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10 Highest Paying Jobs for Women in 2012

Updated on June 19, 2013
Women are rising to take their place in the male dominated workplace.
Women are rising to take their place in the male dominated workplace. | Source

Times are changing in the workplace, and where men used to dominate the business world, women are rising to take their place. More than ever before, women are pursuing an education and landing highly respected positions in corporations. Female entrepreneurs are starting their own companies and building business empires. These moguls are creative, smart and unwilling to let gender inequality stand in their way.

The glass ceiling is rising, and while women are still paid on average only 82.2% of what men earn in the same positions (according to Bloomberg Businessweek), the gap is narrowing. Young women who want to make their mark in the corporate world can increase their chance of success through obtaining a college education. More jobs are requiring a degree now than ever, and having one can help to kick start your career.

The costs of universities have, unfortunately, been steadily rising, so business savvy women should do their research and carefully weigh out degree options before charging ahead. Taking into account your passions, strengths, long term goals and pay scale desires can help you in selecting the best career path.

These were the highest paying jobs for women in 2012:

1. Pharmacist

This job is the number one best paying position for women, with a $99,000 per year median salary. With only a four year degree required, along with licensing exams, this job gives huge payout in relation to minimal school costs. Women make up more than half of all pharmacists (56%), and in this profession there is nearly no gap in pay between women and men (women’s earnings are 95% of men’s). Even more exciting, this field is expected to increase in the future, not wane. Experts predict that the field will grow 25% by 2020.

Job description: Pharmacists distribute and compound prescription medications for individuals. Experts in medication, they help to advise customers about dosage, side effects, interaction between multiple drugs and other questions related to both over-the-counter and prescription meds.

2. Lawyer

It can be costly to become a lawyer, with a rigorous 3 year Juris Doctor degree required at law school after an initial 4 year bachelor’s degree is completed. The payout is pretty good though, ranking lawyers at place two on this list, making a median of $85,000 per year. A woman may have to work to prove herself in this still male dominated field. Women comprise 34% of all lawyers, making 87% of men’s earnings. But if you love justice and have the confidence to fight for it in the courtroom, this well paid position may be just the thing for you.

Job description: Lawyers are professional legal advisors, trained in law, that are able to represent clients in the courtroom.

Women with knowledge in computer and information systems can land high paying jobs.
Women with knowledge in computer and information systems can land high paying jobs. | Source

3. Computer and Information Systems Manager

Women born into the digital age have a greater understanding of technology than ever before. Computers are a natural part of life for millennial babies, and those with an interest in computer science can make a median of $80,000 a year as an information systems manager. A bachelor’s degree in computer science or management information systems is generally required, and an MBA in information technology management can get you even further. Women currently make up only 26% of this field, but those who are in it make 97% of their male counterpart’s earnings.

Job description: Computer and information systems managers oversee teams of information technology (IT) professionals. This involves the planning, installation and maintenance of information systems, including hardware and software upgrades.

4. Physician and Surgeon

Despite the extensive education required (8-11 years) and high status associated with doctors, female physicians and surgeons only rank fourth on this list. Unlike their male counterparts who tend to opt for high-risk and high-pay specialties like brain and plastic surgery, women usually choose general practice or pediatrics. This brings the median salary for women physicians and surgeons to $79,000 per year, a mere 79% of what men make in the same field. This field is also still dominated by men, with women only comprising 36% of the profession.

Job description: There are many specialties within this field, but the general role of a physician is to diagnose and treat patients with methods other than surgery. A surgeon is a doctor that specializes in surgical operations to correct problems, repair injuries and treat diseases within patients.

One in four chief executives is a woman.
One in four chief executives is a woman. | Source

5. Chief Executive

Don’t limit yourselves, ladies. One in four CEOs is now a woman. Obtaining this status takes a lot of work and determination, usually working your way up from within the company, but those who do make a median of $76,000 per year. An advanced business degree is desirable in this position, and you will need to build a considerable portfolio to prove yourself capable. When you get to the top, fight for your rights in salary, because women chief executives currently make only 69% of men’s earnings.

Job description: A chief executive is the highest ranking executive manager in an organization. Responsibilities vary by company, but typically include high level decision making concerning policy and strategy, communication with press and managers, and driving change within the organization.

6. Nurse Practitioner

Nursing is one field that women have dominated, and as a nurse practitioner (NP) women can make a median of $74,000 per year (85% of NPs are women). Females who enjoy helping others and are not bothered by bodily functions and blood are prime candidates for this position. The first step to becoming an NP is to gain your license as a registered nurse (RN). This can take 2-4 years depending on state requirements. A Master of Nursing or Doctor of Nursing Practice degree and national certification test (plus possible specialty tests) are then required.

Job description: A nurse practitioner does many of the same things as a physician. NPs are able to diagnose and treat many illnesses in patients of all ages. In most states, NPs are allowed to prescribe medications and perform the duties of a primary healthcare provider.

Digital technology provides for more options in work/life balance.
Digital technology provides for more options in work/life balance. | Source

7. Software Developer (Applications and Systems Software)

Digital technology is here to stay, and the demand for software developers keeps on growing. Only 18% of this profession is made up of women, so if programming is your thing it’s time to represent. Female software developers make a median of $72,000 per year (82% of men’s earnings). A degree in software engineering is required, with courses in programming, operating systems, data management and math.

Job description: Software developers are involved in all phases of software development, including research, design, coding, testing and maintenance.

8. Operations Research Analyst

Solving problems, saving money, and cutting out waste comes naturally for many women. Females who turn these skills into an operations research analyst position make a median of $69,000 per year. There must be something about women’s skill in this area because they make up almost half of all research analysts (44%) and actually take home more money than their male counterparts (105% of men’s earnings). An MBA, MSF, CFA, or CPA is typically required for this position, but if you are good with finance this job could be for you.

Job description: Research analysts look at information and determine solutions to problems, determine better decision making methods and improve operations. This frequently involves mathematical models and statistics for scientific analysis of problems.

9. Human Resources Manager

Only a bachelor’s degree is required for human resource (HR) managers. Many companies desire those who are fresh out of college because of these students’ knowledge of changing laws and regulations. This plays out well for women who are interested in the profession, and those who pursue it make a median of $66,000 per year. Seventy-two percent of all HR managers are women, but there is still inequality in pay with females making only 86% of men’s earnings.

Job description: Human resource managers are the bridge between employees and employers, making sure neither is treated unfairly. HR managers scout for new talent, strategize diversity and inclusion, and deal with talent management.

10. Psychologist

Psychologists are required to have both an undergraduate and graduate degree (Ph.D. or Psy.D.), as well as pass licensing certification. This is a lot of schooling, but if you are interested in psychology and have a desire to help people, this can be a good career option. The median annual salary is $65,000, and women are currently dominating this profession, making up 71% of all psychologists.

Job description: Psychologists study behavior and experience professionally. They are licensed to provide therapeutic treatment to patients or to work in research and training.

Never has there been a better time for women in the workplace than today. The sky is the limit.
Never has there been a better time for women in the workplace than today. The sky is the limit. | Source

For more information concerning high paying jobs for women, check out these links:

The 20 Best-Paying Jobs for Women in 2012 | Forbes

25 Best-Paying Jobs for Women | CNN


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    • Kathryn Stratford profile image

      Kathryn 4 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

      Oh, median salaries. That makes sense!

    • Faith A Mullen profile image

      Faith A Mullen 4 years ago

      Thanks for stopping by to read and comment, Kathryn! These are just the median salaries, but I agree that it is surprising some aren't higher. I wish you the best with your changing gears!

    • Kathryn Stratford profile image

      Kathryn 4 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

      Interesting list, but I am surprised how little money these careers make for women. None of them even hit the $100,000 mark.

      It certainly is much more than I make, though, and I am at a point in my life where I am trying to switch gears and do something different. I'll need to go to school, but I never know what for.

      Thanks for this list.

    • Faith A Mullen profile image

      Faith A Mullen 4 years ago

      Thanks for the comment, busillis22! I agree, though it has slowly been closing, it is surprising how great the gap still is between men and women in the workplace. I look forward to the day when it is an equal playing ground.

    • Faith A Mullen profile image

      Faith A Mullen 4 years ago

      Thanks, alwaysamber! I think most of us end up feeling that way at one point or another. There are so many options and it is often hard to make decisions before gaining experience. I'm glad you at least love what your degree is in. Many people can't even say that!

    • busillis22 profile image

      busillis22 4 years ago

      Very informative hub. It is frustrating to me that after all these years women are still not treated fairly in the workplace.

    • profile image

      alwaysamber 4 years ago

      Thanks for this Hub! All seem like great career choices. Sometimes I wish that I could go back and do it all over again. I love what my degree is in, but I would probably choose a different route.

    • Faith A Mullen profile image

      Faith A Mullen 4 years ago

      Thanks, Careermommy! I can't wait to see how the numbers look in another ten years. Hopefully the inequality in pay will be considerably lessened or gone.

    • Careermommy profile image

      Tirralan Watkins 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Great Hub Faith. I'm trying to decide which field I would choose if I had to change my line of work. (-: