10. Plastics processing machine operator
Median salary: $33,072
5-yr. salary growth: +9%
5-yr. growth in employees (2006-2012): -42.41%
Total employees (2012): 2,010
Example job types: bag machine operator, injection moulder, sheeter operator
Employed by: plastic products manufacturing companies
Slow economic growth in the plastics industry has meant significantly fewer jobs here over the previous decade. Environmental efforts to reduce plastics use may also be a factor. The industry is nevertheless a valuable one at $17.6 billion annually and accounts for 2% of world production. On the plus side, the federal government suggests there is actually a building shortage of some specific jobs such as mould and die makers and salary growth overall has been positive.