August 2, 2009

You Probably Won't get Paid $100,000 to do that.

I was wandering around over on Yahoo and I came across this article titled "You Get Paid $100,000 to do WHAT?" They say: "With the right education, earning over $100,000 annually can be easy in some unexpected fields." They list the jobs of : Court reporters, Hotel & Lodging managers, Academic Administrators & Deans, Sales Managers Commercial Hair and Makeup Artists and Software Development Managers. Note I put emphasis on the word 'easy' there in that quote. For some of these jobs I really don't think making $100,000 is easy at all. For other jobs it should be expected but the level of training and experience isn't easy to hit either.

First lets look at court reporters, lodging managers and makeup artists. I don't think it is 'easy' to hit the $100,000 income mark for these jobs.

Court Reporters make median pay of $49,710 according to the BLS.
Lodging Managers make median of $45,800 again from BLS.
Makeup artists for Theatrical make median of $26,270 from BLS.

So the median wages for these groups are nowhere near the $100,000 level. You might be able to hit the $100,000 level but such a wage is unlikely for the vast majority of people working in these professions. The top 10% of wage earners for these jobs aren't even at the $100,000 level. From the BLS data the top 10% of each makes : $83,500 for court reporters, $84,270 for lodging managers and $80,630 for makeup artists. The likely earnings for these professions is much closer to $50,000 - $80,000 than $100,000.

Furthermore these jobs aren't something anyone can just jump into. Court reporters really need to have very fast and to be certified by the national association you have to be able to transcript at 225 words per minute. I doubt most people can do that. Lodging managers don't just show up and get a job managing a hotel, thats the kind of job you work your way up to. Its relatively easy to get a job doing hair or makeup, but getting such a job for movie stars or the like is not typical at all.

Consider the other three jobs : Academic Administrators & Deans, Sales Managers and Software Development Managers.

Frankly I'm not at all surprised that these jobs can make over $100,000. I don't doubt they can and routinely do. But they are high end jobs that I'd expect to be compensated well.

Generally I'd assume you'd have to have a PhD to become a dean. It takes many years of education to get a PhD and high paying jobs at that level of education are much more typical. Of course they can make good wages.

Becoming a Sales Managers is probably more a combination of education and experience. You might be able to work up to sales manager if you are a very successful salesperson alone. But this kind of job is not something everyone can do. Furthermore not all sales manager jobs are the same. Many sales managers don't make anywhere near $100,000. Retail sales managers median wages are $35,310 according to BLS and the top 10% doesn't even hit $70,000. Its the non-retail sales management jobs that are likely to hit the high salaries. For non-retail sales manager positions the BLS says the median wage is $68,100 and the top 10% makes $136,810.

Software Development Managers are going to require both technical degree and management skills. Its also not the kind of job you get starting out. A technical degree in computer science or engineering alone should open the door to $100,000 wages with some experience but that shouldn't be a surprise. Median wages for computer software engineers is over $85,000 according to BLS. A manager should make more.

These three positions require a high level of education and/or a high level of experience with specialized skills and talents. So in my opinion while its feasible to make $100,000 doing them its not at all easy to get there in the first place.


  1. Deans and departmental chairs are lonelier than God. It's not a job that's very good for your health.

    But it is true: Deans and academic administrators often make six-figure incomes, depending on the school and the part of the country where they live. To get a job like this, you have to...

    * Get a Ph.D.
    * Excel in an academic department, all of which are fraught with nasty politics and pettiness exacerbated by eccentricity
    * Publish prolifically while teaching, serving on committees, and performing community service
    * Attain tenure quickly and move expeditiously toward a full professorship
    * Pull in grants, preferably large ones, on a regular basis
    * Build a high profile on the campus, preferably a positive one (never an easy task, for the reason described in item 2)
    * Build visibility in the community outside the university
    * Possess significant personal polish and verve
    * Work 18 and 20 hour days, seven days a week
    * Be willing to forego the typical academic nine-month contract, and instead work those 126-hour weeks twelve months a year
    * Kiss more a**es than you would imagine even exist (it's a crowded world we live in...)
    * Be willing to treat colleagues ruthlessly
    * Learn how to say one thing and mean another
    * Accommodate yourself to mouthing the party line, no matter how fatuous it sounds
    * Learn how to signal messages to underlings without actually saying certain things in so many words, and get very good at this skill
    * Put the institution above yourself and above all its employees
    * Not mind being roundly hated by your colleagues and, when things get rough, by students

    Some things are just not worth it!

  2. Funny about Money,

    Thanks for the elaboration. Hardly what you'd call "easy" huh?


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