7 High-Pay Jobs To Fight Student Debt


Getting a degree is expensive, but if you prepare to pursue a high-pay job, you might be able to tackle your student loan debt in no time.


Would you like to prep to pursue a high-pay career but don't want student debt hanging over you for the rest of your life?

Then your salary in relation to your debt should be something you consider when choosing a career, according to Debby Carreau, CEO and founder of Inspired HR, a human resources support firm.

"It is critical that students are thinking ahead before investing heavily in their education and coming out of school with a minimum wage job and a huge student loan debt," says Carreau.

So let's break it down. The average student loan debt is $29,400, according to the Institute for College Access & Success' report "Student Debt and The Class of 2012."

Perhaps, then, you'd want to shoot for a job that pays at least double your debt annually - or around $60,000.

Read on for our high-pay career picks and how you can pursue them.

Career #1: Management Analyst

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Median Annual Wage*: $79,870

Love the challenge of streamlining every process of your life, from your morning routine to packing for a trip? Then your personality might be the right fit for a career as a management analyst. And if you pursue this path, you could earn a nice wage that could go toward your student loan debt.

In this role, you might spend your days proposing ways to cut costs, improve efficiency, and increase profit, says the U.S. Department of Labor.

Why It Pays Well: Management analysts are well-paid, because they are often helping companies trim costs or grow new lines of business, according to Kate McKeon, CEO of Prepwise.com, an educational consulting firm that helps students with college admissions and career planning.  

To excel in this career, McKeon recommends becoming very well-versed in reading financial statements. "Become best friends with Excel," she says. "You'll spend a lot of time in spreadsheets examining expenses, profit margins, and where budgets might be trimmed."

Next step: Click to Find the Right Business Administration Program.

How To Prepare: According to the Department of Labor, most management analysts have at least a bachelor's degree. Common areas of study include business, economics, finance, management, psychology, or government. A Certified Management Consultant (CMC) designation may improve job prospects, as can a master's in business administration.

Career #2: Web Developer

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Median Annual Wage*: $63,160

If you've got a way with computers, a career as a web developer might be right up your alley. And with such high earning potential, you could be well-positioned to get a good grip on your loans.

As a developer, you would create the code behind the design and function of brands' websites,  according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Developers also meet with clients, monitor site traffic, and debug applications on websites.

Why It Pays Well: As e-commerce and mobile platforms continue to grow, web developers will continue to be in high demand, which drives salaries up, says Carreau.

"The other major factor contributing to high pay is the freelance factor," she says. Many web developers are able to earn a great income with a high level of flexibility by freelancing and taking on several projects at a time for multiple clients, rather than being tied down to one company and a single revenue stream, Carreau explains.

To earn the highest pay, McKeon suggests that web developers should seek and develop skills other people are not willing to learn. "This gives you the ability to set your price once you can demonstrate a solid track record," she says. Her advice? "Learn the languages that operate the backbones of the big websites. Or learn the languages that have far too few developers." This kind of highly specialized, niche knowledge can really pay off, she says.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Computer Science Program.

How To Prepare: An associate's degree in web design or a related field is the most common requirement for this job, says the Department of Labor. However, employers prefer candidates with at least a bachelor's in computer science, programming, or a related field for more technical positions.

Career #3: Wholesale or Manufacturing Sales Representative

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Median Annual Wage*: $74,520

Were you that kid always peddling gift wrap, chocolate bars, or raffle tickets for fundraisers? Were you actually successful? Then you might want to take your grade school operation to the big leagues by pursuing a high-paying career as a wholesale or manufacturing sales representative.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, these professionals are responsible for selling goods for wholesalers or manufacturers to businesses, government agencies, or other organizations. They typically also negotiate prices and terms of service agreements, prepare sales contracts, and collaborate with colleagues on sales strategies.

Why It Pays Well: For McKeon, wholesale and manufacturing sales reps are integral to closing sales, and that's why the commissions in this job can make for high salary potential.

"If you can sell, the company needs you," she says. "The best skills to develop are the ability to learn quickly - you'll want to know as much as possible about your clients - think on your feet, and negotiate."

Carreau also thinks that the interpersonal skills needed for this job can be tough to find, so when companies find a great fit, they're willing to reward that candidate handsomely.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Marketing Program.

How To Prepare: While many employers may only require a high school diploma, you would typically need a bachelor's degree for selling scientific and technical products, notes the Department of Labor. Many reps take courses in marketing, economics, communication, or even a foreign language to improve their skills in sales.

Career #4: Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

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Median Annual Wage*: $66,410

Want to go into the medical field but not as interested in the long years of med school? Then diagnostic medical sonography might be a good career option for you to explore. Plus, you could earn a pretty solid paycheck to pad your bank account.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, as a diagnostic medical sonographer, you would operate special imaging equipment to conduct tests and create images. You also might assist physicians and surgeons during surgical procedures.

Why It Pays Well: Diagnostic medical sonographers earn relatively high wages, because there's high demand for their services with the aging population living longer and the technical advancement in detecting illnesses through sonography, says Carreau.

She also attributes higher pay to the trend in sonographers moving out of hospitals and into high-end private clinics. Fees are much higher in these practices, and the salaries tend to reflect that.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Sonography Program.

How To Prepare: To pursue this career, you'll need formal education, such as an associate's or bachelor's degree in sonography, says the U.S. Department of Labor. Additionally, most employers prefer to hire candidates with professional certification.

Career #5: Accountant

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Median Annual Wage*: $65,080

Consider yourself a math whiz? Well, if you're good with numbers, you might be a great candidate for a career as an accountant. And with such an impressive salary, you could lighten your student debt load sooner rather than later.

Practically every business needs someone to examine their finances, and that's exactly what accountants do, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Accountants are also responsible for suggesting ways to reduce costs, increase revenues, and improve profits.

Why It Pays Well: "Accounting requires very specific skills and continual updating of those skills, so it can pay well," says McKeon, referring to the attention to detail, precision, and knowledge of tax laws and financial principles that the job involves.

She adds, "To really maximize your earning potential, earn your CPA and develop a specialization."

Next step: Click to Find the Right Accounting Program.

How To Prepare: You'll need a bachelor's in accounting or a related field for most positions, and certifications could improve your job prospects, notes the Department of Labor.

Career #6: Market Research Analyst

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Median Annual Wage*: $60,800

Have the ability to see the big picture? Good at recognizing a trend when you see it? Then a career as a market research analyst might be right up your alley. And it could allow you to get your loans in tip-top shape.

As a market research analyst, the U.S. Department of Labor says you could be responsible for tasks such as monitoring and forecasting sales and marketing trends, measuring the success of marketing programs, and gathering information about customers and competitors.

Why It Pays Well: According to McKeon, companies increasingly use big data to understand consumer behavior so they can market to customers more effectively. Since market research analysts play an important role in providing companies with this type of info, they can garner high salaries.

She adds that higher wages in this job can be tied to improving company performance. So analysts who can help their clients' companies grow in sales and profits have higher earning potential.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Communications Program.

How To Prepare: Market research analysts typically need a bachelor's degree in market research or a related field, says the Department of Labor. Some have degrees in fields such as statistics, math, and computer science, while others focus on degree programs in business administration, the social sciences, or communications.

Career #7: Multimedia Artist and Animator

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Median Annual Wage*: $64,470

You're a creative type who's equally at home in an art class or a computer lab. Sound like you? Then you might want to look into a career as a multimedia artist or animator. The good news? This is no starving artist job.

As a multimedia artist or animator, the U.S. Department of Labor says you'll likely work with a team of artists to create a movie, game, or visual effects. Your other duties could include researching upcoming projects, developing storyboards, and meeting with clients.

Why It Pays Well: According to McKeon, animators have specialized languages and programs that they use. Since few are well-versed in these technologies and have the creative chops to perform animation work, wages are higher than you might expect.

"Learning the career-specific technology will give you an advantage," she says. "The more you develop your skills and push to work on a broad range of projects, the more likely you'll be able to charge premium rates."

Next step: Click to Find the Right Animation Program.

How To Prepare: According to the U.S. Department of Labor, you'll need a bachelor's degree in computer graphics, art, or a related field to build a strong portfolio and learn the necessary skills for most positions.

* All salary information from the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Employment and Wages data, May 2013.

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