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Money might not be everything, but if you're a struggling college student there's a lot of appeal to making sure you're in the right position to put the days of two-digit bank balances and ramen noodles behind you as quickly as possible. Not only do you need to make sure you're graduating with the right skills to make yourself marketable, you're also going to need to know which professions are most likely to pay top dollar to get qualified people. If you're looking to change the world, these professions might not offer exactly what you're after, but if it's cold hard cash you want then the following jobs are the ones to aim for. Here are the 11 highest paying jobs you can get directly out of college:
It's a popular opinion to dwell on the fact that teachers are underpaid. However, a starting teacher makes a pretty decent chunk of change in relation to some of the other recent grads in their class. Depending on the subject being taught, a teacher's starting salary tends to have some minor fluctuations, but if languages are your specialty you can expect to make más dolares than your mathematics or phys ed teaching colleagues. And, although the idea of having a summer vacation is pretty appealing, don't forget you're going to be dealing with late nights grading papers and coping with all the same lame excuses you used to try to pass off on your teachers back when you were in school.
What you can expect to make: $43,000
from $42,000 (Math teacher) to $52,000 (Spanish teacher)
Paired with teaching as the most noble professions on the list, nurses are not only well paid, but they are also almost always in high demand. Depending on your area of specialty, and also on whether you graduated from a 4 year or a 2 year program, you can expect some differences in starting pay. However, either way you'll be given a competitive starting wage, and from there you can begin accumulating the knowledge and experience to become a Registered Nurse where you'll be taking home almost 50% more. And, as the only job on this list in which you're contractually obligated to deal with human feces, the pay seems more than fair.
What you can expect to make: $47,000
from $39,000 (perioperative nurse) to $64,000 (nurse trainer)
Although all web designers are most certainly NOT created equal (a fact reflected in the unusually high variance of starting salaries), the average grad jumping into the field can expect to be compensated reasonably well. More and more midsize companies are staffing in-house web designers, and larger companies and most marketing firms also have a strong need for skilled designers. However, picking out a Wordpress theme hardly qualifies you as a web designer, and most companies will want to see a track record of sites you've worked on. So, internships and personal projects will go a long way toward landing that first job.
What you can expect to make: $58,000
from $40,000 (graphic web designer) to $88,000 (flash web designer)
There's a lot more to being a pharmaceutical rep than giving away pens and polo shirts adorned with a drug's logo. Because of the assertiveness, persistence, and knowledge required to be successful in this profession, there is a very strong earning potential right out of the gate. You can expect to spend a ton of time traveling between hospitals and doctors' offices and to be kept sitting around in more than your fair share of waiting rooms, but you'll be paid handily for your efforts. You can also expect to go through a rigorous training in which you'll be inundated with the ins and outs of the drugs you're trying to promote, so if science isn't your strength this might not be the career for you.
What you can expect to make: $59,000
from $55,000 (pharmaceutical sales representative) to $73,000 (pharmaceutical specialty sales representative)
If pouring over numbers is your thing, then this offers a great way to make beaucoup bucks. Even though the market has tightened and there are fewer jobs available in this sector, there is always a demand for quality people. Although a lot of people looking to reach a higher level as a financial analyst will seek out an MBA, there are still jobs available to people with a strong aptitude for accounting, business, and economics.
What you can expect to make: $66,000
from $57,000 (financial operations analyst) to $97,000 (strategic financial analyst)
The Internet might not be a fad after all, and having a solid knowledge of how to leverage this complex series of tubes to make actual money will make you extremely marketable when you graduate from college. There are several paths you can pursue, but the most lucrative is working in a sales capacity and coordinating with clients to help drive revenue with their online campaigns. However, be prepared to continuously explain to friends and family that just because you work on the Internet doesn't mean you work for Google.
What you can expect to make: $67,000
from $43,000 (internet marketing specialist) to $124,000 (internet marketing sales executive)
As the company's go-to person for anything from troubleshooting performance issues to dealing with a network crash, the system administrator can be one of the most valued members of the organization. Responsibilities range from controlling user access to the network, maintaining backups of the server, and even assisting the woman in accounts payable who keeps having her computer lockup every time her Twilight fan art screen saver comes on. Not only is it a well paying job, but you can pretty much guarantee at least half of your family will have no idea what exactly it is that you do.
What you can expect to make: $69,000
from $62,000 (network systems engineer) to $99,000 (network systems administrator)
While the job's pay will fluctuate greatly depending on your area of expertise, this profession rewards a strong technical know-how with a high starting pay. Even though there are a number of jokes about engineers tending to be analytical to the point of social awkwardness, the reality is most employers are placing increasing value on communication skills in addition to the usual technical requirements. It's not enough to have the right skillset; companies are also looking for people who won't make the rest of their team feel incredibly uncomfortable every time they awkwardly relay a story about their date in Second Life.
What you can expect to make: $72,000
from $67,000 (electrical engineer) to $69,000 (engineering geologist) to $123,000 (VP of engineering)
Because being an actuary involves an extremely high level of knowledge in statistics, economics, finance, and business, it also offers a strong earning potential to people graduating college with these skills firmly in place. Also, there is a 60 percent chance you'll be employed in the insurance industry, so get ready to be bullied into changing your provider as soon as you start your new job.
What you can expect to make: $79,000
from $65,000 (enrolled actuary) to $93,000 (life actuary)
Not only does it pay well, but good developers are always in high demand. However, because of rapid changes in technology, continued education is a necessity. Employers are looking for people who not only have the ability to code, but understand the big picture. Also, depending on the company you're hired by, you might also be rewarded with the ability to setup a flex-schedule or telecommute on a regular basis. Either way, if you have a diverse skillset and can prove that you know what you're doing, this is a profession where you can punch your own ticket.
What you can expect to make: $84,000
from $52,000 (internet software engineer) to $93,000 (software engineer/developer)
Although demand for this position might be waning thanks to a faltering economy, the earning potential is still extremely high. You can expect to put in extremely long hours and be thrown into an incredibly competitive environment right from the get go, but if you have the tenacity to succeed, you're going to be bringing in more money than you'll know what to do with. However, at the moment the vast majority of jobs in this sector are actually being offered by consulting and accounting firms rather than the previously commonplace positions with hedge funds or private equity firms. So if you're hoping to make big money as an investment banker, good luck!
What you can expect to make: $112,000
from $73,000 (associate) to $116,000 (investment banker)
Salary numbers courtesy of the Salary Finder at Indeed.com