Shrink the wage gap with the highest-paying jobs for women
These careers help to level the financial playing field.
You know the facts: Women are not paid as much as men, even when doing the same jobs. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, women’s median weekly earnings for full-time work were $789 in 2018 compared with $973 for men. New research from PayScale provides some insight as to why: It found that women’s earnings peak much sooner than men’s.
Women reach their peak career earnings—a median of $66,700—at age 44 compared to men who reach their peak—a median $101,200—at an age of 55. With women outliving men, on average, these stats reveal their challenge of accumulating enough wealth at higher incomes to ensure a comfortable retirement. Perhaps part of the solution for women might be to pursue a high-paying job early in their career.
Facing the wage gap
“Wage growth for women starts to slow down in their mid 30s, which coincides with when many women are having children,” says Lydia Frank, vice president of content strategy for PayScale. However, wages for men around the same age range continue on an upward trajectory. The extra burden that women tend to bear when it comes to family responsibilities has a profound effect.
Women and men also do not start their careers on even footing. The median income of women age 22 is $40,400 versus $52,500 for men age 22. By the time women are aged 37–38, the growth of median wages flatlines.
Though Frank cautions that it’s not as simple as asking women to choose a more lucrative career path (because in many fields, they still earn less than their male counterparts doing the same job), the earlier in your career that you can boost your earnings to a meaningful level, the longer you have to make that money work for you. “It’s definitely something for people early in their career to think about,” Frank says. “That’s when you have the most opportunity for significant career advancement and impactful pay raises, so use that time wisely and to your advantage.”
And to keep your career trajectory climbing, women should feel confident about our current job market that favors job seekers. “It’s sometimes harder to take a risk later in your career when you have people depending on you and bills to think about,” says Frank, adding that if you are considering taking that chance, now’s the time.
That said, a great way to start is by exploring the top earning professions for women as identified by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In half of the occupations below, women’s 2018 median weekly earnings were at least twice the $789 median for women overall. Or put another way—these are the jobs in which women are crushing it.
Furthermore, these high-achieving careers not only offer better earnings potential than most, but also offer strong job outlooks, and a high/growing percentage of women in the field—a trifecta of advantages that women exploring career paths should consider.
With an employment growth of 37%, and the fact that women commanded 68% of the occupation, this profession takes the top spot in the list.
What you’d do: PAs do almost everything a medical doctor does, including examining patients, diagnosing them, and prescribing medicine and treatment. The scope of practice may vary by state.
What you’d need: You’ll need a master’s degree, which usually takes at least two years of full-time postgraduate study. However, many programs require applicants to have related working experience in the health field, either as a nurse or paramedic.
What you’d make: $1,646 median weekly earnings
Find physician assistant jobs on Monster.
Women comprise the vast majority of people working in this profession at 85%, and employment growth is expected to be 36%.
What you’d do: Nurse practitioners are considered a type of advanced practice registered nurse (APRN). Like with PAs, the scope of practice varies from state to state, but often they serve as primary and specialty care providers. NPs usually specialize, working with adults, geriatric patients, or in pediatrics, or focusing on psychiatric and mental health.
What you’d need: You must first have an RN license in order to pursue your master’s degree to become an NP.
What you’d make: $1,891 median weekly earnings
Find nurse practitioner jobs on Monster.
Rounding out the top three jobs for women—all in health care—is physical therapy. Women make up 67% of the field, and there’s a solid expected employment growth of 28%.
What you’d do: As a PT, you’ll help people recover from injuries and illnesses, as well as manage chronic pain through hands-on treatments, exercises, and other techniques.
What you’d need: You must earn the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree in order to practice physical therapy. These programs typically take three years to complete, although some colleges have six- or seven-year programs that combine undergraduate studies with the DPT coursework. View this sample resume for a physical therapist.
What you’d make: $1,387 median weekly earnings
Find physical therapist jobs on Monster.
Operations research analysts
A little less than half of operations research analysts were women in 2018—not bad for a math-focused profession that decades ago would have no doubt skewed male. With an employment growth of 27%, this is a hot job for sure.
What you’d do: In this job, you’ll do a lot of numbers-crunching in order to find efficiencies for your organization. You’ll use hard-core analytics skills to gather insights to help your company make better decisions.
What you’d need: Although you can get in on the entry level with a bachelor’s degree, some employers look for advanced degrees.
What you’d make: $1,299 median weekly earnings
Find operation research analyst jobs on Monster.
Software developers (applications and systems software)
Only one in five software developers are women, so there’s still a long way to go. But the good news is with an employment growth of 24%, there will be lots of opportunities for female techies to step up to the plate.
What you’d do: Someone has to create all of that software and the thousands of apps that people use in all aspects of their lives—that’s where software developers come in.
What you’d need: Most people in this field have at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science, software engineering, or a related field. But success really comes down to skills and creativity. View this sample resume for a software developer.
What you’d make: $1,644 median weekly earnings
Find software developer jobs on Monster.
Medical and health services manager
When you consider that nearly 75% of medical and health services managers are women, and there’s an expected employment growth of 20%, you can see why it’s a field with high potential.
What you’d do: People in this role work behind the scenes at medical facilities, clinics, and hospitals to help plan, direct, and coordinate medical care and health services.
What you’d need: Though you need at least a bachelor’s degree to have a chance at getting hired, employers increasingly look for those with master’s degrees.
What you’d make: $1,331 median weekly earnings
Find medical and health services manager jobs on Monster.
Another business sector profession where women are gaining ground on men (with a 44% women’s share of the profession) is management analysts. Employment growth is also a respectable 14%.
What you’d do: This job is a numbers game—taking a deep dive into expenses, revenue, and other business figures to help make organizations more profitable.
What you’d need: Some employers prefer to hire candidates who have an MBA, but the Institute of Management Consultants USA’s Certified Management Consultant (CMC) designation is also a good way to compete for the job.
What you’d make: $1,437 median weekly earnings
Find management analyst jobs on Monster.
Physicians and surgeons
Although employment growth is just 13% (perhaps because PAs and NPs are taking on more of the health care responsibilities), the country will always need physicians and surgeons. And women, who are already making up 43% of the profession, are poised to lead the way.
What you’d do: Physicians examine, diagnose, and treat patients, while surgeons operate on patients. There are an infinite number of specialties within the field.
What you’d need: After attaining a bachelor’s degree, you must attend four years of medical school, and then several years as an intern/resident.
What you’d make: $1,677 median weekly earnings
Find physician and surgeon jobs on Monster.
Computer and information systems managers
A quarter of computer and information systems managers are now women, which means progress is being made. Employment growth is 12%, and there are many pathways for people with this skill set.
What you’d do: These technology managers are responsible for implementing the technology goals for companies and making sure that the organization has all of the technology resources it needs to function well.
What you’d need: Candidates will need at least a bachelor’s degree in computer or information science along with related experience, while some hiring managers like to see advanced coursework.
What you’d make: $1,727 median weekly earnings
Find computer and information systems manager jobs on Monster.
Engineering in general usually has a strong job outlook, and those in civil engineering roles can expect 11% growth, which is plenty respectable. However, women only make up 15% of the occupation, so those interested in this field will have to break some glass ceilings.
What you’d do: Civil engineers are responsible for conceptualizing major infrastructure projects including roads, bridges, water systems, transportation hubs, and more. Those in the field usually focus on a particular aspect of the job from planning to design to research. View this sample resume for a civil engineer.
What you’d need: Civil engineers can start out with a bachelor’s degree, but usually need a graduate degree and state licensing to advance.
What you’d make: $1,282 median weekly earnings
Find civil engineer jobs on Monster.
Lead the way
Women are poised to make significant headway in the workplace in the near future, and that means opportunities will be there for the taking. Need some help getting ready to make your move? Join Monster for free today. As a member, you can upload up to five versions of your resume—each tailored to the types of jobs that interest you. Recruiters search Monster every day looking to fill top jobs with qualified candidates, just like you. Additionally, you can sign up for career advice and job search tips that can teach you the best ways to find a high-paying job, negotiate your job offer, and seek out promotions, among other things. Why have a routine career when you have the chance to make something great happen for yourself?