The vast majority of high-paying jobs require a significant initial commitment in the form of education, training and tuition, and then hard work while on the job. Most high-paying jobs require significantly more hours on the job than the average American puts in. 24/7 Wall St. has identified nine jobs that pay well above the national median income, while requiring less working hours than average.
Of course, doctors are examples of the opposite. They must spend eight years in school and an average of five years in residency before they begin to earn their maximum salary. And even though doctors are paid better than most, the salary comes with one of the heaviest schedules. Surgeons, for instance, work an average of 2,835 hours per year -- the equivalent of five more months over the 2,006 hours the average American works.
After reviewing data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 24/7 Wall St. identified jobs that pay the most for the least amount of work. Most of these positions still require a great deal of training, but once completed, the amount of work drops significantly.
Psychologists, for example, must obtain a specialist degree or doctorate in their field, which requires three to six years of schooling. However, because they usually set their own schedules after that, they work nearly 600 hours a year less than, for example, the average real estate broker. Psychologists, however, make more than the average broker, and have the equivalent of several additional months of leisure time. Psychologists, airline pilots, and a few other lucky occupations, are among the rare jobs that pay the most for the least amount of time.
9. Judges and Magistrates
- Hours worked/year: 1,935
- Median hourly earnings: $62.08
- No. employed: 25,900
- Hours worked/week: 37.2
- Median annual income: $119,270
- Top annual income: $142,670
Most judges were once lawyers, meaning they already have a bachelor's degree, a law degree, a bar certificate, and frequently a successful career as an attorney before they gained the position. This explains the judges' extremely high salary. The median annual income for the position is $119,270, well above the national average, with some high-ranking judges earning more than $140,000. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, many judges and magistrates work 40-hour weeks. But those with limited jurisdictions in small courts work substantially less than full-time, and many even take second jobs. Yet, even they make a very respectable $59,000 annually.
8. Occupational Therapists
- Hours worked/year: 1,902
- Median hourly earnings: $35.18
- No. employed: 100,300
- Hours worked/week: 38.6
- Median annual income: $72,320
- Top annual income: $102,520
Becoming an occupational therapist is not easy. According to the BLS, therapists need a master's degree or higher. In addition, they must attend an academic program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) before taking the national certifying exam. Occupational therapists devote themselves to helping individuals cope with physical and learning disabilities. Because therapists usually work by appointment, many work less than the standard 40-hour week. Yet, their median salary is impressive, standing at $70,000 per year. U.S. News and World Report ranked the position as one of the 50 best careers of 2011.
7. Principals (Education Administrators, elementary and secondary school)
- Hours worked/year: 1,846
- Median hourly earnings: $46.49
- No. employed: 222,270
- Hours worked/week: 39.5
- Median annual income: $86,970
- Top annual income: $129,480
In order to be eligible to be a principal, applicants must have a teaching certificate and also possess sufficient experience in school administration. Principals are responsible for managing the day-to-day activities of faculty and students. According to the BLS, the workload can be stressful and demanding at times. However, while some principals work year-round, the vast majority at the elementary and middle-school level work full days during the school year, but do not work summers. This means that principals have nearly three months to themselves. That, combined with a median salary in excess of $85,000, and the high end making nearly $130,000, the job of principal is a great deal for all who are fortunate enough to earn the position.
- Hours worked/year: 1,819
- Median hourly earnings: $27.35
- No. employed: 148,240
- Hours worked/week: 38.3
- Median annual income: $54,500
- Top annual income: $83,510
There are several different types of librarians, and depending on the position, workloads can either be demanding or much lighter than the national average. According to the BLS, those working at colleges can work full-time, and even weekends and some holidays. However, nearly half of librarians (63,000 out of the 148,000 positions) work in elementary, middle and high schools. This means that their schedule is limited to the morning to mid-afternoon on school days, and rarely in the summers. U.S. News and World Report listed the job in its "Best Careers of 2009" report.
5. Dental Hygienists
- Hours worked/year: 1,802
- Median hourly earnings: $32.38
- No. employed: 177,520
- Hours worked/week: 34.6
- Median annual income: $68,250
- Top annual income: $93,820
Dental hygienists work alongside dentists, cleaning teeth and assisting in surgeries. The position pays well, nearly $35 per hour. This salary is quite substantial for the low stress, light hours and relatively easy certification. The most appealing part of the position is the fact that dental hygienists earn full-time wages while working more than five hours less per week than the national average. According to the BLS, "Flexible scheduling is a distinctive feature of this job. Full-time, part-time, evening, and weekend schedules are common." It was listed by U.S. News and World Report as one of the best careers of 2011, and it is also one of the fastest-growing positions in the country.
4. Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists
- Hours worked/year: 1,736
- Median hourly earnings: $32.40
- No. employed: 100,000
- Hours worked/week: 37.4
- Median annual income: $66,810
- Top annual income: $108,670
Psychologists are responsible for assessing the emotional well-being of their patients. Most psychologists have doctorates, which, according to the BLS, "generally requires about 5 years of full-time graduate study, culminating in a dissertation based on original research." However, unlike medical doctors, the vast majority of psychologists set their own hours and appointments, and while many work 9 to 5, this is not a requirement. Also, more than 40 percent of people in this position work in schools, meaning they are afforded the same summer vacation to boot.
3. Speech-Language Pathologists
- Hours worked/year: 1,638
- Median hourly earnings: $32.74
- No. employed: 112,530
- Hours worked/week: 37.6
- Median annual income: $66,920
- Top annual income: $103,630
Speech-language pathologists work on correcting stutters, lisps, and other speech impediments. According to the BLS ,"Typical licensing requirements are a master's degree from an accredited college or university; a passing score on the national examination on speech-language pathology ... 300 to 375 hours of supervised clinical experience; and 9 months of postgraduate professional clinical experience." Like psychologists, the lion's share of speech-language pathologists work in schools, with young students. Roughly 56,000 of the 112,000 work in elementary or secondary schools. Also, like psychologists, speech pathologists are able to set their own appointments and schedules. The average speech-language pathologist works 37 hours per week, and because of the summer vacation that many enjoy, the average number of hours worked each year is 1,638, nearly 300 hours less than the average U.S. worker.
2. Law Teachers, post-secondary
- Hours worked/year: 1,608
- Median hourly earnings: $82.85
- No. employed: 14,620
- Hours worked/week: 40.3
- Median annual income: $94,260
- Top annual income: $145,990
While the entire list could have just been comprised of different types of college professors, we listed only the highest-paying position. Law professors have a median income approaching $100,000, and have a top range of nearly $150,000. Becoming a law professor only requires a law degree, although many today also have a Master of Laws and even a Ph.D. The time spent seems well worth it. Besides the generous salary, they enjoy unique benefits "including access to campus facilities, tuition waivers for dependents, housing and travel allowances, and paid leave for sabbaticals," according to the BLS. Between these sabbaticals and the summer vacation, most professors work nearly 400 hours less than the average U.S. employee. Money magazine and Salary.com rated college professors at No.2 in their 2006 "Best Jobs in America" annual report.
1. Aircraft Pilots, Copilots and Flight Engineers
- Hours worked/year: 1,090
- Median hourly earnings: $119.12
- No. employed: 68,580
- Hours worked/week: 21
- Median annual income: $103,210
- Top annual income: $139,330
According to the BLS, "FAA regulations limit flying time of airline pilots of large aircraft to a maximum of 100 hours a month and 1,000 hours a year. Most airline pilots fly an average of 75 hours a month and work an additional 140 hours a month, performing nonflying duties, which include waiting for delays to clear and their aircraft to arrive." According to the BLS' national compensation survey, only two jobs have shorter annual hours worked -- flight instructors and lifeguards. Pilots work almost 50 percent fewer hours than the average America, but make the 21st highest median annual salary among the 819 positions listed on the BLS list of occupations.
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