The figure was far in excess of economists' forecasts of 165,000.
The average hourly pay for private sector workers in January was $27.56, up 3.2% year-on-year.
The partial government shutdown could have affected numbers, however.
The gain of 304,000 jobs in January almost doubled consensus (165,000), but significant revisions to the January data seem likely. This is the fastest rate of wage increases in almost a decade.
Growth of 100,000 jobs per month is required in the United States to keep pace with growth in the working-age population.
In December, the economy added a revised 222,000 jobs. It jumped to 82.6% from 82.3% for prime working-age persons, the highest since April 2010 The rising prime working-age labor force participation rate suggests that confidence in job-finding prospects remain strong and that the potential labor supply is larger and more elastic than assumed.
USA employers added an average of 223,000 jobs per month in 2018.
Employment in leisure and hospitality grew by 74,000 jobs for the month, with restaurants and bars adding 32,000, while construction added 52,000 workers and hospitals and ambulatory care centers together added about 41,000 net new positions. But the unemployment rate was 4 percent, which was a small hike from the 3.9 percent level in December. This boosted the unemployment numbers, but the federal employees' eventual return to work was not included as new jobs added. Workers have seen a streak of relatively robust gains as employers have had to pay more to attract them.
He stated: "It's also possible that today's strong data will be among the last extremely strong employment reports".
How did the shutdown change the jobs report?Now, that would definitely hit federal contractors, who make up the biggest segment of those that do government work.
On a monthly basis, from December to January, wages barely rose, though. The unemployment rate ticked up but remains at a level widely considered to be full employment - a sign of a healthy economy.
Yet with unemployment so low and many companies struggling to fill jobs, layoffs might not have been widespread. And the number of people working part time but looking for more work increased a lot last month.