Careers That Pay Twice The National Average

Jobs With Above Average Pay

Looking to increase your earning potential? These jobs pay two times the average American salary.

By Gabrielle Hendren

Have you ever heard of someone striving for a career that pays minimum wage? Didn't think so. For better or for worse, we approach the job market with high salary expectations - our radars finely tuned to detect professions that pay the big bucks.

But how do you know which career path will provide you with the best opportunity to earn big? Denise Felder, career adviser and 2010 winner of the Black Twin Cities award for Best Counseling or Professional Development Coach, says high-paying careers share some defining characteristics: "They are usually an important part of an economic or industry trend, and they require specialized skills."

So if you're looking for a high-paying career, you're in luck: We've identified six that pay twice the national average salary, which is $45,790, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Some of these careers even report average salaries pushing $100K. Of course, many of them require years of schooling and experience, but that's not a reason to keep you from planning out your future today.

Keep reading to learn more about why these six jobs pay big and what you'll need to do to pursue one.

Career #1: Human Resources Manager

Average Annual Wage*
$109,590
10th Percentile of Earners
$59,020
90th Percentile of Earners
$173,140

If friends always seek your counsel and guidance during a life crisis, you may want to consider following the career path of human resources manager.

Human resources managers direct the administrative functions of an organization, such as the recruiting and hiring of new staff, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Ultimately, they contribute to a company's success by recruiting and motivating qualified employees, and thus maximizing the value of each employee to the organization, adds the Department of Labor.

Why It Pays Well: The function of human resources has evolved with the "onset of global economies, competitive markets, and the constantly evolving environment of legal compliance and requirements," says Oscar De La Cruz, human resources and employee benefits director at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. "These changes now require HR professionals to juggle many critical hats and constantly be on top of their game." And with those increased responsibilities comes increased pay, says De La Cruz.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Human Resources Program.

Education Options: The Department states that applicants for a human resources manager position need a combination of education and experience. ''Usually, they need a bachelor's degree in human resources or business administration, although higher-level jobs might require a master's degree in human resources, labor relations, or business administration.

Career #2: Medical and Health Services Manager

Average Annual Wage*
$98,460
10th Percentile of Earners
$53,940
90th Percentile of Earners
$150,560

Has the medical field always piqued your interest, but the decade of expensive schooling required to become a doctor has scared you off? You might instead consider a well-paying career as a medical and health services manager.

These professionals coordinate medical and health services, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Typical responsibilities range from supervising assistant administrators to managing facility finances to keeping records of medical services. The Department of Labor adds that "as health care changes, medical and health services managers must be able to adapt to changes in laws, regulations, and technology."

Why It Pays Well: "Medical and health services managers have higher pay scales than managers do in other industries because working in the medical field requires specialized knowledge, including the ability to work with often-changing legal and financial regulations," Felder says. In addition, with our aging population "most health care jobs are in high demand, so employers need a large number of workers and pay them well."

Next step: Click to Find the Right Health Care Administration Program.

Education Options: ''Prospective medical and health services managers have a bachelor's degree in health administration," according to the Department. However, they also note that master's degrees in public administration, health services, business administration, public health, and long-term care administration are common.

Career #3: Advertising and Promotions Manager

Average Annual Wage*
$107,060
10th Percentile of Earners
$43,270
90th Percentile of Earners
$187,199 or more

You're a born sales person, and on top of that you work well as part of a team. Sounds like you should consider going after a position as an advertising and promotions manager, where you could potentially bring home a sizeable amount of bacon.

The U.S. Department of Labor defines the job as planning programs to spark interest in a product or service, thereby working with a group of sales agents, art directors, and financial staff members. These professionals develop advertising campaigns, negotiate advertising contracts, initiate market research studies, and balance the goals of a firm with customer satisfaction, according to the Department of Labor.

Why It Pays Well: "Advertising and promotions managers help businesses to market and sell their products, and help them to make money," Felder says. "Many occupations related to increasing a company's profits will pay more than other occupations that do not directly affect a company's bottom line."

Next step: Click to Find the Right Marketing Program.

Education Options: According to the Department, a bachelor's degree is required for most advertising and promotions jobs. Some employers prefer a bachelor's degree in journalism or advertising. The Department also adds that these professionals typically have work experience in advertising, marketing, promotions, or sales.

Career #4: Art Director

Average Annual Wage*:
$94,260
10th Percentile of Earners:
$43,870
90th Percentile of Earners:
$162,800

Not only do you know how to oversee a project and direct a team, but you are also blessed with a creative eye. You might be wise to consider art direction as a career path. It's a great career with even greater earning potential.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, "art directors are responsible for the visual style and images in magazines, newspapers, product packaging, and movie and television productions." That means they come up with the overall design of a product, and then direct those who will develop the artwork or layouts.

Why It Pays Well: For art directors, it helps that the fruits of their labor are visible and tangible. "In addition to managing projects and staff, an art director can clearly show how his or her work strengthens a company's brand and leads to higher sales of products or services," says Denise Felder. So the bold ad campaign spearheaded by an art director might literally catch his or her boss' eye, leading to a raise.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Art Program.

Education Options: The Department states that in addition to previous work experience, art directors need at least a bachelor's degree in an art or design subject. They usually earn a bachelor of arts or bachelor of fine arts. Before leading a team and making top dollar, the Department of Labor says that many art directors may start out in another art occupation, working as graphic designers, illustrators, copyeditors, or photographers.

Career #5: Computer Network Architect

Average Annual Wage*:
$94,000
10th Percentile of Earners:
$52,580
90th Percentile of Earners:
$141,590

Are you a tech-savvy person, but prefer an office job with a seriously competitive salary over coding in some basement? Look no further than the career of computer network architect.

Computer network architects use information technology (IT) to forward their organization's goals, specifically by creating the internal networks that the employees in their organization will use, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Other responsibilities include creating a plan for a data communication network, determining the hardware and software necessary to support this network, considering information security, and staying up-to-date on new technology.

Why It Pays Well: These professionals have the big task of keeping companies' computer networks up and running smoothly, which is why the pay is high. "Workers with specialized skills and deep industry knowledge are in higher demand and better paid than someone with general skills," explains Felder. "Computer network architects need to know the latest technology and software required for their jobs." she says.

Next step: Click to Find the Right IT and Information Systems Program.

Education Options: Computer network architects usually need a bachelor's degree in computer science, information systems, engineering, or a related field, in addition to related work experience, according to the Department. Sometimes employers might prefer those with an MBA in information systems.

Career #6: Industrial-Organizational Psychologist

Average Annual Wage*
$98,800
10th Percentile of Earners
$48,780
90th Percentile of Earners
$168,020

You love observing interactions around you, and have a real interest in human psychology and social dynamics. Maybe you should turn your analytical eye toward pursuing a well-paid profession as an industrial-organizational psychologist.

The U.S. Department of Labor says industrial-organizational psychologists apply principles of psychology to the workplace. Additionally, these psychologists may work on policy planning with management, study workplace productivity, and try to improve the quality of work life, adds the Department of Labor.

Why It Pays Well: These professionals can make big bucks when they help companies make big bucks. "Industrial and organizational psychologists are highly compensated because they help maximize an organization's most valuable resource: its people," says David Nershi, executive director of the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP).

"Industrial and organizational psychologists help organizations make the right hiring decisions," he says. "They also help ensure hiring and promotions are done in a fair and legal way. That can prevent expensive lawsuits and damage to an organization's reputation."

Next step: Click to Find the Right Psychology Program.

Education Options: The Department states that "graduates with a master's degree in psychology can work as industrial-organizational psychologists."

* All salary information from the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Employment and Wages data, May 2012.

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