The Top 10 Highest-Paying Careers in Business

FT Contributor  | 

If you’re unsure which field of business to get into, it’s not a bad idea to start your research by looking into the highest-paying business jobs. While these jobs may be very competitive and have stringent experience and education requirements, they may guide you in the right direction — particularly if your main goal is to become wealthy. Read on to discover the highest-paying careers in business.

Top 5 Highest-Paying Jobs in Business Management

Business management jobs tend to pay the most. Below, we cover the top five business management jobs. The data represented in this section is from the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This resource contains information on the average pay, educational requirements, and job outlook for careers in business management and other areas of business.

Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Manager – $132,620

  • Entry-Level Education/Experience Requirements: A bachelor’s degree is required for this position. Relevant courses of study will include marketing, consumer behavior, sales, and communication classes.
  • Number of Jobs: 286,800.
  • Job Outlook: According to All Business Schools, over the next decade sales management is expected to grow by 7%; public relations management by 8%; advertising management by 9%; market research analyst by 23%; and marketing management by 10%.

Advertising, promotions, and marketing managers work with art directors and ad sales professionals to generate interest in a product, service, or event. They are responsible for negotiating contracts, monitoring advertising budgets, and determining the success of a campaign. In addition, they will serve as a liaison between a client and another advertising agency responsible for the development of a particular ad.

This job often requires more than 40 hours a week, which is one reason it pays so much. In addition, this role often requires travel and high-stress situations. Completing an internship can be helpful for advancing in this type of role.

Financial Manager – $127,990

  • Entry-Level Education/Experience Requirements: Financial managers need a bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting, economics, or business administration, but some employers may prefer someone with a master’s degree in these areas.
  • Number of Jobs: 653,600.
  • Job Outlook: 16% growth from 2018 to 2028.

Financial managers monitor the cash management strategies of a company, which is the main reason the position pays so highly. With technological advances, the role of financial managers has changed significantly in recent years. Now they can produce financial reports in a matter of seconds. Therefore, the role of a financial manager has shifted slightly and now includes more data analysis and advising.

Professional certification isn’t required to become a financial manager, but most financial managers get certified to demonstrate competence and negotiate for better pay.

Sales Manager – $124,220

  • Entry-Level Education/Experience Requirements: A bachelor’s degree in business law, economics, marketing, or finance is typically required, but some positions may only require a high school diploma.
  • Number of Jobs: 405,700.
  • Job Outlook: 5% growth from 2018 to 2028.

Sales managers control the distribution of a company’s product or service. They establish sales territories, set quotas and goals, and oversee the entire sales team. Sales managers also identify new customer markets and recruit new salespeople. Sales managers are paid well because they are responsible for driving a profit for the entire company.

Additional education and certifications aren’t required in a sales manager role. The more experience you have, the higher you’re likely to advance.

Compensation and Benefits Manager – $121,010

  • Entry-Level Education/Experience Requirements: A bachelor’s degree in human resources, finance, or business administration is required.
  • Number of Jobs: 16,400.
  • Job Outlook: 3% growth from 2018 to 2028.

Compensation and benefits managers are responsible for compensating employees. This includes planning, creating, and executing how employees are paid as well as the benefits packages they receive. This role may also include handling investment managers and similar outside vendors. A compensation and benefits manager receives such high pay because of all of the moving parts they manage. While it’s not required, additional certifications can show credibility and expertise in this area of management.

Public Relations and Fundraising Manager – $114,800

  • Entry-Level Education/Experience Requirements: A bachelor’s degree in public relations, English, or communications is required. Some employers look for a master’s degree in these areas.
  • Number of Jobs: 81,200.
  • Job Outlook: 8% growth from 2018 to 2028.

Public relations managers are responsible for maintaining the public image of a company or client. Fundraising managers bring in donations for an organization. Both roles are responsible for uplifting a person or company in a positive way, whether it’s through press releases or the raising of funds.

Because the work often exceeds the scope of a 40-hour week (including nights and weekends), public relations and fundraising managers are compensated fairly. While not required, certifications from the Public Relations Society of America, the International Association of Business Communicators, and the Certified Fund Raising Executive program can help these professionals advance in their careers.

Top 5 Highest-Paying Jobs in Other Areas of Business

While management jobs tend to pay more, other business jobs can pay quite high salaries. If you find you’re not interested in a managerial role, you can still find a job in business that pays a lot. Below, we look at the top five high-paying jobs in other areas of business.

Entrepreneur – Highly Variable

  • Entry-Level Education/Experience Requirements: No education is required to become an entrepreneur, but many choose to pursue an education in business.
  • Number of Jobs: The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (?GEM) estimates that there are 27 million entrepreneurs.
  • Job Outlook: 8% growth from 2018 to 2028.

Anyone can be an entrepreneur, as they are people who take an idea and create a profitable business out of it. Entrepreneurs often start as self-employed individuals who need to build up enough funding to start a company. Top entrepreneurs can succeed and make millions, but a majority of entrepreneurs fail.

On average, an entrepreneur can make about $68,000 a year. However, the exact number will vary wildly from person to person. Top entrepreneurs can make millions of dollars annually. Entrepreneurs stand to make millions because of the time and money they invest in their own success. As with their education, no particular certification is required for successful entrepreneurs.

Chief Executive Officer – $104,980

  • Entry-Level Education/Experience Requirements: Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) typically have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in business.
  • Number of Jobs: 2,639,500.
  • Job Outlook: 6% growth from 2018 to 2028.

CEOs are considered top executives in an organization. They are responsible for driving the success of a company. This includes managing company operations, formulating and implementing policies, and ensuring sales goals are met. CEOs work closely with other top executives and report to a board of directors. CEOs are paid top dollar so that companies can attract top talent. No certifications are required, but many CEOs come with some type of managerial experience.

Actuary – $102,880

  • Entry-Level Education/Experience Requirements: An undergraduate degree in math, actuarial science, or statistics is common.  
  • Number of Jobs: 25,000.
  • Job Outlook: 20% growth from 2018 to 2028.

Actuaries assess the financial costs that come with risk. Using statistics and financial theory, actuaries can assess the risk of a particular event and help their clients minimize the costs associated with those risks.

Hundreds of hours of unpaid study time go into becoming an actuary, which is why they make such a high salary. In addition to undergraduate education, actuaries often obtain an associate’s or fellow certification from the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) and the Society of Actuaries (SOA).

Personal Financial Advisor – $88,890

  • Entry-Level Education/Experience Requirements: A bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting, or other related field is needed to become a personal financial advisor.
  • Number of Jobs: 271,700.
  • Job Outlook: 7% growth from 2018 to 2028.

Personal financial advisors provide their clients with advice on investments, taxes, retirement, insurance, estate planning, and any other financial issues they may have. They do so by assessing a client’s current financial situation and making suggestions that will improve their financial state.

Most financial advisors work for commission, which is why their annual salary is so high. If a personal financial advisor directly buys or sells stocks, bonds, or insurance policies, or provides specific investment advice, they must be registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Personal financial advisors who choose to sell insurance need licenses issued by state boards. The Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certification (which requires a bachelor’s degree) can help a personal financial advisor advance in their career.

Financial Examiner – $80,180

  • Entry-Level Education/Experience Requirements: Financial examiners need a bachelor’s degree in accounting, economics, or a related field.
  • Number of Jobs: 60,900.
  • Job Outlook: 7% growth from 2018 to 2028.

Financial examiners work in risk assessment or consumer compliance. Their job is to ensure compliance with the laws set in place around financial institutions and transactions. Their daily tasks include reviewing balance sheets, assessing loan risks, and bank management.

Financial examiners differ from actuaries in that actuaries base their decisions on the actuarial sciences. After basic on-the-job training, financial examiners can advance to a senior examiner position if they pursue a master’s degree in either accounting or business administration. They can also advance by becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

Questions to Help You Find Your Path in the Business World

Reviewing all of these options at once can be dizzying. With so many similar career options in the world of business, it may be difficult to tell which one you’re the best fit for. It starts with uncovering what your skills and passions are. Answering the following questions can help you determine your path forward.

What Are You Skilled At? What Meshes With Your Personality?

Complete an online skill assessment and career personality test to determine what type of work suits you. Search online for skills assessments and personality tests, then complete a few to see what results you get. This will give you a better idea as to the career that’s right for you.

How Much Experience Do You Have?

Have you had positive or negative past work experience to guide your path forward? If you don’t have any experience in the world of business, seeking out an internship can give you some much-needed hands-on experience. You may also want to seek out a mentor for advice and answers to burning questions. Another great way to get an internship is to tap into your existing network. Ask relevant parties for information on their career, then see if they know of anyone offering internships in that area of interest.

What Are Your Goals in Life?

This one is simple: if your goals require a lot of wealth to achieve, you need to seek out a high-paying job. However, keep in mind that personal fulfillment is an important part of your career. If you want to make a lot of money but hate managing people, becoming a CEO isn’t the right career path. It’s about striking a balance between a superb salary and doing work that you enjoy. When considering jobs, think about the salary, but invest more time into considerations like everyday tasks, your coworkers, and the trajectory of that career.


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