What jobs pay the most money? How hard will it be to find a job? How much will I make?
These are common questions asked by students when considering their major and career path. It’s important to realize that where you start is not where you will end up—by getting a college degree, you have significantly greater future earning potential. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, less than 30 percent of Americans age 25 or older have a bachelors or advanced college degree.
This is why the completion of any degree, rather than a specific major, is important to many employers.
The other factor to take into consideration when evaluating salaries is your benefits package. It’s also important to remember that most NatSci graduates go to work for companies with fewer than 100 employees, not large corporations. Their starting salary may be less, but their opportunities for advancement and promotion in the future are usually greater.
What jobs pay the most?
CarrerOneStop by the US Department of Labor provides a wealth of data in this area.
Based on 2009 Dept. of Labor data, the Top 25 Highest-Paying Occupations by Median Hourly Wages were:
- Anesthesiologists $166,400
- Internists, General $166,400
- Obstetricians and Gynecologists $166,400
- Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons $166,400
- Orthodontists $166,400
- Physicians and Surgeons, All Other $166,400
- Surgeons $166,400
- Chief Executives $160,700
- Family and General Practitioners $160,500
- Psychiatrists $160,200
- Dentists, All Other Specialists $153,300
- Pediatricians, General $152,200
- Dentists, General $142,100
- Engineering Managers $117,000
- Podiatrists $116,300
- Natural Sciences Managers $114,600
- Computer and Information Systems Managers $113,700
- Lawyers $113,200
- Judges, Magistrate Judges, and Magistrates $112,800
- Prosthodontists $111,100
- Marketing Managers $110,000
- Air Traffic Controllers $109,800
- Pharmacists $109,200
- Petroleum Engineers $108,900
- Physicists $106,400
How can I get ahead of the competition?
Throughout your job market research experience, one word will continue to crop up: Internship. Employers everywhere stress the importance of internships. According to NACE’s Job Outlook 2006 survey, nearly 54% of new college hires had internship experience; almost 32% hired gained that internship experience at the company they were hired by. Government and nonprofit employers hire almost 42.2% of their interns.
Other sources of information:
- Bestplaces.net: Compares cost of living, and crime statistics, for most cities in the U.S.
- Salary.com: Lets you see the average salary, with highs and lows, for most professions in different geographic areas.
General Labor Statistics:
Managing your money
If you keep having more month than money, now is a good time to start working on changing your spending habits. The National Council on Economic Education has a fabulous website. If you click on “Spending” you will find a calculator that shows you just how much salary you will have left after social security, taxes, and rent.
What about graduate school?
It is true that you can get a higher salary with a graduate degree, but it’s important to realize that admissions are selective, and that graduate school is significantly different than undergraduate education.