When you think of jobs that pay six figures, you think doctor, lawyer -- and anything with the word “chief,” “director,” “engineer” or “petroleum” in it.
But there are some jobs that pay six figures that you might not expect. People you may encounter on a daily basis, or some who you may not, but never suspect they make that much.
Take, for example the recent story about the lifeguards in Newport Beach, Calif., who make more than $120,000, and some of them, over $200,000!
“Generally, high-paid jobs require one or more of the following: extensive formal education, high level of responsibility or performance, unique skill or talent, and extensive on the job experience,” said Al Lee, director of quantitative analysis at PayScale.com. And most involve the employee earning “substantial income and profits for the employer,” Lee added.
The average salary in America is about $40,000, according to the Social Security Administration, and just about five percent of the American population makes $100,000 or more.
Here are more than a dozen six-figure jobs that you probably didn’t expect would pay that much.
By Cindy Perman19 May 2011
It’s all about supply and demand and since the U.S. became involved in Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 attacks, there has been demand for linguists or interpreters of the two main Afghan languages, Dari and Pashto. The average salary for a linguist or interpreter who speaks Dari is $187,000 and it’s $193,000 for those who speak Pashto, according to Indeed.com. The jobs range from an interpreter for military personnel to a media desk officer who would translate Afghan news stories and communicate with Afghan media.
You might not think of personal trainers, who get paid hourly, as six-figure contenders, but it all depends on where they work – and who they’re coaching. The median salary of a personal trainer is $54,200, according to PayScale, but the top 10 percent can earn $100,000 or more. The top performers tend to be those who are certified personal trainers, who have a college education and many years of experience. The highest-paying cities for personal-trainer jobs are Ann Arbor, Mich., where rates can reach up to $70 an hour, followed by New York, Baltimore, Tampa and Boston.
You might expect a pilot to make six figures, but perhaps not a flight training coordinator. But flight training coordinators have an important job – they research and develop flight training programs for an organization, including classroom lessons and simulator sessions. It could be for a commercial or private carrier or training school or an aerospace company. The median salary for flight training coordinators is $118,000 but can go above $200,000 for the top 10 percent, according to Salary.com.
You don’t think of call center jobs as high-paying jobs; in fact, you tend to think of them as low-paying jobs that are often shipped overseas. But there are a few positions, including call-center analysts, who oversee quality and assurance and train the representatives, and the director of the call center who can make six figures. One listing on Indeed.com for a six-figure job as a QA Call Center Analyst in Chantilly, Va., requires that the person be bilingual – in English and Spanish. Call Center Directors, meanwhile, have a median salary of $121,000, according to http://www.salary.com .
The earthquake and subsequent nuclear disaster in Japan demonstrated just how dangerous nuclear power reactor operators are – and how valuable they are. As a result, it’s a high-paying job. The median salary is $86,000 but the top 10 percent make an average of $128,000, according to PayScale.com.
Most casino jobs pay in the $20,000 to $40,000 range, but casino managers, who monitor the casino floor, manage personnel and handle guest complaints, can make $100,000 or more. Of course, most of these jobs are in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, but other listings on Indeed.com include jobs in Mississippi, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and California.
The median salary of court reporters is $57,200 but those who are more experienced and can type 200+ words a minute make an average of $105,000, according to PayScale.com. And, court reporters are expected to be one of the jobs in demand over the next decade – both inside and outside the courtroom -- with the number of court reporters expected to jump 18 percent, according to the Labor Department.
Elevators can be dangerous when they malfunction, as evident by the recent elevator crash in New York City at a Bed, Bath & Beyond that left 15 people injured. As a result, elevator mechanics get paid very well. The median salary is $72,900 but the top 10 percent can make $109,000 or more, according to PayScale.com. One listing for a “Vertical Transportation Director” in Arlington, Va., requires 10 years of experience as an elevator mechanic and five to 10 years of management experience in the elevator business.
You might think of doctors, who have to go to medical school, as making six figures or more, but not pharmacists . In fact, the median salary for pharmacists in the U.S. is $113,000, according to Salary.com. It’s not just filling out prescriptions, it’s offering advice on dosage and side effects and interacting with doctors. Becoming a pharmacist requires a bachelor’s degree and an advanced degree in pharmacy. The job prospects are expected to be good over the next decade -- the number of pharmacist jobs is expected to jump 17 percent, according to the Labor Department.
Biostatisticians are essentially statisticians for the health field. Many of the jobs pay in the $50,000 to $70,000 range but the top 20 percent or so can make $100,000 or more, according to Indeed.com. Often these jobs involve working directly for a hospital or pharmaceutical company. The $100,000+ jobs tend to require a PhD and more than five years of experience. The job involves not only strong math skills but also some creativity, as biostatisticians figure out how to conduct a medical study and then analyze the results. Demand for statisticians in general is expected to jump 13 percent in the next decade and health care in general is a growing field with great job prospects given the aging Baby Boomer population, so demand for biostatisticians is expected to be robust.
You might think of the lawyers or the real estate agents as the six-figure breadwinners in a real estate transaction, but in fact, the loan officers, who are responsible for approving the loans, can also make six-figure salaries. Though, these top earners tend to be the ones who manage big, complicated real estate deals, or overseeing lending activity for an entire region. The job outlook for loan officers is expected to be good, with the number of jobs rising 10 percent in the next decade, according to the Labor Department.
Regional chefs plan and create the menu for restaurants in an entire region, train unit chefs and negotiate prices for the bulk food they purchase. The median salary for regional chefs is $111,000, according to Salary.com. This job requires a bachelor's degree as well as 10 years of experience.
You definitely think of doctors and hospital administrators as the big breadwinners but a variety of different types of nurses can also earn six figures. The median salary for neonatal nurses, who work with newborn babies, is $100,000, according to Salary.com. The median pay for nurse anesthetists, nurses who administer anesthesia, is $147,000 and the top 10 percent earn about $200,000, according to PayScale.com. The outlook for nurses is expected to be excellent, with the number of jobs jumping 22 percent in the next decade, according to the Labor Department.
The bulk of merchandise-buying jobs tends to be in the $20,000 to $40,000 range but the high end of the range can be $100,000 or more. Those tend to be at the bigger chains or fashion houses and go to those with more experience – and a proven track record. Any missteps on trends can cost the company big bucks – and could cost the buyer his or her job. The median salary for a department-store buyer, for example, is $81,200, while the top 10 percent earn an average of $131,000, according to PayScale.com.
“Geologist” may sound like a profession of passion, not profit, but throw petroleum in there (studying rock formations for gas and oil deposits) and you’ve got a six-figure gig. Petroleum geologists may work directly for an oil company or for an environmental company. The base salary can be $150,000 or more but add in bonuses and profit-sharing and the pay can reach close to $200,000, according to PayScale.com. The highest salaries are in Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado, according to PayScale.