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High Paying Careers with Plenty of Job Openings

Updated on November 28, 2011

College graduates, technical school graduates and entry level workers and job changers are always interested in high paying careers for obvious reasons.

However, if you find a high paying career with minimal openings, your chances of becoming employed in that field are drastically reduced.

The most intelligent thing to do is research high paying jobs with plenty of job openings. Doing so will increase the chance that you will have a better than average shot at becoming employed.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) is responsible for compiling data on employment trends throughout the country.

One of the employment trends the BLS reports on is high wage jobs, and they compile this data for a 10 year period.

I have done the research for you, and utilized their data to give you a good idea of the high paying careers with lots of openings through the year 2014.

About These Jobs

The job openings on this list are representative of openings available to people who are entering the specified occupation for the very first time.

Some of these openings are positions that need to be filled because workers have left an occupation permanently, or are changing careers, retiring or pursing educational pursuits.

The remaining positions are due to the tremendous growth in the occupation.

Registered Nurses

Salary Range: $43,410 - $76,570

It can take anywhere between 2 - 5 years to complete training to become registered nurses.

The quickest route to the career field is by completing a 2 year program at an accredited community college.

It is important for you to understand that 2 year programs are often extended to 2 1/2 to 3 years because of required prerequisites.

Licensed Practical Nurses and Licensed Vocational Nurses

Earnings: $28,260 - $53,580

Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN) and Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVN) generally require only 1 year of training at vocational and technical schools and some community colleges. Experience will gain LPNs and LVNs a higher paycheck.

Many people in this industry go on to fast-track to another high paying career on this list, Registered Nurse.


Postsecondary Teachers

Salary Range: $28,870 - $121,850

If you have the stamina to complete a PhD, you might be interested in becoming a postsecondary teacher. In case you are not aware, this is the category to which college professors belong.

It will take 4 years of undergraduate school, and another 4 to 10 years of graduate school to complete the training for this career. There are some ambitious people who complete undergraduate school in a shorter amount of time, and then they fly through graduate school. However, this type of acceleration to earn a PhD requires a great deal of determination and a true passion for your chosen academic discipline.

Elementary School Teachers (excluding special education)

Earnings: $30,970 - $80,970

You can become an elementary school teacher with a bachelor's degree (4 years). However, a higher level degree will usually get you more pay. Elementary school teachers can also boost their earning power by coaching sports, working with students who pursue extracurricular activities, and teaching summer school.

Secondary School Teachers (except special education and vocational education)

Earnings: 35,020 - $85,780

Public school teachers are required to be licensed. Secondary school teachers usually require a bachelor's degree in the specific discipline they wish to teach. Math and science teachers usually garner the highest pay, but secondary school teachers can also boost their paycheck with graduate school education, coaching a sport, extracurricular activities, and volunteering to teach summer school.

Middle School Teachers (except special education and vocational education)

Earnings: $34,990 - $83,700

Public school teachers are required to be licensed. Middle school teachers usually require a bachelor's degree in the specific discipline they wish to teach. Math and science teachers usually garner the highest pay, but middle school teachers can also boost their paycheck with graduate school education, coaching a sport, extracurricular activities, and volunteering to teach summer school.

Management & Supervision

General Managers and Operations Managers

Earnings: $19 Per Hour - $173,120 Annually

This is a very broad career range that includes general and operational management in both public and private sector companies. This is the reason for the huge fluctuation in earnings. Employees who are managers in the financial services industry usually earn the highest amount of money.

It generally requires a four year degree to enter into a company in a management position, but because this field is so broad, there are cases where employees with as little as a high school education have worked their way through the ranks to these lucrative positions.

If you want to broaden your chances of becoming managerial staff at a private or public sector job, earning a four year degree will strengthen your chances, and graduate level education will kick your chances into high gear.

There are no hard and fast rules to becoming a general manager or an operations manager, it all depends on the requirements and hiring needs of each specific company.

Retail Sales Supervisors

Earnings: $10.77 Per Hour - $96,600

A high school diploma and experience are all that is needed to become a retail sales supervisor. The highest salaries are those of supervisors of insurance agencies and brokerages (they are classified as retail outlets), automobile dealerships, wholesale commercial equipment, and chemical and merchant wholesalers. Those with a college degree will progress faster.

Construction Supervisors

Earnings: $17.30 Per Hour - $88,000 Annually

Directly supervise and coordinate activities of construction or extraction workers. Generally, construction supervisors obtain their position by years of experience, however, a specialized associate's degree in building management will allow for faster progression to this role.

Sales Representatives (excluding technical and scientific products)

Earnings: $26,950 - $133,000 and Higher

The field of sales is even more diverse than general managers and operations managers. This is because each company has their own pay structure for their sales representatives. The pay is more stable in certain fields:

  • Wholesale electronic markets and agents and brokers $77,190
  • Drugs and druggists' sundries merchant wholesalers $74,840
  • Professional and commercial equipment and supplies merchant wholesalers $70,140

These payscales do not include commissions. Realistically, the sky is the limit for sales representatives, but the job is not easy for most beginners.

Just as you might have already thought, the entry level education requirements vary as well. However, if you want a job as a sales representative in one of the three fields listed above, you will need to have at least a four year degree - along with a strong drive to perform.

Truck Drivers (Heavy & Tractor-Trailer)

Earnings: $11.89 Per Hour - $55,000 Annually

Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers are expected to operate a tractor-trailer or a truck that has the capacity to hold at least 26,000 pounds Gross Vehicle Weight.

You many be required to unload the truck as well as drive. This high paying career field usually only requires a clean driving record and a commercial drivers' license (CDL) to get started.

It can take a person 2 weeks to several months to obtain their CDL, it all depends on the person's skill set.

The rate of pay is varies greatly according to the specific company. The highest paid truck drivers are those with experience.

Drive a tractor-trailer combination or a truck with a capacity of at least 26,000 pounds Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW). May be required to unload truck. Requires commercial drivers' license.

Police Officer

Earnings: $31,700 - $83,510

Most police officers must be U.S. citizens. They must be healthy, strong, and of good character (they are going to check, sometimes all the way back to your elementary school days).

To get a job, you must pass a written test, be at least a high school graduate, and have some work experience.

Education should include the completion of police academy, and although a college degree is not required, it will garner more pay and possibly higher rank

Executive Secretaries and Administrative Assistants

Earnings: $27,030 - $62,070

Traditionally, high school graduates with decent office skills could break into the role of administrative assistant.

However, executive assistants usually require superior office skills and a college degree.

The pay in this field is commensurate with your knowledge of various office software packages, mastery of office skills, training, education, and experience.

Physicians and Surgeons

Earnings: $186,044 - $339,738

You already know the drill here. It generally takes about 8 - 12 years to become a physician or surgeon, and you need to have at least an M.D. in order to enter the profession.

In your undergraduate years you will have to maintain top grades in Science, Chemistry, Biology, Physics, and Math in order to prepare well for the MCAT.

If you make it to medical school the real hard work will begin. You will need to be prepared to spend the next 4 - 8 years in a rigorous world of learning where you will become a sleep deprived zombie who, at times, will have the power of life and death in your hands.

However, if becoming a doctor is all you have ever dreamed about, you should follow that dream.

Salaries of physicians and surgeons are amongst the highest paying of all professions.

Maintenance and General Repair Workers

Earnings: $9.78 Per Hour - $25.94

General maintenance and repair workers have skills in a variety of different crafts. They maintain and repair all manner of equipment, buildings, plumbing, etc.

Wherever there is a building and equipment to be maintained and repaired, they are present.

Many workers in this field learn on the job, and there are generally no specific education requirements.

Accountants and Auditors

Earnings: $36,720 - $102,380

Jobs for accountants and auditors require at least a bachelor's degree. Those with professional licenses and certification, especially CPA's, will earn the greatest amount of money.


Earnings: $11.66 Per Hour to $33.34 Per Hour

You can begin learning to be a carpenter in high school if you so desire. Some high schools offer dual enrollment in vocational technical schools in order to prepare you for employment after graduation.

A formal apprenticeship is offered by many employees, and apprenticeship will unlock the door to professional advancement into a full fledged carpenter.

Computer Software Engineers

Earnings: $53,720 -$135,780

Sometimes an associates degree is enough to gain entry this field, but a bachelor's degree is usually required for employment as a computer software engineer. Although not required, specific software certification will also strengthen employability skills in this field.

Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics

Earnings: $9.56 Per Hour to $28.76 Per Hour

Technical and vocational school training is usually the first step in gaining employment as an automotive service technician or mechanic.

Training for this career field can begin in high school by taking auto shop classes and dual enrollment in vo-tech schools. ASE certified and luxury car specific certification will garner higher pay in this industry.


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