Did I Choose the Right Career Path? These Salary Stats May Tell You
Articles and rankings on job prospects are a dime a dozen, especially with increasingly available statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor, regular features by magazines like US News, and constant debate over the college education bubble and whether a degree is worth anything in the long run. Conclusions are contradictory more often than not: Only medical positions will make you any money...but you might hate your job. Liberal arts degrees are useless pieces of paper...but they can teach you to write better. Software developers make the most money...but the field is changing too fast for that to last long.
A problem with a lot of these career analysis studies and graphs is that they don't include anything but the most popular or sought-after job options, or they lump certain career paths together. However, a pragmatic Redditor has compiled a graph of 280 job positions and their mean yearly salary. No matter what field you're going into, the following chart probably has an option that at least approximates your dream job.
Here are the highest and lowest-earning jobs from the 2013 data:
There are a few obvious trends that emerge when you look at both ends of the spectrum. First, medical jobs do, in fact, pay very well. And it's hardly a surprise that the average McDonald's burger flipper is not making bank.
However, there are a few surprises. For example, actors make 87.2K per year on average. Maybe I'm hanging out with the wrong actors, but that seems like an awfully high number. Mathematicians make more than biomedical engineers (103.3K vs. 94K). And models make a measly 26.6K, which goes against our cultural image of modeling as a glamorous and well-paying occupation.
In addition, my dream job of being an author/writer would probably net me around 69.2K a year, which is more than I expected. Take that, articles that say writing is dead!
To get a better idea of the big picture, you can see the entire graph here. Warning: it's enormous. Or, for a more condensed version of things, there's a graph that plots the data by career field. And do keep in mind that this is just one graph among many. Don't make any life-changing decisions based on this data, because the chart doesn't account for compensations/bonuses, wages varying by location, experience in a given field, and so on.