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What occupation makes rich?

9 Best Million Dollar Jobs for Regular People

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Does it ever seem as if earning big money is impossible? Surprisingly, million-dollar jobs are more common than you might think.

They’re not everywhere you look, and in most cases, they need to be developed or even created from the ground up. But once you decide what you want to do, it may just be a matter of applying plenty of elbow grease over as many years as it takes to make it happen.

If you desire to earn seven figures, we’ve provided the following list of job possibilities. Some seem conventional, even obvious, others not so much.

As you read the reviews below, keep in mind that we’re focusing on the highest end of the pay scale in each field. If you research job boards, you’ll likely find much lower average pay levels. We’re not covering average pay for average people but top pay for those who are willing to put in the effort to make it happen.

And it can happen.

  1. Company Executives
  2. Entrepreneurs
  3. Real Estate Agents
  4. Investment Bankers
  5. Franchise Owners
  6. Surgeons
  7. Law Firm Partners
  8. Management Consultants
  9. Social Media Influencers
  10. Final Thoughts on Million Dollar Jobs

Company Executives

Bloomberg recently reported that the average compensation package for the chief executive officer of an S&P 500 company is $18.3 million! They also included a list of the 14 highest-paid executives in the US, all earning more than $200 million. Topping the list was Tesla’s Elon Musk at over $10 billion per year!

That may sound like an elite group of executives; after all, they are the leaders of the 500 largest companies in the country. But there are plenty of CEO positions at smaller companies that also pay over $1 million per year. And along with CEOs, there are also company presidents, chief financial officers (CFOs), chief information officers (CIOs), and even a fair number of vice presidents who earn seven figures per year.


CNBC recently reported on a millennial mom who built a $1 million business by age 33. How did she do it? Etsy! That’s about as basic as you can get in the entrepreneurial field, but it proves it is possible to build a seven-figure income from the ground up.

What’s equally interesting about this woman’s story is that she’s something of a serial entrepreneur. Along with her Etsy venture, she has a blog and a series of online courses about building additional income streams.

Not everyone who starts a business sees their income rocket to $1 million. But stories like this one show that it is possible. Millions of people launch businesses yearly, and enough hit it big to keep the new recruits coming. It usually takes several years to reach that level, so don’t be discouraged if your current business idea isn’t yet reaping big rewards.

Real Estate Agents

If you’ve never heard of Graham Stephan he’s someone you need to pay close attention to if you want to succeed in just about any venture. He became a multimillionaire in his 20s and currently has a highly successful Youtube channel.

But Stephan got his start in real estate sales as a teenager. Passing on a college education, he went directly into the real estate industry, first as a photographer and then as an agent. He worked his way up as an agent to become one of the most successful in the Los Angeles market, all during the “bad real estate market” of the 2008 recession.

There are plenty of people working as real estate agents, and obviously, the great majority never make anything close to $1 million. But with hard work, dedication, and serial self-improvement, it’s possible to do so.

Investment Bankers

According to the website Mergers & Inquisitions (that’s not a misprint, it’s Inquisitions, not Acquisitions), investment bankers can earn more than $1 million per year. That applies, at least to managing directors and directors who are senior vice presidents.

The table below published on that website shows the compensation levels. Notice that even analysts, who are at the entry-level, can earn as much as $250,000 per year. But the salary range escalates dramatically from there.

Typical Age
Base Salary
Timeframe for
Analyst22 – 27$100-$125K$150-$250K2-3 years
Associate25 – 35$175-$225K$300-$550K3-4 years
Vice President28 – 40$250-$300K$500-$900K3-4 years
Director / Senior
Vice President
32 – 45$300-$350K$800-$1,200K2-3 years
Managing Direct35 – 50$400-$600K$1,000-$3,000Kn/a

In case you’re not familiar with what an investment banker is, it’s a professional who offers a wide variety of financial services to client companies, including advice on investing. The profession is commonly associated with mergers and acquisitions between companies.

Franchise Owners

Back when I was an accountant at CPA firms, I did work for franchise owners who earned seven figures. I will not say this is a common income for the group. But it is much more likely with certain franchises than with others.

Franchising is a very diverse group. Many of them are low-level affairs, where an aspiring business owner puts up a few thousand dollars to join a franchise organization, mainly to get the benefit of the company’s marketing and advertising. But that’s not usually where the big money is.

In the real-life examples that I witnessed, most million-dollar franchise owners were involved in the fast food industry. Some fast food franchises are serious moneymakers. They not only have top-of-the-line marketing, but they also know exactly where to locate restaurants.

One client I worked with had several stores with the same food franchise chain. He wasn’t making $1 million a year but several million dollars. If you’ve ever seen the movie The Blind Side, the wealthy father owned “like a million Taco Bells.” It happens in the real world.

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Contrary to what many believe, not everyone with some variation of the designation “MD” earns anywhere near $1 million. But there are specializations within the field where that’s possible.

Surgeons are perhaps the most common example. Their work is highly specialized, and they can earn several times more than general practitioners and even emergency room doctors.

Some of the highest paid in the field include brain surgeons, cardiac surgeons, and especially reconstructive surgeons.

The reconstructive sector, commonly referred to as plastic surgeons, can be especially lucrative. It’s not unusual to see highly compensated reconstructive surgeons offering their services to the wealthy at premium prices.

Law Firm Partners

Law is another highly segregated field, compensation-wise. How much an attorney earns depends on the field of specialization, the employing firm, and even the firm’s location.

Compensation at larger law firms is substantially higher than at smaller ones, especially among sole practitioners. The average compensation for an equity partner in a large law firm is $1.39 million.

Partners in law firms located in large cities, like New York and Washington DC, are at the top of the pay scale. And there are certain fields of specialization where compensation is higher than the norm. That will certainly be the case with law firms that commonly represent litigants in high-profile court cases or merger and acquisition transactions.

Management Consultants

The word “consultant” is one of the most overworked terms in the employment universe. It’s a catchall when a more descriptive term isn’t available. For example, there are sales consultants, financial consultants, insurance consultants, and so on.

But unlike those other job descriptions, management consultant is very specific. They’re typically independent professionals who help companies improve some aspect of their business or even solve specific problems. The best in the field can earn over $1 million per year.

There’s a definite career path to being a management consultant. An MBA is a typical required credential. Many independent consultants start out with a management consulting firm or even a large CPA firm. In most cases, the consultant will work with large, well-known clients, providing hands-on experience of the best kind.

The top consultants become specialists in specific industries and are typically self-employed. For example, a management consultant may specialize in finance, marketing, management, or mergers and acquisitions. The greater the specialization and skill level, the higher the compensation.

Social Media Influencers

Business Insider recently reported a social media influencer booked $700,000 in brand deals in just six months. That gives you some idea of what the potential earning capability is. Clearly, this is becoming a very lucrative field.

Social media influencer is a relatively new occupation. Or, more precisely, it’s more of an entrepreneurial venture than an occupation. That’s because your success in this field relies heavily on the size of your social media following.

Social media influencers are even broken down by size. A nano influencer is someone with fewer than 10,000 followers. Micro-influencers have up to 100,000, while macro or mega-influencers have several hundred thousand or even over 1 million.

The larger the following, the higher the income. The lady who earned $700,000 in six months reported 275,000 followers on Instagram. And there is no shortage of people with large followings making huge sums on YouTube. Essentially, advertisers are willing to pay handsome fees for individuals with large social media followings to endorse their products and services.

If you already have several thousand followers on any major social media platform, you may want to try your hand at this field. It can be especially lucrative if your following is based on a specific niche, like travel, cooking, working out, or one of the many aspects of finance.

Final Thoughts on Million Dollar Jobs

This is a good time to remind you that these are not the kind of jobs you can pursue passively, at least not if you want to earn $1 million or more. In each field, there are thousands, maybe tens of thousands of people working in the occupation. You’ll only make it through to the big leagues money-wise if you’re prepared to outwork your competitors.

Each of these jobs has the demonstrated potential to make seven figures. You’ll need to put in the effort, work in an occupation or industry that’s a good fit for you and your skills and be prepared to work longer and harder than you ever thought you could.

The payoff will be that coveted $1 million income.

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About Kevin Mercadante

Since 2009, Kevin Mercadante has been sharing his journey from a washed-up mortgage loan officer emerging from the Financial Meltdown as a contract/self-employed «slash worker» – accountant/blogger/freelance blog writer – on He offers career strategies, from dealing with under-employment to transitioning into self-employment, and provides «Alt-retirement strategies» for the vast majority who won’t retire to the beach as millionaires.

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He also frequently discusses the big-picture trends that are putting the squeeze on the bottom 90%, offering workarounds and expense cutting tips to help readers carve out more money to save in their budgets – a.k.a., breaking the «savings barrier» and transitioning from debtor to saver.

Kevin has a B.S. in Accounting and Finance from Montclair State University.

Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank or financial institution. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

14 Jobs That Will Make You Rich

Unsatisfied with your current job and considering a pivot? Here’s a list of 14 jobs that will make you rich.

Grant Sabatier

last updated October 7, 2022 10 min read

If there’s one thing all young people should think about when considering going to college for a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree and eyeing a career path for the future, it’s looking for jobs that will make you rich!

There are many career paths to take. Some just happen to pay a lot better than others. If your goal is to bring in a hefty annual income, you need to make sure you enter a field known for high salaries.

In This Article

Top High-Paying Jobs that Will Make You Rich

Ready to make money? Here are some of the highest-paying jobs on the market today:

  1. Entrepreneur
  2. Investment Banker
  3. Physician
  4. Graphic Designer
  5. Lawyer
  6. Veterinarian
  7. Software Engineer
  8. Real Estate Investor
  9. Chief Executive Officer
  10. Sales
  11. R&D Manager
  12. Strategy Manager
  13. IT Administrator
  14. Psychiatrist

Note: Many of the dollar figures listed below are based on average salaries in the U.S.

1. Entrepreneur

Earning Potential Unlimited /yr

Make no mistake about it: If you want to get rich quick, being an entrepreneur is the way to do it. Just look at Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos as examples.

Granted, not everyone has what it takes to reach the billionaire status of Musk or Bezos. But as an entrepreneur, you don’t have to listen to anyone except your customers. And you can make a ton of money just by owning a small business.

What you earn depends on the quality of your products and your desire. Being an entrepreneur can make you rich in other ways, too. You won’t have to listen to a boss. You can work when you want to (within reason). And you’ll never have to ask permission to do things.

In short, you’ll be the boss and potentially escape the nine-to-five. No matter how many years of experience you have, there’s no greater reward than freedom.

2. Investment Banker

Earning Potential $162,715 /yr

Investment banking is hard work. It requires long days and even longer nights researching and making snap decisions that are accurate and impactful. The job is super stressful, but it also comes with a very high annual salary.

The nice thing about becoming an investment banker is that it has a relatively low barrier to entry. Success depends on your ability to work hard and make successful decisions.

They say money talks, and this is a field where the best rise to the top based on performance.

3. Physician

Earning Potential $195,282 /yr

There’s a reason people spend years and years in medical school and accumulate hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loan debt to become medical professionals: It pays.

How much you make largely depends on where you’re working and the type of practice you’re involved in. For example, a doctor can make anywhere from $100,000 to $200,000 per year, while a surgeon could easily make twice or three times that much.

You can also earn a solid living by working as an orthodontist, anesthesiologist, or by getting a Doctor of Pharmacy and working as a pharmacist.

4. Graphic Designer

Earning Potential Unlimited /yr

Ignore what you see on sites like Glassdoor about graphic designers making under $100,000 annually. Talented graphic designers who can branch out and freelance have truly remarkable earning potential.

Right now, there is a massive demand for content in outlets as diverse as websites, emails, magazines, marketing collateral, and books. Almost all of this content requires graphic design in some form or another.

Some graphic designers go to school to learn their trade, while others are self-taught. If you’re naturally talented, you may even be able to make a ton of money while you’re in high school!

5. Lawyer

Earning Potential $100,590 /yr

When you think of a lawyer, you probably think of powerful attorneys arguing in court. However, there are many types of lawyers. There are personal accident lawyers, corporate lawyers, and estate attorneys, to name just a few examples.

One of the nice things about lawyers is that they are almost always in demand—and you can earn a nice salary, especially once you accumulate decades of experience.

If this sounds up your alley, maybe you should plan on getting a law degree.

6. Veterinarian

Earning Potential $102,334 /yr

People are willing to pay out big bucks to keep their pets healthy—and this bodes well for veterinarians, especially those who decide to open their own practices.

Being a veterinarian offers a unique chance to work with animals and people. It’s also a rewarding career with plenty of job security. And while it definitely requires a college degree, the annual salary will more than justify the investment in education.

7. Software Engineer

Earning Potential $93,954 /yr

The world is becoming increasingly digitized, with more and more apps and software services coming to market. As such, there is rising demand for software engineers who understand computer systems and can build these services.

Software engineers can easily earn a six-figure annual salary, especially top earners who go on to work for the best companies and freelance on the side.

8. Real Estate Investor

Earning Potential Unlimited /yr

When you think of a real estate investor, residential real estate probably comes to mind first. Yet most successful real estate professionals go far beyond residential opportunities.

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What it boils down to is that there are many types of commercial real estate investments to explore through real estate investment trusts (REITs) and direct properties.

If you invest while you’re young and put your money into the right growth areas, it’s possible to make a small fortune in real estate. Check out our guide on how much real estate investors make.

9. Chief Executive Officer

Earning Potential $141,558 /yr

How much you can make as a CEO depends on a variety of factors, such as the size of the company, how much the company makes, and the industry in which you operate.

It goes without saying that if you start a company and name yourself CEO, you’re going to have a very different experience than being named CEO of a well-established company.

Both jobs offer strong earning potential and different types of pressure. And the truth is that both examples can be equally rewarding.

The thing to remember is that, as a CEO, you’ll typically have fewer decisions to make on a daily basis. But the decisions you make will have bigger consequences.

As such, you should be compensated well to make those bigger decisions for the organization. That’s why CEOs make so much money.

10. Sales

Earning Potential Unlimited /yr

Working in sales today is very different than it used to be.

The stigma of being in sales and working long hours for little pay is no longer the case, at least in certain industries like technology or healthcare. The truth is you can make a lot of money with a job in sales.

The people who make it in sales have bulletproof strategies, thick skin, and the expectation that they will succeed and do well. If you can master the mental side of sales—and link up with companies that have stellar products—it’s possible to do very well in sales.

Keep in mind that the best sales associates are very discerning about who they work for. Reputation matters in sales, and it’s important to work for a company that offers the best solutions.

11. R&D Manager

Earning Potential $107,008 /yr

Companies live and die by the products and services they offer, putting a lot of pressure on research and development teams to produce offerings that align with their customer base.

Working as an R&D manager requires being able to work with data along with stellar communication skills.

However, it’s often a fun and rewarding position and one that can bring in a lot of money—especially when working with well-funded companies in emerging fields like artificial intelligence.

12. Strategy Manager

Earning Potential $125,536 /yr

In a corporate setting, achieving goals takes a lot of planning and maintenance.

Strategy managers use data and insights to help companies achieve their overall objectives and maintain an advantage. Again, your annual income will depend largely on the company and the field.

13. IT Administrator

Earning Potential $105,957 /yr

IT administrators are playing a massive role in business today, especially in the new era of remote work.

With rising cyber threats, along with increased digitization and strong demand for networking services, IT administrators are in high demand.

14. Psychiatrist

Earning Potential $215,687 /yr

Declining stigmas around mental health put psychiatrists in strong demand—especially following the outbreak of COVID-19.

Psychiatrists play a vital role in society, and they also charge a lot of money for their services. As a psychiatrist, you can easily earn a six-figure salary. The hardest part may be keeping up with demand.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I consider in my job search?

Job seekers have many things to consider in a job search, like location, rules and regulations, work-from-home job opportunities, and the size and reputation of a company. However, leave your ego at the door: the most important thing you should consider if you’re looking for a high-paying job is money.

All too often, people settle for jobs that don’t pay as much as they should. Don’t let that happen to you. Stop settling and start earning a higher salary. That should be your biggest priority.

My entry-level job doesn’t pay well. What should I do?

If your entry-level job has a lower starting salary than you want, you have a few options. If you like the company, you can consider doing what you need to do to advance, whether that’s asking for a raise, going back to school, or upskilling to create more value.

If you don’t like the company or even the field, it’s time to get out and advance yourself. Look elsewhere for greener pastures. You can also start a side hustle at night to bring in some extra cash and, ultimately, build a full-time business for yourself.

The Bottom Line

The above list contains just a few examples of high-paying jobs. In many cases, the more specific you get, the more you can earn.

For example, the job of a petroleum engineer, computer science worker, air traffic controller, actuary, aerospace engineer, and financial manager can also earn big. The list goes on and on.

The truth is that if you want to make a million dollars, this requires looking beyond your full-time job. You need to think like an entrepreneur and start looking for limitless earning opportunities to get to millionaire status.

It’s also important to remember that it’s not about how much you make but rather how much you enjoy your work that’s important.

By figuring out what you’re interested in and finding the highest-paying job you love, you’ll be well on your way to a rewarding career that leads to long-term financial independence.

Only one question remains: What’s your best wealth-building path?

Will a Finance Degree Make You Rich?


Earning power is often a main driving factor when it comes to choosing a career. If you’re looking to amass your wealth, earning a finance degree and embarking on a career like financial analyst, advisor or manager can help you reach your economic goals. In addition to offering median salaries that far overshadow the wages for all occupations, finance careers may offer the opportunity to earn substantial bonuses and commissions. They can also pave the way toward executive leadership roles, which can bring in the really big bucks. Of course, some of the highest-paying opportunities in the field of finance are in investment banking, particularly on Wall Street.

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What to Know About the Highest-Paying Finance Jobs

If you’re aiming for the highest possible salary with a finance degree, here are a few things to keep in mind. These jobs can be financially rewarding, but they can also be stressful, especially when there is a lot of money on the line and your work is the basis for making certain investments, acquisitions and other business moves. If you’re the kind of person who will frequently lie awake at night second-guessing your decisions, finance job roles like financial analyst and personal financial advisor may not be a good fit for you. Your strengths may better fit a job role like tax examiner or financial examiner, where the main concern is legal compliance in the finance industry. Some finance roles, like junior investment banker at major firms on Wall Street, are notorious for long work weeks that, in some instances, approach nearly 100 hours, according to NPR.

Another thing to know is that finishing school doesn’t mean that you’re all done with your education and training in this field. Some finance roles require you to attain and maintain professional licenses, and professional certifications may also be part of your career path. Even if you don’t need a license and you choose not to seek certification, you can never stop learning and developing your professional skills and knowledge in this career. The job market is competitive and the regulations that govern the finance industry change frequently, so as a finance professional, you will have to be prepared to stay on top of new legal and policy changes, market trends and investment opportunities.

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For the period from 2020 to 2030, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expected jobs for financial specialists as a whole to increase by five percent, but some jobs in finance are seeing much faster rates of job growth than others. While the BLS anticipates jobs for tax examiners to decline by four percent, jobs for financial examiners are predicted to increase by a much faster than average rate of 18 percent.

What Is a Finance Major?

Finance is the college major that focuses on the study of investments and money management. If you’re in the finance business, you necessarily work with money and wealth in some capacity. Often, the work finance majors go on to do involves the quantitative, mathematical and statistical analysis of financial markets, assets and risks.

Generally, the goal of investing or otherwise managing money is to make it grow, amassing wealth for the individual, company or organization. Growing money means managing risks. Investments that offer the greatest potential returns in terms of money growth, such as stock market investments, also pose the risk of financial losses. Bonds, money market accounts and Certificate of Deposit (CD) accounts are among the safest investment options, but they also offer a lower rate of return, which means the money invested doesn’t grow as fast. Finance specialists in different roles have to thoroughly analyze and balance these risks, which makes the field of finance both an art and a science.

A Curriculum in Finance

Studies in finance typically build on core business studies with more specialized major coursework in the finance field. The business core coursework typically consists of lower-division classes that give students a foundation in different areas of business study. Often, these classes include financial accounting, managerial accounting, macroeconomics and microeconomics, marketing, business law and ethics, organizational behavior, strategic management and operations management.

Finance is a heavily quantitative field of study, so don’t be surprised if you are expected to take classes in calculus, statistics for business and economics and the foundations of business analytics. The specialized classes you take as a finance major are likely to include financial statement analysis, financial modeling and analysis, corporate finance, personal finance, investments and derivatives. You might also study commercial bank management, international financial management or finance for new ventures.

The Average Salary of Finance Majors

Compared to those of other entry-level roles, starting salaries for finance majors are high. Finance graduates in 2019 reported a starting salary of $58,464, with only graduates in the disciplines of engineering, computer science and science and mathematics earning more money, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

Different industries tend to pay different starting salaries to finance majors. The information industry was the highest-paying industry for new finance graduates in 2019, with a median salary of $70,000, the National Association of Colleges and Employers reported. The next most lucrative industry, management consulting, paid recent finance graduates a median of $62,500.

Finance majors in the food and beverage manufacturing industry made a median salary of $60,750, while those in the finance, insurance and real estate industry earned $60,250. Finance majors starting out in the miscellaneous manufacturing industry made a median wage of $59,000 in their first year in the field, followed by those in the computer and electronics manufacturing industry, for whom the median salary was $58,000,

The three lowest-paying industries for finance majors on which the National Association of Colleges and Employers reported all had median salaries in the mid-$50,000 range. In miscellaneous professional services, recent finance graduates earned a median wage of $56,500. Finance majors working for utilities reported a median wage of $55,000, and those employed in the wholesale trade industry earned a median salary of $54,500.

For investment banking analysts who work in major investment banking firms in their first year after graduating from college, the average total compensation was nearly $200,000, CNBC News reported in 2021. However, investment banker opportunities at major firms like JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs are notoriously competitive, CNBC noted.

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Total earning potential for investment bankers includes both salary and bonuses. Bonuses in investment banking can easily reach well into the five-figure territory, and salaries are on the rise. CNN reported in 2021 that JPMorgan Chase had announced that it would begin paying first-year analysts a $100,000 salary.

Salaries for Finance Careers

Financial specialists fit several job descriptions and roles. As a whole, financial specialists earned a median annual wage of $73,840 in 2020, the BLS reported.

The Highest-Paying Finance Careers, Ranked

What position financial specialists hold, as well as the amount and quality of education and experience they have, can affect their salary potential. Below are the five highest-paying finance professions, as ranked by the BLS.

  1. Financial Managers: Financial managers, including finance officers, treasurers, controllers and other job titles, brought home a median salary of $134,180 annually as of 2020, the BLS reported.
  2. Personal Financial Advisors: Personal financial advisors, who help individuals manage wealth, make investment decisions and plan for the future, earned a median salary of $89,330 per year in 2020, according to the BLS.
  3. Financial Analysts: Financial analysts, who evaluate the performance of investment opportunities on either the buy-side or the sell-side, earned a median salary of $83,660 per year, according to the BLS.
  4. Securities, Commodities, and Financial Services Sales Agents: Sales professionals who sell financial products like securities and commodities earned a median salary of $64,770 per year in 2020, the BLS reported, but the median wage specific to the 38 percent of sales agents working in financial investment services industry was $89,740 per year.
  5. Financial Examiners: The BLS reported a median salary of $81,430 per year for financial examiners in 2020.

In addition to a high salary, many finance professionals receive perks such as company bonuses and commissions. Some financial specialists, like fund managers, earn compensation based on a percentage of the money they manage or the return they achieve for their investors (or both).

Wall Street Wages

Do you consider a $1 million annual salary “rich”? What about $2 million or $5 million? These sorts of salaries may sound extravagant, but they’re not unheard of on Wall Street, Business Insider reported.

Some of the highest-paying Wall Street careers include:

  • CCO – Chief Compliance Officer, $1 million to $2 million
  • CRO – Chief Risk Officer, $1 million to $3 million
  • CTO – Chief Technology Officer, $2 million to $3 million
  • Proprietary Trader, $2 million to $3 million
  • Hedge Fund Research Head, $2 million to $3 million
  • Top Partner, $2 million to $5 million
  • Head of Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A), $2 million to $6 million
  • Head of Investment Banking, $3 million to $8 million
  • Chief Hedge Fund Traders, $1 million to $20 million (or more)

These figures were reported based on 2012 data, but salaries have continued to grow since then, especially for those at the top income levels. In 2020, the median annual income reported for the chief executives at the biggest companies in America had climbed to $13.4 million, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The Factors That Increase Salaries for Finance Professionals

Finance majors have a lot of control over how much they stand to make. If you really want to get rich in the field of finance, working in the right industry, earning a master’s degree and getting the relevant professional certifications can help improve your earning potential.

The Best-Paying Industries for Finance Careers

Which industry a finance professional works in can play a large role in determining earning potential. For example, financial analysts who work in securities, commodity contracts and investments earned a median wage of $98,850 annually in 2020, while financial analysts in the credit intermediation industry earned nearly $20,000 less per year, with a median salary of $79,270.

The difference between salaries of financial managers in different industries can also add up to tens of thousands of dollars per year. In professional and scientific services, financial managers made a median wage of $154,790 in 2020, compared to $117,940 among those working for the government. Among personal financial advisors, the highest pay rates existed in the securities, commodity contracts and other financial investments activities, where the BLS reported a median salary of $97,020. For those working in credit intermediation, the BLS reported a significantly lower median salary of $75,730 per year.

For financial examiners, the federal government was the top-paying industry, with a median salary of $124,070 per year as of 2020. Credit intermediation, which employed the largest share of financial examiners, paid a median wage of just $72,560.

The Impact of a Master’s in Finance Degree on Earning Potential

For candidates who currently have only an undergraduate business degree, going on to earn a Master of Business Administration or Master of Finance degree can open new doors to more lucrative job opportunities. The impact of a master’s degree is bigger in some finance careers than others. For example, earning a master’s degree resulted in a wage premium of 89 percent for securities, commodities and financial services sales agents, which translated to a pay boost of $80,000, the BLS reported in 2015. For financial managers, the wage premium that goes along with a master’s degree was 41 percent, which added up to an additional $32,000 per year.

Professional Finance Certifications’ Effects on Income

Attaining a certification like the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) from the CFA Institute can also boost a finance specialist’s career prospects. For portfolio managers with the CFA professional credential, the typical salary reported in 2019 was $126,000, with bonuses raising the total earning potential to $177,000, according to the CFA Institute. Other popular and potentially lucrative finance credentials include the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) credential and the Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) designation.

Whether your idea of “rich” is $80,000 per year or $8 million, earning a finance degree can help you attain a job with a high earning potential. Choosing a prestigious school and pursuing an advanced degree can offer you even more – and better paying – job opportunities.

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