Based on median pay statistics from the US Department of Labor Statistics
CAVEATS: (1) There are careers other than the ones on this post that pay well. However, we’re focusing on the ones that are fairly common. (2) We also categorized careers into more general categories. Otherwise, all the top paying careers would be different types of doctors.
10. Judges and Magistrates – $136,910
A magistrate is basically somebody in the legal profession that is occupying a post within the legal system to facilitate processing of legal matters. Judges sit in a court of law and determine outcomes of criminal or civil cases. To become a magistrate or judge, you have to first get a bachelor’s degree related to law such as history or American studies. Then, you have to take the LSAT to qualify and get into a law school. Typically judges have at least 5 years of experience as a lawyer before they can become a judge.
Estimated time: 4 years as undergrad, 3 years in law school, and at least 5 years law profession experience.
9. Petroleum Engineers – $137,720
Typically need a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering, but a degree in other engineering fields may still help you qualify. Most people in the field have a bachelor’s degrees and some also have a master’s degree.
8. Architectural and Engineer Managers – $144,830
The typical entry level education that people have in this career field is a bachelor’s degree though they often have 5 or more years’ experience before being promoted to a manager in making this kind of salary. They plan direct and coordinate activities and architectural and engineering companies. Nearly any engineering degree, like electrical engineering chemical engineering, civil engineering, or mechanical engineering can get you towards this career.
7. Computer and Information Systems Managers – $146,360
Most of the people in this field have a bachelor’s to a master’s degree in computer science or information science. This career is the intersection of programming and management, and people in this role often have 5 or more years’ work experience in a related occupation.
6. General Dentistry – $155,600
To become a dentist, you first have to get a bachelor’s degree and then go to dental school which takes another 4 years on average. There are some accelerated programs where you do a B. S. program while learning dentistry, but they tend to be very competitive.
5. Airline Pilot, Co–Pilot, and Flight Engineer – $147,200
When it comes to flying an airplane, a bachelor’s degree or some professional degree isn’t enough to actually sit you in the cockpit. You need to have a flight experience and you typically have to have an ATP certificate from the FAA as well as a lot of hours in order to fly an airline. Regardless, most employers in this market hiring higher paid pilots expect a bachelor’s degree of some sort, and airline pilots make more than commercial pilots. Commercial pilots only require a high school diploma or its equivalent, and the most common path is through flight training with certified flight instructors.
4. Chief Executive – $184,460
Most people in this realm have a bachelor’s degree and a master’s of business administration. People in this role typically go through a 2 year degree, but there are options for salaried MBA programs that can be completed in 12 to 18 months. Part time MBA programs that take around 3 years can sometimes be taken while you work, and some undergraduate programs offer 4+1 MBA programs that let you get an MBA in 5 years. People who graduate with an MBA typically have higher starting salaries than people with just a bachelor’s degree.
3. Physicians, Surgeons, and Anesthesiologist – $175,000 to $208,000
Different specialties within medicine pay differently, but doctors with specialties are usually paid higher. Some specialties include orthopedist, plastic surgeons, cardiologists, and dermatologists. On the flip side, public health pediatrics or family medicine does tend to pay not as well.
To become a doctor, you first have to get a bachelor’s degree and pre-med courses in order to qualify for medical school. Additionally, you have to take the MCAT followed by a residency and potentially even a fellowship. While you may be paid near the ends of residencies and fellowships, it’s far less than when you do become a doctor.
2. Orthodontist, Prosthodontist, and Oral Surgeon – over $208,000
As noted above, medical specialists get paid more, but the amount of preparation needed also increases. To pursue these careers, you not only need a bachelor’s with pre-dental coursework, but you then also need a dental degree which typically takes another 4 years. On top of that, you’re going to need some specialty training that typically means a residency plus potentially a fellowship where you’re learning.
1. Psychiatrist – over $208,000
Becoming a psychiatrist requires a lot of training. First, you have to get a bachelor’s degree which requires pre-med coursework. Then, you have to take the MCAT, get into medical school, and do a residency as well as a fellowship. In total, it’s around 12 to 14 years of training to become a psychiatrist.