Elevator Repairers Get Paid WHAT? (And 9 Other Shockingly Well-Paid Jobs)


If you have your sights set on a home, a new car, and braces on your kids' teeth, you should first consider jobs that can get you to an income level that makes this possible. Making $75,000 a year is a good start — and these 10 surprising careers will pay you $75,000 per year or more.

1. Elevator Installer and Repairer

There are 21,270 elevator installers and repairers in the United States, earning a median wage of $78,640.

The profession is rare in states like Montana and North Dakota, which count fewer than 50 elevator installer and repairers registered in each state. That's also true for Oregon, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Utah. Oddly, however, there are far more in the state of Hawaii. It must be all the resort hotels, which suggests another benefit of this job — living near resort hotels.

2. Geographer

Why not be a geographer? The median wage in 2012 was a smidge under $75k, and you would most certainly be the talk of any party you attended, because there are only 1,700 geographers in the country. Federal data shows there are only 15 states that have less than 30 geographers working there, so if you were a geographer passing through Florida, for example, it would probably be headline news and you might even get a police escort to your destination. Once you got there, they would likely give you the keys to the city.

Geographers create maps and diagrams, but the modern geographer is not only concerned with maps of places. There are also geographers who track human activity, charting cultural and demographic trends.

One problem is that "Geographers are more likely to modify existing maps than to create entirely new ones," meaning there are few, if any, remaining places where they will put a plaque in your honor because nobody has ever mapped it before. So, the pay is good, and you'll be a novelty item at parties, but superstar status is a thing of the past.

3. Art Director

Art directors earned a median salary of $83,000 in 2013, according to the government, a clear victory for higher education, given a four-year degree with a concentration in marketing is the acceptable norm for the profession.

Art directors work, essentially, as producers for projects that are primarily visual, such as an advertising campaign or design of a communal space in a retirement home.

Responsibilities include making sure everybody has what they need to stay on schedule and do quality work. But don't be confused: The primary focus is on administrative tasks involving art projects rather than production of the art itself.

4. Air Traffic Controller

Although special training is required, working as an air traffic controller remains the route to one of the best financial outcomes you can achieve with a four-year degree. The downside is stress-city. The upside is a median income of $122,530 per year.

If you want to join the profession, start young; the Federal Aviation Administration has an age limit of 30 for anyone entering the field. You'll also need to get through an FAA interview, physical, and drug testing; and you'll need to be a United States citizen.

5. Ship Engineer

We're fudging a little here because ship engineer is just so cool, but with a mean income of $75,650 (rather than a median income of $69,660, the measure we've used for all the rest), becoming a ship's engineer might be worth exploring.

You can't get a more authentic answer on what this job entails than one provided by the Maine Maritime Academy, where you might spend some time on the way to becoming a ship engineer.

The responsibility of the engineering staff on a ship? Succinctly put, "the propulsion system of a vessel," the academy says.

Picture your car with someone assigned to ride along under the hood and keep the engine in tip-top shape as you roll along. Commercial ships average four engineers set up in a distinct pecking order running from chief engineer on down to 3rd assistant engineer.

Besides the salary, consider the perks. Ships do have a tendency to travel to exotic lands at least some of the time. And the places of employment sound at least a bit amusing: "cruise ships, casino boats, sightseeing boats, and ferries." It could be worse than starting your work week in New York and ending it in the Bahamas.

6. Financial Analyst

There are several positions in finance that can reap serious financial rewards, including positions at banks that pay off with huge bonuses at the end of the year, if the firm does well.

Financial analysts "provide guidance to businesses and individuals making investment decisions. They assess the performance of stocks, bonds, and other types of investments." The median salary is $76,950 per year.

On the negative side, it can be a competitive (meaning stressful), bottom line-oriented occupation that has been going through seismic readjustments since the recession. That said, job growth is expected to be robust over the next decade.

7. Nurse Anesthetist

Like the category above, healthcare includes several jobs with incomes that peak well above $75,000, including physicians, pharmacists, and registered nurses. This is because health care is a growing industry, so much so that it continued to grow right through the recession.

But one job that jumps off the page is nurse anesthetist, which earned a whopping median income of $151,090 in 2012. The position is available to registered nurses with one year of acute care experience who complete graduate training in an accredited program, which amounts to earning a Master of Science degree.

In a broad sense, the job sounds like being a ship engineer, which involves overseeing the propulsion system of a ship. In this case, a nurse anesthetist oversees a patient's vital signs during and after surgery.

8. Sales Engineers

Under sales, jobs that top $75,000 per year are predictably specialized or involved with administrative tasks. For example, sales engineers for technical and scientific products earn a median income of $91,830, whereas travel agents earn a median salary of $34,600.

9. Mathematician

Good with numbers? If you are, your salary can be a very healthy number — in 2012 the median mathematician brought home $101,360 per year. (Bonus? As a mathematician you'll automatically know the difference between median and mean.)

Job growth is expected to be a robust 23% over the next 10 years — much better than the growth rate in the rest of the economy.

Most mathematicians work for the Federal government or for private firms that do engineering and scientific research. A very specialized cohort of mathematicians work on Wall Street as " quants." These are the people who design complex mathematical models to help investors create, sell, and buy even more complex investments such as derivatives and mortgage backed securities — you remember, the stuff that turned a housing bubble into a financial market implosion.

10. Lawyer

Okay, this may not come as a surprise, salary-wise, but read on for some surprising news about the job market over the next decade.

Given that the law touches so much of our lives, there's a lot of variety in the kinds of law one can practice: criminal law, contract law, family law, environmental law, intellectual property law… One can pursue the career to earn the big bucks, or one can pursue it to help those in need. And sometimes maybe even both. The median annual wage is $113,530, and the demand for lawyers may finally be catching up with the attorney job market that has been on the decline for years.

The problem was simple: Too many lawyers. That left many scrambling for work and slowed the normally enviable raises lawyers could normally expect. In December, however, The Wall Street Journal noted that the number of law students had falling by an amazing 31% from 2010 to 2013, dropping to 39,675, the lowest number since 1977. That suggests the forces of supply and demand should start moving in a positive direction for lawyers in the next few years.

Have you considered any of these jobs (or others) that pay in excess of $75k per year. Let us know in comments!

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