Ideas

What White House Jobs Pay

Who knew calligraphy was such a lucrative skill?

The 2019 Concordia Annual Summit - Day 2
Getty Images | Riccardo Savi

Jobs in politics aren’t the most lucrative — even at the highest level — but they certainly will keep you comfortable. Since it’s the American taxpayers who cover the paychecks for their elected officials, their salaries are all public record. We decided to look through the salary information for employees of President Trump’s White House staff to see what some of those jobs are worth.

Take a look at some of the pay information for people currently working at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., as well as some comparisons to what the same positions paid during President Obama’s last year in the White House. All salary information was accurate as of June 2019.

President (Donald Trump) — $400,000


Holding the nation’s highest office comes with some nice financial perks, the most obvious of which is a $400,000 annual salary. Along with that tidy sum, the president also gets a $50,000 expense allowance each year, a $100,000 travel account and $19,000 for entertainment, according to CNBC. Every president since 2001, when George W. Bush took office, has earned this amount.

Vice President (Mike Pence) — $230,700


Like his predecessor, Joe Biden, Vice President Mike Pence makes $230,700 every year. That number has been the same since 2010. Pence was due for a slight raise in 2019 that would’ve given him $243,500 a year but that bump was frozen in light of the government shutdown that was happening at the time. The veep has joked that he’s thrifty, despite his respectable paycheck, saying he buys his suits two for one.

Acting Chief of Staff (Mick Mulvaney) — $203,500


This is another tough job that comes with a generous salary. Mick Mulvaney is one of very few current White House employees that makes more than $200,000 in annual salary. Similar to Grisham in the press secretary job, Mulvaney is the third person to hold the title of chief of staff since Trump took office, taking over at the start of 2019. Obama had five different people in the role during his eight years in the White House, with Denis McDonough earning $176,461 in 2016.

Assistant to the President for Trade and Manufacturing Policy (Peter Navarro) — $183,000


There are 22 different White House employees that earn $183,000 per year under Trump and Peter Navarro is another of them. The Harvard-educated Navarro is the president’s top man when it comes to trade and manufacturing policy and he’s been part of the cabinet since the beginning. The Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, which Navarro leads, was created by Trump in 2017, so he has no predecessor with whom to compare salaries.

Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (John Bolton) — $183,000


Another member of the $183k club was John Bolton. Until September 2019, he served as Trump’s national security advisor before resigning from the post. The job involves reporting to the president on matters of national security and serving on the national security council, which produces sensitive intelligence information. Under Obama, Susan Rice was making $176,461 per year in the same position, as of 2016.

Chief of Staff to the First Lady (Lindsay Reynolds) — $183,000


The spouse of the president also gets their own staff and the person who leads it gets a nice paycheck. Lindsay Reynolds, pictured at left below, has worked as Melania Trump’s chief of staff since 2017 after previously working as associate director of the White House Visitor’s Office under George W. Bush. The current first lady has a staff of 12 employees, all of whom fall under Reynolds’ leadership. In the Obama White House, first lady Michelle Obama’s chief of staff was Christina Tchen and she made $176,461 per year.

Deputy Director of the National Economic Council (Andrew Olmem) — $168,000


The National Economic Council has existed since 1993 and it serves the White House by providing leadership in all areas of economic policy. Trump has several employees with the title of special assistant to the president for economic policy, all of whom make at least $120,000 per year, but as deputy director of the National Economic Council, Andrew Olmem makes a tidy $168,000. In the same job under Obama, Jason Miller made $149,654 in 2016.

Director of the National Economic Council (Larry Kudlow) — $183,000


If you look at the White House salary report, Larry Kudlow’s title is only listed as assistant to the president for economic policy, but he also serves as director of the National Economic Council. He’s had that job since April 2018 after working in President Reagan’s administration and as a host on CNBC. Kudlow makes $183,000 for his work directing the president’s economic policies. Under Obama, Jeff Zients was paid $176,461 for the same job.

Director of White House Information Technology (Roger L. Stone) — $168,000


Every workplace needs a crack information technology staff and the current White House pays its IT director $168,000 per year. That job has been held by Roger L. Stone since February 2019, after Chris Herndon left the post. The position was created by Obama, making it one of the newer positions in the White House. David Recordon held that position in 2016 during Obama’s tenure and made $121,752 to keep the office’s tech running smoothly.

Director of White House Travel Office (Bethany Pritchard) — $92,400


This honestly seems like one of those jobs that should pay a little more. The director of the White House travel office is responsible for booking travel and accommodations for the gaggle of White House press corps members who accompany officials on trips, as well as receiving payment in return from various media outlets. Bethany Pritchard took over the job in April 2019 after starting as a staff assistant in Trump’s administration in 2017. However, her salary is quite a bit better than Ashley Tate-Gilmore’s, who did the job for Obama and was paid $77,625 in 2016.

Director of Stenography (Dominique Dansky Bari) — $95,500


The White House’s director of stenography is apparently one of the few positions not driven by political alignment. Before Dominique Dansky Bari landed the job for Trump’s White House in June 2017, she worked as deputy director of stenography under Obama starting in 2014. The job entails managing a staff of official White House stenographers, who take notes on all meetings and deliver transcripts to the press after official events. The director of stenography under Obama, Margaret Suntum, made $117,846 in 2016, meaning the position took a pay cut under Trump.

Social Secretary (Rickie Niceta) — $168,000


The role of White House social secretary has been called the “least controversial” job in the building by the Washington Post. It’s a role that involves planning and executing the many social events hosted by the White House. First lady Melania Trump chose Anna “Rickie” Niceta as social secretary because of her two decades of experience as an event planner. Niceta makes $168,000 a year in the role, compared to the $119,723 made by Deesha Dyer in 2016 under Obama.

Press Secretary (Stephanie Grisham) — $183,000


Trump’s mouthpiece for the media, Stephanie Grisham, is one of the highest-paid members of the White House staff. In case you hadn’t noticed, press secretary is a very tough gig, which is why she’s already the third person to hold that position since Trump took office in 2017. Sean Spicer abruptly resigned in 2017 and his replacement, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, abruptly resigned in 2019, paving the way for Grisham. In 2016, Obama’s Press Secretary, Josh Earnest, made $176,461.

Assistant to the President and Senior Counselor (Kellyanne Conway) — $183,000


Many White House staffers have the title of assistant to the president, but only Kellyanne Conway can also be called senior counselor. She’s been with Trump since the early days of his campaign and has been rewarded for her hard work, taking home a salary of $183,000 per year. Obama didn’t have a staff position called senior counselor, so it’s difficult to compare her salary to previous advisors but it’s obvious that Trump values Conway’s role in his staff as she’s one of its highest-paid members.

Advisor to the President & Senior Advisor (Ivanka Trump & Jared Kushner) — $0


President Trump has been praised for keeping his White House payroll lean and that extends to two of his closest advisors. The president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, and her husband, Jared Kushner, hold official titles as advisor and senior advisor to the president, respectively. They are both listed in the White House salary report but there is a nice, round $0 next to each of their names, as both have chosen to forgo a paycheck for their role.

Executive Assistant to the President (Molly Michael) — $120,000


There are several jobs that fall under the umbrella of Oval Office operations and Molly Michael has one of the most important. Her official title is executive assistant to the president and that includes a salary of $120,000 per year for essentially being Trump’s right-hand woman. There are seven other people in Trump’s administration with the title of executive assistant, each of whom makes between $48,000 and $58,200 per year.

Director of Media Operations for the Office of the First Lady (Anne LeHardy) — $72,700


The Office of the First Lady is also known as the East Wing and has its own staff, including communications officials. Anne LeHardy was hired as Melania Trump’s communications coordinator in 2018 after a tenure in production in the private sector. In the 2019 White House salary report, she’s listed as the first lady’s director of media operations, which pays her $72,700. Nobody in the Obama White House had this exact title in 2016 but Joanna Rosholm was listed as Michelle Obama’s deputy communications director and was paid $78,124 per year.

Chief Calligrapher (Lee Ann Clark) — $99,400


Who knew calligraphy was such a lucrative skill in 2019? There are three calligraphers on staff at the White House, the lowest-paid of whom makes $72,800 per year. Lee Ann Clark is chief calligrapher and brings home a tidy $99,400 for her beautiful writing, which adorns official invitations, certificates, name cards, programs and other documents. Obama also had three calligraphers on staff, with the top scribe earning $100,110 in 2016.

Director of Presidential Personnel (Sean Doocey) — $168,000


When the president needs to fill a position, they will turn to the folks inside the Presidential Personnel Office. This office is responsible for vetting possible candidates and making recommendations to the president for potential candidates who may need to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate, as shown below. Sean Doocey, who makes $168,000 a year as director of the PPO, recently showed the power of his role by shooting down two candidates Trump wanted to work as secretary of Homeland Security. Under Obama, Rodin Mehrbani held the role and made $172,200 in 2016.

Ethics Counsel (Frank Walsh) — $151,633


How much is it worth to provide legal advice to the president on matters of ethics? A pretty penny, it turns out. Trump has two attorneys on payroll with the title of ethics counsel, the highest-earning of whom is Frank Walsh. A Georgetown law graduate, Walsh was formerly a judge advocate for the U.S. Army Reserve and served as ethics counsel for the United States Agency for International Development. Obama also had two ethics counsel attorneys on staff, the highest-paid of whom made $123,406 in 2016.

Deputy Director of Communications (Jessica Ditto) — $168,000


The communications staff is an important part of any political office, especially the White House. Jessica Ditto has been working for Trump since his campaign in 2016 and has served as deputy director of communications since he took office in Washington in 2017. She earns $168,000 in the role, while Adam Kennedy makes $158,000 to have the same job title under Trump. In Obama’s White House, Jennifer Psaki was director of communications and she made $174,714 in 2016.

Acting Director of White House Visitors Office (Dana Hurtik) — $95,800


The White House is one of the most famous residences in the world and sees many tourists every year. The White House Visitors Office is responsible for maintaining the facility and hosting tours. Dana Hurtik has worked as acting director of the White House Visitors Office since 2017 and makes a salary of $95,800 as of 2019. Ellie Schafer held that job under Obama and made $116,679 in 2016 for her efforts.

Senior Videographer (Samuel Brown) — $72,700


There’s lots to capture on video when you’re working at the White House and the Trump administration keeps two videographers on staff. Samuel Brown, who is not pictured below, is the White House’s senior videographer and makes $72,700 a year, while another videographer gets paid $64,400. In the Obama White House, Hope Hall was the sole videographer on staff and she was paid $76,095 in 2016 for filming the president’s biggest moments.

Speechwriter (Brittany Baldwin and Theodore Royer) — $120,000


Trump has four speechwriters listed on staff, two of whom are paid $120,000, which is the highest salary of that set of employees. Brittany Baldwin and Theodore Royer each earn that paycheck for making sure the president has thoughtful remarks to deliver at his many speaking engagements. Obama had nine speechwriters on staff, who ranged in salary from $42,613 to $176,461 per year, as of 2016.

West Wing Receptionist (Hannah Zakaria) — $48,800


We were able to find 60 White House staffers that made less than $50,000 a year based on our search through the 2019 payroll report, one of whom was the West Wing’s receptionist. That unenviable position is held by Hannah Zakaria, who started as a White House intern in September 2018 before moving to her current role about three months later. In 2016, Obama’s West Wing receptionist was Leah Katz-Hernandez and she pulled down $48,000.