5 High-Paying Jobs You May Actually Qualify For

A job’s pay is one of the most important factors in determining its position on the totem pole: how lucrative it is, the number of skilled and qualified workers employed in the position, and even how happy workers in such a position are. Pay is so important that it’s one of the first things people check out during job searches. Most people look to see if they are qualified, check out the pay, and then get into the nitty-gritty details.

There is a vast array of public data on the highest-paying jobs, particularly from government sources, like the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and salary databases, like PayScale or Salary.com. This information is valuable, as it allows job seekers to compare their job and salary against the highest-paying jobs and those median salaries. This information may also serve as a guide, or even a goal, that a person can follow on his or her path up the ladder to success.

Data, including median salary data, are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. | Graphic: Erika Rawes

While these highest-paying jobs lists provide valuable data, they do not answer the question many job seekers are really looking to have answered, because almost all of the jobs are in the medical field or in other fields where it takes years of specialized or specific education and preparation to even be considered. Few people qualify for these high-paying positions.

We’ve created a list of the highest-paying jobs that are a little more feasible for the typical four-year grad. These are positions that you can obtain with only a four-year degree, and while they may require some experience or preparation, it’s absolutely possible for career changers or recent grads to go after these positions without having to attend grad or medical school.

Source: Thinkstock

1. Marketing manager

  • Description: Marketing managers plan and organize programs that help promote interest in products or services.
  • Education and experience required: Marketing managers generally have at least a bachelor’s degree. The required experience varies. According to the BLS: “Advertising, promotional, and marketing managers typically have work experience in advertising, marketing, promotions, or sales. For example, many managers are former sales representatives; purchasing agents; buyers; or product, advertising, promotions, or public relations specialists.” Marketing managers may come from diverse backgrounds.
  • Job outlook: About average. The BLS expects 12% growth between 2012 and 2022.
  • Salary: The median annual salary is $123,220, as of 2013.

Source: Thinkstock

2. Sales manager

  • Description: Sales managers lead and organize teams of sales professionals. They set goals, organize training programs, and sort through data.
  • Education and experience required: Usually, applicants have a bachelor’s degree and at least one year of sales or sales-related experience. Some candidates who have several years of sales experience obtain this position without a bachelor’s degree.
  • Job outlook: About average. The BLS expects 8% growth between 2012 and 2022.
  • Salary: The median annual salary is $108,540, as of 2013.

Source: Thinkstock

3. Database administrator

  • Description: Database administrators (or DBAs) store and maintain data records in computer systems. Generally, DBAs are proficient in database administration systems, like Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server.
  • Education and experience required: Generally, candidates have a bachelor’s degree in an IT-related discipline. But people can certainly obtain this job with less than five years of experience. Many applicants also obtain a certification in the program or product they use on the job.
  • Job outlook: Faster than average. The BLS expects 16% growth between 2012 and 2022.
  • Salary: The median annual salary is $78,520, as of 2013.

Source: Thinkstock

4. Technical writer

  • Description: Technical writers write manuals, journal articles, or other text. They break down difficult-to-understand concepts into language that’s easily digestible for the average person.
  • Education and experience required: Most employers require a bachelor’s degree in English, journalism, or the subject area the technical writer will be focusing on. There is a often a degree of short-term on-the-job training associated with technical writing positions, but applicants may have less than five years of experience.
  • Job outlook: Faster than average. The BLS expects 15% growth between 2012 and 2022.
  • Salary: The median annual salary is $67,900, as of 2013.

Source: Thinkstock

5. Business operations specialists

  • Description: Business operations specialists use data analysis to help advise businesses on how to run more efficiently.
  • Education and experience required: A bachelor’s degree is generally the minimal level of education required for most positions. Some business specialists have a military background, and others have experience in business management, consulting, or research.
  • Job outlook: The BLS expects rapid growth within this position (27% between 2012 and 2022).
  • Salary: The median annual salary is $66,090, as of 2013.

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