At compounding returns, we frequently focus on what to do with your current income. We focus on living within your means, paying off debt, saving and investing as the building blocks to increasing your long term financial health and net worth. We firmly believe that financial well being is not entirely dependent upon your current income. On the other hand, it's a heck of a lot easier to save for the future when you are earning $200K a year than when you are earning $20K a year.
For those who may be just starting out or considering a career change, it may be worthwhile to take note of the top 10 highest paying jobs in America, as revealed by BLS Statistics reported by MSN Money in 2010. This list should give you an idea of what careers paid the best and had the best benefits in 2010.
The clear winner was, no surprise: Physicians. Doctors in all specialties dominate the top 10 highest paid professions every year earning an average of $186,000 annually for physicians in primary care and $340,000 for doctors in higher paying specialties such as surgery. If you are interested in becoming a MD or DO, chances are good that you will earn a great deal more than your non-physician friends and neighbors.
No big surprise there. Doctors get paid a lot. With that said I will ignore the earnings of physicians in the rest of this post, and focus on the top 10 highest paying non-medical jobs.
- CEO's: Chief Executive Officers are the highest paid non-medical profession, raking in an average of $160,000 a year, although many CEOs are paid a great deal more than this. If you want to become a CEO, you will need two legs to stand on: education and experience. Many CEOs either founded their current company or worked their way up from within. Usually these men and women are highly educated, hard working, and have a great deal of experience in their field. An MBA from an Ivy League school doesn't hurt either.
- Lawyers: Litigators also made a competitive salary in 2010, averaging $124,000 annually. Becoming a lawyer requires a four year undergraduate degree, gaining admission to law school by taking the LSAT and competing against your peers for admission, completing the 3 year course of legal study, and passing the State Bar Exam. Whew... After 7+ years of training, the earnings better be good.
- Natural Science Managers: Natural Science Managers earned an average of $123,000 a year last year, putting them in the number 3 position. Getting a job as a natural science manager requires being highly educated in a physical science specialty at the university level, as well as years of laboratory experience.
- Engineering Managers: Engineering managers made approximately $121,000 a year in 2010. Engineering managers supervise the engineering process throughout the design and completion of engineering projects. A bachelor's degree in an engineering discipline from an ABET accredited institution is very important, and higher education in project management as well as experience in your field are viewed very favorably.
- Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers: Pilots, copilots and flight engineers made approximately $120,000 a year in 2010. This amount varies greatly based on experience, years of flight time at your current airline, and how the greater economy is faring. Though pilots at the major airlines earn an excellent living wage, the job security is at times fleeting, as the airlines are extremely cyclical. Requirements for entry into this profession are the minimum of a commercial pilots license with multi-engine and instrument ratings, although each airline has established individual minimums for hiring new first officers.
- Petroleum Engineers: Petroleum engineers made about $119,000 a year in 2010. Like any engineering job, entry into this lucrative profession requires the minimum of a bachelors degree in an engineering discipline from an ABET accredited university.
- Computer and Information Systems Managers: Computer gurus are receiving a fairly fat paycheck these days, as well, raking in $118,000 a year in 2010. Interestingly, these jobs are often held by individuals who may not have formal education, but rather have an excellent working knowledge of information systems and programming.
- Marketing Managers: Averaging $118,000 a year, marketing managers are responsible for ad campaigns, social media outreach, and other product placement and advertising. Many are educated in business, marketing or communication, although these are not technically prerequisites for the job.
- Financial Managers: Financial managers did pretty well managing your (and my) money last year, taking home an average of $110,000 annually. Financial management jobs normally require a quantitative education in business, economics or finance and many financial managers have earned their MBAs.
- Sales Managers: Sales managers also took home approximately $110,000 a year in 2010. Although some are educated in management and business, others are promoted from within the company that they started at the ground floor. This is another field where they barrier to entry can be fairly low while the financial rewards are enticing.
So if you are in the market for a new career, and don't see yourself wearing a lab coat and being called "Doctor", now you have a list of some alternatives in your quest for a fatter paycheck.
Be aware that many of these career paths come with significant education costs that would require you to take on additional training costs and/or student loans. Always weigh the potential rewards against what the training will cost you when considering a new career, and seek to reduce the costs. See our article on 10 great online colleges for more ideas on how to get the education you need without breaking the bank.
Photo By: AMagill
Photo By: AMagill