Those with the highest responsibilities — over life and death — earn some of the highest salaries, and perhaps that's as it should be. We worked with the team at PayScale to pick out hot jobs that pay more than $80,000 per year. Not surprisingly, medical specialties offer excellent salaries, but that has to be balanced against the daunting educational requirements, potentially massive student loan debt and considerable workplace stress. The more common good-paying jobs require people with proven skills in their chosen professions who also have a knack for leading people and supervising projects. While some careers require advanced science, technology and math skills, the common denominator for excellent pay is an ability to get people in a wide range of disciplines to pull together and get a job done right.
Median annual salary: $209,600
If you can envision yourself putting the tiniest premature babies on the road to a healthy childhood, a neonatologist may be the career for you, provided you have an aptitude for advanced math and science. Also be sure to account for four years of medical school and four years of residency before coming within shooting range of a salary like this.
Senior IT project manager
Median annual salary: $109,800
Senior IT project managers supervise all aspects of a computer system installation: They must be fluent in the lingo of coders and engineers and capable of reassuring executives that the project will come in on time and within budget. Typically, a bachelor's degree is the minimum, as most IT project managers work their way up through the ranks, but certifications and master's degrees will bolster a project manager's prospects.
Median annual salary: $105,100
Magazine publishers supervise every aspect of a publication: editorial, advertising, circulation and marketing. In this role, you'll need a mix of profit-minded business savvy and a passionate devotion to journalism and storytelling. While a bachelor's or master's degree can provide a strong grounding in the publishing business, most publishers work their way up through the ranks through the business or editorial sides of their magazines.
National account manager
Median annual salary: $89,900
Key players in the business-to-business realm, national account managers supervise the relationship between companies and their key clients, making sure products and services are delivered to the customers' satisfaction. A bachelor's degree is the base minimum, as years of proven experience are the key to becoming a national account manager, but an MBA might give a candidate a leg up for a hotly contested opening.
Product marketing manager
Median annual salary: $86,600
You'll need innate creativity and an ability to supervise creative people to succeed as a product marketing manager as you coordinate advertising, public relations, marketing support and campaign budgets either for clients in an agency or for a company's marketing department. Bachelor's and master's degrees are helpful, but so is an intuitive ability nurtured over years in the trenches.
Human resources director
Median annual salary: $86,600
Human resources directors are tasked with hiring new workers and supervising the pay, benefits and career prospects of existing employees. They're usually also in charge of payroll and mediating disputes between workers and managers. In a union shop, they're usually on the company's bargaining team. A bachelor's degree is the minimum, but people with master's degrees may have an edge in getting this job.
Source: All salary data provided by online salary database PayScale.com. Salaries listed are median, annual salaries for full-time workers with five to eight years of experience and include all bonuses, commissions or profit sharing.
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