In some professions, making ends meet will be easier. From our list of the 100 Best Jobs, here are occupations that offer an average salary of $90,000 or more.
Average Salary: $191,520
Not all M.D.s are rolling in dough, but most aren’t strapped for cash, either. Pay varies by specialty, experience, location and even personality, and the seesaw stretches from orthopedic surgeons (at the high end with a median salary of $428,361 in 2012, according to salary.com), down to pediatricians (who the BLS reports earned a median salary of $154,650 in 2012). Internists, doctors who diagnose and provide nonsurgical treatment for internal organs, earned an average salary of $191,520, according to the BLS.
Average Salary: $163,240
Dentist consistently ranks well among our Best Jobs. Partly due to a low unemployment rate. Partly due to projected growth this decade. And definitely due to an impressive salary. The BLS reports those who diagnose and treat oral problems earned an average salary of $163,240 in 2012, but pay fluctuates based on experience, location, specialty and hours worked. The highest-paid work in Nashua, N.H., and Tyler, Texas.
[See: The 100 Best Jobs.]
Average Salary: $130,880
As kids we simplify our career aspirations into generic terms: doctor, fireman, policewoman, lawyer. We’re socialized to respect those professions for their assumed security, for how they serve the greater good and also, for the cushy salaries they provide. This is certainly the case for lawyers, who made an average salary of $130,880 in 2012. Specializations affect compensation, as can experience.
4. Marketing Manager
Average Salary: $129,870
On television, "Mad Men" shows focus groups convened to determine how women use cold cream or how pet owners would feel feeding their dogs horse meat. In the real world, marketing managers conduct research of this nature – though hopefully less grotesque – for the purpose of formulating successful advertising campaigns. In 2012, they earned an average salary of $129,870.
5. IT Manager
Average Salary: $129,130
Technology influences how we work and what we work on, and if it fails, so do we. So it's understandable that the person who triages an organization’s technical and network problems would be well-paid. In 2012, IT managers earned an average salary that was not only above $90,000, but above $120,000.
6. Financial Manager
Average Salary: $123,260
It’s fitting that those who supervise the financial health of a company would be flush themselves. To do their job, which includes preparing financial statements and forecasts, studying market trends and approving budgets, financial managers must have exceptional organizational and analytical skills. A knack for numbers also helps. In 2012, managers earned an average salary of $123,260.
[See: The 10 Best Cities to Find Jobs.]
7. Sales Manager
Average Salary: $119,980
Sales managers don’t usually sell products, but they become qualified for their positions after taking their lumps meeting a quota in the field. The BLS reports employers often look for applicants who have spent up to five years working in a related occupation, such as sales representative or purchasing agent, and rising to a managerial position usually means less time on the road and more money in the bank: Average salaries eclipsed $119,000 in 2012.
Average Salary: $114,950
Understanding how medicines mingle and affect a patient is a tall task that's tuned through technical study and experience. However, a lot of being a pharmacist is about the interpersonal. Strong communication skills are a plus, and leadership and conflict resolution chops ensure longevity. In 2012, the average salary for pharmacists was nearly $115,000. Cities in California pay particularly well, with Pharm. D.s in El Centro and Chico earning more than $140,000.
9. Business Operations Manager
Average Salary: $114,850
Working as a business operations manager means supervising both projects and people, and the best are super-organized. Being super-educated also helps, as the BLS reports operations managers often have a master’s degree in business administration. Being super-patient is also necessary: Most ascended to this position from a lower-level job. In 2012, the average salary for an operations manager was $114,850, with the highest-paid working in finance.
10. Art Director
Average Salary: $94,260
Those responsible for conceptualizing and actualizing the style and image of a publication and product made nearly $94,260 in 2012, according to the BLS. The job’s assorted duties include spearheading the overall look of a publication, advertising campaign or theatrical production, determining a budget and project plan, communicating with clients and hiring and supervising design teams.
11. Software Developer
Average Salary: $93,280
Our No. 1 job isn't just well-paying; it's also fast-growing: The BLS predicts employment should sprout 22.8 percent by 2022 to meet burgeoning demand for more computer systems and applications across various industries. The field is competitive and requires specialized training, but the reward is a salary that escalates well into six figures. In 2012, software developers made an average salary of $93,280.
[Read: How to Answer Questions About Your Salary Expectations.]
Average Salary: $93,250
Perhaps you have more of an affinity for animals than people and would rather pursue a D.V.M. than an M.D. or D.D.S.? Veterinarians, or Doctors of Veterinary Medicine, don’t usually earn as much as physicians or dentists, but they're still well compensated. In 2012, the average salary was $93,250, with the highest-earners working in Cape Coral, Fla., and Visalia, Calif.
13. Physician Assistant
Average Salary: $92,460
It's a boon for a great-paying job to grow at a furious clip: Physician assistants work under the supervision of doctors, reviewing patient histories, conducting exams, ordering tests and making diagnoses, and employment could swell 38.4 percent for this job by 2022. The BLS reports physician assistants earned $92,460 in 2012.
14. Nurse Practitioner
Average Salary: $91,450
This is a great time to be a nurse practitioner, with the increased number of insured persons who might seek medical care. And the salary isn't half bad, either. In 2012, nurse practitioners earned an average salary of $91,450. For the best pay potential, go west – to San Jose, Calif., specifically, where the practitioners made an average salary of $125,450.
15. Construction Manager
Average Salary: $90,960
So-called "blue-collar professions" don’t equate to the bill-paying blues. For example, the managers who coordinate, budget and supervise a construction project earn between $49,680 and $144,520, according to the BLS. The average salary for a construction manager was $90,960 in 2012.
16. Financial Advisor
Average Salary: $90,820
One would hope that the person who advises on how to invest, save and spend your money would be in good fiscal shape, right? In 2012, financial advisors earned nearly $91,000. Surprisingly, the highest-paid don't work in the big cities, but in the metropolitan areas of Fayetteville, Ark., and Bridgeport, Conn.