Want to Make the Big Bucks? Try One of These Jobs.

By Teri Morisi

You don’t need to read to the end of this post to learn the key to making a good salary: Invest in your education. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows jobs that usually need postsecondary education for entry pay higher wages than those that do not.

There are 45 jobs that have median annual wages in the six figures (as of May 2015), and a bachelor’s degree or higher is typically required for 44 of them. The lone exception is air traffic controllers, who may need only an associate degree. What are these jobs? Click here for the full list.

There are a total of 141 occupations that pay more than twice ($72,400) the median wage for all occupations ($36,200). Of these, 127 typically need a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Here’s a breakdown of the other 14:

  • Seven typically need a high school diploma, but also other preparation like work experience in a related occupation and/or on-the-job training. These include nuclear power reactor operators; transportation, storage, and distribution managers; first-line supervisors of police and detectives; elevator installers and repairers; power distributors and dispatchers; detectives and criminal investigators; and commercial pilots (a different classification from airline pilots).
  • The highest-paid occupation that can typically be entered with a high school diploma or equivalent is a nuclear power reactor operator ($88,560). But these operators need extensive on-the-job training and must obtain a license through the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
  • Four typically need an associate degree for entry: air traffic controllers, nuclear technicians, radiation therapists, and nuclear medicine technologists.
  • Three typically need a postsecondary nondegree award for entry: captains, mates and pilots of water vessels; electrical and electronics repairers, powerhouse, substation and relay; and ship engineers. A postsecondary nondegree award is a program that leads to a certificate or other award, but not a degree. These three occupations also need either work experience in a related occupation or on-the-job training. Captains, mates, and pilots of water vessels and ship engineers typically need work experience in a related occupation, and electrical and electronics repairers typically need on-the-job training lasting more than 1 year.

Your best bet to landing a high-paying job? Do research on which ones pay well and are likely to grow, choose the field that’s right for you, and then pursue the education and credentials needed to qualify. Explore all of these occupations and more in the Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Teri Morisi is a branch chief at the Bureau of Labor Statistics.