11 surprising jobs where you can earn more than $100,000 a year


You don't have to work on Wall Street to earn a fat paycheck. 

Several lesser-known jobs, including physician assistant and special agent, have a median annual salary of $100,000 or more, according to a new Glassdoor report.

The jobs search site examined hundreds of thousands of compensation reports from U.S.-based employees over the past two years. It identified the following 11 jobs where you can earn a six-figure salary.

Reservoir engineer

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Median annual salary: $143,000

Reservoir engineers attempt to "extract the maximum amount of energy without over-tapping the reservoir," the Glassdoor report says. "In order to fill this role, professionals need a degree in chemical engineering plus experience in a field that is highly technical and nuanced."

Software architect

A 23-year-old works at his desk at Rally Software Development in Boulder, Colorado. 
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Median annual salary: $139,000

If you like to code, you're in luck. These tech-savvy workers make big bucks, and there is high demand for the profession, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Most need a bachelor's degree in math or software engineering and should know how to work well with others, Glassdoor says. 

Airline pilot

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Median annual salary: $134,000

Pilots "need to be seasoned managers and savvy communicators who are comfortable with a non-standard schedule," the report says. Commercial pilots usually have a bachelor's degree, an Airline Transport Pilot certification and a commercial pilot's license from the Federal Aviation Administration. Some colleges offer pilot training as part of a two- or four-year aviation degree, the BLS reports.    


Janie Airey | Cultura RM | Getty Images

Median annual salary: $129,968

Before getting licensed, candidates need to have an undergraduate degree in pre-dentistry or another scientific field, score well on the Dental Acceptance Test and complete a doctoral degree in dental surgery or dental medicine.

Special agent

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Median annual salary: $125,000

It's not just a job for movie actors. Being a special agent is a high-adrenaline job you could land for a government organization like the FBI or for a private company. Candidates usually have a law enforcement background or military experience along with an undergraduate degree in criminal justice. Nontraditional and on-call hours are part of the game.  


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Median annual salary: $119,380

If you've always been interested in nature, this job could be for you. Geophysicists use seismic, electrical and magnetic tools to study the Earth. 

Drilling engineer

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Median annual salary: $116,500 

Drilling engineers can have a lucrative career in oil, gas or water drilling. The job requires a bachelor of science degree in petroleum or mechanical engineering. Candidates should be great communicators and have experience in the field, according to the report.    

Regional sales executive

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Median annual salary: $103,500

These professionals oversee regional operations and sales for their company. "Regional sales executives are stellar communicators with a knack for spotting opportunities," the report says. "They are always looking to grow their business and expand their customer base."

Nurse practitioner

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Median annual salary: $101,600

If eight years of medical school deterred you from becoming a doctor, then you may want to look into becoming a nurse practitioner. Nurse practitioners are qualified to perform physical exams, treat common injuries and illness and prescribe some medications. They have at least a master's degree in nursing, and some individual states may require additional certifications. 

Physician assistant

A physician assistant is among the fastest-growing jobs for 2020, with a projected 31% growth rate, that offers flexible work options.
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Median annual salary: $100,392

A physician assistant works under the supervision of a physician to provide medical and surgical services. Unlike doctors, a physician assistant does not have to specialize in one area of medicine and has significantly lower education requirements — a master's degree or equivalent. Demand for physician assistants is high in rural areas in the U.S. that face a shortage of doctors. 

Equity research associate

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Median annual salary: $100,000

Equity research associates analyze and report on financial trends using complex models. "While the position incorporates much of the excitement and rewards of investment banking, it is less demanding as much of the workload involves generating information," the report says. Top candidates typically have a bachelor's degree in finance, economics or a similar field.