Income is all relative, not only when you compare your income to someone else's, but also when you compare it to the different stages of your career. Ideally, your salary as you near retirement is higher than what you earned during your teenage or college years. Your view of what constitutes a high salary also evolves over time.
Common first jobs are part-time or temporary summer gigs that put some cash in your pocket and let you start saving up for a car. At that age, you're just happy to have money you can call your own. You might earn a little more in college, or you might earn less if you're an unpaid intern. When you decide to take a job that's a step toward the career you want, you get serious about salary requirements and benefits. You're more likely to shop around so you know what you should be earning and can negotiate your salary.
How does your salary stack up?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national mean income of all full-time workers is $41,231. When you look at that figure, you realize the average person isn't loaded and bringing home six figures every year. Not only are most Americans not in the financial stratosphere of the overspending, gaudy caricatures on reality TV, but we're not even near the fictitious income levels of TV characters. Your favorite TV cop or journalist might have a normal job, but a salary of $41,231 doesn't allow you to live in a sprawling (and smartly furnished) condo in Manhattan.
Still, for a mean salary to exist, someone has to earn less and someone else has to earn more. In some careers, certain workers are earning more. Much more. In some cases, 10 times the national mean. As you might expect, many of these jobs are in health care, and the biggest moneymakers require an M.D. Health care is growing and will continue to grow for the foreseeable future, so the combination of demand, educational requirements and experience to attain those jobs positions them for good pay.
To give you a glimpse of which workers are earning the biggest bucks, here's a list of the highest-paying medical professions today:
1. Top surgeon
7. Cardiologist (noninvasive)
9. Cardiologist (invasive)