For many of us, ‘get a better job’ is up there on our New Year’s Resolutions with ‘get in shape’ and ‘read more.’ But while some of these goals are as simple as going for a jog or reading a book, changing careers can be a little harder. With every industry seemingly clamoring for more, which of these paths actually have paying jobs open, and don’t require you to spend an arm and a leg in schooling? Without further ado, we present the top 10 best paying careers of 2014, to help you on your way to success.
10. Substance Abuse Counselor
As the stigma on mental illness and addiction falls away, more and more people are seeking treatment for addictions and other unhealthy behaviors. While the median pay is only around $40k annually, those who work in the field find it incredibly rewarding. The requirements vary from one state to the next, but most Substance Abuse counselors bear a Master’s degree in social work or other fields. The biggest reward from this profession is the knowledge that you’re changing someone’s life for the better – but it’s the rising need that makes this number 10 on our list of the best paying careers of 2014.
9. Dental Hygienist
Sticking one’s hands in the mouths of strangers isn’t for everyone, but that’s great news for hygienists! With a projected 38% increase in availability and another healthy salary increase by the year 2020, this field is biting down hard to be among the best paying careers of 2014. While dental assistants are being phased out in many places, a hygienist needs only an associate’s degree and a dentist to work for to succeed. And before you think you’ll be flossing for Cracker Jacks – the 90th percentile of dental hygienists can earn in the $95k range. Smile!
8. Network Analyst
Network analysts are in demand everywhere. In every office with a network, someone’s behind the scenes making sure email, intranet, and other internal communication needs are met. Network analysts often have only an associate’s degree, making this career possible in a short two-year program of study, with education up through the Master’s level for the dedicated. As for finding a job, worry not – it’s the 50% leap in Network Analyst jobs through 2020 that lands this on our list of the best paying careers of 2014.
7. Database Administrator
You don’t have to be a people person to rake in the big bucks. If you’re more about numbers than letters and have a love for detail, consider a career as a database administrator. While the network analyst keeps things up and running, database administrators manage and organize the seemingly infinite digital data that keeps a company running. You’ll want a bachelor’s degree in a technical, detail-based field to start, but there are entry-level positions that can set you on the right path to one of the best paying careers of 2014.
6. Public Relations Consultant/Specialist
Truly, the job of the future. With social media being the new go-to for nearly all companies, everyone from household names to up and coming entrepreneurs are in need of PR. This is a great job if you’re young and communications-savvy, the kind of person who gets a real thrill out of making new connections. But it takes more than just a good Twitter sense to land a job in one of the best paying careers of 2014 – your output must be clean, correct, and professional, meaning agencies typically want to hire folks who have degrees in journalism, marketing, or English. With a median income of nearly $60k over the next few years, that’s not a bad chunk of change for updating Facebook.
5. Physical Therapist
The massive and unexpected growth in the elderly population, as well as the resistance of many to take pain medications, sets the stage for this booming career path, one of the best paying careers of 2014. With more and more Americans and health professionals realizing the value of strength training and therapy for chronic injuries, physical therapists have found themselves in high demand. Physical therapists typically complete a Master’s level certification in addition to local and state licensing, but for a career in the $60k range that’s active, social, and good for you? Not a bad trade-off.
4. Physician’s Assistant
Many of us dreamed of being doctors when we were little, but the extensive PhD program wasn’t for us. Luckily, one of the best paying careers of 2014 is that of the physician’s assistant. Physician’s assistants perform many of the same duties as a doctor, developing a rapport with patients via treatment and care. The trade-off is that PAs require a physician’s support and approval for many of what they do, and can’t open their own care practices like doctors. But the tradeoff is the average salary of $70k and only a two year training program following your bachelor’s degree.
3. Personal Financial Adviser
With the changing economy, many Americans are trying harder than ever before to hold on their money by investing wisely. A bachelor’s degree in finance is a necessary start, but there are also dozens of financial education courses and merits that will put you head and shoulders above the rest. And you’ll need it – while many financial advisers have the luxury of working for themselves as independent consultants, you’ll have to be highly competitive to land and connect with clients. But as the digital age expands and people can work from anywhere, an $80k salary for helping people organize their dough on your own schedule is one of the best paying careers of 2014.
2. Human Resources Manager
While it seems like many of the best paying careers for 2014 are all technical or medical, there are fields that are great for a People Person. Human Resources is a growing field with massively high demand. Many have a skewed idea of the field as entry level, and while some positions are, those who choose to study HR can find themselves in very comfortable management positions. If you’ve got a passion for training, hiring, or mediating for others, look into HR – and stay on track for a management position that can easily bring in six figures.
1. Software Engineer
Software engineer might be the job of the decade, and it’s number one on our list of the best paying careers of 2014. A bachelor’s degree in computer science can teach anyone the basic coding languages and structure of software programming, and many take to it naturally. Even entry-level software engineers can earn in the $75k range, and since their work is often project-based, many don’t even stick to a nine-to-five workday. If you’re a tech savvy person who likes a fun, relaxed work environment, but also wants to earn in the six figure range, this is the ultimate career.