Make Six Figures With These 7 Surprising Careers

Your primary consideration for selecting a career shouldn’t necessarily be how much money you can make. But it’s nice to know that eventually your hard work and training will pay off. And there are definitely some professions that have a more reliable career track than others.

Most people know that lawyers, doctors, engineers and CEOs can usually expect to be well compensated for their skills. But what if you have neither the inclination nor the time and money to pursue those careers?

Luckily there are many other fields that offer the promise of stable, well-paying work. Some, you may have never thought of, others might even surprise you. Based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2014 Employment and Wage Estimates, here are some career paths that can pay off in the long run.

Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations

A lot of money and a company’s reputation are at stake when it comes to advertising and marketing products. So it’s no surprise that top earners in this field can make a lot of cash.

Professions in this field include marketing managers, advertising and promotions managers, copywriters, creative directors and account directors at corporations and agencies. The mean wage for advertising and promotions managers is $114,700, while marketing managers can pull in $137,000 or more. People in this profession usually start out as interns, assistants and junior level employees at agencies, businesses and organizations before working their way up.

Postsecondary Education

We all hear about how underpaid our teachers are, but a career in post secondary education can be very profitable. Yes, pay for teachers’ assistants and entry-level lecturers can be abysmal. But if you stick it out, tenured professors and administrators at universities, colleges and community colleges can make a very comfortable living. Who knew, for example, that the median wage for an Economics Professor or an Education Administrator at a postsecondary institution was $102,000?

Securities, Commodities, and Financial Services Sales Agents

Buying and selling securities (stocks and bonds) or commodities in investment and trading firms, or providing financial services to businesses and individuals can make you a lot of money. The median wage for this profession is $103,260, with the top ten percent earning more than $159,000. Agents must be able to handle a high-stress work environment and long hours, but the better you do, the bigger the pay-off.

Most employers offer intensive on-the-job training. Many firms hire summer interns before their last year of college, and those who are most successful are offered full-time jobs after they graduate.

Airline Pilot / Air Traffic Controllers

If your dream has always been to fly a plane, or direct one, a career as an airline pilot or air traffic controller might be up your alley. Most airline pilots and co-pilots typically begin their careers as commercial pilots and usually have a bachelor’s degree. The median annual wage for airline pilots and copilots is $131,760, with the top 10 percent earning more than $187,000.

Air traffic controllers coordinate the movement of air traffic to ensure that aircraft stay safe distances apart. Because total concentration is required at all times, the work can be very stressful. The median annual wage for air traffic controllers is $118,780. Some schools offer 2- or 4-year degree programs that are designed to prepare students for a career in air traffic control. Most applicants must take and pass the Air Traffic Standardized Aptitude Test.

Sales Managers

Sales managers direct an organization’s sales team. They analyze sales statistics, set sales goals, and direct the distribution of goods and services. They also develop training programs for an organization’s sales representatives. The median wage for sales managers is $126,040.

Sales managers typically enter the occupation from other sales and related occupations, such as purchasing agents or sales representatives.

Human Resources Managers

Human resources managers direct the administrative functions of an organization. They oversee the recruiting, interviewing, and hiring of new staff; consult with top executives on strategic planning; and serve as a liaison between an organization’s management and its employees.

Human resources managers are employed in nearly every industry. Many have a background in business and a familiarity with compensation and benefits plans and employment laws. The median wage for a human resources manager is $114,140.

Detectives and Criminal Investigators

You know these guys. They’re the ones on TV with jaded expressions and designer suits. The real job might not be as glamorous, but it’s probably just as interesting. Unlike regular law enforcement officers who mostly maintain order and enforce laws, detectives and criminal investigators investigate crimes and solve mysteries.

Many detectives and investigators begin their careers in law enforcement and work their way up through the ranks. The median wage is around $80,000, while a seasoned investigator can earn in the six figures.

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Nicole Cavazos writes about the job market for ZipRecruiter.

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