How To Switch To An $80,000 Career

Six High-Paying Careers

Consider planning a career move toward one of these high-caliber, high-earning jobs.

By Danielle Blundell

These days, it may seem like employers want more out of their employees for less money. But there are still careers out there where it's possible to make an honest living and then some.

That's right. We're talking $80K salaried jobs that could help you bring home the bacon, buy a house, save for a rainy day, you name it. And besides the high pay, it turns out these jobs have another common denominator.

"Jobs that are high paying are often those that combine high demand and also require some technical expertise or higher education," says Erik Bowitz, resume and career consultant for the web-based Resume Companion company.

But don't get too excited just yet. It's important to keep in mind that these are generally not entry-level careers, and in most cases experience will be a significant factor when applying.

Still interested? To make your life easier, we've compiled a shortlist of jobs that pay the big bucks because their requirements entail some combination of the above.

So whether you're ready to make a career change, you're just starting out and want to shoot for the stars, or you want to position yourself to climb the career ladder, read on for our picks of jobs that pass the $80K salary threshold - and what you'll need to pursue them.

Career #1: Medical and Health Services Manager

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If you like the idea of medicine but know that blood and guts - and patients - aren't your cup of tea, then a career as a medical and health services manager could be right up your alley. In this behind-the-scenes role, you would likely coordinate, rather than provide, care at a hospital, doctor's office, or other medical facility.

Efficiency's the name of the game for medical and health services managers, who, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, are often responsible for staying up to date on laws and regulations, creating schedules, and controlling the finances of a facility. They also improve efficiency and quality in care delivery to patients.

What's the pay breakdown? Well, the median annual salary is $88,580, with $53,940 reported by those in the bottom 10th percentile and $150,560 for those in the 90th percentile.

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The show-me-the-money factor here lies in the management aspect of this role. "Medical health and services managers are paid $80K because often they're managing a lot of people," says Kohut. "The workload can also be pretty heavy in these jobs, too."

How To Make the Switch: "Prospective medical and health services managers have a bachelor's degree in health administration," says the U.S. Department of Labor. Master's degrees in business administration, health services, public health, long-term care admin, and public administration are also common, notes the Department of Labor.

Career #2: Software Developer

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Can't put down your laptop or iPhone? Are you the go-to person your friends trust to troubleshoot their tech problems? Answer yes, and you might find yourself personally fulfilled - and paid well - as a software developer.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, software developers are the creative forces behind the programs that run on computers. If you were to follow this career path, your daily grind would involve a lot of quality time logged on, developing apps people can use to perform tasks on devices and making sure programs continue to run without any hiccups.

And now the good part. Software developers are quite the moneymakers. According to figures from the Department of Labor, this job fetches a median salary that's just under six figures at $99,000. Those in the bottom 10 percent make about $62,800, and the top 10 percent is sitting pretty at $148,850. Why so much cheddar?

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"The software developer has a high level of expertise in his or her daily responsibilities," says Bowitz, meaning the skill set these professionals bring to the table, from understanding computer languages to debugging tech issues, isn't typical of the average person.

How To Make the Switch:  To be considered qualified for a job as a developer, the U.S. Department of Labor recommends earning a bachelor's degree in computer science, software engineering, or a related field. Mathematics is also an acceptable field. In order to keep an edge in this career, the Department of Labor reports that developers should stay on top of the latest computer languages and tools.

Career #3: School Principal

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Have fond memories of elementary school? If so, you're in luck; you could go back there again, or to middle or high school, as a principal. Trust us, it'll be much more exciting this time when you're getting paid to rule the school.

As a school principal, the U.S. Department of Labor says you'll likely help teachers improve by putting together programs and mentorships, observing them in the classroom and making sure they have the resources they need to be effective educators.

And being at the top of the pyramid in a school's hierarchy also means you're at the top of the payroll, evidently.  Specifically, according to the Department of Labor, the median annual salary for elementary and secondary education administrators is $87,760. Those in the 10th percentile make $58,530, while those in the 90th make $130,810.

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"Principals are paid well because there's a lot of responsibility there and many years of experience under the belt," says Abby Kohut, career expert and professional HR recruiter. Bowitz agrees, saying that pay as an educational administrator or principal tends to parallel the managerial role of the job.

How To Make the Switch: Pursuing the path of principal isn't impossible, but it will take some time. If you're already teaching and want to advance to this kind of a role, the Department of Labor says you better be ready to get back in the class - as a student this time.

Most schools require principals to have a master's in education leadership or administration, says the Department. Such programs require that candidates entering the program already hold a bachelor's degree in education, school counseling, or something related.

Career #4: Psychiatrist

Does helping people work through their problems seem less like a chore and more like a calling? If so, you might consider going to school to learn the official methods for helping people cope and then pursue a career as a psychiatrist.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, a psychiatrist is essentially a physician that deals exclusively in mental health. That being said, the Department of Labor says this job involves diagnosing and treating mental illness, often by counseling and medication. They also offer solutions that help patients change behavioral patterns.

Helping people in this capacity is rewarding for sure. But as it turns out, it also pays big. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the median salary for psychiatrists is $173,330. The bottom 10th percentile of pros make $70,920, while the top 90th make a figure greater to or equal than $187,199.

High pay here, according to Bowitz, correlates to the degree of specialization and the amount of schooling that practicing requires. There's also a huge demand here, too, he says, as baby boomers begin to retire from this profession.

How To Make the Switch: Pursuing a career as a psychiatrist definitely involves a big commitment in time and money. The U.S. Department of Labor says almost all physicians get a bachelor's degree followed by four years of medical school. From there, people on this career path can expect another three to eight years in internship and residency programs, depending on the exact line of work.

Career #5: Human Resources Manager

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Ever been told you're a real people person? That you're easy to talk to? Why not cash in on those skills as a human resources manager, where your job description could include making sure a staff understands its compensation and feels supported in the office environment.

Working as a human resources manager requires staying on your toes. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, you could be in charge of the hiring process, fielding employee questions, and mediating conflicts that arise in the workplace. Effectively directing an organization's administrative processes is key, says the Department of Labor, as is taking care of payroll, training, and benefits.

What exactly are we talking money-wise, you ask? For starters, the median pay for human resources managers is about $99,720, says the U.S. Department of Labor. The bottom 10 percent of professionals in this field make close to $59,020, while the top 10 percent make $173,140.

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According to Bowitz, pay is high in this profession because of the duties that can affect profit, albeit indirectly. "The core responsibility of [human resources managers] will be the management of people," says Bowitz. "Acquiring, training, and releasing people within a company all can directly impact the company's bottom line, so finding talent and recognizing how to best utilize it is the key to success and higher salaries in this position."

How To Make the Switch: To pursue a career as a human resources manager, you'll need to have a mix of related work experience and education. If you can get your bachelor's in human resources, that's a good place to start, as the Department of Labor says human resources managers usually need this degree or one in business administration.

But you can also get the required bachelor's in another field and take courses in human resources subjects, according to the Department. Or you might supplement your management experience in another field with a master's in human resources, which the Department says is one degree required for higher-level jobs.

Career #6: Financial Manager

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Think about it: if you're good with money and make it multiply, then you should be compensated well, too. That's the case with financial managers, who are typically in charge of an organization's financial health and investments.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, financial managers produce financial reports, set long-term financial goals, and seek ways to reduce costs. The idea, of course, is to help senior managers make the biggest profit possible.

According to the Department of Labor, the compensation in this career ranges from $59,630 to $187,199 or more, according to earnings reported by the 10th and 90th percentiles, respectively. The median annual salary, as reported by the Department, is $109,740.

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These healthy returns mean you can walk the walk. "There's definitely a level of expertise and responsibility for a financial manager that dictates a higher salary," says Kohut.

How To Make the Switch: You should prepare to work your way up the ladder in this profession, as the Department says financial managers typically must have five years of experience in another business or financial occupation. That's in addition to a bachelor's degree, which the Department notes is often in finance, economics, accounting, or business administration.

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