The 6 Best (And Highest Paying!) Jobs in America

CNN Money just came out with their latest snapshot on the best new jobs in America right now, and not surprisingly none of them were in my own 30+ gig work history ;) I don’t know the methodology they used to come up with these 6 favorites of theirs – they kinda just plopped ’em on up htere – but either way I thought you’d be interested to see them… You know, in case you’re *ahem* bored with whatever place you’re at right now reading this! ;) Your boss isn’t around, is he/she?

Here’s their top list, along with the median pay for each of them and some pros and cons to boot. The article has a lot more in-depth knowledge on them (like “what they do all day” and “how to get the job”), but those weren’t as exciting to me, so you’ll have to click over to the article if you want more ;)

  1. Video Game Designer ($52,200) — PROS: You get to make games all day long! And then watch everyone enjoy them too :) CONS: Incredibly competitive – everyone and their mom wants this gig.
  2. Solar Sales Consultant ($45,100) — PROS: It’s thrilling to land deals and do something good for future generations at the same time. CONS: It’s sales. You have to be crazy good with people and comfortable with the instability of commission-based work. (Always Be Closing!)
  3. IT Data Scientist ($98,600) — PROS: Working in a cutting-edge field and getting paid BANK for it. CONS: Pretty intense and lots of burn out.
  4. Wind Turbine Mechanical Engineer ($61,300) — PROS: Lots of training and opportunity for career advancement, as well as travel. CONS: You have to be damn good with extreme heights!
  5. Social Media Manager ($41,700) — PROS: You get access to all kinds of information and business inner-workings, not to mention have fun interacting with people all day on Twitter/Facebook/etc! (For some reason CNN didn’t put that part in, but I am ;) It IS a pro!) CONS: Everything’s in “real time” and tracked, adding to the pressure. You make a dumb mistake there, and it can go out to the entire public and ruin an image! (Yours AND the company’s)
  6. Sustainability Consultant ($59,200) — PROS: “Enacting changes that make a real difference is enormously gratifying.” CONS: Super fast field and no room for complacency. You constantly need to be re-educating yourself with the latest practices and evolving standards.

I think #5 and #6 are my favorites – I’m already managing my OWN social media! The rest would just be too stressful and/or uninteresting to me – especially that sales consultant one, bleh. As much as I’ve been good at it over the years (I was both a realtor and a timeshare rep for brief amounts of time), sales in general has always seemed to go against my natural personality. Which sucks cuz there’s some GOOOOOD money in that field! Which I’m sure some of you are healthily reaping right now :)

I also stumbled across CNN’s Top Paying Jobs in America too while poking around – most of which we already know about. Here are the top 6 of the 12 of them I re-arranged myself by “top pay” (Again, cuz it’s more interesting):

  1. Neurosurgeon –> $643,000
  2. Petroleum Engineer –>$265,000
  3. Dentist –> $253,000
  4. Petroleum Geologist –> 247,000
  5. Actuary –>$208,000
  6. Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) –>$205,000

That’s some serious dough! And it looks like the petroleum sector is where it’s at too… The actuary thing kinda sounds cool at first glance, but I do wonder if you then tend to ROOT for the people to die when you forecast them to? You know, just to prove you were right? I’m sure there’s a lot more to it all than just that, but how do you know how good or not someone is without the hard numbers in the end? Kind of a weird and morbid gig if you ask me, but it takes all kinds to run this world! (Or the insurance world, at least, haha…)

Anyways, there you have it. The best and highest paying jobs out in America right now, and probably around the world too I reckon. By a show of hands, how many of you are already rocking one of these?? Have any more pros or cons to share with us? Or are y’all so rich you don’t need to be reading personal finance blogs at all? Haha… I’m just waiting for the day BLOGGERS get added to this list ;) Nothing says American like exercising your free speech! And getting paid for it!

Photo by Yinghai

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  1. Heather Stephens November 14, 2012 at 6:46 AM

    It feels funny (and kind’a cool) to be in a career listed here. As a social media manager, there are some definite perks of getting to have fun in social media all day. The people make it fun and keep it interesting and you have a legitimate excuse to read blogs, play on pinterest, and write to your heart’s content (and then some). With my company there are opportunities to travel and attend conferences on the company’s dime which is fun too. And it’s a very in-demand job with lots of opportunity to grow if you’re good at what you do!

    The challenges are that Social Media never turns off. I live my life “on call” when it comes to work, checking in every couple of hours to make sure there are no customer service issues or negativity you need to diffuse. Not bad since I can check it from anywhere on my phone, and the company I work for has a great personality online with happy followers, but it still should be considered for people who want down-time from work.

    Vacations: while I work for a great company that offers me unlimited paid time off, I can’t let our accounts go silent, so I work like a crazy woman to get things scheduled wile I’m gone and then again when I get back to get caught up. It’s much better now that I have a social media coordinator helping me!

    I think the biggest con for me is that my personal blogging and social media accounts are like the cobbler’s kids who have no shoes. Like any job, I’m tired at the end of the day and have reached my personal quota for Facebook, Twitter, and blogging. More often than not I just don’t feel like engaging on my own profiles or writing a post for my own blogs.

    Even though the pay sucks, being a mom is my #1 pick for best job. :)

  2. Lance @ Money Life and More November 14, 2012 at 7:19 AM

    My girlfriend was thinking about being a CRNA but I think she decided against it because it gets pretty boring. Oh well, I guess my blog will have to be the thing to make six figures one day :)

  3. Stephanie @ Empowered Dollar November 14, 2012 at 8:39 AM

    I just got a job designing videogames that teach kids about money :) Even though it’s a competitive field, there are a lot of job opportunities besides actually designing the game itself – sales, engineering, programming, project management. And check out the startup space for openings – more and more companies are popping up that use gaming to engage consumers!

  4. Greg@ClubThrifty November 14, 2012 at 9:14 AM

    Wind turbine mechanical engineer, eh? That sounds like a lot of no fun to me. Lots of travel to the middle of nowhere and heights…yuck.

    I can’t believe that mortician isn’t on there!

  5. Budget & the Beach November 14, 2012 at 9:25 AM

    I would say another con for video games (because I used to work in that industry) is the incredibly long hours for game designers, and the volatile nature of the industry, meaning everyone I know has gotten laid off multiple times if that work in that industry. Adding a big question mark to dentistry, because my dad was a dentist, and I’m pretty sure he didn’t come close to making that. I could be wrong, but I don’t think so. I think dentistry has changed though since my dad worked in that it’s very technology based and there are all kinds of fancy tools and procedures. Almost like plastic surgery now. Back in the old days it was just fillings. :)

  6. Serena @ Thrift Diving November 14, 2012 at 9:46 AM

    Yep, I’m not surprised Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) is on that list. My sister is an ER nurse and comments often about how a CRNA makes BANK! Another nursing friend of mine that just started his nursing program also points out the salaries of CRNAs! Not for me, though….I can’t stand careers where I have to take care of people. I’m kind of selfish like ‘dat. LOL

    Thrift Diving

  7. MainlineMom November 14, 2012 at 9:55 AM

    I live in petroleum engineering and geologist land (Houston) and while I am trained in petroleum engineering I don’t work in it right now. But I wonder where they got those figures because that doesn’t seem like the average salary to me. I know there are some who make that much but there are many others who don’t (they still make a lot, but not over 200K). Unless you count benefits…if you count those maybe. They travel a ton and not usually to great places.

    Being wealthy and reading personal finance blogs are not mutually exclusive, btw :)

  8. Ornella @ Moneylicious November 14, 2012 at 10:47 AM

    It would be interesting to comprise all the BLOGGERS that make over $100K. I know a few already. And then maybe BLOGGERS will be added to the list :-)

  9. J. Money November 14, 2012 at 1:07 PM

    Great discussions so far guys! Loving it!

    @Heather Stephens – YAYY!!! And because you’re a social media manager I got to meet you at one of those conferences! Gotta love that ;) And you’re totally right with media NEVER shutting off – it can be stressful. Esp while out on vacation and what not too – even though you’re “away” you can easily be called back in at any time! Same goes for managing a blog too – if that server goes down on vacation, you can bet your sweet ass I’ll be working to get it back up no matter where I am. Esp since now my livelihood depends on it ;) But thanks so much for sharing your personal pros and cons with us about your gig – it’s fascinating to see! And hilarious you commented at 6-something AM, haha… you are hardcore, my friend.
    @Lance @ Money Life and More – Haha, it’s been known to happen ;) At one point I myself was considering going into the CRNA route, or at least the RN route, but my A.D.D. and other hobbies quickly kicked it out, haha… It’s a solid one though!
    @Stephanie @ Empowered Dollar – What? You did??? That is awesome!! Congrats! I had no idea :) I totally want the inside scoop later once you’ve been there for a while, okay? I’ll trade you a beer for it.
    @Greg@ClubThrifty – Haha that’s a job that will never disappear! Unfortunately ;)
    @Budget & the Beach – Oh yeah, technology has changed a TON of careers over the years, and luckily added a whole new set too when the internet came about! Or else you’d be talking to a wall right now instead of me :)
    @Serena @ Thrift Diving – HAH! I think I’d be good at it if I really tried hard and gained a little more patience (something Baby $ is helping me with now ;)), but the idea of going through all that training and starting from scratch would just be crazy town… I’d consider it again though if we were going back in time, haha…
    @MainlineMom – Hehe, I know, but for the majority of people I bet they are :) Cool to learn you know about petroleum engineering though! I’ve never even heard of the term until I read that article… Crazy how so many of us can be so skilled at things that others have no idea about, huh?
    @Ornella @ Moneylicious – Oh yeah! Same here. But once you average it all out the salaries would drop to like $0.05 a year unfortunately ;) You’d have to only factor in full-time bloggers who make it a business over a hobby.

  10. Kevin Vesga November 14, 2012 at 1:14 PM

    A CON for jobs involving video games: with all the hours you spent playing the game, by the time the release date hits you’ll not be as enthusiastic about playing the game compared to the general public.

    Also you don’t necessarily get to choose which game to work on. Though maybe being put outside your comfort zone can be a PRO.

  11. savvyfinanciallatina November 14, 2012 at 2:11 PM

    I live in Texas, helllo oil!!! I didn’t have a knack for engineering, but I’m hoping my brother does too. Because I’m going to need his help taking care of our mom in the future. He likes chemistry so far! I hated chemistry!!! Crossing my fingers.

  12. Kris November 14, 2012 at 3:22 PM

    Dentist is the most appealing, although at my age is not going to happen. I have a friend who is a surgeon, and he said if he could do it all over again he would be a dentist. Every job has its ups and downs, but for doctors being a dentist seems a little more positive, you get to know your patients better, and still make good $$$. Can you tell I wish I could go back to being 18 again to choose a career! :)

  13. becca November 14, 2012 at 4:11 PM

    Actually, we’re running low on burial space. I’m not sure mortician will be around forever, about 1/3 of people go the cremation route as is.

    I think wind turbine engineer sounds AWESOME! I mean, I could get PAID to climb up 300 feet?! WHEEE!
    (NB: in another life, where I was more talented, I would’ve been a good cirque du soleil performer)

  14. LB @ Finanical Black Sheep November 14, 2012 at 6:31 PM

    1 thru 6 of the top new jobs, seem to have a lot of burn-out and turnover. Makes me wonder how long those jobs will be around and how much they will actually pay in the future. I have a knack for finding jobs that will NOT exist in 5 years. I bet if I did more research I could figure it out. Probably not what you were looking for in a conversation, as it looks as more of the downside to the new jobs, instead of the excitement.

    I always check out the top paying jobs, just to see what is trending for this moment. I saw that the top 100 had specifics on what made it a good job like: personal satisfaction, low stress, benefit to society, and flexibility which are all good, but who decides what makes each job satisfying, or flexible, surveys of random people in the job or estimates and forecasts of what jobs will look like? Either way, not a good way to decide the true value of a job. I want to know real facts, like how easy it is to get into the field, the average pay, the starting pay and the real benefits for the average person.

  15. Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager November 14, 2012 at 6:44 PM

    Next stop: IT Data Scientist ($98,600) ;)

  16. Cassi November 14, 2012 at 8:54 PM

    Interesting to see how much the very best jobs are paid on average. I’m going to start college in the fall of 2013, so I have been looking for information like this, but I think I will stick to my physics major for now. (Starting salary is an average of $50,000. Very competitive, but my current dream job, so I am going for it!)

  17. Mitch November 14, 2012 at 9:02 PM

    Working as Social Media Manager is an interesting job. Doing Twitter and Facebook all day is a fun way to earn moolah. But just like the Video game developer who is no longer excited when the game is released in the market, you also don’t get excited in opening your own Facebook and Twitter account.

  18. J. Money November 15, 2012 at 8:04 AM

    @Kevin Vesga – Oh yeah! Didn’t even think of that… I bet you also get super critical about ALL the games you end up seeing or playing too ;) Like always trying to break it or see how things were done/etc, haha… Kinda like what my dad does everytime we watch a movie involving helicopters and especially stunts. He’s always like, “Hey! That could never happen cuz of XYZ” as he used to be a pilot :)
    @savvyfinanciallatina – Haha, I hope he does too then!
    @Kris – If only we had a time machine :)
    @becca – 1/3 of people? Wow, that’s a lot higher than I would have expected actually… you think it’s trending on an upward path then pretty fast?
    @LB @ Finanical Black Sheep – So basically you want a crystal ball? :)
    @Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager – Yeah? Is that your next move? :)
    @Cassi – Good for you!!! On not only going for that dream job of yours, but KNOWING what it is! Most of us don’t ever figure it out until we’re way past college or even ever, haha… You’re gonna love it! I know everyone says college is one of the best times of your life, but I’m gonna say it anyways – College is one of the best times of your life!! Soak it all in! :)
    @Mitch – Oh yeah, I bet. I mean I’ve tried to use my personal accounts myself on my time off, and every time I sit down to do it I just have no motivation at all… unlike before I started blogging and going as this “J. Money” character ;) Luckily I can be as personal as I want on here though so at least that helps.

  19. Chris November 15, 2012 at 11:54 AM

    I’m in IT so I thought a data scientist would be similar to my job. It’s not. It’s not even close. I’ll just focus on managing a bunch of data scientists one day. CIO here I come!

  20. J. Money November 16, 2012 at 9:13 AM

    Haha I would have thought the same thing too!