Who Makes The Big Money?

You can live very well, and even become financially independent, by earning between $100,000 and $150,000 a year. So, how do you boost your income to that level? According to a CNN/Money series titled “Who Gets Paid Six Figures?”, the best-paid workers in the U.S. are CEOs of profitable businesses. No surprise there. Top business leaders enjoy a median base salary of $528,000 (according to Salary.com.).

Next on the mega-income ladder are surgeons. Orthopedic surgeons make about $290,000, while their heart-bypassing counterparts bring in $250,000. Anesthesiologists make more than most people think, typically in the $230,000 range. Working your way up the corporate ladder to become CEO takes years and years of work, not to mention talent.

And chances are you’re not about to start on a medical career at this point in your life. But, as the CNN series pointed out, there are many other ways to earn a $100,000+ living — professions that not only are easier to get into and master but also may be more appealing to you. For example: General Merchandise Manager If you have a good deal of experience in buying retail goods and you know how to keep inventories down and merchandise flowing, you can make $100,000 or more working for a top retailer.

Hair/Makeup Artist for Advertising and Film

If you’ve mastered your trade at the salon, you may be able to jump up to this higher-paying and more glamorous calling. “As a freelance hair and makeup artist in commercial advertising,” says Jon Luca, CEO of Artist Untied (an agency representing stylists, makeup artists, and prop designers), “you can make a pretty penny if you’re good at your art. With each job you get, you build your Rolodex of photographers and your reputation among commercial directors.”

Retail Home Furnishings Consultant

You don’t need a degree in architecture or design to make a good living helping people beautify their homes. The trick is to learn what kind of decor the wealthy people in your area like and then specialize in that type of design. Make the trend your friend. Find out what’s hot, determine where you can buy it inexpensively, and set yourself up in business.

Fitting Model

If you fit perfectly into one of the standard fashion-industry sizes — plus, petite, and big-and-tall included — you can make good money working as a showroom fitting model with a clothing company or clothes designer. You don’t need perfect cheekbones to find this kind of work, but you do have to be attractive and well-groomed “The most successful fitting models,” says Susan Levine, owner of Model Service Agency, LLC, “know how different fabrics behave and are very knowledgeable about the line they’re modeling.”

Court Reporters

Top court reporters can make up to $88,000 working for the New York State Supreme Court. On top of that, they make money on transcripts. That brings their overall compensation to more than $100,000. The transcript rate in New York ranges between $2.50 and $4.30 a page. Six hours of testimony works out to about 250 pages. In terms of initial training, you’ll need between two and four years of education.

Broadcast Captioners

Broadcast captioners are the people who write the real-time subtitles on live television programs that are used by hearing-impaired and foreign-language viewers. According to Kathy DiLorenzo, director for VITAC, a captioning company, they typically earn $50 to $100 for every programing hour they caption. To make over a hundred grand a year at $50 an hour, you’d have to caption 40 hours of programs a week.

Video-Game Artist

Computerized visuals are created by artists who work in conjunction with designers, programers, engineers, and producers to create the amazing effects seen on modern video games. The job of the artist is to understand the game concept and convert it into computer art. While many have degrees, many don’t “You need to be talented before you’re educated,” says Robin McShaffry, director for Mary-Margaret.com.


For this highly paid profession, all you need is a good nose. Perfumers typically work for fragrance houses, developing aroma formulas for everything from perfumes and shampoos to candles and furniture polish. “Creating the right scent is 50% art and 50% science,” says Ken Lesenko, a fragrance-industry veteran at KWL Research Associates. “The science involves creating a formula that won’t taint the client’s unfragranced base in terms of viscosity or color, for instance,” Lesenko says. “The art part is like creating music.”

Then, of course, there are these lucrative careers that we routinely recommend in ETR:

Advertising Copywriter

In this position, you write the words that persuade potential customers to purchase products or services. You are essentially a salesperson — but instead of talking to just one customer at a time, you are communicating with many. Imagine how much a salesman would be worth if he could convince tens of thousands of people at one time to whip out their credit cards and BUY!

Graphic Designer

People who have a skill for graphic design and development are always in high demand. Effective graphics — in advertising and packaging — can have a huge impact on the sales of a product. The designers are compensated accordingly. Professional Travel Writer How would you like to take a first-class trip to Cancun, where you and your spouse would be wined and dined over a long weekend at a new luxury hotel? Or would you be more enticed by a rafting expedition down the Amazon in Ecuador’s rainforest? By taking up travel writing as a side business, you may not make huge money, but you will enjoy many of the perks of a millionaire lifestyle — at absolutely no cost to you. .

Resume-Writing and Career-Counseling Specialist

Statistics show that at any given time 57% of the roughly 80 million American workers are looking to change a career, go for a raise, or take on a better position. Another 5.8 million people are either on unemployment or trying to find a job for the first time. That means there are a lot of potential customers for anyone who can create effective resumes and/or provide professional career-counseling services. As a resume writer and career-counseling specialist, you could establish a part-time or full-time home business that earns you anywhere from $15,000 to $150,000 a year.

Direct-Marketing Entrepreneur

You can earn $75,000 to more than $1 million a year in your own direct-response business. What does it take to get started? I estimate somewhere between 200 and 400 hours of your time over a 12-month period — only 4 to 8 hours a week. Just stop watching TV and you’ll have all the time you need.

Professional Consultant

The old saying “Those who can’t do, teach” is a bunch of malarkey. In business, it’s more like “Those who want to get rich, teach.” The trick is to pick out one business skill that you are good at and become THE authority on that specialty. You can then market yourself as an expert consultant. This will not only get you out of the trenches, it will also likely double your income.

Real-Estate Investor

Get started as a part-time real-estate investor by buying and selling rental properties or by buying them and renting them out. Choose properties in a local area that you’re familiar with. Buy the least-expensive fixer-uppers in good or up-and-coming neighborhoods. Flip pre-construction properties in booming areas. You may not become the next Donald Trump, but you will quickly develop a high-dollar second stream of income.

There are dozens of additional ways to make good money — even six-figure money — in a career that excites you, allows you to work from almost anywhere, and provides you with a substantial amount of control over your future. The important thing is to know that you are not bound by your current job.

You don’t have to spend the rest of your working life answering to the same boss, dealing with the same clients, working in the same place, making the same commute, and earning what you earn now. You can make a change — a dramatic change — and, in a relatively short time, be enjoying a new and completely rewarding career.

[Ed. Note.  Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]