Jobs with the highest variance in pay

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September 30, 2020
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Jobs with the highest variance in pay

Some careers come with a reasonably predictable salary spectrum that gives job hunters a good idea of what they can expect to earn when entering the field and advancing in their careers. Others, not so much.

In some industries, those in the bottom 10th percentile of earners take home less than the country’s median salary—$39,810, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data from May 2019—while those in the 90th percentile earn into the six figures, sometimes more than $200,000 per year.

This list explores 50 occupations with a six-figure gulf between those in the profession who earn the least and those who earn the most, all of whom do the same job—technically, at least.

In some industries, like postsecondary education, two different professors could earn radically different salaries depending on whether they work at a private university, public college, or junior college. Their pay might vary based on their tenure status, their history of securing grants or other awards, or the amount of research they’ve published.

Salaries in other industries, like sales, are based mainly on commission, which means earnings can vary wildly based on factors like the quality of leads, the competitiveness of the industry, and, of course, the salesperson’s talent for selling.

Using 2019 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment Statistics, released on March 31, 2020, Stacker compiled the top 50 jobs with the highest variance in annual pay between the 90th percentile and the 10th percentile. 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.

Keep reading to learn about the careers where the pay variance is so vast that the difference between the lowest earners and the highest is often more than the entire salary of those on the bottom end of the pay scale.

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#50. Industrial production managers

- Variance between highest and lowest percentiles: $111,020
--- 90th percentile annual wage: $176,070
--- 10th percentile annual wage: $65,050
- Median annual wage: $105,480
- Employment in 2019: 185,790

Sometimes called plant managers, industrial production managers keep things running smoothly in production facilities, ensuring that work progresses on schedule, within budget, and up to the required quality standards. They analyze data, hire and train workers, and devise strategies to maximize the efficiency of both the workforce and equipment. The good ones who command those high six-figure salaries successfully craft and implement plans to improve production moving forward in the future.

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#49. Administrative services and facilities managers

- Variance between highest and lowest percentiles: $111,120
--- 90th percentile annual wage: $166,330
--- 10th percentile annual wage: $55,210
- Median annual wage: $96,940
- Employment in 2019: 307,280

Like plant managers, administrative services and facilities managers keep things running smoothly, manage personnel, and recommend new policies and procedures. They, however, tend to deal with things like office upkeep, mail distribution, and recordkeeping.

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#48. Anthropology and archeology teachers, postsecondary

- Variance between highest and lowest percentiles: $111,140
--- 90th percentile annual wage: $157,840
--- 10th percentile annual wage: $46,700
- Median annual wage: $86,220
- Employment in 2019: 5,850

Although “Indiana Jones” fans grew up thinking that archaeologists spend less time in the classroom than dodging booby traps while trying to swipe magic artifacts from Nazis, fights involving pistols and bullwhips are fairly uncommon in the field in real life. Indy's time in the classroom is the most accurate: Many anthropologists and archaeologists go into academia. Postsecondary anthropology and archeology instructors teach courses, conduct research, collaborate with faculty, and advise students in colleges and universities.

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#47. Fashion designers

- Variance between highest and lowest percentiles: $111,750
--- 90th percentile annual wage: $149,010
--- 10th percentile annual wage: $37,260
- Median annual wage: $73,790
- Employment in 2019: 22,030

Budding fashion designers often pursue their craft with names like Vera Wang, Coco Chanel, and Ralph Lauren serving as their guiding light. Whether or not they ever reach the pinnacle of the profession, fashion designers can earn a good living designing clothes and accessories for entertainment productions, merchandising brands, or individual clients.

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#46. Chiropractors

- Variance between highest and lowest percentiles: $112,190
--- 90th percentile annual wage: $147,480
--- 10th percentile annual wage: $35,290
- Median annual wage: $70,340
- Employment in 2019: 35,010

Chiropractors are most commonly known as healers of troublesome back problems, but these medical professionals manage problems related to all aspects of the neuromusculoskeletal system, which deals with the skeleton, muscles, nerves, and connective tissue like ligaments and tendons. Many are self-employed, but the large majority work in chiropractic offices.

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#45. Chemistry teachers, postsecondary

- Variance between highest and lowest percentiles: $113,220
--- 90th percentile annual wage: $159,160
--- 10th percentile annual wage: $45,940
- Median annual wage: $79,550
- Employment in 2019: 21,380

When high school students who excel in chemistry decide they’re ready to move on from the periodic table of the elements, they take college courses in chemistry. The people who teach those students about the elements, compounds, and other building blocks of the universe at a postsecondary level can earn big bucks doing it, but their ability to do so depends on their experience, their status in the department, and the type of research they conduct.

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#44. Environmental science teachers, postsecondary

- Variance between highest and lowest percentiles: $113,270
--- 90th percentile annual wage: $158,030
--- 10th percentile annual wage: $44,760
- Median annual wage: $82,430
- Employment in 2019: 6,060

These college and university instructors guide their students through one of the most exciting interdisciplinary subjects in all the sciences. Environmental science includes coursework in things like soil and geological science, limnology, oceanography, zoology, plant science, and ecology.

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#43. Agricultural engineers

- Variance between highest and lowest percentiles: $113,620
--- 90th percentile annual wage: $160,950
--- 10th percentile annual wage: $47,330
- Median annual wage: $80,720
- Employment in 2019: 1,550

Agricultural engineers are problem solvers who present solutions to challenges dealing with things like power supplies, the efficiency of machines, environmental issues like pollution, and other factors that affect the production and health of crops and animals. They often split their time between the office and working agricultural sites in the field.

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#42. Art, drama, and music teachers, postsecondary

- Variance between highest and lowest percentiles: $114,380
--- 90th percentile annual wage: $149,560
--- 10th percentile annual wage: $35,180
- Median annual wage: $69,530
- Employment in 2019: 94,060

Postsecondary instructors who teach art, drama, and music are among the lowest-paid among all college and university professors. Only those who teach criminal justice, education, and English language and literature earn less.

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#41. Financial examiners

- Variance between highest and lowest percentiles: $114,700
--- 90th percentile annual wage: $158,200
--- 10th percentile annual wage: $43,500
- Median annual wage: $81,090
- Employment in 2019: 64,550

State and federal government agencies, as well as the insurance and finance industries, employ armies of financial examiners to manage and monitor the health of their balance sheets, expense accounts, and income reports. These experts have to constantly stay up to date with ever-changing laws and regulations to maintain the solvency and overall financial health of the banks and other organizations that employ them.

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#40. Sales engineers

- Variance between highest and lowest percentiles: $115,090
--- 90th percentile annual wage: $174,270
--- 10th percentile annual wage: $59,180
- Median annual wage: $103,900
- Employment in 2019: 63,550

Sales engineers do pretty much the same thing as garden variety salespeople—they build relationships, educate prospective clients, demonstrate whatever it is they do and sell, and, hopefully, make sales. However, they deal with highly technical and scientific equipment and systems that they have to truly understand if they’re going to close deals with prospects who are experts in their industry. It’s possible to enter the field with a sales background, but an engineering degree is more highly prized.

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#39. Mathematical science teachers, postsecondary

- Variance between highest and lowest percentiles: $115,530
--- 90th percentile annual wage: $154,320
--- 10th percentile annual wage: $38,790
- Median annual wage: $73,690
- Employment in 2019: 51,150

Like so many educators, postsecondary math teachers can earn much higher or lower salaries depending on the level of the students they instruct. Those who teach at technical colleges or trade schools earn less, on average, than junior college math instructors, who earn less than those who teach at colleges and universities.

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#38. Captains, mates, and pilots of water vessels

- Variance between highest and lowest percentiles: $116,430
--- 90th percentile annual wage: $153,700
--- 10th percentile annual wage: $37,270
- Median annual wage: $72,340
- Employment in 2019: 33,370

These maritime occupations tend to pay quite a bit less for the captains, mates, and pilots who work in the tourism and sightseeing industry compared to the higher earners whose specialty is water transportation. They can expect to earn the biggest bucks working inland compared to those who operate vessels in the deep sea or work in coastal regions.

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#37. Computer hardware engineers

- Variance between highest and lowest percentiles: $116,780
--- 90th percentile annual wage: $185,240
--- 10th percentile annual wage: $68,460
- Median annual wage: $117,220
- Employment in 2019: 67,880

Even the lowest-paid computer hardware engineers earn much more than the national median salary for all occupations—and the median computer hardware engineer earns tens of thousands more than the median engineer in general. These technical experts, who design, build, and test computer hardware, earn the biggest salaries by far in computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing and engineering and life sciences research and development.

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

- Variance between highest and lowest percentiles: $117,500
--- 90th percentile annual wage: $158,580
--- 10th percentile annual wage: $41,080
- Median annual wage: $81,020
- Employment in 2019: 306,980

These types of sales reps work for manufacturers and wholesale operations, selling the goods they produce and distribute to businesses and governmental organizations. Like all sales reps, they pursue leads and engage with prospective customers, build relationships, demonstrate the value of their offerings, and close deals. However, how frequently they close those deals has a lot to do with what they can expect to earn—sales work is all about the commission.

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#35. Funeral home managers

- Variance between highest and lowest percentiles: $117,750
--- 90th percentile annual wage: $161,870
--- 10th percentile annual wage: $44,120
- Median annual wage: $76,350
- Employment in 2019: 9,400

Funeral home managers make the most money by far among all the death services occupations. Even the median funeral arranger, undertaker, mortician, and general funeral service worker earns in the mid-to-high $50,000s.

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#34. Area, ethnic, and cultural studies teachers, postsecondary

- Variance between highest and lowest percentiles: $118,420
--- 90th percentile annual wage: $157,030
--- 10th percentile annual wage: $38,610
- Median annual wage: $77,070
- Employment in 2019: 10,600

In terms of median pay, college and university area, ethnic, and cultural studies teachers are right in the middle of postsecondary instructors in general. Law, economics, and engineering professors earn the most while criminal justice, education, and English language and literature teachers earn the least.

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#33. Physics teachers, postsecondary

- Variance between highest and lowest percentiles: $119,210
--- 90th percentile annual wage: $168,900
--- 10th percentile annual wage: $49,690
- Median annual wage: $89,590
- Employment in 2019: 13,780

Physics teachers are high up in the food chain in terms of median pay among postsecondary instructors. Aside from the big three previously mentioned, only health specialties professors and those who teach atmospheric, earth, marine, and space sciences earn more.

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#32. Computer and information research scientists

- Variance between highest and lowest percentiles: $119,790
--- 90th percentile annual wage: $189,780
--- 10th percentile annual wage: $69,990
- Median annual wage: $122,840
- Employment in 2019: 30,780

The highly specialized skills of computer and information research scientists are coveted across a wide range of industries and sectors, including medicine, science, business, and government. These skilled professionals earn a good living solving complex problems involving technology, both existing and imagined, but they must earn graduate-level education to enter the field.

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#31. Makeup artists, theatrical and performance

- Variance between highest and lowest percentiles: $121,500
--- 90th percentile annual wage: $145,420
--- 10th percentile annual wage: $23,920
- Median annual wage: $75,730
- Employment in 2019: 3,400

Makeup artists in the entertainment industry tend to earn the most when they work in motion pictures and videos, which also happens to employ the most makeup artists in the industry by far. Personal care and traveler accommodation makeup artists tend to be paid the least.

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#30. Purchasing managers

- Variance between highest and lowest percentiles: $121,950
--- 90th percentile annual wage: $193,400
--- 10th percentile annual wage: $71,450
- Median annual wage: $121,110
- Employment in 2019: 72,100

Purchasing managers supervise buyers and purchasing agents, who evaluate products, negotiate prices, and make purchases on behalf of the companies they work for. Purchasing managers earn the largest salaries when they work for enterprises, companies, and the government.

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#29. Atmospheric, earth, marine, and space sciences teachers, postsecondary

- Variance between highest and lowest percentiles: $125,480
--- 90th percentile annual wage: $173,140
--- 10th percentile annual wage: $47,660
- Median annual wage: $92,040
- Employment in 2019: 11,020

Commonly tasked both with teaching students and conducting research, these college and university professors teach subject matter relating to all physical sciences except for chemistry and physics. They’re generally among the best paid among all postsecondary teachers.

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#28. Economists

- Variance between highest and lowest percentiles: $125,570
--- 90th percentile annual wage: $185,020
--- 10th percentile annual wage: $59,450
- Median annual wage: $105,020
- Employment in 2019: 19,000

Economists analyze data, develop and interpret models, create surveys, and conduct research to identify patterns and make predictions about the transfer of goods, resources, and money among large populations over time. They earn the biggest salaries when they take positions in the finance industry, the insurance industry, and the federal government. Economists tend to earn the least when they work for state governments.

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#27. Administrative law judges, adjudicators, and hearing officers

- Variance between highest and lowest percentiles: $126,040
--- 90th percentile annual wage: $172,010
--- 10th percentile annual wage: $45,970
- Median annual wage: $97,870
- Employment in 2019: 14,380

These officials, who have to earn professional or doctoral degrees, oversee court proceedings and other legal processes like pretrial hearings. They earn the most when they work for the federal government, less when they serve their individual states, and the least when they’re employed by local governments.

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#26. Astronomers

- Variance between highest and lowest percentiles: $126,360
--- 90th percentile annual wage: $185,780
--- 10th percentile annual wage: $59,420
- Median annual wage: $114,590
- Employment in 2019: 2,070

Astronomers study celestial bodies like stars, planets, galaxies, black holes, moons, and asteroids. Using highly technical equipment based on Earth and in space, they expand scientific knowledge of the world beyond Earth’s atmosphere and write reports detailing their findings. Astronomers make more money working for the federal government than when they work for colleges, universities, and other academic institutions.

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#25. Computer science teachers, postsecondary

- Variance between highest and lowest percentiles: $127,230
--- 90th percentile annual wage: $169,980
--- 10th percentile annual wage: $42,750
- Median annual wage: $85,180
- Employment in 2019: 31,800

In terms of median pay, postsecondary computer science teachers are in the top 12 among the most commonly taught subject matter in colleges and universities. Unlike the vast majority of postsecondary educators, they won’t find the highest average pay at colleges or universities—computer science teachers tend to earn far more at business schools and computer and management training industries.

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#24. Actuaries

- Variance between highest and lowest percentiles: $128,740
--- 90th percentile annual wage: $193,600
--- 10th percentile annual wage: $64,860
- Median annual wage: $108,350
- Employment in 2019: 22,260

Organizations in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors pay actuaries big bucks for a good reason—their specialty is assessing and mitigating risk, a make-or-break detail for many business models. In terms of compensation, they tend to thrive in the finance and insurance industries and the professional, scientific, and technical services sectors.

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#23. Biological science teachers, postsecondary

- Variance between highest and lowest percentiles: $129,180
--- 90th percentile annual wage: $173,930
--- 10th percentile annual wage: $44,750
- Median annual wage: $83,300
- Employment in 2019: 53,090

Biological science teachers rank up there with computer science instructors near the top of the list of highest-paid postsecondary teachers. The vast majority work in junior colleges, colleges, universities, and professional schools, but that’s not where the real money is in the field. Those employed in the scientific research and development services industry earn the highest average salaries by far.

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#22. Medical and health services managers

- Variance between highest and lowest percentiles: $130,180
--- 90th percentile annual wage: $189,000
--- 10th percentile annual wage: $58,820
- Median annual wage: $100,980
- Employment in 2019: 394,910

Sometimes called health care administrators or health care executives, medical and health services managers bear the heavy responsibility of managing groups of physicians, specific departments within a health care facility, or entire health care facilities themselves. A large plurality of them—about one in three—work for state, local, and private hospitals.

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#21. Training and development managers

- Variance between highest and lowest percentiles: $131,350
--- 90th percentile annual wage: $196,070
--- 10th percentile annual wage: $64,720
- Median annual wage: $113,350
- Employment in 2019: 38,510

From manufacturing plants and pool installation businesses to restaurant groups and brokerage firms, it’s hard to imagine any significant organization that doesn't have some training program, continuing education program, or both. Training and development managers create, implement, and manage those programs. They earn the highest average salaries in the two fields that employ the most of them: professional, technical, and scientific services and management of companies and enterprises.

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#20. Biochemists and biophysicists

- Variance between highest and lowest percentiles: $132,250
--- 90th percentile annual wage: $182,870
--- 10th percentile annual wage: $50,620
- Median annual wage: $94,490
- Employment in 2019: 31,360

These scientists study and research chemistry and physics as they apply to the biological processes of living things. Most of them work in laboratories—often in colleges and universities or in labs run by pharmaceutical companies—using complex technologies to pursue a certain goal or simply to advance science. Those who work in academic environments tend to earn far less than their colleagues in the private sector, particularly those who work in the wholesale trade sector.

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#19. Architecture teachers, postsecondary

- Variance between highest and lowest percentiles: $132,390
--- 90th percentile annual wage: $175,390
--- 10th percentile annual wage: $43,000
- Median annual wage: $87,900
- Employment in 2019: 6,780

Postsecondary teachers in only six other academic fields earn more on average than those who teach architecture. Those in Massachusetts earn the most on average compared to all other states, followed by New York, Rhode Island, California, and Pennsylvania.

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#18. Engineering teachers, postsecondary

- Variance between highest and lowest percentiles: $132,690
--- 90th percentile annual wage: $185,720
--- 10th percentile annual wage: $53,030
- Median annual wage: $101,010
- Employment in 2019: 36,080

In the realm of higher education, only law teachers and economists earn more than postsecondary engineering teachers. The most by far work in colleges, universities, and junior colleges, and that’s where they tend to earn the biggest salaries, at least compared to those who teach in junior colleges and technical trade schools.

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#17. Commercial pilots

- Variance between highest and lowest percentiles: $133,960
--- 90th percentile annual wage: $179,440
--- 10th percentile annual wage: $45,480
- Median annual wage: $86,080
- Employment in 2019: 37,830

Flying the friendly skies can earn commercial pilots a place in the upper-middle-class or a salary that’s less than that taken home by the country’s median earner. A common stepping stone to this occupation is a job as a first officer.

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#16. Optometrists

- Variance between highest and lowest percentiles: $134,900
--- 90th percentile annual wage: $194,100
--- 10th percentile annual wage: $59,200
- Median annual wage: $115,250
- Employment in 2019: 39,420

More than half of America’s optometrists work in optometrists’ offices, with the rest spread out mostly in physicians’ offices, health and personal care stores, and in self-employment. Although these eyecare specialists generally have doctoral degrees, they are not to be confused with ophthalmologists, who are licensed medical doctors qualified to perform surgery.

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#15. Art directors

- Variance between highest and lowest percentiles: $135,510
--- 90th percentile annual wage: $188,750
--- 10th percentile annual wage: $53,240
- Median annual wage: $94,220
- Employment in 2019: 42,890

Unlike so many occupations with wide pay variances, a significant majority of art directors are self-employed. They use photographs, renderings, and other design elements to represent concepts through visual imagery for TV and movie productions, product branding, and magazines and newspapers.

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#14. Film and video editors

- Variance between highest and lowest percentiles: $135,570
--- 90th percentile annual wage: $168,320
--- 10th percentile annual wage: $32,750
- Median annual wage: $63,780
- Employment in 2019: 27,570

The motion picture and video industries employ the most film and video editors by far, and that’s also the field that tends to pay the highest salaries. The next largest percentage work in radio and television broadcasting, but that industry tends to pay much less.

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#13. Geoscientists, except hydrologists and geographers

- Variance between highest and lowest percentiles: $136,910
--- 90th percentile annual wage: $187,910
--- 10th percentile annual wage: $51,000
- Median annual wage: $92,040
- Employment in 2019: 29,200

The highly specialized skills that are the hallmark of geoscientists are sought after by a wide array of industries, including the architectural and engineering, oil and gas extraction, and mining industries. Geoscientists employ disciplines like physics and math to study aspects of the Earth, like magnetism and geological composition for the industries that hire them.

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#12. Human resources managers

- Variance between highest and lowest percentiles: $137,420
--- 90th percentile annual wage: $205,720
--- 10th percentile annual wage: $68,300
- Median annual wage: $116,720
- Employment in 2019: 154,800

Human resources managers are the administrative backbone of the organizations they serve, and they oversee recruitment, hiring, training, and the administration of benefits packages. Most importantly, perhaps, they serve as the liaison between staff and management. They tend to earn the highest salaries in the professional, scientific, and technical services industry.

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#11. Producers and directors

- Variance between highest and lowest percentiles: $138,200
--- 90th percentile annual wage: $173,680
--- 10th percentile annual wage: $35,480
- Median annual wage: $74,420
- Employment in 2019: 129,210

From selecting scripts and auditioning potential cast members to wooing investors and overseeing post-production, producers and directors are the driving forces behind movies, TV productions, commercial ads, and live theater. Surprisingly or not, the biggest bucks aren’t found on movie sets—producers and directors earn the highest average salaries in the fields of advertising and public relations.

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#10. Education administrators, postsecondary

- Variance between highest and lowest percentiles: $138,770
--- 90th percentile annual wage: $194,090
--- 10th percentile annual wage: $55,320
- Median annual wage: $95,410
- Employment in 2019: 144,880

These education professionals oversee departments within colleges and universities like admissions, student services, or faculty research. Education administrators are sometimes deans, sometimes provosts, and in smaller schools, they’re often charged with managing and administering several departments simultaneously.

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#9. Physicists

- Variance between highest and lowest percentiles: $139,520
--- 90th percentile annual wage: $201,990
--- 10th percentile annual wage: $62,470
- Median annual wage: $122,850
- Employment in 2019: 16,730

The forces of the physical universe—including time, matter, and energy—is the realm of physicists. Most work in the scientific research and development services industry, but the highest-paid physicists conduct research and studies in general medical and surgical hospitals.

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#8. Political science teachers, postsecondary

- Variance between highest and lowest percentiles: $140,000
--- 90th percentile annual wage: $184,340
--- 10th percentile annual wage: $44,340
- Median annual wage: $85,930
- Employment in 2019: 15,750

Political science instructors are among the 10 best paid postsecondary teachers in America’s colleges and universities. They teach subject matter like conducting and analyzing polls, reading political data, and interpreting the thought processes of subsections of the electorate.

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#7. Industrial-organizational psychologists

- Variance between highest and lowest percentiles: $146,620
--- 90th percentile annual wage: $197,700
--- 10th percentile annual wage: $51,080
- Median annual wage: $92,880
- Employment in 2019: 630

These specialists apply the principles of psychology to employees, managers, potential recruits, and other individuals and groups in the workplace. They earn the highest average salaries in the scientific research and development field, where most industrial-organizational psychologists are employed.

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

- Variance between highest and lowest percentiles: $152,120
--- 90th percentile annual wage: $189,420
--- 10th percentile annual wage: $37,300
- Median annual wage: $73,740
- Employment in 2019: 17,060

Agents and business managers protect the interests of the athletes, performers, and artists they represent. They negotiate their contracts, represent them in the media, and help them secure work both in their primary areas of expertise and as corporate spokespeople.

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#5. Economics teachers, postsecondary

- Variance between highest and lowest percentiles: $155,060
--- 90th percentile annual wage: $206,150
--- 10th percentile annual wage: $51,090
- Median annual wage: $104,370
- Employment in 2019: 13,270

In the world of higher education, only law professors earn more than postsecondary instructors who teach economics. They conduct research and teach subject matter ranging from basics like cost-benefit analysis and division of labor to more advanced topics like macroeconomics and microeconomics.

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#4. Real estate brokers

- Variance between highest and lowest percentiles: $155,120
--- 90th percentile annual wage: $178,720
--- 10th percentile annual wage: $23,600
- Median annual wage: $59,720
- Employment in 2019: 42,730

Like salespeople, real estate brokers are paid largely on commission and, therefore, can earn far more or less than others in the field depending on their individual success. Like sales agents, they help clients list, show, buy, sell, and rent commercial and residential properties, but unlike sales agents, they’re qualified to manage their own businesses and don’t have to work for third-party brokers.

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#3. Business teachers, postsecondary

- Variance between highest and lowest percentiles: $157,510
--- 90th percentile annual wage: $196,980
--- 10th percentile annual wage: $39,470
- Median annual wage: $87,200
- Employment in 2019: 83,920

Postsecondary instructors in only seven other disciplines earn higher average salaries than college and university business teachers. They provide instruction in coursework like finance, management, marketing, and labor relations.

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#2. Judges, magistrate judges, and magistrates

- Variance between highest and lowest percentiles: $165,090
--- 90th percentile annual wage: $204,200
--- 10th percentile annual wage: $39,110
- Median annual wage: $136,910
- Employment in 2019: 28,670

Judges and magistrates serve as referees at trial, ensuring that both parties follow specified legal procedures and that all proceedings are fair. They instruct juries, weigh concerns from attorneys, follow statutes and guidelines in sentencing, and make decisions regarding criminal or civil liability. Those who serve state governments earn the highest average salaries.

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#1. Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents

- Variance between highest and lowest percentiles: $168,810
--- 90th percentile annual wage: $204,130
--- 10th percentile annual wage: $35,320
- Median annual wage: $62,270
- Employment in 2019: 437,880

Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents are the middlemen that connect buyers and sellers within the financial markets. They might advise corporations or sell securities to individuals, but either way, their ability to sell determines their compensation, meaning that they can earn upwards of a quarter-million dollars a year or less than the national median salary across all occupations depending on their individual skills and talents.

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