Laurence Shatkin, PhD, Author, Your Guide to High-Paying Careers
One way to earn high wages compared to other people in your occupation is to get a job in a high-paying industry. Sometimes the difference in pay can be dramatic. For example, chemists who are employed in the oil and gas extraction industry average twice the earnings of those in the educational services industry. But you need to be realistic about your ambitions. The oil and gas extraction industry employed only 40 chemists nationwide in 2012. That number is expanding with the recent dramatic growth of this industry, but the high pay means that competition for these jobs is probably intense. You’re not likely to get the job unless you have highly specialized knowledge and skills, such as how to compound fracking fluids. By contrast, the educational services industry (schools, colleges, and universities) employed more than 3,600 chemists in 2012, so you can expect many more job openings in this less-specialized industry.
Specialization is why it sometimes is difficult to move from one industry to another. People working in one industry learn to “speak the language” of that industry and may be unfamiliar with how other industries operate. Even when the job title on the business card is the same in two industries, the context of the work tasks may be very different. In addition, the network of contacts you develop as you work in an industry may be of little use when you start looking for work in another industry.
Probably the best time for you to target a high-paying industry is when you search for your first job or, even better, while you are preparing for career entry. You may even consider choosing one college over another because one has better contacts in a high-paying industry or more relevant course offerings.
But even if you are in a later stage of your career, I thought you would be interested to see the industries where managerial occupations bring in the highest earnings. To keep this a realistic set of career options, I included only those occupation-industry combinations for which the specialized workforce equals more than 100 workers and equals more than one-tenth of one percent of the total workforce of the occupation. (You can find a similar list in my recent book, Your Guide to High-Paying Careers, but there I include as many as 10 highest-paying industries for each occupation and cover 61 occupations in all.)
Note that the earnings figures are medians: half earned more, half earned less. They are wage and salary earnings, including base rate, cost-of-living allowances, guaranteed pay, hazardous-duty pay, incentive pay, including commissions and production bonuses, and tips. The figures are derived from the Occupational Employment Survey of the Bureau of Labor Statistics and are estimates for May 2012; because wage growth remains slow, they are still relevant.
|Occupation||Industry||Annual Earnings||Workforce Size|
|Sales Managers||Securities, Commodity Contracts, and Other Financial Investments and Related Activities||$182,530||6,390|
|Natural Sciences Managers||Oil and Gas Extraction||$180,400||250|
|General and Operations Managers||Securities, Commodity Contracts, and Other Financial Investments and Related Activities||$177,260||17,750|
|Marketing Managers||Oil and Gas Extraction||$160,570||540|
|Financial Managers||Securities, Commodity Contracts, and Other Financial Investments and Related Activities||$156,510||24,200|
|Architectural and Engineering Managers||Oil and Gas Extraction||$152,500||6,960|
|Computer and Information Systems Managers||Other Information Services||$149,130||4,350|
|Managers, All Other||Oil and Gas Extraction||$141,960||1,030|
|Human Resources Managers||Motion Picture and Sound Recording Industries||$139,420||270|
|Public Relations and Fundraising Managers||Publishing Industries (except Internet)||$134,100||630|
|Transportation, Storage, and Distribution Managers||Oil and Gas Extraction||$129,640||370|
|Purchasing Managers||Oil and Gas Extraction||$127,080||470|
|Training and Development Managers||Data Processing, Hosting, and Related Services||$122,260||160|
|Medical and Health Services Managers||Chemical Manufacturing||$117,070||320|
|Industrial Production Managers||Telecommunications||$116,950||170|
|Administrative Services Managers||Monetary Authorities-Central Bank||$116,100||310|
|Compensation and Benefits Managers||Transportation Equipment Manufacturing||$114,760||110|
|Advertising and Promotions Managers||Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services||$114,560||9,590|
|Construction Managers||Oil and Gas Extraction||$102,550||290|
About the Author
Laurence Shatkin, PhD, has been a writer and researcher in the field of career information for 35 years. He was one of the developers of the SIGI PLUS career information system at Educational Testing Service, and he has developed and adapted similar systems for use in the U.S., Australia, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. He is the author or co-author of more than two dozen books about careers. His most recent book is Your Guide to High-Paying Careers. He lives in Titusville, New Jersey.