In many careers, you start at the bottom rung and work for peanuts, in hopes of slowly moving up to a real paycheck. But some occupations skip the suffering and you earn a solid average starting salary on day one.
Jobs that pay well immediately can be found in a wide range of industries. Some require extensive education, some almost none. Here's a look at a variety of jobs where you can earn well from the start: Prosthodontist
($90,507). Installing fake teeth is one of the top-earning jobs in the first year of work, says career expert Laurence Shatkin, author of 250 Best-Paying Jobs. Four years at dental school plus additional advanced dental training are required, the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes. Education administrators (elementary and secondary school)
($63,249). Who knew managing the schoolyard could pay such a high starting salary? Most administrators have been teachers, and position themselves to move up by earning a master's or Ph.D. degree, Shatkin says. Financial managers
($53,071). Financial managers handle companies' toughest problems, Shatkin says – paying back loans, preparing financial statements, developing cash-management plans, and advising on investment of company cash. The BLS notes about one-third of financial managers work in the insurance or financial industries. Detectives and Criminal Investigators
($48,158). Law-and-order types may find this job appealing. The BLS says many get into the field from a related occupation such as correctional officer or beat cop. Advances in technology have made this career more interesting, says Debra Yergen, author of the Creating Job Security Resource Guide. "You're part scientist, part minister, part counselor." Elevator mechanic
($48,752). When elevators break down with people inside, there's no putting off calling for a repair crew, so this is one construction-related job that's stayed busy. The outlook is positive too: "As cities increase in population, the only way to build is up," says Yergen, "and that means more elevators per square mile." Training is usually on-the-job, though some enter through vocational programs in industrial mechanics or maintenance technology. Commercial diver
($45,824). Talk about getting out of the office. Professional divers may do repair or welding work on structures such as offshore oil derricks, photograph marine life or conduct tests. A short training course gets you ready to dive.
"There's usually a specialization within the field, like demolition or ironwork," says Shatkin. Gaming manager
($41,818). Casinos are booming, and Yergen notes, "This is one field where your communication skills are far more important than your level of education. You need active listening skills, critical thinking abilities and to be able to offer great customer service." Training is usually on-the-job, while workers are already earning a high average starting salaries. Mathematician
($58,500). The education requirements for math-related jobs are lengthy – most working mathematicians have a Ph.D., though the BLS reports federal agencies may start you with just a bachelor's degree. Shatkin says one of the largest employers of mathematicians is the National Security Agency, which needs the help of math whizzes to develop algorithms for creating codes and decrypting coded messages. Business reporter Carol Tice (www.caroltice.com) contributes to several national and regional business publications.
Source: All salary data is from PayScale.com. The salaries listed are median, annual salaries for full-time workers with 1-2 years of experience and include any bonuses, commissions or profit sharing.