The Top Companies for High-Paying Entry-Level Jobs Across America

When it comes to salary, why not start as you mean to go on? The job market continues to lean in the job seeker’s favor, and professionals across multiple industries are enjoying a greater choice of prospective employers — and a wider range of salaries to consider — when browsing the want ads.

There were 353,000 new jobs added to the U.S. market in January 2024, with a particular boost in healthcare, business service and retail roles. Unemployment is at a near-record low of 3.7%, putting applicants in a strong position to negotiate relocation costs with employers. So, if you’re a new entrant into the career market or considering a change of industry, it is interesting to note that the pay for entry-level jobs varies widely, not just from firm to firm but around the country.

To help understand the lay of the land, CashNetUSA analyzed regional job listings and identified the big companies that pay the best entry-level salaries in the U.S. and each state and major city.

About This Study

We analyzed publicly available data on job salaries from Indeed and local area wages from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. We ranked America’s biggest companies based on the percentage of entry-level job listings with salaries above the average wage for the city in which they are listed.

Key Findings

  • Tenet Healthcare Corporation is America’s top company for high-paying entry-level jobs, with 87.84% of their entry-level job listings above the local average salary.
  • Arby’s is the top restaurant chain for entry-paying jobs, with 46.14% paid above the average local salary.
  • Target is the top retail chain for high entry-paying jobs, with 79.74% paid above the average local salary.
  • Citigroup Inc. is New York City’s top firm for high-paying entry-level jobs, with 93.10% paid above the average NYC salary.

The Best Companies for Entry-Level Wages in America

First, we identified the most high-paying firms for entry-level jobs in the U.S. overall. Finance and communication companies dominate at the top, accompanied by household-name tech giants such as Amazon and Tesla. However, three health tech and pharmaceutical companies are among the top 15, including the overall number one: Tenet Healthcare Corporation, which advertises 87.84% of entry-level workers’ jobs at a rate above the average local salary.

List of the major companies with the highest paying entry level jobs

Tenet Healthcare operates hundreds of medical centers and hospitals around the U.S. and maintains around 100,000 employees. The company enjoys revenues just shy of $20 billion each year but faced criticism for furloughing thousands of employees during the pandemic, while CEO Ronald Rittenmeyer made a nominal donation of just $390,000 — or 2% of his previous year’s compensation — to a fund for employees who’ve fallen on hard times.

In Massachusetts, 98.56% of entry-level jobs at Tenet are paid above the average local salary. But we found three states where the top-paying employer for entry-level jobs advertises every such role at a rate higher than the local average salary: Tennessee (, Montana (Koppers Railroad Structures) and Minnesota (Shipt).

U.S. map showing the company in each state with the highest paying entry level jobs

With 1,076 entry-level jobs offered above the local average wage, Shipt stands out as one of the U.S. companies where you’re most likely to find a high-paying starting position. Roles range “from skydivers to Dungeon Masters” at this grocery delivery firm, which was bought by Target in 2017. Many of the jobs that Shipt advertises are for “Shoppers,” who pick up groceries for Shipt’s customers for a fixed fee plus a percentage of the shopping bill. This means that actual pay can vary considerably. Shoppers are guaranteed at least $16/hour but may make $20-30/hour or more on a good day.

On a city-by-city basis, healthcare is the top sector for high-paying entry-level jobs. Health organizations are top in 15 of the 19 major cities we surveyed below. A pair of school districts, plus Citigroup in NYC and Denny’s in Dallas, make up the rest.

U.S. map showing the companies with the highest paying entry level jobs in major cities

Some 93.10% of entry-level jobs at Citigroup in New York City are paid above the local average rate. That compares with a nationwide figure for Citigroup of 82.49%. The massive investment bank and financial services firm has its headquarters in the Big Apple. Citigroup has 240,000 employees and maintains transparency regarding its diversity practices; its figures show “no statistically significant difference in adjusted compensation for U.S. minorities and non-minorities.”

The Best Restaurant Chains for Entry-Level Wages in America

Restaurant work is known as “America’s first job,” and “nearly one in three Americans had their first job at a restaurant,” according to the National Restaurant Association. Additionally, 90% of salaried restaurant workers got into the trade via an hourly position, including 80% of owners and managers. CashNetUSA found that Arby’s has the most high-paying entry-level jobs of all, with 46.14% of them paid higher than the average local wage.

List of the restaurant chains with the highest paying entry level jobs

Some Arby’s sites have had to offer a reduced service due to staff shortages in recent times. Arby’s turnover rate for hourly-waged staff is over 200%, and the restaurant has recently enabled ‘instant pay’ as part of a drive to make employees feel more valued. We found that Alabama has the highest proportion of high-paying entry-level jobs at Arby’s: 87.50% of vacancies are advertised with above-average wages.

U.S. map showing the restaurant chain with the highest paying entry level jobs in each state

Outback Steakhouse is the best restaurant chain in California for high-paying entry-level jobs, with 34.48% advertised above the local average wage. Steakhouses have recovered relatively well following the pandemic, compared to other restaurants, and Outback plans to open 75-100 new sites in the coming years — which will require canny recruitment processes, given today’s labor market challenges.

The Best Retail Companies for Entry-Level Wages in America

Next, we looked at the retail sector, where around 2.9 million Americans work in customer service but are liable to be churned amidst a turnover rate of 25%. However, lack of flexibility, rather than low pay, is the leading reason frontline retail employees quit their jobs. We found that Target, AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. offer the best entry-level wages, offering around 75% or more jobs above the average local wage.

List of the retail chains with the highest paying entry level jobs

Target pays best of all, with 79.74% of entry-level jobs advertised at above-average rates. Target raised its minimum wage to $15 ahead of an aggressive recruitment campaign for the 2023 winter holiday season. The company also has a program to help workers optimize their schedules to get the shifts they need, when they are available. And the company’s full-time entry-level jobs range far beyond the shop floor, with Operations Managers, Store Executive Team Leaders and Inventory Analysts among those starter roles Target is looking to fill.

Target’s main competitor, Walmart, has an impressive offer in Indiana and Pennsylvania, where 97.50% and 78.57% of vacancies, respectively, are above the local average wage. Walmart has taken steps to make it easier for those without a college degree to join the company in a management role or work their way up from a more traditional entry-level position.

U.S. map of the retail companies with the highest paying entry level jobs in each state

“Combining our business and philanthropic efforts is helping create skills-based systems and hiring practices that allow people to see more career opportunities and be seen by employers for all the skills they have,” says the company. “That includes formal education, work experience, short-form credentials, volunteerism, military service, and other life experience.” Not only will this help the company retain entry-level workers in this high-turnover sector, but when they graduate to management, they will have a ground-level understanding of how the company functions.

How to Secure an Entry-Level Job

Entering the world of work or a new industry can be an exciting time — but it can also be draining if you don’t give yourself the best shot at finding employment quickly. Try following these five steps to make an impression and stand out above the competition.

  1. Build your network. You’re never too young to start networking. Let family and friends know you are looking for work, and join industry events and online communities. You may find a connection that can provide you with interesting opportunities or even an introduction to an employer.
  2. Polish your resume and cover letter for each job. Employers get a lot of applications for entry-level positions. Stand out by referring to the employer by name in your letter, mentioning something you respect about the company. And adapt your resume to make it easy for them to spot the parts that are relevant to the position.
  3. Highlight your transferable skills. If you lack direct experience or qualifications, draw attention to your other skills and achievements and illustrate how they apply to the job at hand. For example, accomplishments such as captaining a sports team or excelling at school debates demonstrate your confidence and communication skills.
  4. Practice being interviewed. If you don’t have much experience in job interviews, a little preparation can help you seem more professional. Ask your school or college careers advisor for help, or prepare a list of common questions and practice answering them with a friend.
  5. Follow up with a call or email. Remind the employer that you’re personable and highly motivated by sending a thank you note and addressing it by name.

Few entry-level jobs will make you rich, but finding the right role in the right place can make a significant difference to how much you bring home. Good wages can also indicate that an employer values their team highly, no matter how junior the position. If everything clicks into place, it could prove a very fulfilling job — and an excellent starting place to move up the company as you develop your career.

Our Methodology

To determine the best companies for entry-level wages in America, we reviewed publicly available data on job salaries from Indeed in December 2023 and local area wages from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

We ranked companies based on the percentage of entry-level job listings on Indeed whose advertised salaries are above the annual median wage for the city in which they are listed. Data on median annual wage for all occupations is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and is at the metropolitan statistical area level.

We included the 100 largest companies by number of employees, the 50 largest restaurant chains by total sales and the 50 largest retailers by total sales.

Additional Sources

Chochrek, E. (2020). Target Boosts Minimum Wage to $15 — Here’s What Else It’s Doing for Workers.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2023). Table 1.7 Occupational projections, 2022–32, and worker characteristics, 2022.

U.S. Department of Labor. (2024). Consolidated Minimum Wage Table.

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