Highest-paying jobs that require a bachelor's degree

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April 20, 2021
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Highest-paying jobs that require a bachelor's degree

While college and university tuition costs may be skyrocketing, many still believe a bachelor’s degree is essential to landing a well-paying job in the United States. Stacker mined 2019 data, released in 2020, from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and compiled a list of the highest-paying jobs that require a bachelor’s degree.

Many of the top-paying jobs are highly technical or scientific, calling for a sophisticated understanding of thermodynamics, nuclear power, or forensic chemistry. Others are engineering jobs with civil, industrial, environmental, mechanical, or biomedical specializations. Jobs for accountants, budget analysts, and financial managers need an understanding of the intricacies of finance and numbers. Computer skills feature in most of the well-paying jobs, particularly those of programmers, systems analysts, and software designers and developers.

While some positions require creativity and artistry, such as the producers and directors who create hit movies, television shows, theatrical productions, and successful commercials, most demand a combination of these valuable skills. Landscape architects must be creative and computer-savvy; technical writers are wordsmiths who interpret complex data, and animators use computer-generated imagery to bring their artistic visions to life. The highest-paying job on the list calls for a complex mix of “all of the above.” All the jobs require keeping up to date with the latest developments, whether in fashion trends, cybersecurity, or tax policy.

Stacker considered 166 jobs listed by the BLS Occupational Handbook, with a bachelor’s degree as the typical education needed for an entry-level position. Jobs are ranked by 2019 median annual income. Employment projections are also from the BLS. Jobs with “all other” in the name were excluded, as these were aggregates of several jobs, and the wage data was not accurate to one specific job.

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#75. Insurance underwriters

- Annual median wage: $70,020 (75.9% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 100,050
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: -4.9%

Insurance underwriters look at applications for insurance and decide whether coverage should be extended, at what cost, and with what conditions attached. They analyze risks and make recommendations on approving or rejecting client applications. They decide how much coverage should be offered and how much it should cost, and they tend to specialize in health, life, or property and casualty insurance.

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#74. Environmental scientists and specialists, including health

- Annual median wage: $71,360 (79.3% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 84,290
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +8.2%

Environmental scientists and specialists conduct research, compile data, and develop projects such as cleaning up contamination or reducing waste. Those who specialize in industrial ecology may determine potential dangers to the environment of proposed construction, while environmental restoration planners may work on reclaiming polluted areas, and environmental chemists may research the impact of chemicals on land, water, plants, and animals.

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#73. Accountants and auditors

- Annual median wage: $71,550 (79.7% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 1,280,700
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +6.4%

Accountants are experts in examining and analyzing financial records as well as tax regulations and preparation, and auditors specialize in monitoring for potential fiscal mismanagement or noncompliance. Job skills include being an analytical thinker, with an eye to detail and a knack for being organized. Depending upon their specialities and expertise, accountants and auditors might move on to become budget directors, controllers, treasurers, or chief financial officers.

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#72. Technical writers

- Annual median wage: $72,850 (83.0% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 50,760
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +8.5%

Technical writers specialize in interpreting and communicating complex information and content, producing instruction manuals, how-to and assembly guides, and other support documents. They work closely with computer hardware and software designers as well as professionals in product development, marketing, and customer relations. Along with having writing skills, they may have backgrounds in computer science, engineering, or other technology.

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#71. Registered nurses

- Annual median wage: $73,300 (84.1% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 2,982,280
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +12.1%

Registered nurses (RNs) care for patients, evaluating and recording their conditions, administering medication and treatment, operating medical equipment, and performing diagnostic tests. Specialty areas include critical care, neonatal care, or public health. The jobs require organization, quick thinking, stamina, compassion, and communication skills. Some become nursing directors or vice presidents of nursing, go to work for pharmaceutical or managed care companies, or move into advanced positions such as nurse anesthetists or nurse practitioners.

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#70. Credit analysts

- Annual median wage: $73,650 (85.0% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 73,930
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +4.9%

Credit analysts evaluate and assess the financial health of people or companies applying for credit or loans to determine their ability to repay and the extent of the risk to the lender. Typically armed with degrees in finance, accounting, or business, credit analysts may start out in accounting or accounts receivable and could go on to jobs in financial services, real estate, insurance, banking, brokerages, or retail credit departments.

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#69. Agents and business managers of artists, performers, and athletes

- Annual median wage: $73,740 (85.2% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 17,060
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +10.4%

Agents for performers, artists, and athletes act as liaisons between their clients and potential employers, whether a sports team or music label. These workers may help with contract negotiation, collecting commissions, promotion, and scheduling.

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#68. Fashion designers

- Annual median wage: $73,790 (85.4% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 22,030
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +1.4%

Fashion designers—who envision and create apparel from evening gowns to lingerie, hats, shoes, and costumes—have technical and creative skills. They are up on fashion trends and consumer tastes and can translate a concept through production. Tending to the artistic, many use computer-aided design programs to create virtual looks and understand the properties of shape, colors, fabrics, and textiles. They may start out as interns or assistants.

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#67. Occupational health and safety specialists

- Annual median wage: $74,100 (86.1% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 92,780
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +6.2%

Occupational health and safety specialists inspect and assess workplaces and procedures for compliance with health, safety, and environmental standards. Some might focus on investigating on-the-job accidents or protective systems. They might have knowledge of ergonomics or accident prevention, and they are skilled in using advanced testing tools and technology, all while training, conveying instructions, and following government regulations and policies.

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#66. Producers and directors

- Annual median wage: $74,420 (86.9% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 129,210
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +4.8%

Producers and directors create movies, theater, television shows, commercials, and other performing arts productions. They tend to have experience as actors, film editors, or cinematographers, or have degrees in communications, theater, or arts management. Producers work on the business and financial end of productions: finding investors, raising money, hiring cast and crew, and setting and sticking to a budget. Directors’ responsibilities lie on the creative side, where they interpret scripts, oversee rehearsals, guide actors, and coordinate with cinematographers and set designers. Leadership, communication, and time-management skills are critical.

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#65. Emergency management directors

- Annual median wage: $74,590 (87.4% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 10,060
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +4.9%

Responsible for preparing responses to disasters and emergencies, emergency management directors often work for state and local governments. They assess risks and potential dangers and oversee evacuations, rescues, resilience, recoveries, and public safety. They typically have backgrounds in law enforcement, the military, public safety, or public health and need to be skilled at making difficult decisions under intense pressure.

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#64. Logisticians

- Annual median wage: $74,750 (87.8% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 182,050
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +4.8%

Logisticians oversee supply chains, moving products from their origins to delivery. They manage the acquisition of raw materials, work with suppliers, monitor production and transit to keep costs down, while monitoring inventories and storage. They are skilled in operations, system dynamics, problem-solving, and customer service.

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#63. Multimedia artists and animators

- Annual median wage: $75,270 (89.1% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 71,600
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +4.2%

Multimedia artists and animators design and create moving images and visual effects for movies, television, video games, and other media. They may be skilled at hand drawing and sketching and at using computer programs to design graphics and illustration, such as computer-generated images (CGI). They need to be artistic, creative, and technologically savvy.

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#62. Microbiologists

- Annual median wage: $75,650 (90.0% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 18,270
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +4.9%

Microbiologists specialize in the study of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and algae. They might be clinical microbiologists who conduct laboratory testing or public health microbiologists who specialize in health dangers and diseases, or they might develop genetically modified crops and new drugs. They need to be skilled in math, logic, natural sciences, data analysis, and computer science, and many get advanced degrees to further their careers.

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#61. Budget analysts

- Annual median wage: $76,540 (92.3% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 51,460
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +4.2%

Budget analysts dissect and evaluate financial data and information to help create budgets for organizations and businesses. They write annual reports, utilize cost-benefit analyses, oversee spending, and arbitrate among competing demands or limited resources. Often employed by state and local governments, they tend to have degrees in business, accounting, public administration, finance, or statistics.

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#60. Chemists

- Annual median wage: $77,630 (95.0% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 83,530
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +3.7%

Chemists are experts in understanding the atoms, molecules, and interactions of substances and materials. Their work requires them to be analytical thinkers who are precise, detail-oriented, agile at math, and adept at sophisticated computer use and laboratory technology. Among their specializations, forensic chemists look at evidence such as DNA in criminal investigations, and medicinal chemists work in pharmaceutical development, while theoretical chemists predict experimental outcomes, and green chemists focus on environmental sustainability.

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#59. Agricultural engineers

- Annual median wage: $80,720 (102.8% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 1,550
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +5.4%

The work of agricultural engineers lies in crop harvests and yields, farm machinery innovations, biofuels, livestock production, fertilizers, water use and irrigation, sustainability, and storage. They are involved in addressing issues of erosion and runoff, greenhouse gas emissions, fertilizer applications, reclamation of polluted soils, or the design of farming machinery. The work requires a knowledge of plant biology, mechanical engineering, meteorology, and a range of animal, environmental, and other sciences.

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#58. Architects, except landscape and naval

- Annual median wage: $80,750 (102.8% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 105,850
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +8.4%

Architects design structures for commercial, residential, and artistic uses, drawing on creative and technical skills. They have expertise in sustainability, style, and structure as well as knowledge of plumbing, heating and ventilation systems, building codes, safety regulations, and zoning. In the U.S., architects need three years of experience before they can get a state license to practice.

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PORTRAIT IMAGES ASIA BY NONWARIT // Shutterstock

#57. Sales representatives, wholesale and manufacturing, technical and scientific products

- Annual median wage: $81,020 (103.5% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 306,980
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +3.7%

Sales representatives in wholesale and manufacturing sell technical and scientific products to the government, businesses, or other organizations. Heavy on client and customer contact, the jobs require top interpersonal and communication skills, self-confidence, negotiating tact to draw up prices, contracts, and sales agreements. Success might lead to higher-level positions such as sales manager or company vice president of sales.

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#56. Financial examiners

- Annual median wage: $81,090 (103.7% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 64,550
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +7.1%

Financial examiners monitor and evaluate fiscal conditions at banks and other financial institutions, looking at balance sheets, asset management, loans, liabilities, and operating accounts. They typically work in risk assessment, which looks at an institution's financial health, or in consumer compliance, where they monitor lending practices and activity.

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U.S. Geological Survey // Flickr

#55. Hydrologists

- Annual median wage: $81,270 (104.1% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 6,440
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +6.5%

Hydrologists are water experts, typically working for the federal government, state governments, or scientific consulting firms. Skilled in sophisticated computer analysis and geosciences as well as demanding fieldwork, they study precipitation, evaporation, river flows, groundwater levels, water quality, and supplies, and might work on such projects as hydroelectric power or wastewater treatment.

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#54. Geographers

- Annual median wage: $81,540 (104.8% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 1,400
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +3.2%

Geographers’ expertise is the Earth and its population. Physical geographers might study natural landscapes or the plate tectonics that trigger earthquakes, while human geographers might look at population migration, habitat loss, or urban growth. They utilize field work observations, satellite imagery, and census data, and must be skilled in statistical methods and models, mapping, and emerging technologies. Most are employed by the federal or state governments, architectural and engineering firms, or by professional schools and universities.

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#53. Network and computer systems administrators

- Annual median wage: $83,510 (109.8% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 354,450
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +4.7%

Network and computers systems administrators set up and support computer servers for organizations, keeping the hardware and software up and running. They handle network issues, email, data storage, telecommunications, and security, and they need to stay on top of quickly changing technology. They may move on to be computer network architects, or computer and information systems managers.

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#52. Operations research analysts

- Annual median wage: $84,810 (113.0% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 99,680
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +25.6%

Operations research analysts are sophisticated problem-solvers. They use math and analytical methods, simulations, modeling, statistics, and extensive data to address and resolve business and logistical issues in production, supply chains, or distribution. They tend to work on a team of experts from multiple disciplines, which calls for collaborative, communication, and interpersonal skills, along with significant talents at analytical thinking and problem-solving. Operations research analysts often have military backgrounds.

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#51. Management analysts

- Annual median wage: $85,260 (114.2% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 709,750
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +13.5%

Management analysts, who also are called management consultants, have expertise in improving organizational efficiency, cutting costs, and boosting profits. Skilled at problem-solving, management analysts might specialize in areas such as corporate reorganization or inventory management. Management analysts frequently have had previous work experience as accountants, auditors, or market research analysts.

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#50. Financial analysts

- Annual median wage: $85,660 (115.2% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 329,500
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +6.2%

Financial analysts, sometimes called securities or investment analysts, look at investment opportunities for businesses and individuals. They analyze the performance of stocks, bonds, or other investments, study financial data and economic trends, and evaluate financial statements. Analysts often work for securities firms, pension funds, or hedge funds. Some may specialize in an industry, product, or region such as retail business or energy, or focus on risk assessment, analyzing potential investments or money-lending opportunities. They may become portfolio managers or fund managers, and they need analytical skills, a math aptitude, and the fortitude to make quick decisions under pressure.

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#49. Computer programmers

- Annual median wage: $86,550 (117.4% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 199,540
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: -7.2%

Computer programmers write and test codes used in software programs and applications. Essentially, they translate designs thought up by software developers into instructions for the computer. Detail-oriented troubleshooters, they are skilled in an array of computer languages and complex operating systems and must stay abreast of rapidly unfolding new developments. Some move on to become software developers themselves or become computer and information systems managers.

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#48. Civil engineers

- Annual median wage: $87,060 (118.7% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 310,850
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +6.3%

Civil engineers design and build roads, tunnels, bridges, and dams and supervise infrastructure projects and systems. Among their specializations, structural engineers test strength and durability, and transportation engineers work on highways systems, mass transit, or airports. They need to be skilled in feasibility analysis, math, mechanics, and sophisticated scientific areas such as soil properties and fluid dynamics as well as time management and budgets.

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#47. Personal financial advisors

- Annual median wage: $87,850 (120.7% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 210,190
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +7%

Personal financial advisors help people make investment and other decisions with their money. They have expertise in retirement and estate planning, tax law, mortgages, and saving for college. They work closely with individuals to determine their goals, comfort with taking risks, and investment opportunities. Some are private bankers or wealth managers who oversee portfolios for affluent clients. No matter how much money their clients have, personal financial advisors need to follow market activity and trends closely.

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#46. Industrial engineers

- Annual median wage: $88,020 (121.1% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 291,710
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +8.3%

Industrial engineers specialize in eliminating waste from production processes and designing efficient systems that minimize overhead costs. They study workflow, oversee quality control, and evaluate job performances. Along with being engineers, they utilize math, computer science, statistical analysis, and problem-solving skills.

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#45. Mechanical engineers

- Annual median wage: $88,430 (122.1% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 306,990
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +4.1%

Mechanical engineers design, develop, and test tools, machines, and engines. They need creativity and sophisticated computer skills to create and test prototypes and simulations. They may work on a wide range of projects: electric generators, turbines, refrigeration systems, auto suspension systems, elevators, escalators, and robots.

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#44. Environmental engineers

- Annual median wage: $88,860 (123.2% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 53,150
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +5.1%

Environmental engineers employ knowledge of biology, chemistry, soil science, and sustainability to tackle problems of waste management, pollution, or unsafe water supplies. They might conduct inspections and investigations, design remediation projects such as a water reclamation facility, clean up a contaminated site, or determine the environmental impact of a proposed project.

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#43. Computer systems analysts

- Annual median wage: $90,920 (128.4% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 589,060
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +8.8%

Computer systems analysts design information technology (IT) for organizations and businesses. They analyze organizational needs and limitations, such as how much memory, speed, and storage are appropriate. They research technology options, analyze costs and benefits, assess and adjust for efficiencies, and choose hardware and software. Also known as systems architects, they often have a background in business or management information systems.

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#42. Mining and geological engineers, including mining safety engineers

- Annual median wage: $91,160 (129.0% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 6,280
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +2.6%

Mining and geological engineers design and supervise extraction, safety, and production at open-pit and underground mines and tunnels. They often specialize in a particular metal or mineral such as copper or coal. Their responsibilities include addressing environmental issues of pollution and reclamation and assessing and protecting against hazards. To protect worker safety, they inspect mines for air quality and roof and wall integrity. Key to their jobs are skills in anticipating potential issues and making critical, timely decisions.

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#41. Health and safety engineers, except mining safety engineers and inspectors

- Annual median wage: $91,410 (129.6% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 25,860
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +5.1%

Health and safety engineers design and build protection systems for people and property. Their backgrounds might range from occupational safety and health to ergonomics or environmental safety. They are skilled at interpreting federal and state regulations and policies, training workers, remedying problems, identifying risks and dangers, inspecting facilities, and investigating industrial accidents. Specializations include fire prevention and protection and product safety.

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#40. Biomedical engineers

- Annual median wage: $91,410 (129.6% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 19,800
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +3.6%

Biomedical engineers design and build health care computer systems, software, and equipment such as artificial body parts, prosthetics, implants, pacemakers, and rehabilitation devices. They need to be innovative, creative problem-solvers with highly technical talents as well.

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#39. Geoscientists, except hydrologists and geographers

- Annual median wage: $92,040 (131.2% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 29,200
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +5.7%

Geoscientists specialize in the Earth and its resources and structure. They may be geologists who study rock formation, mineralogists, paleontologists, sedimentologists who focus on gravel, silt, and mud; geochemists who study the elements; geophysicists who study magnetism and gravity; seismologists, volcanologists, or petroleum geologists who research sources of oil and gas. They work in labs and in the field, often in resource extraction or in environmental protection.

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Igor Kardasov // Shutterstock

#38. Marine engineers and naval architects

- Annual median wage: $92,400 (132.1% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 11,360
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +8.9%

Marine engineers and naval architects create ships, and they might work on tankers, submarines, or sailboats as well as offshore oil rigs and wind turbines. They have extensive knowledge of complex topics such as propulsion, buoyancy, and steering systems and need to be skilled in fluid and materials mechanics, physics, drafting, and computer-aided designs.

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#37. Materials engineers

- Annual median wage: $93,360 (134.5% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 26,820
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +0.2%

Materials engineers create new materials and new composites and develop uses for them, meeting calls for products that might be lighter, more heat-resistant, or more flexible. Materials engineers often specialize in metals such as steel, plastic polymers, or ceramics, and they are experts in the material’s properties.

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#36. Database administrators

- Annual median wage: $93,750 (135.5% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 116,900
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +9%

Database administrators are experts in organizing, storing, and protecting data such as business records and financial information. They are highly skilled in specialized database languages, computer software, information technology, and security systems.

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#35. Art directors

- Annual median wage: $94,220 (136.7% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 42,890
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +0.9%

Art directors oversee images and designs used in productions such as the theater, movies, television shows, magazines, advertising, publishing, and product packaging. Knowledgeable in art, design, photography, graphics, illustration, and layout, they also need to draw up budgets and deadlines, which calls for leadership, communication, and time-management skills. Art directors frequently start out as fine artists, photographers, editors, or graphic designers.

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#34. Construction managers

- Annual median wage: $95,260 (139.3% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 293,380
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +9.8%

Overseeing building projects from private homes to industrial complexes, construction managers are skilled at budgeting, time-management, and delegating responsibility. Also called general contractors or project managers, they are expected to be experts in estimating costs, coping with delays and setbacks, supervising workers, complying with safety and building codes, and meeting deadlines.

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Fairchild Air Force Base

#33. Atmospheric and space scientists

- Annual median wage: $95,380 (139.6% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 9,290
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +8.4%

Atmospheric and space scientists decipher meteorological information and draw up forecasts and reports. Sometimes called forecasters or meteorologists, they utilize data collected by weather stations, satellites, and radar. Often, they have a background in physics, geography, and computer programming.

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#32. Materials scientists

- Annual median wage: $96,810 (143.2% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 6,710
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +3%

Materials scientists are experts in understanding the makeup and properties of materials from metal and rubber to ceramics and glass. Their jobs may entail creating new materials, improving existing materials, or expanding their uses. They design experiments, apply logic, utilize computer modeling, and evaluate results of testing for stresses such as compression or tension.

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#31. Administrative services managers

- Annual median wage: $96,940 (143.5% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 300,200
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +7.3%

Administrative services managers oversee an organization’s operations such as record keeping, facility and equipment maintenance, security, energy use, purchasing, and waste disposal. They deploy a wide range of skills to manage staff, supervise repairs and renovations, and meet health and safety standards.

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#30. Electrical engineers

- Annual median wage: $98,530 (147.5% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 185,570
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +4.8%

Electrical engineers are trained to design and develop electrical systems and equipment that might include navigation systems, listening devices, or motors. The products they help to make could be put to commercial, military, or scientific uses. The development of electrical systems and equipment requires them to have skills in physics, math, and drafting as well as in engineering.

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#29. Information security analysts

- Annual median wage: $99,730 (150.5% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 125,570
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +31.6%

Information security analysts specialize in protecting computer systems and networks from accidental leaks and losses to cyberattacks. They install software such as firewalls and data encryption, test for vulnerabilities, and investigate data breaches. They need to stay on top of fresh developments in information technology, recovery systems, and cybersecurity.

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#28. General and operations managers

- Annual median wage: $100,780 (153.2% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 2,400,280
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +6.9%

General and operations managers head up the operations of organizations and are charged with meeting the company’s goals and obligations. Their responsibilities can be sweeping as they organize daily functions, delegate tasks, manage staff, oversee interdepartmental coordination, tally productivity, and implement policies. They need skills in finance and budgeting, efficiency and troubleshooting, communication, and business judgment.

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#27. Medical and health services managers

- Annual median wage: $100,980 (153.7% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 394,910
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +17.6%

Medical and health services managers oversee work at health care providers such as doctors’ practices, hospitals, and nursing homes. Sometimes called health care executives or health care administrators, they are responsible for record-keeping, service quality, legal compliance, staff supervision and training, budgets, billing, and finances. Those who work at nursing homes are required to have state licenses. Some medical and health services managers move into executive jobs.

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#26. Software developers, applications

- Annual median wage: $103,620 (160.3% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 944,200
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +25.6%

Software developers design the applications that run on computers. Applications software developers create products like games or databases, and they need to be highly creative and analytical to identify user needs and to articulate their ideas. Software developers need to be skilled in computer languages and programming.

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#25. Sales engineers

- Annual median wage: $103,900 (161.0% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 63,550
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +5.6%

Sales engineers draw on technical and interpersonal skills in their work selling scientific and technological products to businesses. They meet with customers, prepare presentations, negotiate prices, arrange deliveries, and may conduct market research as well. Throughout their careers, they need to keep their technical skills current with ongoing education and training.

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#24. Industrial production managers

- Annual median wage: $105,480 (165.0% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 185,790
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +0.7%

Industrial production managers are responsible for the oversight of manufacturing plant operations. Also called plant managers, they allocate and assess production and workloads to meet goals, coordinate department needs, set performance and safety standards, and monitor quality control.

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#23. Electronics engineers, except computer

- Annual median wage: $105,570 (165.2% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 128,800
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: -0.9%

Designing and testing electronic components, circuits, and systems are the responsibilities of electronics engineers, who are skilled in electronic theory and materials’ properties. Their work may range from telecommunications and acoustics to global positioning systems. They use math and science skills, need state licensing to work directly with the public, and often proceed to get graduate training.

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#22. Actuaries

- Annual median wage: $108,350 (172.2% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 22,260
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +20.1%

Actuaries determine risk. They use mathematical skills, statistics, and data collection to calculate the probability of events such as death, accidents, or disasters, and their potential costs. They most likely work for financial and insurance companies. Life insurance actuaries may estimate how long someone is expected to live, depending on their risk factors or behaviors, while property and casualty insurance actuaries may estimate the likelihood of accident claims. Pension and retirement benefits actuaries determine whether pension plans have enough money to pay out benefits.

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#21. Chemical engineers

- Annual median wage: $108,770 (173.2% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 30,120
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +6.3%

Chemical engineers conduct research, design, and test the production and use of chemicals and equipment for manufacturing purposes. Some might specialize in a particular chemical process such as making plastics, and others might focus on a certain area of production such as energy. On the job, they utilize analytical, math, and problem-solving skills along with ingenuity and creativity.

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#20. Software developers, systems software

- Annual median wage: $110,000 (176.3% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 421,300
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +10.1%

Systems software developers create computer operating systems or interfaces where users connect to the computer. They need the job skills to identify what users require, design models, and relay instructions to programmers who write the computer code.

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#19. Computer network architects

- Annual median wage: $112,690 (183.1% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 152,420
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +5.3%

Computer network architects are professionals who create and may also manage data communication networks. They work with business management and organizations to build systems such as local area networks known as LANs and intranets. Sometimes called network architects, they analyze data traffic, troubleshoot issues, and manage upgrades. Those on the job generally need several years of experience in information technology systems.

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#18. Training and development managers

- Annual median wage: $113,350 (184.7% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 38,510
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +8.1%

Training and development managers are those who design, implement, and oversee employee training programs. They need to identify the training needs, goals, and priorities of an organization or business, design courses, and content, create training budgets, and evaluate the effectiveness of employee development. They must be adept at collaboration, training methods, software, and equipment.

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#17. Nuclear engineers

- Annual median wage: $113,460 (185.0% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 15,850
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: -0.5%

Nuclear engineers apply the power of nuclear energy and radiation to use in goods and services. They might develop medical imaging devices, design health care treatments that use radiation, or build power sources for spacecraft. Working at nuclear plants, they might build reactor cores, plan safety procedures, or design disposal plans for spent fuel. Their job skills include being detail-oriented, thorough, and logical. Throughout their careers, nuclear engineers are constantly trained in the latest science, technology, regulations, and safety procedures.

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#16. Public relations and fundraising managers

- Annual median wage: $116,180 (191.8% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 79,160
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +7.8%

Public relations managers handle and polish the image of their employer or client, while fundraising managers run donation campaigns. Public relations managers handle contact with the media, arrange executive interviews, write position statements, help develop advertising and promotion campaigns, and may run internal communications. Fundraising managers identify, locate, and solicit potential supporters, develop donor strategies, and sponsor events for contributors. They need to be personable, comfortable with public appearances and public speaking, and handle sensitive issues or business crises under pressure.

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#15. Aerospace engineers

- Annual median wage: $116,500 (192.6% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 63,200
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +1.7%

Aerospace engineers design airplanes, space capsules, and satellites. They need advanced math skills and may specialize in specific areas such as propulsion, navigation, or thermodynamics. Aerospace engineers might work on commercial aircraft, helicopters, military planes, rockets, and missiles.

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#14. Human resources managers

- Annual median wage: $116,720 (193.2% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 154,800
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +7.1%

Human resources managers oversee relations between employees and company management. They handle recruitment and hiring, design benefit programs and retention strategies, assess worker productivity, address issues such as bullying or sexual harassment, or supervise payroll. They need interpersonal, decision-making, and organizational skills.

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#13. Computer hardware engineers

- Annual median wage: $117,220 (194.4% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 67,880
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +6.1%

Computer hardware engineers are responsible for building the components of computers such as circuitry, processors, monitors, and motherboards. They tend to work in tandem with software designers. On the job, they need to continue with their education to keep pace with changing technology. Some become computer and information systems managers.

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#12. Purchasing managers

- Annual median wage: $121,110 (204.2% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 72,100
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +3.9%

Purchasing managers oversee the buying of materials and services for a business or organization and are responsible for keeping supply chains in operation. They vet suppliers and vendors, analyze prices, negotiate contracts, monitor deliveries and inventories, and coordinate the duties of buyers and purchasing officers. They often must have several years of experience as a buyer or purchasing agent.

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#11. Compensation and benefits managers

- Annual median wage: $122,270 (207.1% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 16,900
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +2.9%

Compensation and benefits managers develop and oversee pay and benefits to employees at companies and organizations. They help set salary and wage levels, ensure compliance with federal and state laws, follow market conditions, and research the pay systems and strategies of competitors. They also design retirement plans and choose insurance benefits. The job requires business management, budgeting, and analytical skills.

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#10. Advertising and promotions managers

- Annual median wage: $125,510 (215.3% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 25,100
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +3.2%

Advertising and promotions managers create and boost demand for goods or services. Advertising managers design campaigns, from radio and television to online media and roadside billboards, and they may liaise between a client and an advertising agency. Promotions managers lead campaigns that mix advertising with purchasing incentives such as rebates, samples, or contests. All are skilled in understanding consumer behavior, persuasive communications, and industry trends.

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#9. Sales managers

- Annual median wage: $126,640 (218.1% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 402,600
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +5.1%

Sales managers run sales teams at businesses and organizations, developing goals and quotas, evaluating profitability, and designing pricing plans. They design pricing plans and sales strategies, recruit and hire staff, and track customer preferences and demand.

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#8. Natural sciences managers

- Annual median wage: $129,100 (224.3% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 67,720
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +5.9%

Natural science managers oversee the research and development work of scientists, focusing on areas such as testing, time management, and quality control. Often starting out as scientists, natural science managers help design research strategies, set budgets, evaluate methodology, and manage laboratories. The jobs call for critical thinking, problem-solving, and interpersonal skills as natural science managers lead and supervise teams of researchers.

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#7. Financial managers

- Annual median wage: $129,890 (226.3% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 654,790
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +16%

The financial well-being of organizations and businesses is the responsibility of financial managers who oversee investments, find ways to raise capital, analyze company and market data, prepare fiscal reports and forecasts, and help set and meet long-term strategies and goals. They include treasurers, controllers, and credit, cash, and risk managers. They typically have a background in another financial job such as an accountant, loan officer, or financial analyst. Effective financial managers evaluate data, make complicated business decisions, and follow international and national financial laws and policies, and the most successful may become chief financial officers.

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#6. Marketing managers

- Annual median wage: $136,850 (243.8% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 263,680
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +8.1%

Marketing managers are experts in consumer tastes and demands, potential markets, and pricing strategies. They follow what competing businesses and organizations are doing in the marketplace, and they look for trends that may be opportunities to sell products or services. They need sharp business and sales management skills.

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#5. Petroleum engineers

- Annual median wage: $137,720 (245.9% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 32,620
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +2.6%

Petroleum engineers work on oil and gas extraction, developing and employing ways to tap underground reserves onshore and offshore, shale deposits, and older existing wells. They need technical skills to deploy methods such as hydraulic fracturing, implement drilling plans, oversee machinery and equipment use, maximize production, and minimize environmental damage.

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#4. Architectural and engineering managers

- Annual median wage: $144,830 (263.8% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 194,250
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +2.8%

Architectural and engineering managers oversee and steer company operations, planning for new products or designs, heading up project research and development, or directing work at construction or manufacturing sites. Their jobs at architectural and engineering firms involve preparing budgets and schedules, hiring and supervising employees, and determining equipment needs, and their key skills include accounting, financial and operations management, problem-solving, and decision-making.

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#3. Computer and information systems managers

- Annual median wage: $146,360 (267.6% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 433,960
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +11.3%

Computer and information systems managers, also known as information technology (IT) managers, coordinate and run the computer-related operations in a business or organization. They assist in setting and meeting IT goals, handle system upgrades and security, decide on the benefits of new technology, and oversee the work of the systems and security analysts and software developers. The positions, which may include top executive spots like chief information officers and chief technology officers, require several years of IT experience.

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#2. Airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers

- Annual median wage: $147,220 (269.8% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 84,520
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: +4.6%

Airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers need to have excellent observational and problem-solving skills, quick reaction times, and steady judgment. They assess aircraft safety and conditions such as weight limits and fuel supplies, judge weather conditions, and respond to unexpected situations such as mechanical malfunctions. Copilots share responsibilities and tasks with the pilot in command, and a third pilot may act as flight engineer, monitoring instruments and controls, although highly automated new aircraft do not need flight engineers on board.

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#1. Chief executives

- Annual median wage: $184,460 (363.4% higher than U.S. median income)
- Employment: 205,890
- Projected change in employment 2018-2028: -5.5%

Chief executives hold the top jobs at a company or organization, ultimately responsible for developing and meeting goals, designing strategies for growth and development, and determining its direction. They are leaders who need to be skilled at communicating, envisioning possibilities and risks, and finding ways to sustain and boost profitability. Becoming a chief executive requires considerable management and industry experience with a successful business record of success.

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