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Jobs with under-40-hour work weeks

  • Story Highlights
  • Most people are still working average eight hours a day
  • The median annual income is $26,036
  • There are a variety of jobs working fewer hours and more pay
  • Employers may be receptive to ways to better balance work and life
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Dental assistants are one of the jobs where you can work less than 40 hours a week.

Dental assistants are one of the jobs where you can work less than 40 hours a week.

It was a few hundred years ago that Benjamin Franklin made the observation that time is money. The same is still true today, and workers are constantly trying to strike the right work/life balance to get as much as they can of both.

According to the 2008 American Time Use Survey (conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics), we're still working an average of eight hours a day. And the most recent figures from the U.S. Census Bureau indicate that the median annual income per household member is $26,036 per year.

There are some jobs, however, where you can work less and make more than the averages.

The hours may not be significantly less -- generally between 35 and 38 hours a week -- but these jobs offer more value in both time and money.

They all pay salaries that exceed that $26,036 median income.

Some of these careers clearly give you more bang for your buck.

At the top of the list: Pilots, copilots and flight engineers, who average $98.48 an hour.

Law teachers are close behind, averaging $96.32 an hour, followed by optometrists, who average $52.77 an hour.

Here are 20 jobs we found that let you work less and earn more.

These jobs require less than 40 hours of labor in a work week, but exceed the median annual income level in pay.*

1. Aircraft pilots, copilots and flight engineers
Hours/week: 23.5
Hours/year: 1,215
Annual earnings: $119,658

2. Biological scientist
Hours/week: 38.4
Hours/year: 1,992
Annual earnings: $65,329

3. Biochemist and biophysicist
Hours/week: 37.5
Hours/year: 1,947
Annual earnings: $69,681

4. Bus driver
Hours/week: 35.9
Hours/year: 1,613
Annual earnings: $26,107

5. Clinical, counseling and school psychologists
Hours/week: 38.1
Hours/year: 1,693
Annual earnings: $59,595

6. Dental assistant
Hours/week: 35.6
Hours/year: 1,849
Annual earnings: $30,895

7. Desktop publisher
Hours/week: 38.7
Hours/year: 2,007
Annual earnings: $36,858

8. Directors, religious activities and education
Hours/week: 38.1
Hours/year: 1,978
Annual earnings: $48,243

9. Educational, vocational and school counselors
Hours/week: 37.9
Hours/year: 1,712
Annual earnings: $50,075

10. Fitness trainers and aerobics instructors
Hours/week: 38.0
Hours/year: 1,976
Annual earnings: $35,262

11. Insurance underwriter
Hours/week: 38.6
Hours/year: 2,005
Annual earnings: $63,157

12. Interpreters and translators
Hours/week: 34.1
Hours/year: 1,687
Annual earnings: $35,853

13. Law clerk
Hours/week: 38.4
Hours/year: 1,961
Annual earnings: $46,539

14. Law teacher, postsecondary
Hours/week: 35.2
Hours/year: 1644
Annual earnings: $158,353

15. Miscellaneous media and communications workers
Hours/week: 36.7
Hours/year: 1,852
Annual earnings: $38,698

16. Optometrist
Hours/week: 37.7
Hours/year: 1,959
Annual earnings: $103,375

17. Psychologist
Hours/week: 38.2
Hours/year: 1,722
Annual earnings: $59,543

18. Speech-language pathologist
Hours/week: 37.5
Hours/year: 1,611
Annual earnings: $53,499

19. Telephone operator
Hours/week: 38.7
Hours/year: 2,009
Annual earnings: $29,877

20. Tree trimmers and pruners
Hours/week: 37.2
Hours/year: 1,898
Annual earnings: $35,644

Make it work

Obviously these jobs are not for everyone, but if you're looking to strike a better balance between work and home, you may be able to approach your employer and negotiate alternatives to your current schedule.

Among the possibilities:

• You may be able to arrange to work from home on a recurring basis, or on days where you may have an appointment or personal commitment.

• Your manager or supervisor may also be willing to create a flexible scheduling arrangement, where you work four days a week to and have the fifth workday free.

• Companies may be willing to negotiate with workers who want extra vacation time, particularly unpaid time.

Discuss your ideas with your company. If time is more important to you than money, your employer may be very receptive to providing more time off for you versus financial compensation.

*All job descriptions are as defined in the National Compensation Survey, as published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, December 2006 -- January 2008. Data taken from the survey are the mean hours and annual earnings. Actual earnings can vary based on a number of factors, including regional job market demands.

Copyright CareerBuilder.com 2009. All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority

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