Being paid well for your career doesn't need to come at the price of years of your life spent in school and hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt. In fact, you may find that the ROI (return on investment) may be more beneficial in a nonmedical career. The highest paying salaries of nonmedical careers in the United States averaged over $120,000 per year, as of May 2011, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Most were skewed to the management of people, resources and finances, although some technical professionals, such as petroleum engineers and pilots, made the list. All require at least a bachelor’s degree, with managers also needing several years of technical and administrative experience. Jobs are listed from those with the highest salary to the lowest.
Chief executives topped the list, averaging $176,550 per year. They get their high compensation by retaining ultimate responsibility over the success of a corporation, the well being of its employees and the satisfaction of its customers.
Petroleum engineers averaged $138,980 yearly. They find better and more efficient ways to produce gasoline and other products with prices that tend to be volatile.
Lawyers earned a mean annual salary of $130,490. In criminal trials, their performances can punish the guilty and free the innocent. In civil proceedings, their expertise can bring millions of dollars to litigants, from which they take a contingency fee.
Architectural and Engineering Managers
Architectural and engineering managers received a mean $129,350 per year. They oversee the efforts of highly paid technical professionals, and ensure that expensive projects are completed within their schedules and budgets.
Natural Sciences Managers
Natural science managers averaged $128,230 yearly. They coordinate biologists, environmentalists, chemists and other natural scientists to research scientific principles, create new products and improve existing processes. They often initiate projects that can improve manufacturing processes or living conditions.
Marketing managers made an annual $126,190. They plan the advertising campaigns that put goods and services in the hands of customers, thus bringing profit to corporations. They may be in charge of creative professionals, such as copy editors and graphic artists, and marketing specialists.
Computer and Information Systems Managers
Computer managers received a mean $125,660 per year. Modern businesses survive on the strength of their information systems, which these managers oversee. They coordinate subordinate staff to install, maintain and repair computer hardware and software.
These psychologists averaged $124,160 yearly. They study managers, employees, customers and suppliers, and offer ways to make their interactions more productive. Their research and recommendations can affect the way company staff works, which in turn can increase profits.
Financial managers earned a mean annual $120,450. Their high salaries come from handling finances that are necessary for corporations to function. Their duties determine the financial health of an enterprise, and how and when its investors receive monetary returns.
Airline pilots made a mean $118,070 per year. They are responsible for the lives of hundreds of passengers and crew on their airplanes, which they safely guide to the destinations on time. On international flights, they must remain attentive and alert for long hours.