The median household income in the United States has increased slightly over the past two years, but it is still down more than 6% from the start of the recession. As of June, a U.S. family earned an estimated median of $52,100 annually, according to Sentier Research. This means that the vast majority of families, let alone individuals, earn far less than the coveted six-figure annual salary that is often associated with prosperity.
Of the more than 800 different occupations considered in the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment Statistics Database, only 30 earned an estimated median of more than $100,000 annually. Psychiatrists were estimated to earn the most, but there were less than 25,000 psychiatrists in the country in 2012. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the occupations with a median annual salary of more than $100,000 that employed the most people. Lawyers, for example, earned a median annual salary of roughly $113,500, and there are well more than half a million lawyers in the country. These are America’s most popular six-figure jobs.
Most of these high-paid occupations are managerial positions. This includes managers in finance, sales, computer and information systems, and architectural and engineering. These are managers who likely have been employed in their field for years and have developed enough expertise to direct multiple employees in their field and oversee operations — and they are paid accordingly. As of 2012, there were close to 6.4 million people in managerial roles in the United States. The median annual salary for a manager is just under $94,000.
Some of the occupations are higher-paying because of the amount of training and education required to obtain them. Lawyers, for example, must take three years of post-graduate law school and pass a state’s bar examination just to begin practicing. Pharmacists need to first complete several years of undergraduate study before spending three to four years obtaining a Doctor of Pharmacy degree. Some pharmacists must even spend as many as two years in residency for some advanced positions.
These positions are all the largest in the country for their level of income, but they are not all growing. In fact, the number of marketing and financial managers declined by more than 10% between 2002 and 2012. Other jobs have shown more promise. The number of computer and information systems managers rose by 17% over that time, while the number of pharmacists grew by more than 23%.
To determine the America’s top-paying six-figure jobs, 24/7 Wall St. screened figures from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics program for 2012, for the jobs with more than 100,000 workers and a median wage of more than $100,000 annually. The figures are estimates subject to sampling error and do not count self-employed workers. Data are collected by the program over several years. We considered only occupations that existed in both 2002 and 2012, when discussing job growth. Further information on each occupation came from the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook.
These are America’s most popular six-figure jobs.