Seven Top-Paying, All-American Jobs
By Chelsea Lin, PayScale.com
The American dream may have evolved over the years -- after all, many people now would rather spend their disposable income on the newest iPad than save for that house with the white picket fence -- but regardless of what we want, it still takes money.
Online salary database PayScale.com reviewed Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data to determine the most common jobs in the US (common in that they employ the greatest number of people) with the highest earnings potential. We found seven popular, all-American careers whose annual median salaries average at least $11,000 more than the national median salary of $39,500. It’s worth noting, too, that not all of these jobs require a four-year degree.
Chase your American dream by checking out these seven common, well-paying jobs:
1. Registered Nurse
Median Annual Salary: $61,400
Not a job for the faint of heart, nursing usually involves working with sick patients. Among their many responsibilities, registered nurses run tests and oversee treatments. Nurses spend long hours on their feet and face emotionally charged situations, making this job a challenge. The upside? Helping to improve and save lives. Nurse education requirements start at two years, though more advanced paths exist.
Find registered nurse jobs.
2. Certified Public Accountant
Median Annual Salary: $61,100
If working with numbers is your thing, consider that certified public accountants (or CPAs) can work for themselves or for public accounting firms; both options mean spending your day accounting, auditing and managing taxes for individuals or businesses. A bachelor’s degree in accounting is your best bet, though you’ll also have to pass a licensing exam. Job prospects are expected to be good.
Find CPA jobs.
Median Annual Salary: $59,800
Auditors -- who evaluate a company’s finances and check for fraud -- enjoy the same job-growth prospects as CPAs and nearly the same average salary. Also, much like accountants, the hours tend to be long, particularly for the self-employed. Most professionals have at least a bachelor’s degree.
Find auditor jobs.
4. Facilities Director
Median Annual Salary: $57,900
Facilities directors keep an eye on everything related to a property -- supplies, finances, technology, staff and more. Since messy situations can arise during off- hours (think flooding from a broken pipe), facilities directors are often on call. A background in real estate, construction or related field makes this job easier to get and keep.
Find facilities director jobs.
5. Operations Manager
Median Annual Salary: $57,200
With such a broad range of responsibilities -- essentially overseeing daily business functions -- an operations manager has a lot on her plate. Heather Landaker, an operations manager at Autonet Mobile in California since 2008, says the job “encompasses all aspects of a business: sales, customer service, support, facilities, marketing, systems analysis and more.” Though Landaker has a bachelor’s degree, it’s not a requirement for the job.
Find operations manager jobs.
6. Payroll Manager
Median Annual Salary: $51,000
Payroll managers deal with tax reporting, benefits and the payroll systems of a business. Previous payroll experience is important, as is a bachelor’s degree in business, accounting or similar discipline.
Find payroll manager jobs.
7. Automotive Retail Salesperson
Median Annual Salary: $50,900
Retail sales is the most common job family in the US, and auto sales has the highest average salary of these positions, says Katie Bardaro, lead analyst at PayScale. Therefore, “if you want to find a retail job and earn a good wage, go into automotive sales rather than other types of retail sales,” she says. A high school diploma is almost always necessary, according to the BLS, and most dealers prefer prior sales experience.
Find auto sales jobs.
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.