If you ask someone what’s the first career choice that pops into their head when thinking about well-paid jobs, you most likely will end up hearing IT manager and lawyer a-plenty. And while your mom isn’t too happy that you steered in the opposite direction (hi, Liberal Arts degree!), you might be surprised to hear how many little-known, high-paying jobs there are that no one told you about.
A while back, u/yonBonbonbon asked the good people of the No Stupid Questions community “What jobs pay surprisingly high that no one knows about?” From getting to break into big corporations scot-free to braiding horses for hunter shows, we’ve collected some of the wildest answers to help you consider alternative career paths if the current one doesn’t pan out as expected.
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Lawn Mowers, Garbage Men, really anyone that snooty mothers look at and tell their kids “you don’t wanna end up like that guy”
To be completely honest, unless you have a decent paying job, they likely make more than you do.
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Does earning a higher salary make us happier? Should we perhaps opt for a dream career that pays less, sometimes barely, but makes us proud of what we do? That is, then, the eternal struggle that has us all in a bind. Whether you’re a student choosing a major or a career newbie, the question of moolah versus job satisfaction weighs heavy on your mind. Even seasoned workers get jittery when offered a promotion that comes with a fatter wallet but potentially more stress and overtime. So, is a bigger paycheck really worth it?
Well, it depends. And if the answer would be so simple, a staggering 47% of American millennials (aged 33 to 40) wouldn’t have second thoughts over their initial career choice, according to The Harris Poll. As with every generation, bright-eyed people step into the workforce facing different challenges.
A lot of medical technician jobs. I am a specialized ultrasound tech making 120k a year. I only have an associates degree.
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For the past couple of generations, the biggest decision-changing factor was student debt. According to various studies, it was found that student debt amplifies the likelihood of graduates opting for well-paid career paths while reducing the likelihood of them pursuing lower-paying “public interest” jobs. That also includes abandoning their dream jobs.
While medical waste disposal doesn’t sound like such a bad deal after hearing they make $17.86 an hour, it’s worth considering just how much time an average person spends busting their back for bucks.
I cook for resource camps (treeplanting, firefighting, have done the odd oil rig or scientific expedition in the past) and I get paid an amazing day rate.
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My ex-MIL put a stuffed pepper down the garbage disposal several years ago. Plumber came out. Fixed it in an hour. Fee: $600. Three days later, she puts *another* stuffed pepper down the garbage disposal. Calls same plumber and tries to claim he “didn’t fix it properly the first time”. B******t. It’s also a holiday weekend (July 4th) this time, so plumber visit comes at a premium charge: $800. Also only took about an hour to fix. Plumber made $1,400 off *one* person in 72 hours, and for only ~2 hours of his time.
For those wondering, yes, my ex-MIL was a total Karen-type.
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According to a 2010 study conducted by Daniel Kahneman, a professor emeritus of psychology at Princeton, beyond a household income of $75,000 a year, money “does nothing for happiness, enjoyment, sadness or stress.” Of course, times have changed and so did the worsening conditions of the housing market and economy (which doesn’t help to take the pressure off when making life-altering career choices).
I work for USPS in a sorting facility, been here for about 3 years and I make $25/hr, 40 hours a week to type zip codes and put mail in sacks. We’re also unionized, can wear pretty much whatever we want, and can listen to music while we work. By far the easiest job I’ve ever had.
I previously worked for Walmart and was in charge of the truck unloading team of about 25 people, and I maxed out at $15/hr.
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Needless to say, I like USPS lol.
EDIT: I’m also typing this from work, because the job demands that little.
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Medical waste disposal.
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In another global study published in 2018, it has been found that the ultimate income threshold for achieving life satisfaction is $95,000. But when it comes to emotional well-being, the range narrows down to a sweet spot between $60,000 and $75,000. That is, if you’re not a resident of North America, where ultimate happiness requires you to earn $105,000 per year.
“Ethical hacker”. Ethical hacker’ or any role in computer security pays well. It’s rare that you can go from no education whatsoever to earning six figures in two years of part-time self-study (eight hours a week) or three months of intense self-study (eight hours a weekday).
Working in computer security is fun, interesting, and extremely lucrative. I have no idea why every high school in the US is not telling their students about this career life hack.
Source: I’m the CEO of a computer security company and have been doing this professionally for 20 years
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Programming in COBOL. A whole bunch of banks and investment companies and insurance companies have these 50 year old databases programmed in COBOL, and if you know the language you can make bank, becuase it’s much cheaper for them to pay a cobol develper 250k / year rather than spending 30 million transferring all their database info to some new spec.
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“I would prefer that the economy was doing better and people were more adventurous because it often has an enormous effect on the quality of their life,” Nicholas Lore, founder of the Rockport Institute, a career coaching firm, told New York Times in 2010. Considering that work consumes one-third of our lives and half our waking hours, Lore has a point.
A lot of people don’t even think about the need for them, but they’re really important and have a dangerous job, so they get paid pretty well
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Braiding horses for hunter shows. It’s been a while since I did it, but at the top shows I was getting around $100-150 per horse. On a good day I could do ten horses.
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In fact, having a meaningful job was ranked 13th out of 29 sources of happiness in an Ipsos Global Advisor survey, overshadowed by things like health, living conditions, hobbies, safety, having meaning in life and friends. Surprise, surprise: more money all came as being more important, too.
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The traveling version of anything. If you have any skill that you are willing to drop everything and go do at a moment’s notice in some random place you can get paid quite well.
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Where, then, does this leave people weighing whether to sacrifice dreams over stable life? In a recent YouGov survey, it was found that adults 25 and younger aren’t sure either: 40% reportedly would take a low salary if it came with a fulfilling job while 39% would opt for a high income with a position they hate.
Legal videographers. If you watched Tiger King or Making a Murderer, then deposition videos played, and there was someone behind the camera getting paid anywhere from $60–$125 an hour to film that. Filming depositions is a very common practice in the legal field, and it’s a very easy field to get into.
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Land surveying. I should be more specific and say professional land surveyors. Due to the aging population of surveyors and no one really knowing exactly what they really do, the pay once you’re licensed is in the 90s to 100 thousands per year and you can pretty much chose what part of the country you want to work in as there is openings everywhere
On the other hand, more than half of 16-25-year-olds in the UK fear that their job prospects are in the toilet. As indicated by a study conducted in 2021 at University College London, 53% of young individuals believe that their career prospects are shrinking. Unsurprisingly, this might effectively impact choosing a well-paying, safe job over an exciting career that is shrouded in uncertainty (something like Twitch streaming or becoming a rockstar).
Merchant marine officer. Bank money, no expenses, half the year vacation. I travel for work to crazy places. It’s hard on family and relationships.
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I work in public relations, specializing in crisis management.
If you need me, you REALLY need me. But most of the time you don’t need me at all. So I make six figures a year to do nothing at all most days. Just rushing in to save the day maybe a couple times a year at most.
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Heavy equipment mechanic, I was literally offered a job a month ago where I was told “with ot our guys are breaking $200k a year” to move to Texas
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HVAC,plumbing,electrical are the fastest growing that I have seen. I would take a do over in a heart beat and open an all in one mechanical and probably be pretty wealthy right now.
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Residential Backflows and Fire prevention systems. Annual testing, county mandated. Recession proof. Cash cow.
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Geologist. Six figures for working half a year.
Selling Propane and propane accessories pays pretty well so I’ve heard.
Radiology tech….MRI, CAT, etc. Especially if you are willing to travel. Makes bank, you can pretty much get a job any where, or get an RV and travel for a few years.
Crime scene cleaning in the US
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I made six figures bartending last year. Pretty unique job that I no longer have, but you can make pretty good money at a lot of places. It takes work ethic and charm but I wouldn’t say it’s hard.
Technical and instructional writers. People who write instructional manuals, online courses, etc.
Travel nurses. Can get your associates degree as a nurse at a community college in 2 years. Before the pandemic, the common rate for travel nurses was $40-50 an hour but when the pandemic hit, $100+ an hour is the least I’ve seen offered. Granted the work will be hard but you can work as much or as little as you want and earn an livable income for a year very quickly.
Not that no one knows about them, but many of the trades will blow you away in terms of pay and benefits very quickly.
My brother with no experience just picked up a welding job with a payscale that’ll have him up over 80k USD within a year in the US.
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Underwriters for mortgages in the US. Easy six figures.
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Unionized elevator operators in nyc. Certain freight elevators MUST have licensed elevator operator in them by law, even though they are modern automated push button elevators.
Can make 6 figures doing that from what i hear.
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Panda express General Managers, we had a meeting recently and 90 percent of us make over 90k a year while 50 percent make over 100k top earner was 225k I made 125k last year. My cooks all make at least 18 an hour in AZ while my assistant and chefs make 70k a year. Regular high school associates make between 15 and 16. Full benefits at 30 hours, medical,dental,vision,short and long term disability, company paid life insurancez optional paid life insurance, 401k woth co.pany match up to 5 percent. I get 5 weeks off a year (based on time with the company I’m at the max which is 10 years)
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