERS,702Typewriters,690Cigarmakers,676Coopers,675Printers,660Millwrights,650Harness-makers,648Soapmakers,646Upholsterers,642Quarrymen,635Sawyers,630Tailors,626Locksmiths,624Machinists,624Press-feeders,624Firemen,624Sailmakers,623Coachmen,620Barbers,619Clerks,608Cutlers,598Moulders,595DRESSMAKERS,593Boiler-makers,584Cabinet-makers,572Tinsmiths,571Carriage-makers,572Draymen,520Butchers,517Soldiers,514AUTHORS,502Agents,496Millers,495Waiters,494Lumbermen and raftsmen,482Brewers,480Tanners,468Farm laborers (besides board),456Factory operatives,450Weavers,450Peddlers,440Bartenders,425HUNTERS, TRAPPERS, and GUIDES,416Gardeners,390Laborers,390Sailors,375Confectioners,347Stevedores,336Nurses (besides board),285Hostlers (besides board),180Servants (besides board),162


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