There are a lot of other factors to consider--how much schooling will you need? how likely is it that you can get a certain position even if you go through the required schooling?
In terms of average salaries, the top 15 jobs from 2011 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics are below. However, these are the top earners today, it's no guarantee that they will still be the top earners in 5 or 10 years...Also, what's not provided is how much it costs to finish the education required to qualify for these positions. I think all of the position below require a college degree, and most of them require advanced degrees: MD, PhD, MBA, JD.
Doctors and Surgeons
Salary range: $165,720 - $225,390
Chief Executive Officer
Average annual salary: $173,350
Number of people currently employed as CEO: 273,500
Average annual salary: $158,770
Number of people currently employed as dentists: 87,700
Average annual salary: $129,440
Number of people currently employed as lawyers: 561,350
Natural Sciences Manager
Average annual salary: $129,320
Number of people currently employed: 45,920
Average annual salary: $127,970
Number of people currently employed: 28,210
Architectural and Engineering Manager
Average annual salary: $125,900
Number of people currently employed: 174,720
Computer and Information Systems Manager
Average annual salary: $123,280
Number of people currently employed: 288,660
Average annual salary: $122,720
Number of people currently employed as a marketing manager: 164,590
Average annual salary: $116,970
Number of people currently employed as a financial manager: 478,940
Airline Pilot, Copilot and Flight Engineer
Average annual salary: $115,300
Number of people currently employed: 68,580
Average annual salary: $114,110
Number of people currently employed as a sales manager: 319,300
Industrial-Organizational Psychologist (someone who works as a psychologist for companies
Average annual salary: $114,040
Number of people currently employed as a industrial-organization psychologist: 1,420
General and Operations Manager
Average annual salary: $113,100
Number of people currently employed as a physicist: 1,708,080
Average annual salary: $112,020
Number of people currently employed as a physicist: 16,860
Years of education: college + phd + post-doc = 11-12 years
I found an article on career builder that talks about the highest-paying jobs if you do not finish high school or get a college degree. Obviously they are a lot lower paying that the jobs listed by jenpan, but thought it could be helpful to provide. This might be from a few years ago, so I'm not sure how the numbers have changed.
Top Paying Jobs That Do Not Require a High School Degree: require substantial on-the-job training and work experience rather than formal education and schooling:
Industrial production managers -- $36,000
Bailiffs, correctional officers and jailers -- $36,400
Drafters -- $36,000
Construction manager -- $33,600
Electricians -- $31,900
Top Paying Jobs for High School Graduates: emphasize work experience and on-the-job training rather than formal education:
Computer software engineers -- $58,900
Computer/information systems managers -- $56,400
Computer programmers -- $55,000
Network systems and data communications analysts -- $49,000
General and operations managers -- $48,000
Database, network and computer systems administrators -- $48,000
There are a lot of career opportunities where you can make good amount of money. As you can see above mentioned by fellow forum members However don't always look at money as there are other influential factors like interest, education fees, level of difficulty etc that helps you to determine which career path is best for you.
You will make money in a fully satisfying and sustained career that you are passionate about. And yes, this can include the not for profit sector. Find a career where you love what you do, you will excel and become more senior over time and this will bring with it better perks and remuneration. Good luck :)
Hi Sarah Miller!
You asked a very interesting question. To help with your answer, I am sending you a site that will enable you to look up the salary of 800 career areas:
However, the most important part of a career selection is not pay but job satisfaction.
Here some helpful information that will put it in perspective:
Success in finding an appropriate career area is individual. Success is a feeling when one experiences fulfillment and satisfaction with what one is doing in life. Success is looking forward to going to work or whatever activity one does during the day and enjoying it. Success is self-actualization and development of one's own interests.
Selecting a career area is like buying a pair of shoes. They may look great, but you need to try them on and walk in them for a while to determine the proper level of comfort and fit. The most frustrating times I spent when I was doing college recruiting were the times when a graduate, once on the job, determined that he/she did not like the job for which he/she had studied, as he/she did not take the time or effort to do appropriate "shoe shopping" and pay attention to their feelings of "comfort or discomfort".
Best of luck! Be true to yourself. The feeling and concept of success is yours - and is very personal. Let me know if this is of help.