These six professions might have more earning power than you think.
So you want a high-paying career, eh? Instead of going the typical doctor, lawyer, or Wall Street broker route, where competition is steep, a good strategy might be looking in unexpected places for careers with high salaries. But you’ll still want to choose a career that interests you, so the 9 to 5 doesn’t feel like drudgery.
According to Stan Kimer, founder and president of Total Engagement Consulting by Kimer, a diversity and career development consultancy, striking that balance between a highly-skilled job and a high-level of personal enjoyment is what leads to career success in the first place. « In any field if you are extremely passionate about what you do and do it very well, you will rise to the top and make more, » says Kimer.
Read on for a six great careers across a spectrum of fields that pay surprisingly well.
Career #1: Management Consultant
90th Percentile Salary: $142,580
10th Percentile Salary: $44,370
Median Salary: $78,600*
Are you constantly being asked for your opinion and told you give great advice? Did you know that those same skills are fundamentally applicable – and capable of being monetized – in a career as a management consultant?
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, management consultants may analyze a company’s operations and make suggestions on how to improve efficiency and raise profitability. Their responsibilities may also include interviewing personnel and visiting company facilities to determine the methods, personnel, and equipment that will be needed to make improvements.
Why It Pays: According to Kimer, management consultants take home competitive salaries because of their expertise and strong decision-making skills that support a business or company’s livelihood. « Very deep expertise in a critical area leads to higher salaries, » says Kimer. « Applying long and deep knowledge gained over time, making sound recommendations to clients, being able to quickly identify key issues and develop fixes are some high-paying skills. »
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Education Requirements: According the Department of Labor, the typical entry-level requirement is a bachelor’s degree. Since few schools offer formal programs in management consulting, common fields of study may include business, accounting, management, marketing, computer and information science, engineering, economics, and statistics. Additionally, the Department says that some employers prefer those with a master’s degree in business administration.
Career #2: Accountant
90th Percentile Salary: $111,510
10th Percentile Salary: $39,930
Median Salary: $63,550*
Have a knack for calculating taxes, tips, averages, and balances? Pursuing a career as an accountant may be right up your alley. You might be surprised to find out what these professional number crunchers get paid for their services.
There are many types of accountants, but the U.S. Department of Labor says most of them examine financial records to help their companies run efficiently. Some accountants may focus on examining the record of government agencies, while others may help advise on the management of funds.
Why It Pays: Accounting can pay well because of the breadth of financial expertise and longer hours it can sometimes require, says Ramon Santillan, interviewing consultant and founder of Persuasive Interview, an organization that offers interview coaching services « Accountants need to understand how the financial aspect of the company affects its growth. Particularly with the different areas of it (tax, audit, financial reporting, fraud) and long hours, plus in some cases the need for a CPA license, which requires advanced degrees, accountants can be paid well. »
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Education Requirements: According to the Department of Labor, a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field is required for most accountant positions. However, some employers might prefer those with a master’s degree in accounting or business administration with a concentration in accounting.
Career #3: Registered Nurse
90th Percentile Salary: $94,720
10th Percentile Salary: $45,040
Median Salary: $65,470*
Nurses’ earning power may be overshadowed by physicians and surgeons, but the take-home pay for these caregivers sure isn’t shabby. If you’ve been told you’re compassionate, you love working with people, and you’re interested in medicine, you might consider preparing to pursue a career as a nurse.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, registered nurses may help coordinate patient care and help administer treatment to the sick and ill. Other common duties could include operating medical equipment, and educating patients and families on managing their illness or injuries at home.
Why It Pays: « Not everyone has the stomach to deal with the duties of a nurse, » says Santillan. Essentially, he thinks the graphic nature of nurses’ work is one major reason they’re paid well.
« Aside from requiring certain types of degrees and licenses in some states, nurses have to maintain their cool and composure, remember all their training, and still maintain a soft demeanor under stressful situations, » he says. « Who wants a nurse that’s freaking out when they see a little blood? »
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Education Requirements: There are several potential routes to pursuing work as a nurse: an associate’s degree in nursing, a diploma from an approved nursing program, or a bachelor’s of science in nursing, according to the Department of Labor. Additionally, the Department says you will have to pass a state licensing exam to obtain licensure and qualify for providing care as a professional.
Career #4: Fashion Designer
90th Percentile Salary: $126,290
10th Percentile Salary: $34,110
Median Salary: $62,860*
There are plenty of « starving » fashion artists on shows like « Project Runway » and « Fashion Star, » but things look a lot better for the ones who make it in this industry. Pay in apparel and accessory design might be more than you think, especially compared to some other creative professions like theater or dance. So, if you’re artsy and love shopping for clothes, you might want to take a closer look at fashion design as a potential profession.
There many different kinds of fashion designers. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, some may design clothing or footwear, while others may create costumes or accessories. Whatever kind of role a fashion designer has, they could be responsible for anticipating upcoming trends and predicting what fashions will appeal to consumers.
Why It Pays: You might think fashion is based on nothing but trends, but Santillan says pay can be surprisingly high because workers have to be manually skilled as well as innovative thinkers – which is an invaluable mixture for labels looking to create the next big thing.
« More than schooling, it takes creativity and persistence to make it in the fashion industry, » says Santillan. « Similar to professional football, those that make it are handsomely rewarded, but there are literally thousands that will never get to that level. »
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Education Requirements: According to the Department of Labor, post-secondary education is not required, but many fashion designers take courses or earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in a related field such as fashion merchandising. The Department also notes that employers rely on a designer’s portfolio when deciding whether to hire the applicant or not.
Career #5: Web Developer
90th Percentile Salary: $105,200
10th Percentile Salary: $33,550
Median Salary: $62,500*
You wish you could spend all day on the couch testing out apps and surfing different websites on your phone and iPad. Well, what if you could make money developing the sites and mobile experience rather than just browsing them for sport? You might be shocked to learn that you could fetch a decent salary professionalizing your hobby as a web developer.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, web development is a large field filled with many specialists. In general, the Department of Labor says that web developers may use a wide variety of computer code to design, create, and/or maintain a website or program for a company.
Why It Pays: The potential to make big bucks without spending a ton of time in the classroom may make the high pay for web developer jobs a bit surprising.
« Although you need a high level of knowledge about coding and design, you don’t necessarily have to have a formal education in order to make good money as a web developer, » says Santillan. « If you work as a freelancer, you have the potential to really make some serious cash. »
He does note, though, that freelancers could face off-shore competition for these remote gigs.
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Education Requirements: The wide range of skills and positions spanning this field call for different education requirements. According to the Department of Labor, entry-level position requirements vary from a high school diploma to a master’s degree, depending on the job. Employers might prefer candidates with a computer-related degree. Proficiency is often paramount to employers, meaning on-the-job experience is highly valued.
Career #6: Market Research Analyst
90th Percentile Salary: $113,500
10th Percentile Salary: $33,280
Median Salary: $60,300*
You’ve got your finger on the pulse of the latest trends and fads. But even more impressive than that, you’ve got the intuition to understand why certain things hit it big while others miss the mark. Sound familiar? You might have the aptitude – and a sound skill set – for preparing for a career as a market research analyst. How sweet it will be to get paid well for being customer-savvy.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, market research analysts gather and analyze a wide range of data to potentially help companies market goods and services. The Department of Labor says some of their chief duties may include studying sales trends, consumer preferences, and market conditions, devising methods for collecting data, and converting complex data into understandable reports.
Why It Pays: Market research analysts play an important role to a business’ bottom line, but often people don’t even know this position exists or that it’s directly related to profit, Kimer explains, which makes salaries higher than expected. Kimer also says the skills required to succeed in this field drive high earning power, too.
« ‘Research’ and ‘analyst’ are two key words here, » says Kimer. « Understanding research methodology and analyzing it to make the best recommendations for sales and market growth can make or break a company. »
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Education Requirements: According to the Department, a bachelor’s degree in market research or a related field is typically needed. However, many analysts may have degrees in fields such as computer science, math, or statistics, while others have a background in business administration, communications, or one of the social sciences. The Department also notes that some companies may require at least a master’s degree for more senior positions.