Let's be honest with ourselves. We'd all love to be living the high life, driving expensive cars and taking luxury holidays whenever we feel like it. Who wouldn't? But having the money to do that is the preserve of the rich and famous. Regular jobs don't give us the income.
Are we wrong about that, though? We tend to believe that anybody earning $100K per year or more is either a celebrity or an investment banker. Either that or they're in a highly skilled trade, such as a lawyer or a surgeon. We're wrong to hold those beliefs. Very wrong!
There are plenty of surprising jobs out there which can lead you to a $100K per year lifestyle or even higher, and most of us would think of them as normal, everyday employment. All you need to do is become one of the top 10 percent of earners within the profession.
1. Technical Writers - $102,250
Have you ever picked up an instruction manual and wondered how clever the person who wrote it must be? When we're learning to do anything new, from setting up a new laptop to assembling flat-pack furniture, someone has to put the instructions together in a way which the average person can understand. That often means taking technical language and complicated concepts, and breaking them down into words which can easily be understood.
To convert that technical language into layman's terms, you need a technical writer. These are the people who write educational literature, computer programming guides, and beginner's manuals. To become one, you'll need a Bachelor of Arts in English, Writing or a similar topic, and at least three years of technical writing experience in order to hit the top 10%, but when you do that you should be earning more than £100K. Even before you get to that level, the average technical writer earns over $65K per year.
2. Elevator Installation and Repair Work - $105,750
There's nothing that feels more 'hands-on' or working class than a job which is essentially fixing things when they break, and installing them for the first time. People who work in elevator installation and repair workers are very similar to car mechanics; they're just working with a different type of machinery. Don't feel bad for them if you see them laboring away at the bottom of an elevator shaft, covered in oil - they're being paid very well for it.
To get into the trade you'll probably need to undertake an apprenticeship with an experienced worker, and more than likely a degree in engineering on top of that, but when you've obtained both those things you should start your new profession earning $73,000 a year. The top 10% earn more than $100,000. Do be prepared to be 'on call' 24/7 for when elevators break down, though.
3. Database Administrators - $108,000
The phrase 'database administrator' doesn't really conjure up the image of someone living a life of opulence. When we hear the job title, we imagine someone sat in a cramped office somewhere, endlessly punching figures into a spreadsheet and watching the clock ticking by. The last thing we'd expect is for them to be earning more than almost anybody else in the office, but it's frequently the case.
A degree in computer science will help someone get ahead in this trade, as will first-hand experience of dedicated software programs like QuickBooks or Sage. A senior database administrator is in in a position of enormous importance, handling privileged information on company finances and being responsible for the security and accuracy of that data. That's why they earn as much as $108,000 per year, and it's also why you'll rarely see an experienced professional database administrator on less than $60K.
4. Multimedia Artists & Animators - $109,730
It's important here to distinguish between someone who's very good at drawing, and someone who's a multimedia artist. Being great with a pen and pencil is no use if you can't realize your graphics on a computer. Having great computer skills is no use if you don't have the talent or imagination to come up with an innovative design in the first place. A multimedia artist will be as computer literate as they are creative.
This role belongs to the entertainment industry, and the best people at it work on the incredible special effects we see in blockbuster movies. You'll need a degree in graphic design, and a great portfolio to show off to prospective clients. Chances are you'll be working for low pay at the start of your career, but climb the ladder, and the big bucks will roll in.
5. Transportation Inspector - $110,210
What does this job title suggest to you? Someone who spends their days looking at trains, or counting cars in a car park? No; it's a lot more advanced than that! A transportation inspector is responsible for safety and security on public vehicles, and also ensuring that private companies are complying with health and safety legislation within their transport solutions.
It's a wide-ranging and varied role. You might be called into a company to help them work out how to reduce their transport costs without compromising on quality. You may also be asked to devise and supervise the creation of new transport solutions. That requires you to be knowledgeable on finance, law and all kinds of vehicles, for which you'll need certification and an understanding of mechanics. It also helps to be physically fit, as you'll spend a lot of time climbing on or under vehicles to get a better look. Suddenly, the salary makes sense!
6. Home Economics Teacher - $110,650
It takes a certain kind of mindset to become a teacher. You need to have not only accumulated a lot of knowledge, but also to have a passion for sharing it with others. You need an excellent memory, great communication skills, the ability to inspire others and the mentality to cope with monumental amounts of stress. Home Economics teachers may have it harder than any other specialism within the field, because of everything they're required to know.
Home Economics is really several subjects rolled into one. The subject teaches children how to deal with real life; how to understand and file taxes, how to cook, how to make a financial budget, how insurance works and so on. That means as a teacher you have to know the intricate details of all those topics. It will take you ten years of experience as a teacher to accumulate that knowledge, as well as a Ph.D. and the relevant licenses. It's a long, hard road to $100K, but the route is open.
7. Farmers, Ranchers, and Agricultural Managers - $112,150
It's no secret that farmers often make more money than they let on; especially farmers who have contracts to supply meat or vegetables to large restaurant firms or supermarkets. You're usually born into becoming a farmer or rancher, but that's not to say you can't learn the trade or find another way in as an agricultural manager.
That essentially gives you two ways into the lucrative trade. The farmers and ranchers will work their way up the hard way, doing years of hard physical labor before they reach the peak of their profession and end up owning the ranch or farm. An agricultural manager usually keeps their hands clean and works in an office. They'll be responsible for handling the business side of the operation, and will oversee the finances. In either case, you'll need a GED and at least five years of solid farmhand experience before you can start applying for the most lucrative positions.
8. Insurance Sales Agents - $115,300
People who work in insurance sometimes get given a hard time by the press, and even by people in other jobs. The profession is not well thought of; when you work in insurance, the general assumption is that you're out to make a quick buck at someone else's expense, and you profit from other people's misery because you're selling policies that protect against death or loss of property. Insurance agents don't mind that you have that view of them, though, and that's because they're making exactly as much money as you suspect they might be!
Working in insurance sales is a numbers business. Agents are typically paid a commission per sale, plus retention bonuses and performance incentives. Excellent communication skills are a must if you're going to persuade people to buy from you, and detailed knowledge of the policies you're selling is also essential. Most states also require you to have a license.
9. Loan Officers - $115,140
Nobody likes loan officers. They sit in judgment of you. In their hands is the power to decide whether or not you can get finance, and what level of interest you'll pay on that finance if you're eligible for it. Worst of all, they're earning money for every minute they sit there with you, whereas if they decline you you'll walk away from the conversation with none at all!
In their defense, they have to know everything about the loan products they're selling. A degree in business or economics is a 'must-have,' as is certification within the trade and a constantly developing base of knowledge to discern when it is and isn't appropriate to lend out cash. They also need great decision making and problem-solving skills; especially when they have to explain to somebody that they're not going to get the money they've asked for.
10. Writers and Authors - $115,740
People like to portray writers as starving artists, surviving on meager salaries while punching away at their keyboards, hoping that the next novel or article they write is going to sell for big money. In fairness to creatives, that's often an accurate picture. For those who excel at it, though, the sky is the limit. The very best authors in the world are millionaires, and even the good ones are frequently earning six figure salaries.
A degree in English literature is a great starting point for a potential writer. Writers often have little control over the assignments they're given, so the ability to research, understand and communicate information quickly is essential. Screenwriting and technical writing pay big money, but even a good speechwriter can earn thousands of dollars for one job if they're working with the right client. Not everyone is capable of writing a great speech, so they refer out to those who have the skills.
11. Gaming Manager - $116,840
When we say 'gaming,' we're not talking about the sort of people who create or play video games professionally (although don't rule out seeing that come up on this list, too!). 'Gaming' is a euphemistic term for the gambling and casino industry. As the received wisdom goes, the only people with big money in a casino are the ones who are working for the house. That's true of the people working behind the scenes there, too.
More often than not, you'll find a gaming manager in charge of the games on the casino floor. They'll likely have a degree in hospitality, and a background in sales doesn't hurt, either. Your job is to be an expert in whichever game you're overseeing, be able to persuade people to come and play and lose their money, and be aware enough to spot a cheat. It's just like being a professional gambler, but without any of the risks.
12. Research Veterinarian - $117,150
Sometimes, we think of veterinarians as being the poor cousins of doctors. Most of them are driven by a passion for taking care of animals, and passion projects rarely bring in big money. You'll know from your own insurance and medical bills that treatment and surgery for animals cost a lot less than treatment and surgery for people, so how is it that some veterinarians are earning more than doctors?
The answer lies in the 'research' side of the industry. A research veterinarian will have years of experience, and a scientific understanding of medications and treatment programs. Only those with a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine need apply for this role, as well as the mentality to cope with the potential consequences of attempting experimental procedures on sick animals. Several years of hands-on experience as a regular vet are needed before you can even consider reaching for greater heights.
13. Captains, Pilots and First Mates At Sea - $119,280
A life on the waves is another one which we associate with hard labor and low returns. The immediate image that comes to mind is a weathered captain of a sea trawler, fighting against the weather to bring in a big haul of fish and collect a payment from a restaurant or a market trader. That can sometimes be the case, but there's more to the industry than that.
A senior professional on any vessel at sea must know the traits of that vessel inside out, how it's likely to respond to adverse weather conditions, and what must be done in an emergency. They're also responsible for the life of everybody on board who's under their command. Certification is essential, for which you'll have to display exemplary navigation skills. Do you think you could bring a boat home with only the stars to guide you? These people can!
14. Detectives and Criminal Investigators - $119,320
There was a scene in the hit movie 'Wolf of Wall Street' in which the central character taunted the detective who arrested him, pointing out that even in prison he'd still be a millionaire, whereas the next day the detective would be back on the beat, with holes in his shoes and earning less in a lifetime than a good criminal does in a day. That's true in some cases, but senior detectives and criminal investigators are still making a good living.
Detectives are more than just police officers who have progressed up the ranks. They'll have completed a degree in criminal justice that may take up to four years, and frequently have prior experience in either law enforcement or military positions. Private investigators often work hand in hand with the police - although if you don't have the stomach to inspect a bloody crime scene, you can still make big money investigating fraud or corporate losses.
15. Makeup Artists - $120,050
This is a profession that's changing all the time as we move further into the digital age. The makeup artists we're talking about here aren't the ones who'll tend to your hair or cosmetics at your local beauty salon; they're the sort who'll be invited to apply makeup for television or film productions, and may be paid to create or promote makeup brands for manufacturers.
Social media is having an increasingly large say in who makes it within this profession. Instagram and YouTube are full of makeup artists demonstrating their skills in pictures and in video. If they develop a large enough following, big brands will pay them for endorsements. The larger your social media presence, the higher a fee you can demand. Obviously, it helps if you're also good at applying makeup and have a flair for design, and a cosmetology license doesn't hurt either!
16. Art, Drama and Music Teachers - $124,880
What is life without art? Try to imagine going through your days without ever hearing music, or never being able to see your favorite television show or movie ever again. Any work of art - any song, any painting, and any play - has to be created by people. In turn, those people must have been inspired by someone at a young age to develop and pursue their artistic talents. That's where art, drama and music teachers come in.
A personal connection with whichever art form you're teaching is essential - the job would become a thankless task without one - and a bachelor's degree in the same topic will open the doors to the top jobs for you. Surprisingly, a lot of the money to be made in this trade comes from teaching adults - people frequently wish they'd learned to perform when they were younger, and pay for classes in later life.
17. Public Relations Manager - $128,101
Most people understand what the job of a public relations manager is - you're the face of whichever company or individual you represent. For that reason, you need to have an immaculate appearance, incredible communication skills and an understanding of media politics. A great public relations manager can minimize the impact of bad news, and amplify the benefits of good news. That's why the role is sometimes referred to as 'spin doctor' - you're putting a spin on events to make people see them the way you want them to be seen.
Behind the scenes, PR managers will constantly be working on marketing campaigns, monitoring news sources and dictating employee conduct to ensure it's consistent with the image of a business. It's a full-on job which often comes with long hours, and you'll need a degree in communications to be considered for any role.
18. Environmental, Health, and Safety Engineering Manager - $109,946
Here's another job title which tends to be met with a derogatory response. The impression people have of health inspectors or safety executives is that they're only in their position to spoil everyone else's fun, or place unnecessary restrictions on working practices. They're the reason you might be asked to wear goggles at work for tasks which clearly don't require them, or conduct a risk assessment in writing before ordering new chairs for the office.
The role does have a function though - it's to protect whichever company they're working for from lawsuits, and diminish the risk to human health and life. A degree in the field you're working within will be required, as will formal certification and up-to-date knowledge of health and safety law, which changes regularly. Investigating accidents also falls under the purview of these roles. It's a lot of responsibility - and so it pays a lot of money.
19. Film and Video Editors - $126,250
Recording a film, regardless of purpose, is one thing. Editing it, polishing it and producing it is quite another. The kind of finished product that you see on your film or television screen is very different from the raw footage that was recorded on the day. Someone has to decide what goes in, and what ends up on the cutting room floor. A good editor knows instinctively what's relevant and what isn't. They'll also be skilled at digital manipulation to make sure it suits the tone and the purpose of whatever it was recorded for.
Those sorts of skills take years to hone and perfect. You'll need a bachelor's degree, mastery of Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator and dozens of other products. Deadlines in this world are also short and sharp. If something is recorded during the night and needs to air tomorrow morning, forget about going to bed! You'll be well rewarded for your work, though.
20. Education Administrators - $128,660
'Education Administrator' is just a fancy phrase for a head teacher or a principal. This is someone who's been working on the front line of teaching for years, and displayed sufficient aptitude for it to be given a school of their own to run. Sometimes, they may even preside over a whole range of schools in an area. They'll still have excellent teaching and communication skills, but they must also understand business.
All schools have a budget. How are you going to make yours run efficiently? How will you set the timetable, and make sure each department has the resources it needs? Most education administrators have a master's in leadership or education, and sometimes both. The role is part educator, part accountancy and part politician. It's also very stressful. No wonder it pays so well! It's not all stress and strain though - it's a role in which you can make a material difference to the future of children.
21. Arbitrators and Mediators - $137,750
A degree in law or communications is a must for this prestigious role. You might even be required to have a master's in communication or business administration, too. Many people take to a position like this later in life; it's a popular choice for retired judges who still feel they have something to offer. Experienced attorneys sometimes transition to this type of work when they're younger, too.
An arbitrator or mediator is there to help two fiercely opposed sides of an argument reach some kind of closure and agreement. That might be between two people during a divorce, or an insurance company and a claimant after a claim has been made. These situations are usually stressful and emotional, and so a high degree of emotional intelligence is as important as practical skill when finding solutions. You need to be an excellent persuader in order to find a fair compromise.
22. Petroleum Engineer - $130,280
Make no mistake about it; this is a gritty job which happens in unpleasant conditions and involves a lot of physical labor. If you want a six-figure job which you can achieve with only a bachelor's degree, though, then petroleum engineer is one you'll have to consider.
Not all of this job involves being in contact with oil. Some of the time, you'll be in the office trying to identify potential new sources of oil to drill for, or devising strategy to extract more oil from a well which is already in use. Gas comes into the equation too, so it's probably helpful if you don't smoke! The peak time to get into this industry was 2014 when fracking was new, and opportunities seemed to be opening up. Now, most jobs are taken. That's not to say things won't change again in the future, so you could always get the degree and see what happens.
23. Pilot or Captain - $128,063
We've already discussed that the captain of a boat probably earns more than you think they do. You probably assumed that the pilot of a plane would make more money perhaps not as much as this! It makes sense when you think about it though; we've all seen how many buttons and dials there are in a cockpit. A pilot knows what every single one of them does, and assumes the full responsibility for every life that boards their plane.
To become a captain, a pilot must have an appropriate license, at least 135 flights under their belt and more than 2,500 hours in the air. A clean bill of health is also a basic requirement. The route of the flight, your speed and your take-off and landing routine are all yours to decide. As we've seen elsewhere already, this level of responsibility comes with appropriate financial rewards.
24. Funeral Service Managers - $140,740
If you've had the unfortunate task of having to arrange and pay for a funeral, you know that it's an expensive business. Very few people understand or appreciate how expensive funerals are until they have occasion to experience planning for one first-hand, and it's a real eye-opener. Working in the funeral trade isn't for everyone - you're quite literally constantly surrounded by death - but it is rewarding.
Degrees are available in funeral and mortuary services, and although they're not always required it will help your career prospects to obtain one. It's worth remembering that this job is about more than the practicalities - you're also a counselor, dealing with bereaved families and friends of the departed on a day to day basis. It's emotionally draining, and involves seeing a lot of corpses; some of whom will have died in unpleasant accidents. Anyone who has the stomach for this job deserves the money.
25. Astronomers - $155,480
A lot of people don't even know that being an astronomer is a real job - they consider it a hobby! Anybody can be an amateur astronomer; all you need is a good telescope and a map of the stars. To make a career out of it, though, you'll need a much stronger level of knowledge and equipment than that. Astronomers are scientists. They won't just know what they're looking at; they'll have a theory for why it looks the way it does, what it looked like billions of years ago, and what it might tell us about the universe we live in.
Astronomers will both undertake research themselves, and write detailed proposals to apply for funding for work that needs to be done. A Ph.D., a love of doing independent research and an understanding of scientific tools and their functions are all requirements for you to get to the top of this field. It's not rocket science - but it's not far away from it, either.
26. Broadcast News Analysts - $159,330
A broadcast news analyst and a newsreader are not the same thing. A broadcast news analyst is the poor soul who's usually stood at the physical location where something important is happening, and giving their own interpretation live from the scene while people pull funny faces and shout offensive words in the background. They're not just reading from an autocue - they'll have researched their questions and come up with a structure for their presentation or interview so they can get the essential facts over to the viewer in a time-pressured environment.
It goes without saying that any broadcast news analyst has to be a confident and articulate public speaker. They'll have had experience working within the industry before appearing on camera, often as an assistant to another broadcast news analyst. A degree in broadcasting is considered essential, and you'll have to be flexible with your hours and travel arrangements. When news happens, you have to be there.
27. Art Directors - $166,250
As with many of the jobs that have appeared and will continue to appear on this list, being an art director involves a lot more than you think it might. There's much more to this job than deciding which pictures hang on which walls. They actively work with an artist, sharing both their creative world and their creative vision. An artist is often too close to their work to decide which pieces would be best suited to a specific exhibition or display; the art director must handle the task for them.
The core skill at the heart of any good art director's abilities is project management, closely followed by diplomacy. The job will sometimes involve telling an artist that some of their best work isn't right for them, or doesn't work in the context of other pieces will go with a display. A keen interest in art and a history of strong presentation skills backed up by a connected degree will help persuade people that you're right for this job.
28. HR Managers - $108,600
Human resources is a people business - quite literally. The HR department in any large firm is responsible for all matters concerning staff, handling the process that goes from hiring them to paying them to firing them. Everything has to be approved by, agreed with and signed off on by someone senior within HR. Typically, HR managers also define the scope of new positions within the business which require recruiting for, and put together the necessary recruitment campaign.
It's a big job which is a vital component of a successful business. A good HR manager keeps everything ticking over as it should do. A bad one can bring a company to its knees! If you want to be a good one, you'll need a degree, appropriate certification, and a history of working with payroll and in management positions. A little experience in handling conflicts will probably come in handy when you butt heads with middle management, too.
29. Software Architect - $129,148
You might scoff at the idea that someone who designs computer programs should be described as an 'architect,' but the difference between a computer programmer and a software architect is the same as the difference between a builder and a structural architect. The former is capable of putting the pieces of a product together or fixing it when it breaks, but the latter had the vision to design it in the first place.
Think about all the software you work with every day. Someone had to design the browser you're using to read this webpage. Someone built the framework this webpage is hosted on. Your word processor, your email client - all the work of software architects! A degree in computer science or software engineering will get your foot in the door, and you'll also need to keep yourself up-to-date with the latest technology and software changes. Old knowledge is useless knowledge in the software game!
30. Geophysicist - $183,703
It's very unlikely that the average person could even explain what a geophysicist does, let alone what they'd expect them to earn. It's a word we've all seen before, and we know it has something to do with science and rocks, but that's about all most people know. Geophysicists do indeed study rocks, but that's only part of their occupation. They play a vital role in combating pollution, and predicting earthquakes and other seismic events.
Understanding the chemical composition of the planet we live on gives us vital clues about not only its history but its future. If we know what conditions inside a volcano look like just before it erupts, for example, we can predict that eruption and move people to safety. That's why geophysics is so important! As you might expect with a scientific role, you'll need a master's degree to reach the top 10% in this industry, and excellent literary skills to both read and create scientific papers.
31. Speech Writer - $106,120
We mentioned speech writing in passing when we talked about authors and writers earlier on, but there are some people who do nothing but speech writing for a living, and they do very nicely out of it financially. Typically, such people work closely with politicians or other high-profile figures who are frequently required to make speeches. Ever heard a politician give a speech and crack a joke that surprised you? That almost certainly wasn't the politician talking - it was their speech writer trying to make them more appealing to you!
A good speech writer can condense what someone wants to say about an event or an occasion, turn into entertaining text and include hints of the speaker's personality in there, too. If you're considering getting into the profession, the good news is that you don't technically need any qualifications; you just have to be very good with the written word. Finding work to build up your portfolio may be tricky, though.
32. Technical Lead - $107,657
This is a job title which will only make sense to people who've either worked as one themselves, has worked in a company which requires one, or knows someone who has. If it's a new term on you, then we'll shed some light on it. A technical lead is a highly specialized computer programmer who creates a piece of software and then stays with it rather than moving onto new things. That makes them different from software architects, who will move from one creation to the next.
A technical lead will work on improving the system on an ongoing basis, as well as providing technical support to the people who use it. Think of them as software landlords! You'll need a master's degree in computer science to work in this role, as well as functional knowledge of how to program in all common web and software languages. If you don't already have some experience in those fields, becoming a technical lead might take you a while.
33. Registered Nurse - $116,000
Before you start composing hate mail, let us explain ourselves! We are very much aware that most nurses don't earn this much money. They don't even earn anything close to it. At the start of the article, we said we were going to look at the top 10% of each industry, and the disparity in pay for nurses from the top of the scale to the bottom is enormous. Sitting close to the top are advanced practice registered nurses.
These people are highly qualified and experienced medical care experts with a master's degree in nursing, a specialty within a clinical field and at least three years of experience of working within acute care. Nurses at this level largely work without the supervision of a doctor, and can replace the function of a doctor in numerous scenarios. In short, they're doctors in all but name, and that's why they're paid so much money.
34. Virtual Assistant - $120,000
If you've heard the phrase 'gig economy' bandied about on the news or the internet recently, this is one of the 'gig' jobs people talk about the most. In times gone by, it was necessary for businesspeople to have a physical office, in which sat physical staff answering the phone and responding to emails. The internet and technology have advanced beyond that point now. Some businesspeople don't even need an office anymore. They do, however, still need someone to handle their administration and correspondence. Many of them use someone they've never met, who might be sat at home on the other side of the world.
Virtual assistants will agree on different tasks for different employers. Handling phone calls and emails are generally part of it, but arranging flights, hotel bookings and travel plans is also a factor. Because the assistant works with so many clients, they can accumulate significant amounts of money in the role.
35. Network Administrator - $130,200
Of all the ways you can make money out of computer knowledge, this feels like the most stress-free to us. A network administrator usually works in-house with a company and has overall responsibility for the health of that company's computer network and the equipment on it. Ever tried to log on to a website at work, find your access has been blocked and seen the message 'Please contact your network administrator?' This is who they were talking about.
A network administrator probably has a degree in computer science and has worked their way up through the system, having started as an IT technician. When a problem occurs, they can send out a team of technicians to solve it for them without getting their own hands dirty. When things are working well, you don't need to do anything at all. Where do we sign up?
36. Freelance Writer - $106,005
We keep coming back to the topic of writers, and it would appear they make more money than most people assume they do! The good ones definitely do. The internet is still expanding, with billions of websites, blogs, and pages being updated every day. Someone has to come up with all that content, and it's usually a freelance writer. The key strength of a freelance writer is their versatility; they might be required to write about any topic, so they have to be able to research it in the space of a few hours and then set to work writing about it as if they're an authority on the subject.
Freelance writers can earn great rewards for the same reason virtual assistants can; they're not tied to any individual or company. They'll have several 'go to' clients and then occasional one-off pieces of work from elsewhere. Even newspapers use freelancers for features occasionally - and you don't need a single qualification to do it!
37. Data Scientist - $110,000
There's really a big clue in the title of this job with regard to what it involves. Data scientists apply scientific analysis to pieces of data and draw conclusions from it. The most prominent data scientists work either in formal science or, interestingly, politics. Data science is invaluable to politicians and political parties, as it allows them to see what their typical voter looks like, what their interests are, and what else is likely to appeal to them in terms of policy. They can then deliver their message down the channels the data scientist gives them.
Data scientists will also be used in marketing, as they can extrapolate data and use it to tell a company who is or isn't buying their products, and what they can do to change those numbers. A senior data scientist can set the marketing strategy of a whole company. IBM predicts that this will be one of the fastest growing job sectors in the world during the next five years, so it's a good time to get involved.
38. Tax Manager - $110,000
Absolutely everyone hates taxes. The people who pay taxes hate taxes. The people who work out taxes hate taxes. They're a necessary evil in life, but they're complicated and stressful, and ultimately the entire taxation process feels like signing away your hard-earned money for nothing. It's precisely because nobody likes taxes that opportunities exist to make money within the tax system, though.
If you can somehow generate the enthusiasm to understand how taxes work, you can offer yourself to both individuals and companies as a tax expert, handling their returns for them and offering advice on how to streamline tax liabilities. It's not the same role as being an accountant; all you're dealing with is tax. You will still need to be qualified as an accountant though, and it helps if you've had some experience in that field first.
39. Dentist - $129,968
Dentists are sometimes seen as poor relations of doctors. After all, isn't their job to be a doctor, but only to one specific part of the body? Worse than that, a part of the body that very few people other than their own partner would wish to go near? That might be true in some respects, but even if it is, dentists are having the last laugh, and they're showing us their shiny white teeth while they're doing it.
Becoming a dentist is far from easy. An undergraduate degree is required, as well as certification, passing of the Dental Acceptance Test, and an official license. That's a lot of red tape to get through, and once dentists have cleared it, they should be well on their way to a six-figure income. We imagine that's the thought they cling to as they're getting their eighth face-full of halitosis for the day.
40. Actuaries - $114,850
This is another great job for someone who has a keen eye for detail, a good head for numbers, and at least a policy of tolerance for Microsoft Excel. An actuary is a person who works with an insurance firm to analyze claim data as it comes in, and look for patterns. Their work will inform changes in pricing or policy which the insurer goes on to make in the future.
Some of their recommendations will be obvious. If there's a sudden spate of claims for burglary in a certain zip code area, you raise your home insurance prices for the area. What's subtler is spotting a combination of health risks which can combine to limit someone's mortality, for example, the killer cocktail of smoking and type 2 diabetes, which was noticed by actuaries long before doctors picked up on it. There's a lot of number crunching to do, but there will be big numbers on your pay cheque at the end of each month.
41. Mathematicians - $104,700
How do you make money out of math? By seeing patterns in numbers that nobody else can. We just spoke about how actuaries will notice data correlations which suggest a link between events that nobody else has recognized; a mathematician can do that for any industry and any purpose. It's almost like they're reading the base-code of the universe in one of the 'Matrix' movies.
Math has a number of purposes in modern living, from exploring theories to addressing practical problems. How much force is needed to move an oil rig? How strong must the foundations of a building be to support what has to go on top of it? How much fuel needs to be in a spacecraft? If you don't know, you better contact a mathematician to work it out for you. They're great with big numbers, as you'll see when they present you with their invoice.
42. Landscape Architect - $125,100
The difference between a gardener and a landscape architect is one of size; the size of the land they work with, and the size of their salaries. Well, that and all the extra work. A senior landscape architect did probably once mow the lawn as part of their job, but at the peak of their career they'll be drawing up site plans and cost estimates, and then arranging contracts to deal with work as and where required.
A keen understanding of building materials, planning laws, and labor costs are an absolute must if you're considering a career jump into this role. That's only the foundation, though. You'll also have to have a bachelor's degree in the topic, and at least six years' on-the-job experience before you're likely to be considered for a management position - for which you'll obviously need good people skills, too.
43. Web Designer - $122,320
Everyone laughed at the idea of a web designer being a 'proper' job when the internet was young. People didn't understand how the new technology would go on to shape the world of business and commerce, and considered the sort of people who would sit at home and code webpages for fun 'nerds.' Now those same people are contacting those nerds and paying them big money to design webpages for them.
More and more new businesses spring up every day, and no business is complete without a webpage. The color scheme and style of your website can even come to define your brand. While most people can come up with a basic WordPress site quite easily, a discerning customer will spot a WordPress site a mile away. If you want a unique design that stands out in the market, you need to pay a professional. And it won't be cheap.
44. Sound Engineer - $125,230
If the picture of a sound engineer in your mind is of someone sat at a mixing desk with headphones on, listening to a terrible band playing in the next room, think again. Mixing down and polishing records for musicians is sound engineering, but it's far from the full extent of the job. Even most sound engineers will do more with their skills than just that.
For every live television or radio broadcast, a sound engineer will be required. For any recording of an event which will be broadcast later on, a sound engineer will be required during the production process. Even live theater and live sports sometimes need sound engineers to make sure everyone in the audience can hear what they're supposed to. As we live in a digital age, most sound engineering is done through a computer. A good understanding of the relevant computer software is therefore necessary. A degree is also desirable for most employers, but some freelance sound engineers get by just fine without one.
45. Real Estate Agent - $109,940
Making good money as a real estate agent is part skill, part charm, and part luck. All the skill and charm in the world won't help you if the only properties you have to sell are worth nothing, and all the most valuable properties are no use to you if you don't have the sales skill and charisma to persuade someone to take them off your hands.
Like insurance salespeople, real estate agents have a bad reputation. Also like insurance salespeople, they don't care. They make a commission on every piece of land or property they sell, and if it's a large house, it can be tens of thousands of dollars on every sale. You don't need any qualifications to become a real estate agent - just excellent people skills and probably a strong track record in sales from previous employment.
46. Information Security Analyst - $153,090
When you hear the words 'information security analyst', you're likely to think of a middle-aged man in a shirt and tie, hunched over a desk and looking miserable. That image may change dramatically when we tell you the more commonly-known title of this job - hacker. Thanks to Hollywood and tabloid newspapers, we know think of hackers as internet ninjas, breaking into people's computers and stealing money, pictures and whatever else they can find.
Obviously being a malicious hacker is a criminal offense, but companies who do business online (i.e., most companies) will sometimes employ 'white knight' hackers to attempt to break into their systems, and then provide reports about their security and possible vulnerabilities. In a lot of cases, such people are former criminal hackers who have changed their ways. Given how much they earn, they have no need for crime!
47. Fashion Designer - $135,490
Yes, we know that the most prominent fashion designers in the world are millionaires. We're not talking about them. We're talking about the potential of you, sat there reading this list, becoming a fashion designer and making more than six figures a year doing so. Does it sound fanciful? It's not as absurd as it seems. Instagram and social media have once again opened an industry up to people who previously had no chance of breaking into it.
All you need to become a fashion designer now is a genuine ability to make interesting clothes, a good photographer, and enough social media followers to catch people's eyes. If you start attracting attention online, stores will come to you to feature your designs in their stores. Crazy as it sounds, that' a fact. Think you've got what it takes? Get the sewing machine out and see what happens!
48. Air Traffic Controller - $122,950
Air traffic control doesn't look like a complicated job. If we're to believe all we see from television and Hollywood on the subject, it involves little more than staring at a radar screen, watching as planes cruise overhead, represented by little blips on the screen. Your main job is to remind them not to crash into each other as they're taking off or landing. As usual, fiction hasn't been all that accurate in representing the complexities of the task.
There is only so much a pilot can see from the air, even with all the technology in their planes. You're their eyes on the ground. You're informing them of weather, visibility issues, runway availability, hazards in the air and on the ground, and flight paths when required to do so. You're also required to monitor baggage distribution to make sure the right baggage goes with the right flight. The job involves long hours, and absolute concentration for every second of every shift.
49. Library Services Director - $108,771
Libraries notoriously struggle to make money. Many of them function as charities, and those which don't are often state-owned. If you don't know anything about how the internal functions of a library operate, you might think that a services director does little more than decide which books go on which shelves, and you might even assume that such people are volunteers. They aren't.
A library director is responsible for all the staff inside of that library, setting usage and entry policy, and deciding what, if any, educational and support programs that the library offers to its community. You'll also be responsible for the budget, which as we've already established might not be great! There's a lot of responsibility on your shoulders, and so you'll be paid well to help you bear it. An experienced librarian with a suitable degree would make a good candidate.
50. Podiatrist - $116,440
If you think dentists have it bad with seeing tooth decay and having bad breath blasted into their faces every day, try speaking to a podiatrist. Some of us have a phobia about feet - especially feet with long toenails, fungal infections or other hygiene issues. Such things would rule you out of the running to become a podiatrist. Tending to diseased, misshapen or otherwise irregular feet is the bread and butter of their occupation, so they probably develop an immunity to it.
A podiatrist will do more than just look at your foot, of course. Their field of expertise expands to the ankle and the whole of the lower leg below the knee, and they know so much about the physiology of that region that they're even licensed to perform minor surgeries - another factor which explains why they're paid so handsomely for their work. To become a podiatrist, you need a specific degree from an accredited podiatric college. You may have to travel for that; there are only nine of them in the whole United States of America.
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