The average American works an extra 7 hours per week, according to a 2012 survey by Good Technology. That’s 28 extra hours a month, or 364 extra hours a year. The average American employee also spends more time working than engaged in any other activity, including sleeping. And technological advances have proven to be both a blessing and a curse to workers.
On one hand, it’s great that people don’t have to physically be at work all day in order to be productive. However, it’s becoming increasingly harder to establish work boundaries when employees can be reached 24 hours a day via email. In fact, Good Technology’s survey reveals that 69 percent of workers don’t go to sleep without checking their work email account, 57 percent check work email during family outings, and 38 percent routinely check work email at the dinner table.
If you’re going to spend that much time working, you might want to consider a job that you find exciting, and one that pays well, since there are few things worse than hating your job -- and having to work extra hours -- and not even make a decent salary to compensate for your investment of time, energy, and effort.
Job satisfaction is dependent on several factors, some of which may vary from employee to employee. However, most people agree that a job that pays well is generally considered better than a job that doesn’t. Obviously, there are exceptions: for example, swimming with sharks, working in a snake-infested environment, or being routinely exposed to potentially fatal diseases are examples of career options that the average person might refuse, regardless of the salary.
For many people, job satisfaction is determined by the level of creativity and independence that the job provides. Also, some people enjoy work that is challenging and unpredictable. They’re bored stiff if they have to perform the same task over and over again. Others like to multitask and enjoy juggling several projects at the same time. In addition, some people enjoy being the center of attention, and find fulfillment when all eyes are on them.
This list of five exciting jobs that pay well combines these various determinants of what stimulating, thrilling, fun, and provides an adrenaline rush. The one constant is that each job pays very well, because poverty is neither thrilling nor fun.
5 Politician – Salary: $1 - $400,000
Billionaire Michael Bloomberg earned $1 a year when he was mayor of New York City; however, the former mayor is the exception to the rule. Most U.S. mayors earn between $37,860 and $90,217 annually, while salaries for governors range from $70,000 to $206,000, depending on the city and state. Other politicians, such as representatives and senators, earn $174,000 a year. The Vice President earns $230,700 yearly, and the President earns an annual salary of $400,000.
Some politicians, such as mayors, governors, and the President, are responsible for day-to-day operations at the local, state and federal levels of government. Representatives and senators introduce and pass laws; conversely, they also filibuster and argue against the passage of laws. Many politicians have a law degree; however, some have a bachelor’s degree, and others only have a high school diploma. Regardless of their level of education, most politicians enjoy the competitive nature of politics, and the public attention and perks afforded those in public office.
4 Electric Car Developer – Salary: $62,430 - $91,810
Whether hybrids, plug-in hybrids, or totally electric models, it takes a variety of people to develop electric cars. For example, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, commercial and industrial designers, who earn a median annual salary of $62,430, handle the style, quality and function of electric vehicles. They usually need a bachelor’s degree in engineering or industrial design. Chemists research new and existing chemicals to use in electric car batteries. Materials scientists are involved in battery research and also develop plant-based and recycled materials, such as the car’s seats and upholstery. Both chemists and material scientists earn a median annual salary of $77,970, and need at least a bachelor’s degree in chemistry – although those in original research areas may need a Ph.D.
Other types of developers include electronics engineers, who handle the control systems and other electrical components; materials engineers, who make lighter, stronger materials for the vehicle; and electrical engineers, who develop the car’s electrical circuitry, heating and air conditioner, lighting and displays. Electronics and materials engineers earn a median annual salary of $87,490, and electrical engineers make $91,810. Engineers need a bachelor’s degree in their respective subspecialties.
3 Biomedical Engineer – Salary: $91,200
Biomedical engineering merges medicine and engineering to produce some of the coolest products in the medical industry. “The Six Million Dollar Man,” and “The Bionic Woman,” were fictitious TV shows, but they demonstrated the importance of biomedical engineers in the development of bionic body parts. In addition to artificial arms and legs, biomedical engineers also make artificial kidneys and hearts, hearing aids, and pacemakers.
Other inventions include laser systems used for eye surgeries, and computer systems that diagnose medical diseases. The educational requirement for biomedical engineers is either a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering, or a bachelor’s degree in another field and a graduate degree in biomedical engineering.
2 Software Developer – Salary: $102,550
You can thank software developers for all your favorite phone apps, in addition to the apps on your laptop and other consumer devices. They also develop applications for a broad range of industry uses, ranging from payroll systems, to healthcare information systems, to project management software.
Software developers research, design, develop, and test applications software and also systems software, and they provide software modifications as needed. The educational requirement for software developers is a bachelor’s degree in computer science, software engineering, mathematics, or a related field.
1 Air Traffic Controller $118,430
Few jobs can match the constant adrenaline rush of working as an air traffic controller. These busy professionals use radar, computers and good eyesight to conduct aircraft traffic in the air and also on the ground. They authorize and instruct pilots regarding take-off and landing, and also track movement within a specified air space.
Air traffic controllers also provide instructions when planes must change directions or make emergency landings, issue alerts during inclement weather or other hazardous situations, and coordinate ground movement of baggage vehicles and workers. They must obtain 2-year or 4-year degrees in attend air traffic collegiate training. According to the DOL, they also need to be U.S. citizens to work in America, pass a Federal Aviation Administration exam, and pass medical and background checks.