College graduates looking to earn at the top of the pay scale should consider seeking an advanced degree to achieve a six-figure salary, according to a new report on the highest paying jobs from CareerCast.
Seven of the website's 10 best-paying jobs are in the health care industry and require completion of a secondary degree. Surgeon, the highest-paid career with an average annual salary of $233,150, can require more than a decade of preparation, from undergraduate studies through medical school and the completion of a residency program. General practice physicians, who average $187,200 in annual salary, must also complete similar requirements.
"Many of these high-paycheck jobs require an extensive and specialized graduate school education," says Tony Lee, publisher of CareerCast. "Of course, graduates seeking these incomes should have their eyes wide open and realize the trade-off can be a six-figure student loan debt."
The Association of American Medical Colleges found the Class of 2013 left with a median debt of $175,000, and 86 percent of all medical program graduates left with some educational debt, so earning a high salary initially is necessary just to repay large student loans.
Attorney is another top-paying field at $113,530 annually, and also requires a post-graduate degree followed by the passing of state bar exams. For those who choose a different path to attain one of the best-paying jobs, be prepared to exchange paychecks for a high level of stress.
Air-traffic controllers, for example, earn $122,530 annually, but face some of the most stressful working conditions. The field requires keen attention to detail and mettle under great pressure.
High paychecks are compensation for the dedication required, the stress inherent with the job, the level of skill needed and the monetary investment required just to pursue it.
Here are the top 10 best-paying jobs, per the Jobs Rated report and data culled from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Annual average salary: $233,150 Projected growth by 2022: 18 percent
Physician (general practice)
Annual average salary: $187,200 Projected growth by 2022: 18 percent
Annual average salary: $178,950 Projected growth by 2022: 18 percent
Annual average salary: $149,310 Projected growth by 2022: 16 percent
Annual average salary: $146,340 Projected growth by 2022: 16 percent
Annual average salary: $130,280 Projected growth by 2022: 26 percent
Annual average salary: $122,530 Projected growth by 2022: 1 percent
Annual average salary: $116,670 Projected growth by 2022: 14 percent
Annual average salary: $116,440 Projected growth by 2022: 23 percent
Annual average salary: $113,530 Projected growth by 2022: 10 percent