Highest Paying Jobs in the U.S. | Reality Check

How can I join the ranks of the rich?

If Ryan Seacrest can make $45 million, why oh why can't I?

If Ryan Seacrest can make $45 million, why oh why can't I?

I have been struggling a lot with money lately; it has become a constant source of stress for me. The majority of Americans out there can probably sympathize with me. Most of us were stressed out about money long before the recession started making headlines.

Still, we also read every day about people like Ryan Seacrest scoring $45 million contracts, athletes making tens of millions per season and CEOs that are worth billions. This got me thinking, with so many people getting rich out there, how can I do it?

Unpleasantly surprised

I did some research on the highest-paying jobs in the U.S. and found that singer, professional athlete, actress, filmmaker, TV show host and model are not on the list. “The list” I speak of is the highest-paying careers according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The unpleasant surprise I encountered was that even if I am able to secure a job in one of the best-paying fields in the U.S., I still won’t have money to lend.

While reading through the list, I found that while the highest-paying jobs do pay six figures, those figures are a lot closer to $100,000 than to $900,000. Of course, this is because the salaries are an average of all of the people who work in that field. That explains why actor and model didn’t make the cut. Though you can make more money than a lot of other people if you make it big in those fields, very few people actually do it, compared to the number that try.

Perception versus reality

Just to cut to the chase, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, surgeon is the highest-paid profession in the U.S., and surgeons make about $180,000 per year. CEOs makeĀ  about $140,000 on average, not the $500,000 I sort of expected. Other professions on the list include engineering manager, airline pilot, marketing manager and natural sciences manager.

If you want to see the full list, I found it on AskMen.com. But the jobs on the list aren’t what left the biggest impression on me. What shocked me most was how incredibly skewed my ideas about how much the highest-paid individuals in this country make. I thought for sure I’d find a list where everyone made millions. I realize now that because of reading about celebrities and massive financial institutions every day, I lost sight of that sometimes-too-hard-to-believe statistic that 1 percent of the nation’s population controls 40 percent of its wealth.

In good company

I am in no way encouraging anyone to give up on dreams of being rich. I am simply saying don’t get frustrated and don’t feel like you’re failing if you’re not pulling in millions. It is easy to feel like everyone who is anyone is making eight figures, but only people who have a disproportionate amount of wealth make the news because of it.

It’s true that inventors and breakout stars stumble across millions, but it doesn’t happen every day as the media might make it seem. And while a $100,000 per year salary might not sound like much compared to what Jennifer Aniston makes on one movie, it is certainly enough to live on as long as you don’t spend beyond your means.

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