They say money can’t buy happiness, but it can certainly make sad days a lot more comfortable! It’s nice to dream about a life of martinis and Gucci shoes (my limited stereotypes, apologies), and if you’ve yet to embark on a career path, you might be guided by its offered annual salary.
Work is work, no matter who you are, so being influenced by salary when making a career decision is actually a pretty practical way to look at it. Some of the top careers out there are also the kind we dream of becoming when we’re little kids: who remembers wanting to be a vet when they were younger?
Here are some of the highest paying careers to pursue:
The number one highest paying job in America is currently an anesthesiologist. The average annual wage of an anesthesiologist in 2018 was $267,020. This is an astounding amount for people who simply implement anesthetic procedures before surgery.
To become an anesthesiologist, you have to go to medical school for four years. Before this, you must pass the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). This is the standard for being admitted to medical school. After this, you have to get a license, do a four-year residency, obtain a state license, and finally become board certified. Don’t worry: you do start earning a salary during these stages.
2. Airline pilots, co-pilots, and flight engineers
If you want to be a pilot, you don’t actually have to have a Bachelor’s degree, but it will certainly help your career path. You have to get a student pilot certificate and a medical certificate in order to fly a plane solo. After this, there are different kinds of licenses you need depending on the specific type of flying you wish to do. To fly for a major airline, for example, you need to earn your Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate.
A pilot and co-pilot require the same qualifications. Most pilots will begin their careers as co-pilots and will work their way up. A flight engineer assists the pilot(s) and checks systems and instruments to ensure safety and effectiveness. All three earn an average salary of around $150,000 per year.
3. Petroleum Engineers
Petroleum engineers source materials for human energy consumption, and design and develop methods in order to make extraction as efficient and economical as possible. The average annual pay of a petroleum engineer is $129,990. As with most jobs, salaries depend on what state you live in and also depend heavily on experience.
In order to qualify as a petroleum engineer, you need to study for a Bachelor’s degree in either petroleum, mechanical, or chemical engineering. You may then need to gain experience as an apprentice or volunteer. You might also want to continue further study to make your CV more competitive, but this step isn’t actually necessary.
4. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons
Oral surgeons are pretty much-glorified dentists who focus on tasks like pulling out wisdom teeth, while maxillofacial surgeons do procedures that have something to do with the jaw. Anesthetic procedures are sometimes included in the work of maxillofacial surgeons. These surgeons earned an average of $242,370 in 2018.
To become an oral or maxillofacial surgeon, you can choose two routes. You can either go to dental school then apply for a surgical residency (four to six years). After this, you can take exams to be board certified. Alternatively, you can earn a dual degree as both a dentist and medical doctor. This degree usually takes about six years to complete, but at the end of it you come out with two degrees. Residency requirements are embedded into the course credits of this degree.
5. Financial Advisors
A financial advisor provides advice about how to spend, save and invest money. They will often provide tailored plans to their clients to achieve a long-term goal such as retirement or investment opportunities. To become a certified financial advisor, you have to earn a Bachelor’s degree, complete a course of study that is certified, and then pass a certification exam.
Your initial Bachelor’s degree can be in any subject, but you must complete certain topics at a college level to be fully qualified. These include insurance planning, income tax planning, and estate planning (to name a few). The median pay of a financial advisor is approximately $90,000.
6. Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Obstetricians and gynecologists both specialize in female reproductive health to some degree. Where gynecologists do things like cervical screening and general check-ups pertaining to reproductive health, obstetricians are more hands-on and are focused on the care of pregnant women. This will often include prenatal and postnatal care and also child delivery.
In 2018, obstetricians and gynecologists earned an average of $238,320 for the year. Many people in these careers are known as ‘ob/gyns’ because they can fulfill both roles. In order to become a qualified ob/gyn, you start by completing a Bachelor’s degree in any science subject. Biology is a good choice for this career. After this, you must attend medical school, complete a residency, and finally become certified.
Orthodontists are a type of dentist who specialize in braces and other corrective measures. There are currently over 5,000 orthodontists in America, who earned an impressive $225,760 in 2018. The difference between oral surgeons and orthodontists is quite significant. This might be due to the fact that oral surgery generally involves complex surgical procedures.
It’s certainly interesting to see that specific roles within wider fields command different pay structures: one would think a dentist is a dentist, but these statistics show otherwise. The path to becoming an orthodontist is a long one: after completing a (generally) four year Bachelor’s degree, you have to go to dental school for four years and then do a residency of two to three years. After this, you have to complete certain tests in order to become board certified.
Psychiatry is an interesting addition to our list of highest-paying careers. Psychiatry is often considered one of the more artistic, or non-scientific, sciences. In other words, it’s often debated whether psychiatry is really a science or a humanities subject.as it involves the study of human behavior and psychosis.
However, in the United States, the training requirements to be a psychiatrist as the same as any medical doctor. So, in order to become a psychiatrist, you have to do a Bachelor’s degree, then attend medical school, and complete a residency to become board certified. In 2018, psychiatrists earned an average of $220,380 per annum.
9. Family and General Practitioners
A general practitioner is someone who went through medical school but only did the essential qualifications to become a doctor. A family practitioner, then, is really the same thing. They’re just called a family practitioner because they often have a lot of families who visit their clinic.
Doctors in fields like surgery and anesthesiology have to do more training in order to become qualified. A general practitioner is the doctor you go to at your local clinic when you have a mild illness such as flu, or afflictions such as a recurring headache or if you want to know why you feel tired all the time.
Family and general practitioners, despite their lack of specialty, still make a substantial salary. In 2018, the average salary for family and general practitioners was $211,780.
10. Computer and information systems managers/ IT Managers
An IT manager is a technical expert who oversees the installation, maintenance, and security protocols for IT systems. They also manage other team members to ensure a smooth operation. Software companies also hire IT managers to install the software they have designed into the systems of their clients.
To become an IT manager, you have to study a relevant Bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field. After this, you take on entry-level roles and gradually build up experience and expertise. The longer you work in the field, the more experienced you are. Eventually, you’ll be confident enough to apply for leadership and managerial roles. IT managers earn an average of $86,000 per year.
Architects design buildings. They are the experts you consult when you have an idea for a building and want to get it down on paper. They essentially provide you with blueprints for your building project.
If you want to become an architect, you need to earn a Bachelor’s degree in (preferably) Architecture or a related field. Architecture undergraduate degrees can take up to five years. After this, you enroll for a Master’s degree in a similar specialized field. Once you’ve completed your Master’s, you complete an internship of roughly three years in order to become certified and licensed. The average annual salary of an architect is $77,000 approximately.
Chief Executive Officers are at the very top of a business hierarchy. They often manage hundreds of staff, and the financial responsibilities fall largely at their feet. You can become the CEO of your own company by starting it yourself or work your way up to become someone else’s CEO. If you’re starting your own company, you don’t technically have to complete any college degree, but you will need a lot of industry experience. If you wish to work for someone else, they will be more likely to hire you if you have a university education.
Either way, there is no official step-by-step guide to becoming a CEO. It’s all about experience and networking. CEO salaries are potentially the highest of all, depending on who you work for. There are CEOs who earn millions every year, but the average salary of a CEO working for a small company is around $100,000.
13. Speech Language Pathologists
Also known as SLPs, speech language pathologists work with people of all ages to improve speech, communication, and sometimes swallowing problems. They are also known as speech therapists, and there is no difference between the two terms.
To become an SLP, you must complete a Bachelor’s in Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD), then a board-accredited Masters. After this, you begin a post-graduate fellowship (which you need a temporary license for), take an additional exam, and then apply for your license. The salary of a SLP ranges from $60,200 on the lower end to $96,980 on the higher end.
Pharmacists can work in a variety of places including grocery stores or hospitals. They dispense medication, ensure correct dosages and compliance with medical regulations, and often liaise with patients regarding their overall health. To become a qualified pharmacist, you should study a board-accredited Pharmacy program, which takes six years.
The program includes a mix of coursework and work experience. Most programs have two years of taking classes and passing coursework and general exams, and then up to four years in a work setting. Once you’ve completed these stages, you must pass the licensure exam at the end of this program in order to become fully certified. The average salary of a pharmacist is an impressive $121,500.
The final installment on our list is a highly competitive career. Lawyers represent clients in trials and advise them on the best options going forward. There are many different types of lawyers that specialize in different areas: family lawyers, divorce lawyers, and so on.
To become a lawyer, you first earn a Bachelor’s degree in law, then attend law school for three years. To get into law school you have to pass an admission test known as the LSAT. After these initial years of study, you gain experience wherever you can as a sort of apprentice lawyer while working towards passing your state bar examination.
The average lawyer’s salary is $115,820. The salary you make as a lawyer depends on many factors: your success rate, experience, the size and reputation of the firm, and your general demand. For example, a lawyer who gets their client a great deal in a high profile case followed by media can potentially earn millions a year, whereas a new lawyer starting out in a non-profit organization will be at the low end of the earning scale.
Many of the highest paying careers involve many years of undergraduate and/or postgraduate study, while some require tons of experience. No matter what job you’re interested in, you will always have to climb the ladder to some degree. You can never start at the top, but you will get there eventually. Good luck in your search for your dream career!
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