12 Jobs With the Highest Starting Salary

Author: Maurie Backman | June 01, 2018

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Follow the dollar signs

If you’re new to the working world, you’re probably eager to find a job that not only keeps you engaged, but pays reasonably well -- especially if you’re on the hook for a mountain of student debt. Though the salary you earn will depend heavily on the region you live in and the size of the company you work for, it’s good to get a sense of which jobs offer the most potential as far as starting salaries go. With that in mind, here are 12 positions with strong starting salaries that’ll make your entry into the working world far more lucrative.

ALSO READ: These Are America's Highest-Paying Jobs


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Tax attorney (median starting salary: $93,899)

Because the tax code is constantly changing and the IRS itself has no plans to go away anytime soon, there will pretty much always be a need for tax attorneys. Therefore, if you’re going to pursue a legal career, this is a good one to land on. Tax attorneys command a higher starting salary than many other types of lawyer, and the legal field on a whole is projected to grow 8% over the next eight years, making it a fairly strong one to enter. Of course, you’ll need a law degree to get hired as an attorney, so that’s an added expense to consider -- but it’s one that could easily pay for itself over time.


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Workers in hardhats on a drilling rig.

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Drilling engineer (median starting salary: $89,167)

A subset of petroleum engineering, drilling engineers design and put procedures in place to drill wells safely and effectively. To work as a drilling engineer, you’ll typically need a bachelor’s degree in engineering, and ideally one with a concentration in petroleum engineering or a closely related offshoot. The good news? The outlook for drilling engineers is great, with job growth in petroleum engineering projected at 15% through 2026.


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Patent attorney (median starting salary: $86,196)

Interested in intellectual property law? If you’re willing to put in the time to get your law degree, you might consider becoming a patent attorney, where you’ll get a chance to help companies and individuals protect their ideas and inventions. Job growth for lawyers is expected to come in at 8% through 2026, so if you go this route, your prospects are pretty good. 

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Employment law attorney (median starting salary: $83,142)

As long as we have a workforce, there will be disputes between employers and employees. And that’s where employment lawyers come in. If you’re willing to take on the expense that is law school, you stand to command a nice starting salary once you’re able to start working as an employment attorney. And, as mentioned earlier, the legal field on a whole is projected to see some pretty decent growth (8%) through 2026. 

ALSO READ: Top 10 Highest-Paying States

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Chemical engineer (median starting salary: $71,842)

Chemical engineers use science and math to design and implement processes that impact a wide range of products and industries. To work in this field, you’ll generally need a bachelor’s in chemical engineering or a closely related field. As far as jobs go, employment of chemical engineers is projected to grow 8% over the next eight years -- not too shabby.


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Geophysicist (median starting salary: $71,721)

Geophysicists study the physical aspects of our planet and their impact on infrastructure and natural resources. As a geophysicist, you might spend your days analyzing volcanic activity, or implementing effective means of harvesting minerals. To work in the field, you’ll generally need at least a bachelor’s degree in geoscience or another related science. Job prospects, however, are strong for geophysicists, with a 14% projected growth rate through 2026.


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Aerospace engineer (median starting salary: $69,735)

Aerospace engineers design and test aircraft, spacecraft, and missiles, and they’re often employed by the federal government. To work in the field, you’ll need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, ideally in aerospace engineering itself or otherwise a closely related subset of engineering. Employment of aerospace engineers is projected to grow 6% from now through 2026, which is roughly the average for all occupations.


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Electronics engineer (median starting salary: $68,732)

We all use our fair share of electronics, so if you’re interested in designing gadgets of your own, a career in electronics engineering is worth pursuing. To work in the field, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. The job growth projection for electronics engineering is slightly stronger than the average across all fields -- 7% through 2026.

ALSO READ: Top 16 Highest Paying College Majors

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Hardware engineer (median starting salary: $65,991)

Hardware engineers design and test the physical components of computers and machines, such as circuit boards and processors. To work in the field, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in engineering. Despite the enticing starting salary, job growth for hardware engineers isn’t the strongest -- 5% through 2026. However, as the demand for new machinery increases, we may see an uptick in that projection.


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Network engineer (median starting salary: $65,277)

As the name implies, network engineers design and build computer and communication networks. Though you’ll generally need a bachelor's in computer science to get hired as a network engineer, many of those who excel in the field are ultimately self-taught and learn a lot from hands-on experience. Employment of network engineers is projected to grow 6% from now through 2026, but may increase as more companies look to invest in their information technology needs.


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Civil engineer (median starting salary: $65,232)

Civil engineers design, build, and supervise projects such as roadways, tunnels, dams, bridges, and water systems. Though they’re often employed in the public sector, there are plenty of private sector opportunities in the field as well. To get hired, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, but to work on high-profile projects or in higher-level positions, you’ll typically need a master’s as well. There are also certain licensing requirements you may need to meet, depending on where you work. The outlook for civil engineers, meanwhile, is great, with job growth projected at 11% through 2026. The reason? As infrastructure continues to age, the demand for civil engineers will no doubt increase.

ALSO READ: Attention, High Earners: Social Security Won't Cut It for You in Retirement


 

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Software engineer (median starting salary: $64,573)

Software engineers are the brains behind computer programs and applications. To work in the field, you’ll generally need a bachelor’s degree in computer science, plus an in-depth knowledge of key programming languages. Job growth for software engineers, meanwhile, is booming -- employment is expected to grow 24% through 2026, which is roughly four times the average across all occupations.


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