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By Christine DiGangi / Credit.com
September 7, 2015

With college campuses starting to fill up with students starting a new academic term and Labor Day rapidly approaching, it seems fitting to talk about the careers those students are working toward. Money isn’t the only factor people consider when deciding what to do with their lives, but it’s certainly an important one, especially if you’re among the majority of Americans who take out student loans to go to college.

To get some of the most lucrative jobs out there, you’ll need a lot of education. If you take a detailed look at the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ occupational employment statistics, you’ll see that most of the 10 highest-paid jobs are in the medical or dental fields. Anesthesiologists made an average annual salary of $246,320, as of May 2014, the most recent data available.

The BLS determines these estimates by collecting data from employers in every state and D.C., and it divides occupations by varying degrees of specificity: There are major groups (an anesthesiologist, for example, falls under healthcare practitioners and technical occupations) and minor groups within the major group (health diagnosing and treating practitioners), which are further broken down into broad groups (physicians and surgeons) and made up of detailed jobs (like an anesthesiologist).

We looked at the broad groups to get an idea of which fields carry a high earning potential. Keep in mind these are averages and based on employer reports, not actual earnings, so salaries in these fields may vary widely. Many but not all of these areas require significant training, but if you’re willing to invest the time and money to learn, these career choices are highly likely to pay you back.

13. Financial Analysts & Advisers

Estimated annual mean wage: $94,290
Also includes insurance underwriters.

12. Software Developers & Programmers

Annual mean wage: $95,280
Also includes computer programmers and Web developers.

11. Judges, Magistrates & Other Judicial Workers

Annual mean wage: $97,230
Also includes administrative law judges, arbitrators, adjudicators, hearing officers, conciliators and mediators.

10. Electrical & Electronics Engineers

Annual mean wage: $97,460

9. Engineering & Architecture Teachers, Postsecondary

Annual mean wage: $99,120

8. Health Teachers, Postsecondary

Annual mean wage: $102,260
Also includes health specialties teachers and nursing instructors and teachers.

7. Air Traffic Controllers & Airfield Operations Specialists

Annual mean wage: $102,840

6. Aircraft Pilots & Flight Engineers

Annual mean wage: $115,230

Also includes commercial pilots, airline pilots and co-pilots.

5. Astronomers & Physicists

Annual mean wage: $116,380

4. Marketing & Sales Managers

Annual mean wage: $129,900

3. Lawyers & Judicial Law Clerks

Annual mean wage: $131,970

2. Dentists

Annual mean wage: $170,940

(Includes oral and maxillofacial surgeons, orthodontists and prosthodontists.)

1. Physicians & Surgeons

Annual mean wage: $194,990

Includes anesthesiologists, internists, family and general practitioners, obstetricians and gynecologists, pediatricians and psychiatrists.

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