Middle managers are earning an average $38,400 this year, while executive secretaries still rank as the best paid in their field, a new survey shows.

The highest paid managers are plant managers at $49,800 annually, followed by marketing managers at $48,600 and sale managers at $47,800.In the $30,000-a-year range, credit collection managers are taking home $34,300 and payroll managers are averaging $31,200.

Nationally, the highest-paying jobs are in the utilities, transportation and communications fields, with those based in the west outpacing other regions.

The Administrative Management Society of Trevose, Bucks County, conducted the 16th annual survey of 30,000 management employees in 2,400 companies during the spring, said spokesman Jeff Long.

In a separate survey of 50,000 employees in 2,200 companies, data processing managers also came out on top of the salary scale, averaging $44,000 a year, with professionals averaging $31,800 and lower-level employees $18,500.

Nationally, data processing managers in the Western states earned the most at an average $48,900, while those in the west central states averaged $42,300. The top-paying fields were utilities, transportation and communication.

The 42nd annual Office Salaries Survey also found that salaries for secretaries were still measured by the week, with the national average salary for four secretarial positions at $378 a week, and clerical workers averaging $302. Some 2,600 companies with more than 165,000 office employees were surveyed.

Executive secretaries and administrative assistants - traditionally the highest paid positions in the field - earn $425. Legal secretaries take home $404 a week, senior secretaries earn $366 a week and other secretaries earn a weekly $319. The survey also found file clerks earn $241 a week.