When deciding which career path to follow, salary may not be at the top of your list, and that’s OK! But what might surprise you is that not all high-paying jobs require more than four years of education, nor do they require you to move to Silicon Valley or work in tech—period. Start by looking at the best and highest-paying jobs listed below (annual salaries are the median), which we’ve compiled with the help of data from U.S. News & World Report.
- 👩⚕️ Physician’s Assistant: $108,610 — A physician’s assistant (PA) can do many of the same things physicians can do — conduct physical exams, diagnose illnesses, and even prescribe medications — and, in some states, PAs can even work independently of doctors and run their own practices. Unlike physicians, PAs only need to complete master’s degree programs.
- 🖥️ Computer Network Architect: $109,020 — These tech-savvy high-earners are the ones who build and maintain data infrastructures (such as the Cloud where you save all your homework and phone pics). Despite their high salaries, computer network architects only need a bachelor’s degree, and the job market is hot, with only 0.1 percent unemployment.
- 👩✈️ Pilot: $115,670 — Another high-earning career requiring only a bachelor’s degree, airline pilots make can make as much as $222,000, with a median annual salary of $115,670. Some airlines pay more than others, though. Glassdoor reports that American Airlines and Delta pay the most, at $160,958 and $158,969 per year average base salaries, respectively.
- ⚖️ Lawyer: $120,910 — Lawyers can earn big bucks, but they also need to obtain a costly, time-consuming juris doctorate degree. After completing a four-year undergraduate degree, aspiring attorneys head to law school for another three years. Following law school graduation, they must pass the state bar exam before they can practice.
- 📈 Financial Manager: $127,990 — Unsurprisingly, financial managers have the potential to earn a lot overseeing the finances of agencies, individuals, companies, and organizations. Though they generally only require a bachelor’s degree, financial management jobs are not low-stress! They require serious attention to detail and a deep understanding of long-term financial strategies and investing.
- 📣 Marketing Manager: $134,290 — In 2020, global ad spend will reach $618.7 billion (yes, that’s billion with a B), so it’s not super surprising that those who work in advertising and marketing stand to earn a significant piece of the pie. Marketing managers help companies and agencies maximize the profits generated from marketing efforts.
- 👩💻 IT Manager: $142,530 — These days, you wouldn’t be able to get anything done without technology, and IT managers make sure the tech works the way it should so companies, organizations, and schools can get things done day in and day out. As one of the top-rated jobs in tech, IT managers have a high-income potential, and the job usually requires a bachelor’s.
- 🦷 Dentist: $151,850 — Dentists pull in a median salary of over $150,000 per year, but their pay is warranted. Whether general or specialized, dentists must earn a doctorate degree (that’s seven years of higher education, in case you were wondering), obtain state licensure, and pass the National Board Dental Examinations before they may practice.
- 💉 Nurse Anesthetist: $167,960 — The highest paying master’s level job of 2020 is the certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA). This highly skilled medical professional is licensed to administer intravenous drugs and inhaled gases for general and regional anesthesia (think: the anesthesia you got when you got your wisdom teeth or tonsils out). The career trajectory for a nurse anesthetist involves obtaining a bachelor’s degree, nurse licensure, and then a master’s in advanced nursing.
- ⚕️Doctor: $130,000-$208,000 — The salaries of doctors vary widely from one field of medicine and one geographical region to the next. However, six of the highest-paying careers are in advanced medicine. Anesthesiologists, obstetricians and gynecologists, surgeons, psychiatrists, orthodontists, and oral and maxillofacial surgeons all earn a median salary of $208,000 per year. General physicians are up there, too, earning about $194,500 per year. Prosthodontists (dentists who focus on dental prosthesis) and pediatricians do not fall far behind, earning $176,000 and $170,000 per year respectively.
Get Started with a High-Paying Career
Want to get your foot in the door to one of these high-paying sectors? Make sure to start off by scoring internships and applying to the best programs within your desired field. Just remember that pay isn’t everything. If you don’t love what you do every day, it won’t matter how much you’re bringing in. The best careers are those that offer good pay, a respectable work-life balance, and work that excites you day in and day out!