Average Wage: $130,490
As kids, we simplify our career aspirations into generic terms, like doctor, fireman, policewoman, lawyer. We're socialized to respect these professions for their assumed security, for how they serve the greater good, and also, for the comfortable salaries they often provide. This is certainly the case for lawyers, who made an average salary of $130,490 in 2011. Specializations, such as criminal law, corporate counsel, taxation, litigation, or family law, can affect your compensation, as can experience level.
Average Wage: $87,980
There's a saying that you have to spend money to make money. Sometimes organizations need an outside assessment of how best to increase their revenue and decrease redundancies, and to do that, they hire—and pay—a management analyst. These organizations typically pay well for the service: In 2011, management analysts had an average salary of $87,980, while the highest earners pulled in well above six figures.
Average Wage: $116,010
A frequent Mad Men scene: A focus group convenes to observe how and why women use Pond's Cold Cream (in an episode called "The Rejected") or how pet owners would feel about giving their dogs food made from horse meat ("The Gypsy and the Hobo"). Real-world marketing managers conduct this research, then use it to formulate a successful advertising campaign. In 2011, the average marketing manager earned $116,010, but some of the highest-paid command salaries greater than $170,000.
Average Wage: $112,160
Working as a pharmacist and understanding how medicines affect a patient's medical condition and lifestyle, plus how those medicines interact with other medications, is a tall task honed through study and experience. But running a pharmacy counter also requires exceptional customer-service skills and patience. Once you earn your white coat, you can expect an average salary of around $112,000 a year. Several cities in California pay particularly well—pharmacists in El Centro, Napa, and Santa Cruz earn more than $140,000.
11. Sales Manager
Average Wage: $116,860
Sales managers don't usually sell. But they do establish territories, set goals, and offer guidance to those who do. Most managers become qualified for their position through their own tried-and-tested experience working in the field—the BLS reports that employers often look for applicants who have spent up to five years working in a related occupation, such as sales representative or purchasing agent. Rising to a managerial position usually means less time on the road and more money in the bank: Salaries eclipsed $115,000 for sales managers in 2011.
Average Wage: $92,080
This job is not just well-paying, but fast-growing: The BLS predicts employment for software developers should grow by 30 percent by 2020, to meet burgeoning demand for more computer systems and applications (to be created and maintained) across various industries. The field is competitive, requires specialized training, and usually mandates working more than 40 hours a week. But the skills and sacrifices are rewarded with an average salary of $92,080.
13. Web Developer
Average Wage: $81,670
A good developer understands a Web user's browsing habits and uses that to design functional, informative, and aesthetically pleasing websites. The position requires creative chops, but ample analytical skills as well, not to mention a command for various computer languages. The multifaceted job description ensures a lucrative salary, with the BLS reporting that Web developers earned about $81,670 in 2011.
Average Wage: $93,900
So-called "blue-collar professions" don't equate to bill-paying blues. For example, the managers who coordinate, budget, and supervise the daily activities of a construction project earn somewhere between $50,000 and $150,000. The average salary for a construction manager in 2011 was $93,900, according to the BLS.