On average, standard medical doctors who practice in the United States make more than $180K annually, while specialists can make up to twice that amount! That’s a pretty good deal—they get to help people and potentially save lives. In exchange, they get more than enough money to pay off the several years of schooling it took to earn their medical license and then some!
But here are ten careers that make more (or around the same) money than a doctor—and some require much less time and education to get started.
10 Air Traffic Controller
How hard can it be to direct air traffic? You have a whole added dimension to work with, so preventing mid-air crashes should be simple, right? Well, it’s not those kinds of crashes that air traffic controllers are trying to avoid—it’s the ones on the runways and taxi lanes.
Air traffic controllers are responsible for all the traffic in and out of the busiest places 24/7, city airports. They must keep an organized schedule and itinerary to ensure that flights land safely and commuters leave on time. All that congested traffic must be a massive headache, so it’s no wonder they make the big bucks!
They make around $120K a year, depending on the size of the airport they work for.
Lawyers are expected to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the laws they specialize in, so people pay them good money to protect their interests, whether that be from criminal charges or their property and to whom it goes when they pass on.
A common misconception about lawyers is that they’re in court constantly, battling against the other side and cross-examining witnesses. Truth is, neither party wants to drag things out in court, where either side takes a huge risk, so things are usually settled in quiet meeting rooms.
On average, lawyers make $127K a year or more if they specialize in the higher profile stuff. They often need that money to pay off their law school debt.
It makes sense that judges would make more than lawyers; although the profession requires much of the same skill set, it expects more responsibility from the appointed authority. To start, there’s a limited number of judge positions to fill, making the job prestigious.
Plus, what could be better than getting paid to judge people, have them stand whenever you walk into the room, bang a gavel, and wear cool robes all day? Becoming a judge earns an instant badge of respect and admiration and a decent paycheck to boot.
Depending on the district, a judge can earn between $162K to $185K a year. Many judges sit on the bench for decades and can even make their way up into the federal district, earning more money, upwards of $280k!
7 Airline Pilot
The only thing more complicated than directing airport traffic is operating the planes, which have complex and intricate controls that somehow get a hundred-ton aircraft flying through the air like a bird. On top of that, airline pilots are responsible for carrying dozens of lives thirty-thousand feet in the air to get them safely to their destinations. That’s a lot of pressure for one or two pilots, so, amazingly, they can keep their cool while they make announcements over the intercom.
Another benefit is that while the requirements to become a pilot are lofty (get it?), they’re still affordable and reasonable. All it takes is a bachelor’s degree in aviation, 1,500 hours of flight practice, and licenses for bigger and more complex aircraft along your career.
A pilot’s salary ranges from $110K to $200K, depending on the airline.
6 State Governor
Many may not like it, but the politics game is a sure way to get money. Those that run for state governor and get elected have a base salary that, depending on the state, ranges from $92K to $204K per year. Those amounts quadruple across four years.
Then, if they are re-elected, those in the upper range can make more than a million dollars in just eight years. That’s a lot of money, and I haven’t even mentioned contributions given by lobbyists with special interests. And they give them that money to fund their campaigns long before they get elected.
5 Voice Actor
Voice acting literally sounds like the most fun job in the world. They get to sit in a booth and speak in funny or exaggerated ways to bring life to an animated character. However, breaking into the field of voice acting isn’t as easy as you might expect.
The most iconic voice actors have backgrounds in stage acting and take their jobs very seriously. It’s a lot of hard work, too—each line you hear out of a cartoon’s mouth is rarely from the first take, and speaking like that can put a lot of strain on your voice, so the job also requires a lot of warmups and training to maintain vocal health.
Depending on their roles, voice actors can be paid up to $217K annually.
Unfortunately, due to some drama revolving around Hellena Taylor not reprising her role as the iconic Bayonetta for the third game in the series, it may become more difficult for voice actors to get the payment they deserve. Taylor lied about what those at Nintendo and Platinum Games offered her for the role and tried to get fans to boycott the release. The stunt destroyed her credibility (and career!) and the credibility of other voice actors who just wanted fair pay.
4 Large Commercial Farmer
For a very long time, farmers have commonly been associated with poverty. In fact, this connection is where the word “villain” comes from, as it means “low-born rustic.” Somehow, it went from petty insult to label for the eccentric antagonist, but the connotations are far from the truth.
See, one of the earliest signs of civilization is agriculture. As long as there’s been a way to grow food, there’s been a hierarchy of power relating to who grows the most. Those that grow the most food also sell the most food, giving them a lot of control and wealth over the area. Things are more nuanced today, but the biggest farmers still make a ton of money.
The biggest farmers in America make up to $245K a year!
3 Pro Gamer
Everyone enjoys playing video games, but imagine being paid to play them! I’m not even talking about quality assurance or testing games to their breaking point to find and report bugs to the developers. The class of gaming for profit that I’m talking about involves the world of e-sports. There are huge cash prizes for the winners of hugely popular and competitive games of all kinds, from Street Fighter to Call of Duty.
These competitive gamers aren’t just the average young people, either. They dedicate their lives to being the best players in the world, playing on such a high-level skill that the average gamer could never hope to match them.
Recently, the Dallas Fuel (they even have regional teams with cool names, just like traditional sports!) won the 2022 Overwatch League tournament, earning $1.5 million! Split across their starting five, alternate players, and coach, each earned around $166K. And yes, a coach is necessary for this type of e-sport.
The top content creators on Twitch are earning even more than that, playing games for the entertainment of millions on the world’s most popular live-streaming service. Richard “Ninja” Blevins (you might have seen his blue hair) earns $500K a month for playing Fortnite!
Most people never need to remember the complicated math equations they learned in pre-calculus, but most people don’t become astronauts. To be an astronaut is to have several careers rolled into one—astronomer, mathematician, physicist, engineer (electrical AND mechanical), and more. On top of all that, they’re also expected to remain in peak fitness and health, so they’re always ready to fulfill their missions and fix any problem that arises.
Outer space is a cold and unrelenting environment, so only the best and brightest minds and bodies can take on its many challenges. To be an astronaut, you must be a nerd AND a jock. That’s why astronauts make $393K a year.
1 Celebrity Bodyguard
Out of all the jobs on this list, this might be the easiest one to prepare for—though it does involve a lot of risks and physical training. Celebrities hire big, tough-looking people to keep them safe from overly zealous fans or whoever else they don’t want in their personal space. And celebrities, being highly paid actors, politicians, or musicians, pay very handsomely to those willing to put themselves in harm’s way to protect them. You have to hand it to celebrities—they may have completely different and lavish lifestyles, but they provide a lot of jobs by merely existing.
Depending on who hires them, a bodyguard’s pay can range from $250K to $800K per year! Talk about high risk, high reward!