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What the highest paying jobs REALLY are

Of the working population, there isn’t a single person who wouldn’t like to make 200k a year.  Ask anyone you know and I’m willing to bet that unless they are a minimalist, they would take 200k a year over say, 30k a year.  The problem is that there is one real truth and that is that 95% of the population cannot or will not do what it takes to make six figures. Of the remaining 5%, 95% will not break 200k.  The crux if it is that for some people the odds of making six figures will be high; they have gotten a good education, caught some lucky career breaks, and ended up in the top or perhaps just been born into wealth or industry (think Waltons).

For the rest of the population, get ready to work.  If you want to be a six figure earner you are going to have to be dedicated.  No matter what situation you are in, it is possible.  The real questions is, is it worth what you may have to sacrifice to get there.  I advise everyone to think long and hard before you decide this is truly a goal for you.   The typical lists break everything down into a job by job basis.  I don’t find that very useful.  Instead, I am breaking it down by the categories that I see.

1. Doctor aka Surgeon/anesthesiologist/internist etc

In the Forbes list of top earners most of them are some flavor of medical profession involving medical school.  I went ahead and squished them into one category.  If this is your route than you have no doubt researched each of the fields and found that they are all fairly similar in investment, at least for the first 8-10 years.  You will need to do extensive schooling, generally 10 to 15 years of it before you become a doctor.  The time investment is huge but you have essentially guaranteed high income if you can make it through.

2. Management

This is probably the most ‘tried and true’ way to a high salary.  Almost everyone with a career advances somewhat throughout their lifetime as they gain experience, skills and (hopefully) wisdom.  Its one of those trite things in life; the higher up the ladder you go, the more money you make.  For some, this means they catch lucky breaks and make it up the ladder with only hard work.  Others may sacrifice family, friends, health only to find themselves treading water.  The best piece of advice I ever got in regards to this is “work smarter, not harder.”  Find ways to be more productive with the time you have.  I am in the consulting world, so I expect long hours, there is no way around that.  But if I can make 80 hours of work fit into 60 hours by being smarter and more efficient, I have succeeded.  This is also the best way to get yourself noticed.  Everything you do at work, from tedious tasks to hard thinking to social interaction is a chance to be smarter.  Build effective relationships, automate/simplify the tedious tasks, and find tools to help you be great at the difficult ones.

3. Entrepreneurship

This is actually a French word meaning “one who undertakes innovations, finance and business acumen in an effort to transform innovations into economic goods.”  What we mean when we say it generally are referring to starting a business.  Of the richest people in the world, almost every single one that did not inherit money is someone who started their own business.  This is the kind of thing that is hit or miss.  A miss could mean going bankrupt whereas a hit could mean millions or billions of dollars.  The great thing about this is that it is open to anyone, there isn’t a person in the US from the president to the homeless on the street that couldn’t come up with the next amazing idea.  Executing may take years, or decades, but could have a great payout in the end.

4. Investing and real estate

This may not seem like a career, but for some people, it is.  This one is also difficult because it takes money to make money.  It may take many years for you to accumulate enough money to make money investing.  Thats why I also included real estate.  Many people that are not already rich do have good credit scores and can get house loans.  One example may be starting with one rental in a college area, then buying another rental after a few years, then buying a fixer-upper house, renovating, and re-selling later, and so on.

5. Win the lotto

Sadly some people do think this is a job.  It is also the worst investment ever, but hey, I enjoy a good scratch ticket once in a while too 🙂

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