Personal Finance

These 10 top-paying careers have this one trait in common

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If you want to get into one of the best-paying careers, you better really, really, like school.

Most of the 10 best-paying jobs require a decade or more of schooling beyond a bachelor's degree, according to a report released Tuesday by CareerCast.

"It's definitely a major commitment," said Kyle Kensing, online editor at CareerCast. "You're not just talking about the money it costs for education in most of these fields, but the time as well."

Of the top 10, seven are health related. Most require medical school, a four-year journey that costs anywhere from about $144,000 at a public institution to $230,000 at a private one, according to recent data from the Association of American Medical Colleges. That's on top of what you already would have shelled out for a bachelor's degree, which could cost anywhere from $80,000 to more than $200,000, depending on what college you attend.

And for some of these positions, there's a residency or internship that can last several years after medical school before you can consider your formal education complete.

On top of the education commitment and cost, some well-paying jobs also can be very stressful, Kensing said. So while an eye-popping salary can be appealing, it shouldn't be the only reason to pursue a job, he said.

"Think about what drives you," Kensing said. "That can be more important than just pay."

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1. Surgeon

Annual median income: $409,700

10-year growth outlook: 17 percent

As the most lucrative career on the list, surgeons also need a significant amount of education and training. Typically, you need a bachelor's degree to enter medical school, which takes four years to complete. After that, aspiring surgeons face about five years in a residency program. Additionally, they often work long, irregular and overnight hours.

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2. Orthodontist

Annual median income: $208,000

10-year growth outlook: 17 percent

If you've ever worn braces, it was an orthodontist who treated you. They deal with fixing problems with misalignment of the teeth and other oral anomalies. Becoming an orthodontist involves four years of dental school and a residency of one to two years. As with becoming a surgeon, that's on top of earning a bachelor's degree.

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3. Psychiatrist

Annual median income: $194,700

10-year growth outlook: 13 percent

These are the doctors who diagnose, treat and help prevent disorders of the mind. This can range from depression or bipolar disorder to more complicated issues like psychosis. Like other physicians, they then go to medical school after earning a bachelor's degree, and then must complete a four-year residency.

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4. General-practice physician

Annual median income: $190,500

10-year growth outlook:15 percent

These doctors are typically your first line of defense against illness. Often called primary-care physicians, they are trained to treat the whole family rather than, say, a pediatrician (who only treats children). Their education is the same as other doctors: After earning a bachelor's degree, expect four years of medical school plus a residency of about three years.

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5. Senior corporate executive

Annual median income: $181,200

10-year growth outlook: 8 percent

This is one of those jobs that a person can land via many educational routes, although positions will often require a minimum of a bachelor's degree if not a master's (another two or so years of education). Generally these top-level operators are charged with identifying ways of generating revenue, along with overseeing all or parts of an organization. As such, it also is a job that ranked among the top 10 most stressful jobs identified in a separate CareerCast report released earlier this year.

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6. Dentist

Annual median income: $153,900

10-year growth outlook: 17 percent

Like other doctors, dentists go for additional training after a bachelor's degree. Dental school, which typically takes four years, comes with an average price of $140,000 to $300,000, according to a 2016-2017 survey by the American Dental Association.

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7. Petroleum engineer

Annual median income: $128,200

10-year growth outlook: 15 percent

This is one of the jobs on the list that does not require additional schooling beyond a bachelor's degree. Petroleum engineers design and develop methods for extracting oil and gas from deposits below the Earth's surface. Typically, college students who are pursuing this field earn their degree in engineering.

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8. Podiatrist

Annual median income: $124,800

10-year growth outlook: 10 percent

Otherwise known as a foot doctor, podiatrists provide medical and surgical care for patients with foot, ankle or lower-leg problems. Like other doctors, podiatrists attend a four-year medical program after their bachelor's degree. They also must do a residency that lasts a couple of years.

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9. Air traffic controller

Annual median income: $122,400

10-year growth income: 3 percent

Air traffic controllers direct and monitor aircraft in the air and when they land or take off. Requirements include specialized training via either two- or four-year programs. There also are age and citizenship restrictions, along with medical, security and language screenings.

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10. Pharmacist

Annual median income: $122,200

10-year growth income: 6 percent

To become a pharmacist, you must earn a doctor of pharmacy degree, which requires attending a four-year (sometimes three-year) program after your undergraduate work. Some programs require students to have a bachelor's degree, while others require just two years of undergraduate study.

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