If you can’t sing, dance, act or throw a ball well enough to get rich doing it, there’s still another way to amass wealth in the United States — climb the corporate ladder. Across every field and industry, diligent employees have a path to six-figure corporate salaries that can open the door to the upper-middle class and lives of financial security for themselves and their families.
Public Relations and Fundraising Managers
- Median salary: $119,860 per year
Whether you serve as the public face of a company or solicit funds on its behalf, your ability to peddle perception will put you comfortably in the six figures — and that’s for the manager in the middle of the herd. Earners in the top 10% command more than $200,000 a year.
The largest percentage by far — more than 40% combined — work in religious, grantmaking, civic and professional organizations, as well as in state, local and private educational services. Professionals in those two broad categories, however, tend to earn significantly less than those in the highest-earning field — management of companies and enterprises — where only about 8% of public relations and fundraising managers earn their riches.
Training and Development Managers
- Median salary: $120,130
Part of the reason that employee turnover is so expensive is that when it’s done right, the onboarding process isn’t cheap — and the professionals who manage that process don’t come cheap, either. Training and development managers tend to earn the most — a median salary over $132,000 — when they work in the professional, scientific and technical services fields. No matter the industry, however, the highest 10% of earners make over $200,000 per year.
Human Resources Manager
- Median salary: $126,230
Corporations in every industry rely on human resources managers to serve as the primary point of contact between the company’s brass and its rank-and-file workers. With the right company, skilled human resources managers can get rich overseeing the teams that plan and organize the company’s workforce while getting the most out of its labor pool, all of which is especially important in the post-pandemic era. Those in the top 10% of earners have salaries that are comfortably in the $200,000s and they make the most when they work in the professional, scientific and technical services fields.
- Median salary: $127,490
Leading a sales team in the corporate world can get you well on your way to being rich, especially if you’re good — earners in the top 10% pull in more than $208,000. Sales managers make the most when they work in the fields of professional, scientific and technical services or finance and insurance, both of which come with a median salary of roughly $162,000.
Compensation and Benefits Managers
- Median salary: $127,530
Employed by corporations in nearly every industry, compensation and benefits managers oversee the teams that coordinate, plan, set and monitor employees’ pay and benefits packages. This position has proven especially critical during the Great Resignation, as businesses have been forced to compete for fickle employees. The exceptional ones who rank among the field’s top 10% of earners bring in no less than $208,000 per year.
- Median salary: $131,710
Financial managers answer only to CFOs or CEOs — in smaller companies, it’s not uncommon for the financial manager and the CFO to be the same person. They do everything from ensuring legal compliance to planning investments and tax strategies. They earn the most — about $159,000 for the median financial manager — when they manage companies or enterprises and when they work in the fields of professional, scientific and technical services.
- Median salary: $135,030
The BLS lumps advertising, promotions and marketing managers together in terms of salary classifications, but marketing managers earn a little more than the other two. They earn the most by far — more than $151,000 for the marketing manager in the middle — when they work in the following three industries:
- Professional, scientific and technical services
- Management of companies and enterprises
- Finance and insurance
Chief Executive Officer
- Median salary: $179,520
The average CEO in America earns $213,020, but the median salary for the corporate head honcho in the exact middle of the pack earns less than $180,000. That’s because the average is raised up by the top dogs at the pyramid’s peak, who pull in nine-figure annual salaries that could smother the lifetime earnings of just about every rock star and pro athlete who has ever lived.
LeBron James, for example, has earned $387,384,119 over 19 seasons as perhaps the greatest player in NBA history, according to Spotrac. On the other end, AFL-CIO records show that Robert Antokol, the guy who runs Playtika Holding Corp., earned $372,008,176 in 2020 alone.
If you ever earn the title of chief executive, the Economic Policy Institute says that you can expect to earn more than 350 times as much as the workers you command.
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All salary data is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.