Tipping The Pay Scale

Scott Holstein
Casey Tindell|!!| 23|!!| Santa Rosa Beach |!!!|
Written by Zandra Wolfgram
Chay D. Baxley, Jason Dehart and Linda Kleindienst contributed to this report. 

Go on.  Admit it.  You’d love to sneak a peek at certain payroll stubs.

According to a July 2013 poll in CNN Money, the average U.S. annual salary is $54,450. And Florida’s average annual salary, which is typically below the U.S. average, was $43,210 in 2012, according to the Florida Legislature’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research. The only country that came close was Japan, where workers toil 1,765 hours a year for an average pay of $35,143.

Americans work hard to earn their paychecks. In fact, we are one of the hardest working nations (ranked right behind Poland, which is listed at No. 7). But we earn more than five times the average wage paid in Mexico — ranked as the No. 1 hardest working nation — for 500 less hours of work per year.  

But where Americans in general are winning the war on income, we are losing the battle on some benefits. CNN cites the U.S. as the only developed country not to guarantee workers vacation time each year, and one of the few where there is no mandate to provide workers with paid sick or maternity leave. Meanwhile, the Obama Administration in March ordered the U.S. Department of Labor to look at how to expand the number of workers eligible for overtime pay, charging that too many businesses are skirting labor laws by incorrectly putting employees in job classifications where they are exempt from overtime.

Still, Americans get paid more than every single other hardworking country on the CNN Money list. 

In Northwest Florida, many live the mantra “work to live,” while some “live to work.” Workers’ average salaries in this region range from about $40,000 in counties like Leon and Escambia to about $35,000 in Bay County to around $30,000 in Jefferson County. We met with several business owners, entrepreneurs and workers who are proud and passionate about what they do for a living — and were brave enough to share how much their jobs pay. No matter what title they have on their business card, they all have one thing in common — they love their jobs.


What Some of Those in Office Make


Richest People



Tallahassee City Commissioners  $36,000

Mike Anderson,
mayor of Fort Walton Beach $5,500

David Cadle,
mayor of Crestview  $15,000

C. Harold Carpenter,
mayor of DeFuniak Springs $9,000

John Marks,
mayor of Tallahassee  $72,000

Sarah Seevers,
mayor of Destin  $0

Randall Wise,
mayor of Niceville  $0



Escambia County Commissioners  $60,000

Leon County commissioners  $72,172



State senator  $29,697

State representative $29,697

Rick Scott, 
governor of Florida  $0.01 



Steve Southerland,
House of Representatives  $174,000

Marco Rubio, U.S. senator  $174,000

Joe Biden, vice president
of the United States  $230,700

Barack Obama,
president of the United States  $400,000



Source: City of Tallahassee, indeed.com, myflorida.com


The Richest Person in Florida

Florida is officially home to 33 billionaires, according to the latest Forbes list (and that doesn’t even count the ones who have second, third or fourth homes here). Miami Heat owner and Carnival Cruise’s chief executive officer Micky Arison is the richest of them all. Forbes estimates the 63-year-old has a net worth of $5.9 billion, making him the richest guy in Florida and 70th richest person in the U.S.

Richest Woman in America

Christy Walton’s net worth — $36.7 billion — reached new highs as Walmart stock continued to climb in 2013. She remains the richest woman in the U.S., inheriting her wealth when husband John Walton, a former Green Beret and Vietnam War medic, died in an airplane crash in 2005.

The Richest Person in the World

Forbes’ 2014 list of billionaires boasts 1,645 names this year — a jump of nearly 200 in one year. The U.S. leads the list with 492 billionaires. After a four-year hiatus, Bill Gates is again the world’s top moneyman, grabbing the honors away from Carlos Slim Helu, a telecom mogul from Mexico worth $73 billion. Gates’ net worth is $76 billion, a jump of $9 billion in a year.

Sources: Forbes.com and The Miami Times



Salary Survey Says … 



Emergency Room Nurse

Practitioner – $90,442

Actuary  – $57,750

Lobbyist – $92,851

Attorney – $73,268

Computer systems analyst – $98,020

Electrical engineer – $87,520

Civil engineer – $79,300

Physician assistant – $84,470

Anthropologists and
Archeologists – $58,500

Web developer – $53,960

Dentist – $137,823

Dental hygienist – $54,060

Fish and game warden – $52,720

Judge – $137,823 

Custodian — $23,136

Bus driver — $17,931

Day care center teacher — $25,193

School nurse — $40,929

Park naturalist — $45,108

Computer operator — $34,779


Parole officer — $47,045

Forensic technologist — $29,344

Non-profit executive director — $40,000

Correctional officer — $32,527

Law enforcement officer — $33,977

Historic preservationist — $40,938

Tax manager — $98,046

Kindergarten teacher — $48,779

Graphic designer — $45,245

Paralegal — $43,935

Pharmacist — $109,836

Technical writer — $66,272

Firefighter Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) — $39,078

Advertising manager — $73,997

Lab supervisor — $73,276

Public relations director — $102,986

Veterinarian — $89,196

University campus librarian — $47,357

Sources: Myflorida.com, Salary.com, Indeed.com, Okaloosa County Board of Education, Walton County Board of Education


Hardest-Working Countries


It Pays To Stay In School

In this case it doesn’t really pay to be No. 1


Mexico (No. 1)

Average annual hours: 2,317

Average annual wages: $9,885


United States (No. 8)

Average annual hours: 1,798

Average annual wages: $54,450


Slovak Republic (No. 10)

Average annual hours: 1,749

Average annual wages: $19,068



Source: CNN Money


By educational attainment, full-time workers age 25 and over without a high school diploma had median weekly earnings of $477, compared with $647 for high school graduates (no college) and $1,193 for those holding at least a bachelor’s degree. Among college graduates with advanced degrees (professional or master’s degree and above), the highest earning 10 percent of male workers made $3,510 or more per week, compared with $2,339 or more for their female counterparts.

Gender and Ethnicity 

The women’s-to-men’s earnings ratio varied by race and ethnicity. White women earned 81.1 percent as much as their male counterparts, compared with black (91.6 percent), Asian (77.1 percent) and Hispanic women (94.2 percent).

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, July 2013




Scott Holstein

Tim Center, 48, Tallahassee

Capital Area Community Action Agency Executive Director

Average workweek: Work is now 24/7. 

Salary: $85,000 ($25,000 less than my predecessor)


What do you do in your current job? Manage a team of 110 staff in eight counties providing human services, promoting economic development and encouraging a broader common-sense approach to help the 22 percent of our neighbors living in poverty. The Community Action Agency is a $9 million community service organization (non-profit) addressing the needs of those living in poverty through crisis services, home weatherization, Head Start school readiness and self-sufficiency programs.

Most important job tool? Mobile technology — access to social networks, email and phone.

What do you love about your job? Living and working to help build a stronger community and more integrated social fabric. My first job Summer camp counselor.

What is your dream job? Governor of Florida.

What do you think the minimum wage should be? Employers should make every effort to pay a livable wage.

What benefits or perks do you wish you had? A personal assistant/scheduler/handler.

Do you have a professional mentor? I admire a number of people, including my past board chair (and law school classmate) Tom Thompson, but have no mentor at this time. I respect the heck out of Tony Carvajal, Jim Hunt and Steve Seibert.

Order of importance to me: benefits, salary, title. None of these.

Mission: the ability to improve the community.

What age I would like to retire and what I want to be doing … Would like to be able to retire in my mid-sixties.



Scott Holstein

Jeff Danick, 38, Niceville

Computer Repair, President/Owner, JWD Tech

Salary: Daily rates — $250 for home users, $350 for home-offices/home businesses, $500 for businesses/offices


Job overview: In-home/on-site tech support, training, computer upgrades, pre-purchase consulting, facilitator, preacher of the gospel of, “Backup, backup, backup!”

Most important on the job tool. My iPhone.

What do you love about your job? Showing someone something new, teaching them something new and seeing that “Ah ha!” moment.

How old were you when you had your first job, and what did you do? When I was 15 years old I worked at a yacht club marina, doing everything from washing and bottom painting boats to cleaning bathrooms and answering phones.

What is your dream job? Hard to choose between race car driver, Maxim photographer or seaplane pilot.

If money were no object, I would spend my day … in Italy.

Have you ever played hooky from the office? Every year I make a point of going to 5 Flags Speedway to enjoy the Snowball Derby. I try to sneak in a trip to Southern Raceway, in Milton, from time to time as well.

What do you think minimum wage should be? Should be more directly tied to the average cost of living wherever you live, more fluid, more responsive to real-life conditions.

Do you get a bonus? The best bonus I can get is a good review from a satisfied customer, or a satisfied customer recommending me to friends, family or co-workers.

If your job were a movie, what would the movie soundtrack song be? Just one song? I can think of 15! Opening credits/montage of past jobs that convinced me to start my own business rolling to “Code Monkey” by Jonathan Coulton … a typical work week would include “Kick in the Head” by Dean Martin. End credits would have to be Jimmy Buffett’s “You’ll Never Work In Dis Bidness Again.”

Put these in order of importance to you: title, salary or benefits. None of the above. “Job satisfaction” matters more than the others combined.

At what age would you like to retire and what will you be doing then? 101. Realistically, still working with technology and doing my best to see as many of those “Ah ha!” moments as possible. But, I can see anything from owning/running a rum distillery, owning a competitive auto-racing team or a trattoria in Italy, to being a photographer, as being nothing more than a twist and a turn away.

Do you live to work or work to live? Work for sanity.



Scott Holstein

Pam Doffek, 59, Tallahassee

Director, Goldstein Library School of Information,
College of Communication & Information,
Florida State University

Average Workweek: 45 hours

Salary:  $2,419 gross/$1,741 net (every 2 weeks)


Job overview: I’m director of one of the six libraries on the FSU campus. My staff includes one other degreed librarian and six students who are in the masters degree program here at the iSchool. Given that background, we do everything any “other-sized” information center would do: check out books, provide access to electronic collections, develop displays, provide research assistance, have social functions, teach classes, maintain and update a website and social media tools. I teach a 3 credit hour course in the summer that exposes students to the wide variety of employment situations available to them with a masters degree in information studies — which most of the time isn’t in a “library.”

Most important on-the-job tool. My laptop computer. It’s where I spend most of my day, allows me to work anywhere on campus via wireless, accessible via VPN on the days I work from home waiting for repair people — and it fits into my rolling backpack.

What do you love about your job? I love working with my Associate Director Leila Gibradze. She and I have had a yin/yang relationship for the past five years. I also love working and mentoring the graduate students who work for me. They are 22–40 year olds working on their professional degree.  They keep me on my toes, exposed to the latest ideas and keep me from becoming an “old fogey,” which I never want to be.

How old were you when you had your first job, and what did you do? I was 16 and worked for the A&P Grocery store in Oconto, Wisconsin.  I was a cashier and stock girl.  This was a manual cash register, calculate taxes from the diagram (or do the math in my head), count-back-change days.

What is your dream job? Full-time philanthropic artist, professional volunteer and world traveler. In December 2013, I completed a second baccalaureate degree in studio art to prepare myself for “The Day.”

If money were no object, I would spend my day … Traveling the world being inspired and creating art that can help all the great initiatives that need funding (to provide) art in (peoples’) lives.

What do you think minimum wage should be? At least $10 per hour

Put these in order of importance to you: title, salary or benefits. On most days:  salary-benefits-title.  With the right salary one might be able to pay for a lack of benefits. When I took this job it was a pay cut, but the benefits filled in adequately.

At what age would you like to retire, and what will you be doing then? I’d love to pull the plug at 62 and be an M3DPA (multi-medium, multi-dimensional philanthropic artist), but we will see. Are you a Spendthrift Sally? Tightwad Ted? Moderate Milly? Until the last few years a Tightwad Ted, because I didn’t feel my savings/investments were enough to get me through my retirement years and I just packed it away. Now I have a great investment team and am feeling comfortable that I can live comfortably in my dotage/M3DPA years. (If the Legislature doesn’t mess with me, and the market doesn’t crash again!) Most likely “water cooler” topic. What’s happening where this weekend in Tallahassee, and how will I do what I want to. There’s SO MUCH that Tally has to offer!



Scott Holstein

Casey Tindell, 23, Santa Rosa Beach

Public Relations and Marketing Coordinator, Amavida Coffee

Average workweek: 35–40 hours that are accounted for
Salary: $14/hour


Job overview: My responsibilities include graphic design, media planning, social media management, creating and editing email newsletters, brand management and internal communication. I also focus on educating our customers on what it means to be an organic, free trade coffee company.

Most important on-the-job tool. Adobe Illustrator

What do you love about your job? Besides the constant stream of great coffee, I love that if I attract customers to Amavida, they are directly supporting hard-working coffee farmers all over the world.

How old were you when you had your first job, and what did you do? My first job was at 16 years old as a dance instructor in Navarre. I was fortunate to have grown up studying an art that literally paid off.

If money were no object, I would spend my day … working to help women support themselves in Central America. If money were no object whatsoever I would have more kids, go on long trips on our dreamt-up and entirely no-cost sailboat, and work for theater companies whenever I make it back to dry land.

What is the most thankless job? One without gratification or creativity, like a knick-knack salesman or something of the sort.

What benefit or perk do you wish you had? It would be nice to have paid sick leave.

How much vacation time do you have saved? I don’t have that perk, yet. Maybe this article will help my case.

What is the first thing and last thing you do each workday? To begin my day I make a fresh, pour-over coffee and check our Facebook page, and the last thing I do is take a few minutes to brainstorm on possible new strategies.

Do you get a bonus? I have traveled with Dan Bailey, the owner of Amavida, to the Dominican Republic to meet our coffee producers first-hand. That, to me, was better than any bonus. 

If your job were a movie, what would the movie soundtrack song be? Somewhere in it would be Cantata No. 211, from J.S. Bach’s “Coffee Cantata,” where basically a man asks his daughter to stop drinking coffee and she tells him off by singing a love song to coffee.


 Shelly Swanger

Staff Sergeant Jeremy Deck, 34, Crestview

33rd Fighter Air Wing, F-35 Dedicated Crew Chief

Average workweek: 50–60 hours; Salary: $2,400/month


What do you do in your current job? I’m in charge of the F-35 jets. Your name is on the side of it, so you need to know everything that is involved that needs to be done to maintain it.

Most important on-the-job tool. We have a specially made tech book laptop computer for the aircraft. It allows us to tell the aircraft what we want it to do.

What do you love about your job? As far as being in the Air Force, I love what I am doing and serving my country. The F-35 is a great jet and well worth the time and effort we’re putting into it. We have a responsibility no one else can say they have — building an airplane for the next 30, 40 years.

What was your first job? After high school I worked in a factory in Greenville, Indiana, making bolts for automobiles for 10 years. I started on the ground level as a machine operator and worked into management.

What is your dream job? My dream job wouldn’t be a job. What I like to do on my off time is race motor cross bikes. Being able to do that would be unreal to me.

If money were no object, I would spend my day … doing a family sport my kids enjoy, so we can be together.

Have you ever played hooky from the office? I haven’t myself, but I’ve thought about it. There are so many ways it wouldn’t pan out. I’d want to go to the track (but) then there’d be a chance of getting hurt, and how would I explain that?

What do you think minimum wage should be? I want people to make enough to get by and do what they want to do, but on the other hand the higher you make it, the higher it will drive up prices of everything else. It’s a lose-lose situation I guess.

What benefit or perk do you wish you had? Some sort of discount through airline companies would really be nice. Everyone is so spread out it’s hard to visit families.

What is the first thing and last thing you do each workday? I get up about three hours before I have to be at work, go to the gym and try to stay in shape. We have Roll Call and get our job assignments for the day. At the end of the day, I take accountability for tools, document, do a last minute check out and get an OK.

What was your last paycheck splurge? Beds for my kids; they each picked out one they wanted.

Do you have a professional mentor? I really don’t have a mentor at work. As far as the lifestyle I try to lead, the mentor I have is my grandfather, who was also in the military, worked on a farm and in a factory.

Put these in order of importance to you: Benefits, salary, title

At what age would like to retire, and what will you be doing then? As of right now, it will be my 50s. I’m looking to go into criminal justice, perhaps the law enforcement side.

What is the most thankless job? I’m living it. Being a part of the military. Without the people who get it done I don’t know what would happen. I think it’s something everyone should actually do.


Scott Holstein

Jenny Wells, Tallahassee

Owner, Imagine That!

Salary: It varies, but $38,000 is pretty standard


Job overview: I work hard to ensure that the client who orders the gift basket looks good and that the recipient is blown away.

Most important on-the-job tool. Creativity. Without it, my work would be dull and lifeless.

What do you love about your job? Putting a smile on people’s faces.

How old were you when you had your first job, and what did you do? I got my first job at 15 flipping burgers, against my parents’ better judgment. I wanted to make my own way.

What is your dream job? I already have it! If money were no object, I would spend my day … Reclining on a beach somewhere in the Carribbean.

Have you ever played hooky from the office? I’ve never played hooky. I’m too Type A to take a day off, even when I’m sick.

What do you think minimum wage should be? Minimum wage should be based on the type of job that someone does  and how well they do that job.

Do you get a bonus? I get a bonus every time I see a smile on someone’s face because of my work.

If your job were a movie, what would the movie soundtrack song be? “She’s a Maniac."

Put these in order of importance to you: Benefits, title, salary.

At what age would you like to retire, and what will you be doing then? I don’t think I could ever retire. I’m always on the go, and I don’t know what I would do with myself if I didn’t have a set schedule.

Do you live to work or work to live? I live to work because I love what I do.


Scott Holstein

Keith Hansen, 25, Tallahassee

Personal Trainer/Wellness Coach, Seriously Strong Training

Average Workweek: 40 hours, Salary: $20,000


Job overview: I help clients attain their fitness and health goals through hands-on teaching, education of nutrition and exercise principles, and motivation.

Most important on-the-job tool. Barbells. You can replace tens of thousands of dollars of workout equipment with the barbell.

What do you love about your job? Sharing my passion with receptive people. I have always loved to teach, and to have “students” as great as mine is a blessing.

How old were you when you had your first job, and what did you do? 14. I worked for my uncle as an installer for his HVAC company. Crawling through attics in the Florida summers allows me to fully appreciate working in a climate-controlled environment.

What is your dream job? I dream of having my own fitness facility. I want to continue educating myself so I can share my knowledge and experiences with others.

If money were no object, I would spend my day giving my knowledge away to even more people than I am now.

What do you think minimum wage should be? A livable wage.

Do you get a bonus? Nothing on the books, but I have some very generous clients.

Put these in order of importance to you: Title, benefits, salary

At what age would you like to retire, and what will you be doing then? I will share my passion as long as I can, and hopefully I can do it for free eventually.

Do you live to work or work to live? I live to work. What benefit or perk do you wish you had? Paid days off. 


Scott Holstein

Brittany A. Spain, 25, Pensacola

Closing Coordinator, Allure Title

Average workweek: 45 hours

Salary: $10.30 per hour with the opportunity to earn bonuses


Job overview: I assist in residential and escrow closings for surrounding areas, manage client accounts, ensure the closing process is handled accurately and network with local business members.

Most important on-the-job tool. Without a doubt a computer and/or printer, of course. A smile always helps as well!

What do you love about your job? The fact that I have the opportunity to assist someone through a major decision that affects their life is very important to me.

What was your first job? My first job was at Pretzel Time in University Mall. I was 15 and thought it was the best thing in the world to receive a paycheck.

What is the most thankless job? Anything in the food industry. I’ve seen a lot of people have zero appreciation for the assistance they receive.

What do you think minimum wage should be? $8 per hour

What benefit or perk do you wish you had? Unlimited chiropractor and massage therapy visits.

How much vacation time do you have saved? I have 30 hours left to use.

What is the first thing and last thing you do each workday? The first things I always do are check my email and balance the escrow account. The last thing I do is make a to-do list for the following day.

What was your last paycheck splurge? Dinner and wine at Jackson’s in downtown Pensacola.

Do you have a professional mentor? I prefer to learn something from every professional I come in contact with. There is something great to learn from each person you work with in this industry.

Put these in order of importance to you: Title, benefits, salary

At what age would like to retire, and what will you be doing then? Unfortunately, 25 is not feasible, so I will say 60. I would like to travel as much as possible.

Are you a Spendthrift Sally? Tightwad Ted? Moderate Milly? Just call me Moderate Milly! Most likely “water cooler” topic. It would depend, but the local news or weather is always a safe bet, especially in Florida!  

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