November 2, 2021

Six Figure Jobs

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Looking for six-figure jobs? There are many careers available where you can earn $100,000 or more, including several which might surprise you.

The Top 15 Six-Figure Jobs

With the ever-increasing cost of living, many people are looking to future-proof their finances with high-paying employment. Read this article to find 15 careers that can help you bring home a hefty paycheck.

First, what is a six-figure job? In plain English, a six-figure job is any occupation that has a gross income between $100,000 and $999,999.99. In other words, six figures before the decimal point.

Gross income refers to money made before taxes. After-tax income (what you see on your paycheck) is called net income.

To establish this list, we took a look at the most authoritative source on labor force data in the United States — the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Let's take a look at 15 jobs that can earn a salary of $100,000 or more.

What are the highest-paying industries to work in?
According to Indeed, the top-paying industries are medicine, engineering, technology, finance, energy, and the law.

What Does It Take to Earn Six Figures?

Earning a six-figure salary is seen as the pinnacle of success to many people — so congratulations on taking the first step toward achieving this milestone!

Here are some of the factors that come into play:

Very few entry-level positions earn six figures (although some in tech, finance, and medicine do). So the first qualification is going to be experience.

Earning six figures will often mean that you have climbed up the ladder and are now in charge of overseeing other employees. For example, 13 of the top 100 paying jobs in the U.S. have "manager" in the job title.

Stay in school, kids. Most of the highest-paying jobs in the United States will require at least a bachelor's degree, if not higher.

However, don't be discouraged if college isn't for you. There are several six-figure jobs that require only a high school diploma or two years of trade school education.

The cost of living in Manhattan is drastically higher than the cost of living in Mobile, Alabama. In areas with a low cost of living, employees are willing to work for less money, because a relatively modest salary can still afford a decent lifestyle.

Similarly, certain areas have lots of competition for certain jobs, which drives up wages. Getting a medical job in Boston or a tech job in San Francisco is extremely lucrative for this reason.

What is the average income in the U.S.?
In 2020, the median household income was $68,400. Median (or midpoint) is a better metric than mean (or average) because extremely high earners skew earnings data.

The Top 15 Six-Figure Jobs

Let's take a look at some of the highest paying jobs in the U.S., how much they earn, and the anticipated growth rate of these positions. This is a collection of high-paying jobs from various industries and is by no means a comprehensive list of all the six-figure jobs in America.

Some of the highest-paying jobs in the country are anesthesiologists. These are the medical professionals who administer pain relief and sedation throughout the surgical process.

This job requires graduation from medical school after attaining a relevant bachelor's degree and passing a state licensing exam.

  • Median salary: $271, 440
  • Top 10% salary: N/A
  • Estimated growth 2019-2029: 4% (about average)

Advertising, PR, or Marketing Manager
Mid-level managers in the world of advertising and marketing can expect to take home a pretty penny. These professionals oversee the creation and execution of marketing campaigns used to sell products and services.

A bachelor's degree in business, marketing, journalism, or a related field and about five to ten years of experience will usually be required to attain one of these positions.

  • Median salary: $141,490
  • Top 10% salary: $208,000+
  • Estimated growth 2019-2029: 6% (above average)

Financial Manager
This job requires overseeing the long-term financial goals for organizations, directing investment decisions, and creating and analyzing financial reports.

A bachelor's degree in business, finance, or a related field is typically required to gain entry into a financial firm. Certifications such as becoming a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) are a bonus, but not necessarily required.

  • Median salary: $134,180
  • Top 10% salary: $208,000+
  • Estimated growth 2019-2029: 15% (much higher than average)

Sales Manager
The flip side of marketing is sales — this is where the rubber meets the road with the salespeople who close deals. Becoming a sales manager will require several successful years as a sales representative.

Duties include creating budgets, analyzing sales statistics, speaking to customers, and adjusting sales strategies to increase company profitability.

A bachelor's degree is usually required, but it is possible to gain entry into the sales industry without formal education beyond a high school diploma.

  • Median salary: $132,290
  • Top 10% salary: $208,000+
  • Estimated growth 2019-2029: 4% (about average)

Air Traffic Controller
If you have high concentration skills and want to earn a high salary without a bachelor's degree, becoming an air traffic controller could be a perfect fit. Air traffic controllers monitor and direct the flow of air traffic to ensure the safety of passengers and crew members.

To become an air traffic controller, you must complete an associate's degree in an Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative (AT-CTI) program from a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved institution.

  • Median salary: $130,420
  • Top 10% salary: $184,780
  • Estimated growth 2019-2029: 1% (below average)

Do you need a college degree to be successful?
While it's not a requirement for many six-figure jobs, most companies will prefer job candidates with at least a bachelor's degree.

Pharmacists fill prescriptions for patients, advise patients about drug interactions, and communicate with health insurance companies.

Becoming a pharmacist requires a bachelor's degree in biology, chemistry, or related field followed by a three- to four-year doctor of pharmacy program.

Competition may be fierce in this industry in the future, as the number of jobs available is expected to shrink by 3% over the next decade.

  • Median salary: $128,710
  • Top 10% salary: $164,980
  • Estimated growth 2019-2029: -3% (declining; far below average)

HR Manager
The growing field of human resources is a great place to earn a six-figure salary with a degree in the soft sciences or humanities, such as sociology, communications, and psychology.

Job duties include overseeing employee benefits programs, dealing with office conflicts, and handling the front end of recruitment and hiring decisions.

  • Median salary: $122,220
  • Top 10% salary: $208,000+
  • Estimated growth 2019-2029: 6% (above average)

Nurse Practitioner (NP)
Also known as advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), nurse practitioners can act as primary care providers — in coordination with a physician or on their own — to prescribe medications, diagnose medical issues, and treat injuries.

Unlike a physician, NPs only need to attain a master's degree and do not need to attend medical school, but often work as nurses for several years prior to attending graduate school.

This job is expected to be the fastest-growing high-wage occupation in the United States by far.

  • Median salary: $117,670
  • Top 10% salary: $190,900
  • Estimated growth 2019-2029: 45% (much higher than average)

Makeup Artist (Theatrical/Performance)
Makeup artists work primarily in the entertainment industry providing beauty and prosthetic design for television, film, and theater performances. A high school diploma is all that is typically as required for a job as a makeup artist.

  • Median salary: $106,920
  • Top 10% salary: $157,680
  • Estimated growth 2019-2029: 11% (above average)

Transportation, Storage, and Distribution Manager
Transportation managers, logistics managers, and storage and distribution managers are each separate job titles. But each deals with analyzing shipping expenses, negotiating with equipment manufacturers, and dealing with transportation and warehouse staff.

A high school diploma can get you started in the transportation industry, but expect to deliver at least five years of high job performance before being considered for a management job.

  • Median salary: $105,100
  • Top 10% salary: $164,140
  • Estimated growth 2019-2029: 4% (about average)

Information Security Analyst
This job requires a bachelor's degree in a computer-related field. Info security analysts monitor the information networks and databases of an organization to determine security vulnerabilities and help to solve them.

Due to the rise in cybercrime and the costs associated with cyber liability, this job is expected to have significant growth over the course of the next decade.

  • Median salary: $103,590
  • Top 10% salary: $163,300
  • Estimated growth 2019-2029: 31% (much higher than average)

Art Director
For creative types, a job working with an advertising, marketing, or PR agency as an art director can be a lucrative career.

Art directors oversee entry-level graphic designers, photographers, and artists and often work in tandem with copywriters.

To become an art director, you may need a bachelor's degree in fine arts, design, or another related field. However, many agencies hire on talent alone, and do not consider education when hiring.

  • Median salary: $97,270
  • Top 10% salary: $199,250
  • Estimated growth 2019-2029: -2% (declining; far below average)

Construction Manager
A job as a construction manager is a lucrative career with high earning potential. Construction managers supervise construction projects from start to finish, including budgeting, timelines, and resource allocation.

A bachelor's degree is often required to attain a management position, but relevant work experience in construction can also qualify you for this career.

  • Median salary: $97,180
  • Top 10% salary: $169,070
  • Estimated growth 2019-2029: 8% (above average)

Elevator Technician
Elevator technicians maintain and repair elevators, escalators, moving sidewalks, and other forms of getting around inside buildings.

To become an elevator technician, you only need to receive a high school diploma and pass a state licensing exam. Seeking out an apprenticeship is a great way to get started.

  • Median salary: $88,540
  • Top 10% salary: $128,500
  • Estimated growth 2019-2029: 7% (above average)

One of the coolest jobs out there that many kids aspire to, detectives are police officers who investigate crime within their jurisdiction, collect evidence, and prepare cases for court.

A bachelor's or associate's degree in criminal justice, along with several years of experience as a patrol officer, are usually required to become a detective. They say crime never sleeps, and this job is expected to grow at a steady 5% pace over the next decade.

  • Median salary: $86,940
  • Top 10% salary: $113,860
  • Estimated growth 2019-2029: 5% (about average)

The Bottom Line

Earning a six-figure salary requires a significant amount of skill, education, and experience, but it is not as difficult to attain as you might imagine. Big paycheck jobs can be found in virtually every industry — from creative pursuits, to construction, and of course, medicine and tech.

If you prefer working at home, check out our list of the 32 best online jobs to find one that's right for you.

Write to Justin Barnard at Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

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