A lot of factors go into picking the right job.
The nature of the work, how much you enjoy it, the quality of your boss and coworkers, these are all critical issues to keep in mind as you attend interviews. After all, no one has ever gotten up in the morning excited about going off to do tasks they hate while reporting to a complete jerk. And in a country where the average workday lasts almost 10 hours, that's a lot of misery.
Pay scale matters too. The cold, hard truth is that money is one of the most essential parts of any job you can find. You might not be happy doing a job you don't like, but that's nothing compared to how not-happy you'll be if the first of the month comes around and you can't make rent.
Picking the right job is a matter of timing, talent and knowing yourself, but a good offer isn't to be avoided. To help you find those right places with the right paycheck, here are 10 of the highest-paying entry level fields currently on the market using data gathered from Glassdoor, Monster (MWW) and Indeed.
1. Lawyer: $34,000 - $190,000/year
This one is difficult because the numbers range so widely.
The entry-level market for lawyers ranges from some of the lowest-paying work out there to some of the highest. At major law firms, a graduate just out of law school with no work experience will earn $190,000 plus a bonus typically worth tens of thousands of dollars. This is a standard pay rate and many law students each year will receive it.
On the other hand, someone who goes into public interest or government work can expect to earn a sixth of that. Lawyers who work for nonprofits, NGOs and public defenders' offices typically get paid anywhere from $34,000 - $50,000 per year.
The mid-market, though, is closer to $50,000 - $70,000. That's what you can expect to earn at a mid-sized or small law firm, where most graduates will end up. It's not bad money, but comes at the steep cost of an extra three years of school and debt.
2. Field/Drilling Engineer: $70,000 - $80,000/year
People who work in the mining industry, especially in oil and natural gas, can do quite well.
Work as a field engineer can involve a wide variety of specific roles. You will typically work on extraction sites, helping to determine where to dig, keeping the machines and technology in order, and otherwise making sure that the operation continues working well. This is skilled employment that typically demands an education in mechanics, engineering, geology or some combination of the two.
On the plus side, this is high-paying work that's virtually always in demand. On the negative side, though, it typically involves living in some of the most remote and unpleasant places around. (No one really wants a fracking operation in their backyard.) It's a trade off, but a lucrative one.
3. Financial Analyst: $60,000 - $70,000/year
Financial analysts help people to make financial decisions. They work with both businesses and individuals, guiding choices on saving, investing and spending to help clients achieve their financial goals.
This job combines some of the roles of accountant and investment adviser, becoming all of neither but a little of both.
Ultimately, in this job you help people manage their money better. No wonder clients are willing to pay handsomely for your help.
4. Computer Programmer / Software Engineer: $80,000 - $90,000/year
Say it with us: tech. As Silicon Valley keeps getting bigger, companies simply can't find enough software developers to meet all of their needs. We will return to this theme over and over again on this list.
The first position to consider is as a software engineer. In this job you will work with designers and clients to write code. Someone who works with C++ or Java or who directly writes the scripts for an iPhone app is a software engineer. These are the guys who actually build the apps and applications that you use every day.
Want to know who makes the angry birds fly? It's a software engineer, and you can make a lot of money joining their ranks.
5. Database Engineer / Full Stack Developer: $80,000 - $120,000
We will combine two related fields here.
A "full stack developer" is one of the most valued skill sets in all of software engineering. This refers to someone who can handle every aspect of putting together a system, including coding the software, working with the database and operating the servers. From a purely technical perspective, this is essentially someone who can do it all. (By contrast, a typically computer programmer is someone who can handle their section of a project.) Building a database and computer programming are two different fields. Someone who can work between those roles is invaluable.
A database engineer is more specialized. This individual manages all of the data that any online software relies on. They build and operate the back end of all your favorite websites and apps. Without database engineers, Netflix (NFLX) - Get Report would be a Blockbuster kiosk and Jeff Bezos would be selling used books door-to-door.
6. Security Engineer: $70,000 - $80,000
Then there are the people who make sure that your Netflix password doesn't show up on the Ukrainian black market.
Even straight out of college, security engineers do quite well for a simple reason: Wealthy companies need them desperately. Online security is a huge concern and only getting bigger by the day. Talented professionals in this field can do very well.
A security engineer works on multiple levels. They are the ones who develop secured login procedures. They lock down corporate networks and make sure that data transactions go smoothly. When you hit "Pay" for an online order, security engineers are the ones who make sure your credit card number goes only to the vendor and no one else.
7. Data Scientist: $90,000 - $100,000
A data scientist is someone who can draw conclusions from data.
This has become a critical position in recent years as information-gathering tools proliferate. The average company is absolutely swimming in customer data. The challenge is figuring out what to do with all of it.
A data scientist takes what seems like countless points of unrelated information and finds patterns. Good ones develop their own algorithms and can find ways to structure information, turning those customer survey forms that you fill out at the cash register into meaningful revenue boosts.
Every business needs data scientists, not just giants like Facebook (FB) - Get Report and Google (GOOG) - Get Report . Retail uses data science to figure out how they can best stock their shelves. Movie studies plan out their releases based on audience polls and politicians build their entire careers on parsing voter registration just the right way. Data science is everywhere, and it's big business.
8. Graphic Designer: $40,000 - $60,000
The job of a graphic designer is simple and complex at the same time: They make things look good. That's a much bigger deal than it seems.
One of the most important elements of a successful business is a strong, recognizable brand. Graphic designers play an essential role in that. They put together the logos and symbols that customers immediately associate with a business. They develop the color schemes that can summon up a company at a glance. They build the thousand small visual cues that build customer loyalty and brand recognition.
Google's playful little blue-red-yellow-green alphabet didn't happen by accident, nor did Netflix's bold black and red "N." Facebook is blue and white for a reason (colors which connote comfort, openness and familiarity).
Business history is filled with companies that had a good idea but failed anyway. A graphic designer's job is to help keep that from happening to their client.
9. Customer Service / Sales Representative: $45,000 - $60,000
Here's the thing about making a great product: It doesn't matter a bit if nobody buys it. Big companies know that, and they pay well for people who can put their product into the public's hands.
Now, it's true, working as an entry level retail clerk rarely will pay well. Many companies, however, are looking for more than that. They're looking for people to manage long-term customer relationships and sell larger products.
For someone who likes to work with people, this can be an ideal job. Even better, if you work in a direct-sales capacity for a company that offers commission, $60,000 per year could just be the beginning.
10. Marketing Associate/Researcher: $45,000 - $60,000
The Iron Man to the sales rep's Captain America, a marketing associate makes sure that the public knows about a product in the first place. After all, those sales people will have a rough time if they're out there talking to potential customers who answer every phone call with "what do you guys do again"?
The core job of a marketing associate is data, customer trends and information. This job is all about finding out what customers want and broadcasting your client to them.
A good marketing associate understands how to get people to the party, and knows exactly what snacks the average guest will find most appealing. They turn a startup into a household name, because they figured out exactly what message those households want to hear.
And they make good money in the process.
The Last Word
Don't rush yourself when it comes to finding the right job. Take your time and try several things out.
"We know that pay is the top factor job seekers consider when determining whether to accept a job offer," said Sarah Stoddard, Community Expert with Glassdoor. "So high pay can be an effective mechanism for getting candidates through the door. But… other factors like culture and values, career opportunities and the quality of senior leadership actually matter most."
"As a job seeker, it's critical to evaluate all aspects of a job offer before accepting, especially if you're entering the workforce for the first time or you're early in your career," Stoddard said.
A high-paying job can offer you financial security and the chance to pay off student loans, all important (in fact, critical) issues when choosing a career path. Just don't forget that there are a lot of jobs out there, and even if they aren't at the top of the pay scale you'll usually do just fine. Make sure you pick a career that fits your personality, not just your wallet.
You'll be better off in the long run.
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