The average U.S. worker earns a mean annual wage of $45,790, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. However, there are at least five jobs that pay twice this amount – and, they don’t require a medical or law degree.
Most of the careers on the list require a bachelor’s degree, which is not surprising, since a recent study by Georgetown University (GU) reveals that the average graduate with a bachelor’s degree earns significantly more than the average worker with a high school diploma. This fact seems to resonate with the country, considering that in the past 20 years, Georgetown reports that the percentage of workers with a bachelor’s degree has increased from 28 percent to 34 percent.
Even during the post-recession period, a bachelor’s degree tends to yield more money. Granted, many college graduates state that they cannot find a job in their field, but the Department of Labor points out that unemployment is much lower for college graduates, and their prospects for securing a high-paying position are much better than those of their counterparts who don’t have a bachelor’s degree.
While it’s no surprise that healthcare and engineering are represented on the list of jobs that pay double the national average, it’s interesting to note that these two industries don’t dominate the list. This is good news for individuals who choose not to pursue medical, engineering or other STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) degrees – although technology is also represented on the list.
One common thread among the five careers is the need for specialized skills and training, as opposed to jobs that accept a degree “in any area.” Expertise and a high level of knowledge are prerequisites for these occupations. The list also reflects majors that pay some of the highest salaries in the country.
As a general rule, jobs in business administration, computer science and engineering tend to boast higher salaries than the national average. Wages for health care and sales vary greatly, but generally tend to be higher for jobs that require more specialized skills. The lone art career on the list demonstrates that there will always be a place for creative individuals. And the inclusion of two management positions is a testament to the idea that leadership, as well as organizational, and motivational skills, is also at a premium.
5 Physician Assistants – Mean Salary: $92,460
Physician assistants work with doctors to provide healthcare services to patients. They perform physical exams, interpret the results of blood tests, x-rays, cardiograms, and other tests, and also make preliminary diagnoses. Physician assistants also provide medical treatment, which includes administering immunizations, providing wound care, and setting broken bones. In addition, they prescribe medications, and assist physicians during surgery.
The educational requirement to be a physician assistant is a master’s degree in this area. Undergraduates usually have a bachelor’s degree in a science-related area, and some have worked as registered nurses or paramedics. By industry, physician assistants earn the highest annual mean wage, able to pull in as much as $100,060 when working in specialty hospitals.
4 Computer Network Architects – Mean Salary: $94,000
Computer network architects build local area networks (LANs), intranets, and wide area networks (WANs). They determine the needs of their customers, and decide bandwidths, platforms, interfaces, and other software and hardware needs. Computer network architects also handle repairs, upgrades, and maintenance, and document installation, troubleshooting, and disaster-recovery procedures.
The educational requirement for this job is a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information systems, engineering, or a related subject. Some computer network architects also have an MBA in information systems. With an annual mean wage of $117,940, electronic shopping and mail-order houses pay the highest salary for computer network architects.
3 Art Directors – Mean Salary: $94,260
Art directors are responsible for the concept and presentation of artwork, layout design, and other visual communication elements. They conceptualize artistic ideas and also select and review artwork, photographs, and graphics created by members of the art team. Art directors who work in publishing decide the layout of magazines, newspapers, catalogs, and website pages. Some art directors oversee media and advertising campaigns for public relations and advertising companies. In addition, some art directors may work with movie directors to determine and oversee the design of movie sets.
The educational requirement for this position is a bachelor’s degree in an art or design subject. Many art directors are promoted from positions as graphic designers, photographers, fine artists, or editors. Art directors earn an annual mean wage of $153,480 working in the apparel, piece goods, and notions merchant wholesalers industry, making this the top-paying industry for these creative directors.
2 Medical And Health Services Managers –Mean Salary: $98,460
Medical and health services managers are also known as healthcare administrators, or healthcare executives. Depending on the organization, they may supervise the operations of a medical department, oversee a medical practice for a group of physicians, or direct an entire medical facility. Medical and health services managers handle patient fees, billing, budgets, and other financial matters, serve as a liaison between physicians and other staff members, coordinate work schedules, and also set and enforce policies and procedures.
The minimum educational requirement for this job is a bachelor’s degree in health administration. However, some employers prefer a master’s degree, which is usually in health services, public administration, long-term care administration, or business administration. Medical and health services managers who work in the pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing industry earn $142,210, making this one of the highest-paying industries for this profession.
1 Sales Engineers – Mean Salary: $99,290
Sales engineers merge technical knowledge and salesmanship to sell technical and scientific products. They assess the needs of potential customers, make presentations, and answer questions regarding the company’s products or services. Sales engineers also arrange product delivery or service start dates, troubleshoot equipment, and make recommendations regarding upgrades. In addition, they participate in the research and development of new products.
A bachelor’s degree in engineering, a natural science subject, or a business area is the typical educational requirement. However, employers also consider applicants without a degree who have extensive sales and technical experience. Sales engineers searching for the top-paying employers can earn an annual mean wage of $153,280 working in the electric power generation, transmission and distribution industry.