A recent reddit thread asked the question “People who make over $200,000 a year, what do you do?”.
At the risk of sounding click-baity, some of the answers might surprise you.
10 unusual jobs that pay over $200,000 a year
Here’s the best picks at-a-glance – we elaborate further below:
- Romance Author
- Registered Nurse ($225k+)
- Data Scientist
- General Manager at an RV dealership
- Owner of a physiotherapy clinic
- Construction Project manager
- Control room operator in a Liquid Natural Gas Plant ($350k)
- GP Running their own practice ($500k)
- Journeyman Lineman (apprenticeships can start at $100k)
10 (more common) jobs that pay over $200,000
The common jobs that came up offering a more reliable path to earning over $200,000
- Sales (commission based)
- Software Engineer
- VP (tech companies mainly)
- Directors (fortune 500 companies)
- Commercial Airline Pilot
- Anesthesiologist (and other specialized medicine areas)
- IT Project Manager
- Trader (Forex, Hedge funds, commercial banking)
High-paying job spotlight: Woodworker
“I have relationships with high end interior designers in NYC but don’t live there. My work appears regularly in magazines and galleries.”
The woodworker highlights the virtues of having a clientele in a wealthy area but working remotely. It allows them to earn more and keep more, simply by needing to spend less to live.
They explain how they became a success:
“Started as a hobby while I was working for a general contractor. Then worked in some cabinet shops to get into more fine woodworking. Started making pieces on the side for designers in the area. Got written up a few times and word spread.”
How can you get started with just $1,500:
“I use a table saw more than anything else. But it really depends on what you want to make. Like if you wanted to make bowls then a lathe is the first thing you should invest in. I do a lot of carving so after a table saw would be a set of carving tools.
But say you wanted to make boxes. Great item to get started and they sell really well. You need a table saw, chop saw, drill (for hinges), router(probably), glue, clamps, oil finish. That’s pretty much it. You can get all that for under $1500 if you buy ryobi tools. You can upgrade your tools and you sell items and make money.”
What are your hobbies? Can you turn them into a side-hustle? It doesn’t have to happen overnight, but one day it can become job-replacing income.
High-paying job spotlight: Journeyman Lineman
A journeyman lineman builds and maintains the electrical power system. It can be lucrative, even on the first step of the corporate ladder:
“First step apprentices are over 100k a year at the utility I work at.”
If you’re willing to sacrifice your spare time, the number can become astronomical. One redditor remarks that the pay in their state was only $80-90,000. A redditor replies:
“That’s their base rate. The money is in the overtime. Someone absolutely insane posted paystubs for 800k, work 16 hour days in CA.”
The pay seems to vary a lot, state-by-state. Certainly, you can expect lower amounts in lower cost of living areas.
This is a role that is incredibly hazardous. You are putting your safety on the line, hence the premium salary.
Some remark that it also can be fun. Some of the journeyman lineman work it like it’s a hobby. Overtime is just more fun for them.
Tips for getting a $200,000 job
The thread makes it clear that there are some clear avenues to getting a high paying job, though none are necessarily easy.
Owning your own business
Many of the redditors mention owning their own business. The advantage here is usually two-fold.
First, every dollar you make after expenses goes to you. You are not working to put money in someone else’s pocket.
Secondly, because of the first point, you are much more motivated to continually grow the business.
There is a great deal of personal satisfaction that comes from entrepreneurship, which ultimately (after many years of hard work) can result in a $200k salary.
Being a great salesperson
Commission-based sales was also a common job for earning over $200k.
There is a spectrum here, though.
Firstly, sales can be soul crushing and stressful. When your income is dependent on the sale, it can consume all your time.
If you are simply not a good salesperson, you will never reach the heights of $200,000.
However, there are also products that literally sell themselves. Your job as a salesperson is simply facilitatory. One redditor writes:
“It’s not the sales you think of. People come to us wanting to buy something and I just tell them what we have. Work less and make more than most.”
The right sales job can be low stress and highly paid, but they also might be few and far between.
Boring is bountiful
Some of the more surprising jobs earning $200k+ are also ones that you don’t dream of doing as a kid.
General Manager of an RV dealership doesn’t get many people’s blood pumping, but it certainly pays the bills.
If you have a ‘boring’ or passion that you can excel in, it could prove lucrative. There may well be lower competition in these areas, but still high demand.
But niche can also be invaluable
A Romance Author who has carved out a specific niche for themselves, in an area they love, is living the dream.
‘Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life’. Earning $200,000 or more on your passion for writing, is just that.
Your niche doesn’t necessarily have to be profitable on paper. Many authors do not make a good living. But if you can excel in a niche area, you can make the big bucks.
College isn’t essential
The follow up question from most redditors is ‘how can I get into that?’.
What qualifications did you need? What degree should I pursue?
Often, the response is either, ‘I had no qualifications’ or ‘I did an unrelated degree’.
For example, the General Manager of the RV Dealership writes:
“I’ll add that I only have an Associates in Theatre as far as education goes.”
Whilst some professions, like the doctor, do not have optional qualifications, many can be self-taught or learned via apprenticeships.
It’s becoming more common to not saddle yourself with hundreds of thousands in student debt in the hopes that a) you will earn a lot of money and b) you will still like the profession you have chosen after a few years of college.
There is no guarantee.
Disadvantages of the $200,000 job
A common theme in the thread is that those doing the unusual jobs for $200k come across much happier than those doing the common jobs for $200k.
Compare these two people:
- Unusual job as a Woodworker:
- “I’m incredibly lucky.”
- Common job as an Attorney:
- “Attorney at a big, international firm. $300k/yr base. I hate my life.”
One is following their passion, the other has sacrificed a great deal of their life to chase the money.
In the Attorney’s own words, they are compensating from growing up poor and are now trapped:
“First, I acknowledge that earning as much as I do is a privilege, but it is a privilege I’ve worked and sacrificed a lot for. I grew up poor.”
“My mental and physical health have never been worse. I hate this profession and I regret ever having entered it, but I’m here and now I have to navigate it/leaving it. It’s hard.”
Know what you are sacrificing to pursue the $200,000 job.
It is not only years of your time learning the skill and more years working your way up the ladder. When you arrive, you might find decades of long hours and stress.
There is no success in earning a lot of money but having no time to spend it. There is no success in earning a lot of money but having no time to spend with family and friends.
Finally, most important of all, your mental and physical health is not worth sacrificing for more money.
Earning money is only the beginning
Earning an income is one thing, but growing your wealth is another. Find out how to save and invest to a net worth of $100,000.