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Financial Planning > College Planning

Top 10 Best Paying Jobs: 2014

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Today, it is virtually a given that a college education is necessary in order to get a decent job in the American work force.

For college graduates looking to earn at the top of the pay scale, an advanced degree is usually required to achieve a six-figure salary, according to a new report on the highest paying jobs from CareerCast.

“Many of these high-paycheck jobs require an extensive and specialized graduate school education,” Tony Lee, publisher of CareerCast, said in a statement.

“Of course, graduates seeking these incomes should have their eyes wide open and realize the trade-off can be a six-figure student loan debt.”

(If you don’t want to go to grad school, check out 30 Best Paying College Majors: 2014 to find fields that pay well without a master’s).

High paychecks are compensation for the dedication required, the stress inherent with the job, the level of skill needed and the monetary investment required just to pursue it, according to the report.

Those who choose a different path to attain one of the best paying jobs must often be prepared to exchange paychecks for highly stressful working conditions, the report said.

Following are the top 10 best paying jobs, based on CareerCast’s Jobs Rated report and data culled from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, along with projected growth by 2022.


10. Attorney

Median annual salary: $113,530

Projected growth by 2022: 10%

The national average salary refers specifically to those providing legal services. All attorneys are required to graduate from law school and pass their state’s bar exam to practice.


9.  Podiatrist

Median annual salary: $116,440

Projected growth by 2022: 23%

Podiatrists are officially recognized as doctors of podiatric medicine. The Bureau of Labor Statistics attributes a high growth projection for podiatrists to increasing demand for foot and ankle care from the nation’s aging population.


8. Pharmacist

Median annual salary: $116,670                                   

Projected growth by 2022: 14%

Becoming a pharmacist requires student to pass the Pharmacy College Admission Test, complete a pharmacological program and pass state exams.

Air traffic controller

7:  Air Traffic Controller

Median annual salary: $122,530

Projected growth by 2022: 1%

An air traffic controller must earn accreditation from the Federal Aviation Administration, including completion of a specialized course offered by the FAA Academy.

Petroleum engineer

6.  Petroleum Engineer

Median annual salary: $130,280

Projected growth by 2022: 26%

Engineering is one of the higher-growth fields in the jobs landscape for the coming decade, and petroleum engineer is anticipated to be one of the highest-growth engineering positions. Besides a 26% jump in hiring, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports possible wage growth depending on oil drilling projects.


5. Dentist

Median annual salary: $146,340

Projected growth by 2022: 16%

An aspiring dentist must complete postgraduate dental school and pass all state-mandated accreditation exams.


4. Orthodontist

Median annual salary: $149,310

Projected growth by 2022: 16%

Orthodontists specialize in treating misalignment and other oral abnormalities. State accreditation and graduate from a school of dentistry are required.


3. Psychiatrist

Median annual salary: $178,950

Projected growth by 2022: 18%

Psychiatrists work with patients to address issues of mental health. Psychiatrists must earn a medical doctorate.

Physician (general practioner)

2. Physician (general practioner)

Median annual salary: $187,200

Projected growth by 2022: 18%

General practitioners provide all-encompassing preventive care for their patients.


1. Surgeon

Median annual salary: $233,150

Projected growth by 2022: 18%

Surgeons specialize, thus earnings vary significantly depending on area of emphasis. However, the national average of salary across all specializations is in the six figures.

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