13 Careers You Might Not Have Considered That Pay More Than $71,000 a Year

high-paying careers
Igor-Kardasov/Getty Images

When you think about high-paying jobs, do you think of becoming a doctor or lawyer, or hitting it big in the tech industry?

You don’t have to go to medical or law school, or move to Silicon Valley, to earn a high salary.

Choosing a Career? Consider These 13 High-Salary Jobs

If you’re a student or you’re considering a career change, consider one of these professions.

1. Air Traffic Controller: $122,410

If you’re detail-oriented and love all things aviation, consider going into air traffic control. This high-responsibility career pays off with a mean annual wage of $122,410.

You’ll be responsible for guiding some of the 87,000 flights in the U.S. skies each day and following policies and procedures to ensure flight safety.

To head into this field, you must be a U.S. citizen, start the FAA Academy by your 31st birthday, and be able to pass background checks and medical exams.

You’ll also need three years of higher education as well as some work experience — but you don’t need a college degree.

2. Accountant or Auditor: $76,730

Analytical skills are key to a successful career as an accountant or auditor. In this field, you’ll prepare financial statements, interpret records, give advice and help individuals and businesses with their costs and budgets. You’ll also examine financial records and make sure people and companies pay their taxes correctly and on time.

To pursue this career, which comes with a mean annual wage of $76,730, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree.

Many accountants also pursue certification as a Certified Public Accountant. Earning a CPA has a number of career advantages, including typically earning a 10% higher salary than people without the license.

Each state has different fees associated with the exam and licensing procedure, and many people opt to take a preparation course or purchase self-study materials. In Minnesota, it can cost more than $3,000 to become licensed.

3. Healthcare Administrator: $109,370

Ensure hospitals provide quality care by going into healthcare administration. This field pays around $109,370 per year and you’ll need a bachelor’s degree, typically in healthcare administration or management.

Many administrators also go on to earn a master’s degree in a related field to boost their qualifications and become even better candidates for high-ranking positions.

4. Dental Hygienist: $73,440

If you’re detail-oriented and don’t mind peering into patients’ mouths every day, you might do well as a dental hygienist.

This career, which pays an average salary of $73,440 per year, involves cleaning and examining teeth as well as educating patients about how to take care of their pearly whites.

You’ll need an associate’s degree and a state license. Each state has different licensing rules, so be sure to check with your state for up-to-date requirements.

5. Packaging Engineer: $85,110

This specialty within the engineering field is a blend of industrial engineering, industrial design, material science, marketing and logistics. Expect to work from broad design conceptualization right on through product placement.

You’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree, but you can expect to earn $85,110 a year if you pursue a degree in this field.

6. Data Scientist: $124,150

Working with data to mine information, spot a variety of different trends and work to help businesses succeed is what data scientists do each day. For this, they earn a median wage of $124,150.

However, in supervising roles, they can earn quite a bit more. Data scientists leading a team of up to three earn $140,000 a year, while those leading 10 or more earn $232,500 per year, according to a Burtch Works 2014 salary study.

7. IT Manager: $135,800

Spend your days planning, coordinating and managing computer activities for a median salary of $135,800 per year as an IT manager.

You’ll generally need a bachelor’s degree in computer or information science and work experience, and many IT managers also have graduate degrees.

8. Business Operations Manager: $116,090

This lucrative field helps companies manage day-to-day and long-term business performance. Expect to spend your time switching between managing policies, materials and personnel.

You’ll typically need a bachelor’s degree in business or logistics, and you can earn an average yearly salary of $116,090.

9. Physician Assistant: $101,480

Work with doctors to diagnose patients, write prescriptions and help patients recover from illnesses and injuries. You’ll need a master’s degree from a physician assistant program, but you’ll earn a mean annual wage of $101,480.

10. Information Security Analyst: $92,600

Work with companies to maintain computer security, respond to security breaches and viruses, and help preserve digital privacy.

These pros earn a mean annual wage of $92,600 for their efforts keeping companies digitally safe. You’ll generally need a bachelor’s degree in a related field to get this gig.

11. Construction Manager: $99,510

Spend your days managing construction projects, coordinating and supervising personnel, sticking to a budget, and making sure you’re on track to complete projects on time.

You’ll earn a mean annual salary of $99,510 in this field. Many people earn this job by working their way up the ranks from entry-level construction positions.

12. Actuary: $114,120

If you love working with data and statistics, consider a career as an actuary. You’ll spend your days analyzing data on accidents, mortality, disability and retirement statistics, and use that information to forecast risks and liabilities.

You’ll need a bachelor’s degree and to pass a series of qualifying exams. Actuaries earn a mean annual salary of $114,120.

13. Political Scientists: $112,250

Spend your days analyzing political systems, including their origins, development and operations. You may even use your expertise to conduct public opinion surveys and analyze election results. Expect a mean annual wage of $112,250 in this field.

Many political scientists work for the federal government, research agencies, or colleges and universities. Others are consultants or work for local government offices.

Your Turn: Are you a student or career changer interested in any of these fields? Let us know in the comments!
Kristen Pope is a freelance writer and editor in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.