List of reasonable, long-term, high-paying jobs.

Hey guys.

I've been compiling a list of high-paying jobs that one could pursue during college because I've been curious and wanting to see what other industries have to offer besides finance. I'm not doing this as a way to encourage people to pursue jobs just because they pay well, this is purely out of curiosity and so I've come here since I know many people who browse this site are well-informed in finance as well as other high-paying industries.

The jobs listed must not be unreasonably difficult to attain (Actor, singer, POTUS, entrepreneur) as well as having livable hours (Only job seriously affected by this rule is non-capital markets IB). In no order of income here is my list:

Financial Industry and Accounting:

-ECM/DCM Investment Banking

-Investment Management (AM)

-Corporate Banking

-Private Wealth Management/Private Banking

-Private Equity

-Corporate Finance/Development

-Audit/Tax Accountant

Legal Industry:

-Biglaw Attorney (Non-NYC firms in any field)

-In-house Lawyer

Non-Finance Business Roles:

-Management Consulting (Including IT and Strategy Consulting)

-Corporate Strategy

-Any Executive/Higher-up Position at a F500 Company

Engineering and STEM Roles:

-Software Engineering

-Petroleum Engineering

-Actuarial Science

-Quantitative Analyst

-Data Scientist

-Any job in medicine/dentistry (includes surgeons, orthodontists and any other medical specialist)

Other Industries:

-Film/Talent Agent

This is what my list currently looks like, I didn't include other branches of engineering (mechanical, electrical) as they cap out far before petroleum and software which is the only reason why they made the list.

My question to you and the whole point of my post is to ask if anyone has any suggestions for my list. If anyone has any other ideas for industries that pay well late into your career, have hours that won't kill you and aren't close to impossible to attain I'd like to know. Is there any industries or jobs that I may have missed, some hidden opportunities that some don't know about?

(Also, I know some may find this dumb or pointless if you do, fair enough)

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Comments (52)

Aug 19, 2018 - 6:38pm

Entrepreneur really isn't that hard FYI. If you're comfortable making less than $200k a year, it's pretty to get to that with a small business like niche consulting services, etc...

  • 1
Aug 19, 2018 - 10:23pm

Entrepreneur really isn't that hard FYI

hmmm.... I think this is what it seems like starting, but I would say a major challenge for most entrepreneurs in the beginning is establishing a consistent and increasing revenue/sales pipeline. Hitting erratic income for the first couple years is extremely common and it sometimes takes a bit of fine tuning to get past this stage into making a solid and consistent six figure salary.

Also, I would say that entrepreneurs have higher earnings potential than a mid-level corporate person. The entrepreneur is taking on more risk than the person who went corporate and to only settle for $150K or $200K and be happy with it, is probably not the mindset of many entrepreneurs going into that trade, but rather more the mindset of a small business owner (possibly from out of the country).

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

  • 3
Aug 19, 2018 - 7:30pm

Biglaw was the only job on my list that was "on the border" of not passing the "livable hours" criteria. Though I've talked to a couple lawyers from some Biglaw firms on the West Coast and outside of NY and many say that on most days when there isn't anything big going on, they are out before dinner time but usually have to come in at around 7-7:30 as associates. While they probably get more hours if they reach Partner, it still has "livable" hours though I should have specified that it was specifically outside of NY.

Also, completely forgot people in dentistry/orthodontistry get a different license than doctors so I just assumed "any job in medicine" covered it. Will edit my post to fix it.

Thanks for the comment!

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Aug 20, 2018 - 4:23pm

Some PMC guys clear $300k annually. I've heard of former SOF going to Triple Canopy and Academii and making that much money.

“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.” - Nassim Taleb
Aug 20, 2018 - 10:27am

Great list, though you could add on sales of any kind to the list. Granted 99% of them cap out at around 200k at the max which is less than any of the roles here, you could still make a comfortable living in a low-COL city. Highest paid are usually in insurance, real estate or selling expensive objects like solar panels

Aug 20, 2018 - 4:25pm

I work in residential real estate sales/ real estate brokerage. If you're in a nice area (LA/ NYC/ SF/ etc) people clear $200k frequently. I know several people who clear $500k.. but work is life so throw work/ life balance out the window.
Commercial Real Estate Brokers make a lot more too. Check out the RE forum on this site.

“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.” - Nassim Taleb
  • 3
Nov 25, 2021 - 12:23pm


I work in residential real estate sales/ real estate brokerage. If you're in a nice area (LA/ NYC/ SF/ etc) people clear $200k frequently. I know several people who clear $500k.. but work is life so throw work/ life balance out the window.
Commercial Real Estate Brokers make a lot more too. Check out the RE forum on this site.

Yes and no but super hard job to be successful at it. Most CRE brokers I know fail within the first year. Majority can't survive past 2 years. Its a competitive business and fees are getting thinner.


Aug 20, 2018 - 11:09am

I work with a lot of executives in consumer lending. It can be a pretty chill way to earn a decent salary if you're not interested in getting to the very top. It's probably not as sexy or pretigous as other parts of the bank but it seems even the people responsible for managing a P&L aren't horribly stressed.

  • 1
Aug 20, 2018 - 11:15am

Specialty Divers make good money (I think I read they can make north of 250k). Not exactly sure if that is the correct name for them though... Basically trade people that learn how to weld but do it for underwater construction.

Guessing its pretty risky though to be paid that much... plus you probably have to be a great welder along AND experienced / physically fit diver AND be somewhat intelligent (probably some experiences in mechanical / electrical / structural engineering)

Also not sure how long you can do this for... guess it depends on your fitness / genetics going into your 40s.

Aug 20, 2018 - 12:13pm

Yes, Deep Sea Welders are rumored to be paid close to $250-$500k depending on the area they work in. When I worked at the shipyards (many moons ago), I've met a few veterans who went into the industry after their contract was up as welders. The work is really hard on the body, but the compensation was probably one of the highest there.

No pain no game.

Aug 20, 2018 - 5:28pm

Thanks so much for all the suggestions guys!

So noted I was missing a couple: Dentistry, Private Military and Deep Sea Welders (Although career lengths aren't too long) as well as Real Estate, Insurance and High-End Sales jobs.
Anyone else has other ideas for what my list may be missing, I'd love to hear them.

Aug 22, 2018 - 1:39pm
The Pharma Guy:

* Railroad Conductor - up to $120K

I don't think the point is to name careers in which you could make that money, but can be reasonably expected to. If the highest paid person in your career path is making $125k, then I wouldn't think that is a reasonable career expectation. If the median person is making it, then sure.

Aug 22, 2018 - 2:12pm

True but by 'up to' I don't mean necessarily that the highest person is making that much money, it's about which company does so. Like in banking one could say you can make up to XXX meaning the median salary at the top firm. In my examples if we take the Sommelier, up to $150K means the median salary at the highest level restaurants (2-3 Michlein stars) or for the top wine companies (Dom Perignon, Krug etc) hence why I see them in part as reasonable.

Aug 22, 2018 - 4:47pm

What about the other 95% of STEM jobs that weren't included, firefighters, cops, EMTs, any blue collar job, teachers, back-office roles at any F500 company except for banks, the military, the entire culinary field, and a few others I'm probably forgetting.

Aug 22, 2018 - 7:21pm

I'm actually working on a whole awareness/educational system about career paths so this thread has been an interesting read.

My thesis on the world of work (at least for ISCO level 1, 2 and 3 gigs) after the ~7 years or so of hobbyist data gathering and research I've done is that there are roughly 3 realms: the business realm, the skilled worker realm and the social service realm.

Some roles straddle more than one (e.g. a surgeon is both a skilled worker and a social servant, lawyers pretty much live in two distinct worlds of corporate vs non-corporate etc) but ultimately those are the groups and each group has their own characterstics, trade-offs, comp dynamics etc.

It's not so much about stable or non-stable gigs or money but more about where you as a person fit into the whole mosaic of it all - renders most conversations about career lists like the one in this thread pretty useless since you really have to decide for yourself which tradeoffs/lifestyle/path you're best suited for.

  • 2
Aug 22, 2018 - 1:37pm

What is the definition of a "high paying job"? Prevailing wage for plumbers in NYC is ~$80/hour, benefits included. At 40 hours a week for a 50 work week year, that's $160,000 pre-tax. Plus whatever you could make on weekends or whatever doing odd tasks, if you wanted. I'm sure thats another 5-10k per year without too much effort.

Aug 22, 2018 - 2:04pm

you forgot brand management

Assistant BM at P&G make like $125 out of grad school. In the midwest that's good money.

Product managers in Tech make good money also

Aug 23, 2018 - 9:29am

No joke - I would have seriously considered apprenticing with a master electrician in lieu of a BBA in finance if I knew what I do now. These guys are sooooo valuable, along with stonemasons, waterproofers, elevator techs, HVAC techs, plumbers, etc... Massive demand/supply imbalance. Also prime opportunity to start your own company with a very high success rate.

The secret is that low-level white collar work is getting quickly automated away while skilled labor wages are soaring because millennials chose not to get into the trades.

Oct 27, 2018 - 10:18pm

They make that like after 10-20 years of working. Incomparable to what the OP posted. I'm noticing this "oh yea plumbers make $75 an hour" talk everywhere but my gut tells me there's a major catch to that statement I'm missing. So I'm going to say too good to be true.

Not throwing shade, not in the position to, just saying.


Oct 28, 2018 - 11:07am
Tony Montana:

They make that like after 10-20 years of working. Incomparable to what the OP posted. I'm noticing this "oh yea plumbers make $75 an hour" talk everywhere but my gut tells me there's a major catch to that statement I'm missing. So I'm going to say too good to be true.

Not throwing shade, not in the position to, just saying.

The only catch is that you, literally, deal with shit everyday..

Aug 24, 2018 - 11:55am

I'm UK based but is the US really that far ahead of UK in terms of pay? For example US$90k puts you in the top 5% of earners in London. I work in the city and I can tell you the majority of people here definitely do not earn near $200k per annum.

Either wages in US are insanely high compared to UK, people are reporting outliers as representative of the average (e.g. the plumber who works 100 hours a week, the entrepreneur you know who is not that bright but got very lucky) or it's just college kids with an unrealistic view of the real world. Which one?

Aug 24, 2018 - 3:02pm

It is true that wages are higher in the US in general (it's a more productive society as a whole, we're pretty overweight on the lower end here in the UK).

But I also think you're missing the fact that the exchange rate has dropped in a freak move (hi brexit) and that a lot of the numbers being thrown out on this thread are top band numbers. The reality is most people in general will never even begin to see the numbers folks talk about on this site - which makes sense, most people aren't the contributors or lurkers of WSO who are uniformly a very different strand of society.

  • 2
Aug 24, 2018 - 2:03pm

Petroleum engineer is somewhat misleading. The high salary is important to bring over people who otherwise would have gone mechanical and chemical, and with such a cyclical industry you have to expect salary cuts or layoffs at some point in your career. My PetE friends save more than the difference they would have made in a different industry, especially with the downturn this fresh.

Aug 24, 2018 - 3:58pm

Your remarks regarding EE and ME's maxing out at a specific level is not quality information. If you strictly are referring to remuneration due to ones degree, then yes, petrols get more. However, 10 years out of EE program and I was in project management. The pay scale is significantly different even for PMs. Last role was as EE Department Manager before I chose to semi-retire. I'm 51 BTW.

Will agree it all depends on when/where/what you choose. I got into an ESOP which was an amazing stroke of good fortune over 20 years ago.

  • 3
Aug 25, 2018 - 7:49am

To be fair, if you do choose to stay technical you are pretty much capped out - the only technical career where this differs is in BigTech software engineering where senior level technical professionals make outsized amounts (comparable to management).

Most Helpful
Aug 25, 2018 - 2:15pm

Completely agree with that assessment. Even then, though, it will depend on the company for whom you work. My old A&E firm had 2 tracks. 1 - technical; 2 - Project Management. One was not necessarily considered more prestigious than the other, as highly technical people were brought into high-level meetings often times to discuss a particular technical issue that was hampering the design process.

That said, the technical guy would not sit around the same meeting talking about Potential Change Order (PCOs), Change Orders (COs), impact to schedule, adding resources/adding shifts to a construction schedule in order to make a specific technical change happen. That was always a bitch to deal with: The fact that the technical guys didn't give a damned about what project management said about budget/schedule as long as the process was tested and functioning properly. Flip side, the PM wouldn't give a damned if the technical guy got all of his empirical data gathered prior to the project going live in order to meet schedule.

Always 3 things on a construction project: Schedule, budget and quality. No matter what, the modus operandi these days is: You may have any 2 out of the 3 items listed above, but you will never get all 3. Sadly, I have found that to be true regardless of the quality of the client, the quality of the construction contractor or quality of the Prime Engineers' final engineering deliverables.

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Nov 24, 2021 - 9:48am

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