For some people, the New Year is a time to start looking for a new job. It could be a resolution of theirs, or a product of the heartlessly utilitarian practice of firing people during the holidays. Knowing this, we decided to take a look at the National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates to see if there were well-paying jobs from places you wouldn’t expect. Sure enough, there were, with plenty of jobs you’d never expect paying the kind of money most people don’t make. What’s even better about the list, there’s more than one childhood dream job on here, so, for some people, not giving up on their dreams wasn’t just stubborn, it was financially responsible.
Anesthesiologists kick off the list mostly because of their position on the OES’s list. They’re the topmost profession, bringing in more money than any other career listed on the site, an impressive feat considering the company. But more impressive because we’ve had surgery before and, statistically, the guy who put us to sleep made more than the surgeon who actually fixed us.
We assume the job is a little more complicated than just putting a mask over someone’s mouth. There are calculations you have to do based on body size, body type, sex, and where exactly you need someone to not feel things. A number or two in the wrong place could end up turning a patient into a corpse, so hopefully the extra income is enough of an incentive for the doctor to double check their math and our mask’s seal. We just weren’t expecting that much of an extra income. Link
There’s probably too much money in the fossil fuel industry, so the income of petroleum engineers should be a bit of a warning sign, not an employment advertisement. If people are getting paid this much, that means there’s going to be a fight when it finally comes time to switch energy sources. We don’t want to sound like we’re endorsing taking away people’s hard-earned money, we’re just saying that the more we pay people who work with fossil fuels, the harder we’re making it on ourselves in the long run. Maybe we’re being too naive and idealistic, but we thought there’d be a lot less money in an industry where it’s a verifiable fact that there’s not a hell of a lot of product left and that takes millions of years to replenish. Link
Historians don’t make a lot of money, so don’t think that untold riches await you if you devote your life to historical literacy. That’s not what we’re saying. What we’re saying is, we’re surprised historians make comfortable livings at all. Sixty grand is enough to keep you pleasantly alive, which is surprising for a profession whose findings the world routinely ignores. From the way the world shamelessly disregards the warnings inherent in historical precedent in nearly every single way, you’d think historians’ main source of income was sticky loose change from the floors of movie theaters, subway stations, and what they could sneak from the coffee cup of the guy living next to them. Link
Foresters are similar to historians in that the average forester earns a comfortable living while we continuously ignore them. Basically, a forester is a Lorax and we’re the people who keep building bendy-armed saws to slice through as much of the woodland as we can. Luckily, there’s good news there, as it appears the United States has been reforesting in a significant way since 1990. That could only mean good things for foresters as the years go on, since more trees equals more jobs. It’s also reassuring that people who like trees can actually make a living doing what they love. Link
There’s a really specific reputation that goes with midwives. You know the one, where they get brought to mysterious rundown mansions and are either haunted, possessed, or murdered by ghosts in books you didn’t read in high school. They also have to wear period accurate but attractive clothing and become objects of temptation for men and jealousy for women. Pretty standard stuff.
But while Turn of the Screw was convincing you that female caregivers are being traumatized by the supernatural, they were actually making way more money than you. They’ve also gone to specialized graduate programs, so they’re more educated than you too. Basically, these people went and turned their profession into indispensible, lucrative careers while we were all distracted by the 18th and 19th century stereotypes. Actually, now that we put it that way, what else are we missing? Link
Funeral Service Managers
Most of the time, when a loved one dies, bills are the last thing you think about. You just pay what people tell you is owed and hope that it stops the pain. Maybe that’s how they got to earn so much. We recognize that’s a little cynical. It operates under the assumption that the profession is based on taking advantage of grieving families. Plenty of these professionals have lent a helping, guiding hand to families who were starting to cave under the depressing weight of death, and it’s a crime against them to group them with their more unsavory counterparts. But it’s a bit weird when a funeral service manager makes roughly the same as a commercial pilot or radiation technician. Also, what’s the $30,000 difference between a funeral service manager and a mortician? Link
When we were in college, a lot of people fulfilled science requirements with “Rocks for Jocks.” We never took it, but from what we heard, the name wasn’t unearned. It pretty much was looking at rocks and saying dumb things about them. We’re also now realizing that this is basic Geology, not Geography, so maybe we should have taken the class.
But there’s definitely some geology in geography, so if Rocks for Jocks piqued someone’s interest, it wasn’t a bad course to continue and expand. If you were living on your own, you’d be upper middle class, which is a perfectly respectable economic position to hold, and probably the highest people can reasonably aspire to. The job’s also more complicated than we originally thought, incorporating anthropological and economic elements in addition to the normal Earth’s surface stuff. Plus there’s always the chance you could get tapped for a National Geographic documentary or something, and it’s always fun to be involved in the more intelligent aspects of television. Link
As best we can tell, geoscientists are geographers who are better paid. And also aren’t technically geographers. Basically anyone who works with the land or components of the land on a large scale is considered a geoscientist. This includes mineralogists, crystallographers, paleontologists, and seismologists, all jobs that we’d consider should this one ever fall through. These are the people who not only make sure the Earth keeps spinning, but can tell us why it’s spinning, who’s been spinning on it, and what exactly this spinning thing is made of. They also make a ton of money, apparently. Link
Our understanding of astronomers can be boiled down into two points: they warn us when we’re about to be destroyed by asteroids and tell us about planets that we might be able to escape to. Both crucial jobs, but not ones we ever expected would be particularly well-funded, since by the time their information is relevant, it’s probably too late for most of us. And part of us is betting this number’s a bit skewed, since Elon Musk probably has a half-dozen millionaire astronomers/magicians on his payroll who are ready to whisk him to Mars at the smallest mention of personal danger. In any case, the pay for an astronomer is high enough that people that like looking up and telescopes can expect to be comfortable at every level of their career. Link
That veterinarians make the list, and are so high up in the dollar amount, is reassuring. Yes, they’re doctors and work in the medical profession, so money’s going to be easily accessible, but this is also one of the only childhood dream professions on the list. Almost every kid has, at some point, wanted to be a vet when they grow up, and it’s great that not only is that viable, it’s lucrative. If your child is playing doctor with stuffed animals, encourage that behavior. Not only are they having a great time, but that might actually turn into a more stable retirement plan than any promise of a pension or employer matched 401k. The stock market can screw you, but pets are always going to need medical attention, and if your kid can give it, then you’ll see some benefits from what could easily be a six-figure income. Oh, and there’s nothing like seeing your child’s smiling face and knowing they’re happy. That’s good too. Link