Salary Spotlight: Top Paying Careers in 2014

top paying careers

People in the work force often want to know which careers pay the most, require the least amount of additional education, and offer the most job satisfaction. Although it is often difficult to measure and compare such inherently personal and abstract qualities such as job satisfaction, it is possible to identify the careers with the best salaries. 

Based on the 2012 findings of the U.S. Department of Labor, these are some of the top paying careers in the nation today:

1. Physicians and surgeons – Obviously, there are a number of different specialties that those in the medical field can choose to follow; if each of these were listed separately, they would comprise most of the top-paying careers. After more than 11 years of expensive post-high school education and training, these professionals will receive an annual average salary of $235,000. Anesthesiologists typically receive the highest pay, followed by surgeons, obstetricians and gynecologists, and thenbest salaries general practitioners. Although their wages are high, these professionals face high malpractice insurance payments, as well as some uncertainty with the changing landscape of public healthcare.

2. Dentists and orthodontists – Although frequently lumped in with medical professionals, dentists typically spend 8 years in school to earn approximately $162,000 a year, while the much-rarer orthodontic career brings in nearly $205,000. Many people opt for flashier medical careers, giving those interested in dental care a good chance at available positions.

3. Chief executive officers – More commonly referred to as CEOs, these professionals are in the highest-paying jobs with the least amount of additional post-baccalaureate schooling required. Most people are hired based on their experience and work ethic rather than their extensive college transcripts. Controlling many different aspects of a company’s economic decisions, nearly 250,000 people list CEO of a business as their official titles, earning an average of $235,000 a year.

4. Petroleum engineers – These individuals facilitate the process of drilling for oil, refining the oil, and producing the gas that fills vehicle tanks. With a bachelor’s degree and some on-the-job experience, these engineers outnumber the nation’s pediatricians in workforce, earning an average annual wage of $139,000.

5. Lawyers – With a four-year bachelor’s degree, followed by three years at law school, lawyers make $130,000 yearly on average. With nearly half a million lawyers in the workforce having passed the bar exam, this career track is sometimes best salariesconsidered oversaturated.

6. Architectural and engineering managers – Working in a number of fields, ranging from the oil and gas industry to civil and government engineering, these managers use their bachelor’s degrees to oversee the design and building of many necessary projects and earn an average of $128,000 a year.

7. Marketing managers – Able to work in a wide variety of industries, marketing managers use their four-year bachelor’s degrees to get their companies’ messages to the public. While the college degree is helpful, experience and an impressive portfolio can provide more job leverage. Although those working in the investment industry may earn nearly $170,000 a year, most marketing managers bring in an average of $126,000.

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