Online salary database PayScale.com has done its research and discovered jobs where you can get started in a career and actually earn a good wage from the very beginning.
The following is a list of options from a variety of industries and what their annual, median, total cash compensation is for people with two or less years of experience. For many of them, a college degree is required, or at least makes getting the job easier. But, others don’t require a degree at all, just a willingness to work hard and learn on the job.
1. Investment Banking Analyst
Median annual salary: $73,000
Charts, graphs, trends and numbers are what you’ll need to love in order to love this job. You’ll provide financial services, advice and banking products to wealthy investors, as well as help government agencies and companies issue stocks and bonds. A bachelor’s degree in a finance-related field, as well as good grades and graduate work will help you in this competitive field.
2. Assistant Actuarial Analyst
Median annual salary: $54,000
Insurance companies rely on actuarial analysts to stay profitable. Actuary analysts identify and calculate the risk of loss from policyholders to an insurance company, establish who is eligible for a policy, what the premium should be, and write policies that protect the insurance company. To assist an actuarial analyst, no degree is required, though companies prefer an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, some insurance company experience and strong computer skills.
3. Junior Tax Associate
Median annual salary: $53,000
Want to get into the details? A junior tax associate helps a tax associate review companies’ fiscal reporting systems and ensure that they follow all Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidelines, as well as state and local directives. For instance, a junior associate may help make sure that a company conforms with IRS rules each time they pay their employees. A junior tax associate will be best off with a degree in accounting, auditing or taxation. Further degrees and certifications improve future job opportunities.
4. Pharmaceuticals Sales Representative
Median annual salary: $51,000
Here is a gig that can lead you to some serious dollars. According to PayScale.com, full-time reps earn a median wage of $87,300 with just five years of experience in this field, while top earners can get into the six-figures. A four-year degree is required for most pharmaceutical sales jobs, as well as on-the-job training. Further education can bump up earnings significantly, according to PayScale.com.
Median annual salary: $49,000
After all of the financial disasters in recent years, scrutiny of companies’ financial habits is bigger business than ever. Auditors review companies’ financial statements to ensure that public records are kept accurately and taxes get paid correctly and on time. Interested? You’ll likely need a four-year degree in accounting, though people with associate’s degrees can sometimes find work as junior auditors.
6. Wind Turbine Technician
Median annual salary: $47,000
Getting in on wind technology could set you up for a long career in the alternative energy field. Technicians inspect and repair wind turbines for everything from electrical to hydraulic malfunctions. An associate’s degree and certification are the minimum requirements to get started in this career. Further training and education can lead to better opportunities.
7. Healthcare Research Analyst
Median annual salary: $47,000
The healthcare field is booming, and so is the amount of data available about patients, caregivers, drug studies and more. Healthcare research analysts verify the validity of data, correct any errors, analyze data using computer software and prepare reports. This job requires a bachelor’s degree and extra study or training in the medical field.
8. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Analyst
Median annual salary: $44,000
When you search for something on Google, do you bother going to the second or third page of results? Probably not. That’s why companies want their services to show up at the top of the first page of search results. SEO analysts help them do that by analyzing user habits online and making marketing and website design recommendations. This field is fairly new so requirements are few and most training is on-the-job. A four-year degree, marketing experience and analytical skills can help you get started.
9. Forensic DNA Analyst
Median annual salary: $41,000
This job is considered pretty glamorous right now, thanks to shows like CSI. You must be willing to collect evidence samples at crime scenes, then spend many hours in the lab studying the DNA to help figure out “who done it?” You will also need to prepare reports about your findings and serve as an expert witness in court cases. Analysts, or science technicians, can be hired with an associate’s degree or learn their skills on the job. Those with a four-year degree, or who understand legal processes, will have more job opportunities.
10. Law Research Associate
Median annual salary: $40,000
You’ve probably seen the legal documents piled around lawyers on TV as they work on their cases. A law research associate actually digs through those papers or, more likely, the digital versions of them, to help lawyers prepare for trial. An associate’s degree can get you started in this gig. With more work experience, further training and great writing skills, you’ll be on your way to a more lucrative career as a paralegal.
Source: All salary data is from PayScale.com. The salaries listed are median, annual salaries for full-time workers with less than two years of experience and include any additional cash compensation like bonuses, commissions and profit sharing.