Jobs That Offer Both Excitement And Pay


Are you looking for an exciting career path that pays? Read on to learn about six smart options.

By Andrea Duchon

Versatile. Flexible. Adventure-seeking. Do these seem like keywords that someone might use to describe your personality? If so, you're probably not the type of person who's content working on the same thing day in and day out. But all jobs that pay well are dull and boring, right? Not necessarily.

"Sometimes job seekers feel like they have to 'settle' in some way," says Caroline Ceniza-Levine, career expert and co-author of the book "Six Steps To Job Search Success." "Settling in this case means taking a lower-paying job in exchange for meaning, challenge, or fun. Depending on your skills and interests, there are many jobs that are fulfilling and financially-rewarding."

Sound too good to be true? It's not. Keep reading to learn about six careers that are both exciting and report healthy median salaries.

Career #1: Police Officer

If the show "Cops" is any indication of what it's like to be a police officer, then following this career path could land you in some exhilarating scenarios.

While the actual job of a police officer might not always be as action-packed as the TV show, you won't be bored either. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, uniformed police officers typically do their share of patrolling areas, responding to calls, and arresting people.

Excitement Factor: "A career as a police officer is multi-dimensional," says Ceniza-Levine. "You are interacting with people in the office and on the beat; you are a role model and authority figure; you are a first responder and there's an element of risk and danger."

This is the perfect career for an adrenaline junkie, says Stephanie Goetsch, a career strategist and founder of the career services company Spark Career Strategy. Whether you're working on an investigation or chasing down a speeding car, your heart will constantly be pumping - and you'll get to carry a gun.

Salary Breakdown*: Those in the top 10 percent of this career make $89,310, while the bottom 10 percent makes $32,350. The median salary is $55,270.

Next Step: Click to Find the Right Criminal Justice Program.

Ceniza-Levine says the good pay is related to this career being dangerous and demanding. "You're focused on physical, mental, and people-oriented requirements, which makes for a difficult job. And you have to focus on different areas, different neighborhoods, and different types of crime."

Education Path: The Department of Labor says that "education requirements range from a high school diploma to a college or higher degree." Along with graduating from an agency's training academy, you'll also need to be at least 21 years old, a U.S. citizen, and complete a period of on-the-job training.

Career #2: Public Relations Specialist

If you've always wanted to be a part of the big, frenzied media machine and don't mind stepping into the spotlight now and again, a career as a public relations specialist could satisfy your need for excitement - all while keeping you fairly compensated.

More specifically, PR specialists maintain relationships with the media, and figure out how to get their clients exposure in the news, notes Ceniza-Levine. The U.S. Department of Labor lists writing press releases, helping clients communicate to the public, drafting speeches, and arranging interviews for executives as some things you might do in this career.

Excitement Factor: "You'll need a thick skin and a lot of energy because this job will always keep you on your toes," says Augustine. "This is the perfect role for someone who enjoys helping others do well in the limelight, but prefers to stay out of it themselves."

And Ceniza-Levine adds that because you're working so often with the media on press releases and publicity conferences, your networking and communication skills will also regularly be tested.

Salary Breakdown*: The median annual wage for a career as a PR specialist is $54,170. The top 10 percent of employees earn $101,030, and the bottom 10 percent earns $30,760.

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Why the healthy pay? Ceniza-Levine says you'll need to stay on top of breaking news and trends in order to get your client in the news.

"Brands and businesses are willing to pay someone to do this hard work for them," she explains. "At the end of the day, it's their product or service on the line and they want to make sure it's represented in the best light. That's something they're willing to shell out money for each month."

Education Path: You typically need a bachelor's degree to pursue a career as a public relations specialist, says the Department of Labor. You might consider majoring in public relations, communications, journalism, business, or English, as employers usually want candidates with these degrees.

Career #3: Marketing Manager

Could you be interested in researching consumer preferences, market shifts, news, trends, and even financial forecasts? Ceniza-Levine says a career as a marketing manager utilizes all of these skills to succeed. Doesn't sound too boring to us.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, marketing managers gather and organize information to plan advertising campaigns, negotiate advertising contracts, and meet with clients to provide marketing advice.

Excitement Factor: "Marketing covers a lot of diverse activities - direct mail, advertising, social media, grass roots campaigns like handing out flyers in the streets, partnerships, celebrity endorsements - so a career in marketing will not be one-sided," says Cezina-Levine.

"You'll also be working with different people in sales, finance, creative, and strategy. If you want to use a diverse set of skills and perform varied activities coordinating various groups of people, then you'll enjoy marketing," she adds.

Salary Breakdown*: The median wage for a marketing manager is $119,480. The top 10 percent of employees earns $187,199 or more, while the bottom 10 percent earns $62,650.

Next Step: Click to Find the Right Marketing Program.

Ceniza-Levine says this paycheck comes down to the bottom line too. "Marketing is one of the most important avenues a business has to get their name out to the public. If you're in charge of that kind of huge effort and doing your job well, you're likely to be handsomely rewarded at payday."

Education Path: For most marketing management positions, you'll be required to have a bachelor's degree, notes the Department of Labor. As for what to study, the Department has this to say: "A relevant course of study might include classes in marketing, consumer behavior, market research, sales, communication methods and technology, visual arts, art history, and photography."

The Department also notes that these managers typically also have work experience in marketing, advertising, promotions, or sales.

Career #4: Fashion Designer

Love styling yourself, shopping for accessories, and helping your friends plan their outfit for a big date? An exciting career as a fashion designer could be calling your name. Because fashion designers constantly have to keep up on trends to stay afloat, it's a great career for someone who has an exceptional eye for design and is driven to discover the latest and greatest.

But what exactly do they do all day? According to the U.S. Department of Labor, fashion designers do everything from study fashion trends, to sketch designs, to select fabrics and colors for final garments. They also market their designs and oversee the final production.

Excitement Factor: "Fashion designers operate in a fast-paced, highly visible industry. They also have the chance to rub elbows with the creative elite," says Ceniza-Levine. "It takes real skill and dedication to succeed in this career but if you can flex your talent and get noticed, it promises to be a wild ride."

Salary Breakdown*: The top 10 percent of employees earn $126,290, the bottom 10 percent earns $34,110, while the median annual wage is $62,860. How's that for exciting?

Next Step:Click to Find the Right Fashion Merchandising Program.

Ceniza-Levine explains why the pay is strong: "[F]ashion designers deal with lots of different personalities - from the business end with suppliers and retailers to the creative end with models and advertisers. You'll be required to wear many hats as you work on creative, production, and operational sides of the clothing business. And businesses are willing to pay someone to wear all those different hats well."

Education Path: If school's not your thing - good news! A postsecondary education isn't required for a career as a fashion designer. However, the Department of Labor says that many pursuing this career path take classes or earn degrees in related fields like fashion merchandising.

Career #5: Meeting and Event Planner

Like public relations specialists, event planners are always on the run for clients. Think you have what it takes? Augustine says you'll need to be incredibly outgoing and meticulously organized if you're considering a role in event planning.

The U.S. Department of Labor lists the responsibilities of event planners as meeting with clients, planning the scope of the event, soliciting bids from vendors, and coordinating details with onsite staff. They may also need to monitor the event and review bills to approve payments.

Excitement Factor: "From visiting potential venues to choosing vendors for your catering, d├ęcor, and lighting needs, you'll always be on the move," says Augustine. "You'll also work with a number of different departments to bring your event to fruition. And of course, there's nothing more satisfying than having everything come together for an amazing event.

Ceniza-Levine also says you need strong nerves, as you can be the center of a high-stakes, high-budget event, and you're on the hook for checking things off long to-do lists and seeing that things go smoothly.

Salary Breakdown*: And it could be worth all the hassle. The median annual wage in this career is $45,810. The top 10 percent of employees makes $79,270, while the bottom 10 percent makes $26,560.

Next Step:Click to Find the Right Meeting and Event Planning Program.

Clients are willing to pay big bucks for their event running smoothly. Goetsch explains it this way: "Think about if you're planning a wedding. Most likely, the bride and groom have been waiting for this day for months, if not years. You're responsible for seeing that things go off without a hitch and that's something a couple sees value in."

Education Path: For event planner positions, according to the Department of Labor, you should have at least a bachelor's degree and some work experience in hotels or planning, as many employers prefer candidates with these qualifications. Many planners come from different disciplines, such as hospitality management, business, marketing, public relations, and communications.

Career #6: Registered Nurse

Maybe you're the one always delivering soup to your sick friends, or the one bandaging up the Little Leaguers when they get hurt at practice. Why not put that caring nature to good use with a thrilling career as a registered nurse?

According to Ceniza-Levine, nurses deal with everyone from patients and their families to doctors and administrators. More technically speaking, the U.S. Department of Labor lists a nurse's typical responsibilities as recording patients' medical histories, consulting with doctors, and helping perform diagnostic tests, among others.

But what is it that gives nursing jobs the wow factor that many excitement-seekers are looking for?

Excitement Factor: Nurses are never stuck in a cubicle because they're always moving, shaking, poking, and healing, says Goetsch.

"Each day holds the opportunity for change and for working with new people [as a] a central member on a life-saving team," she adds. "Plus you get to show off your personality in order to make a connection with your patients. That alone changes the dynamic of each day and makes it a joy to go to work!"

Salary Breakdown*: The median annual wage for registered nurses is $65,470. Those in the top 10 percent earn $94,720, while the bottom 10 percent earns $45,040.

Next Step: Click to Find the Right Nursing Program.

What's behind that pay? As health care continues to grow and change, you'll need to learn about "new technology as quickly as it's put in front of you," says Ceniza-Levine. "Another reason this career turns out decent paychecks right from the start is because you're responsible for the lives of others on a daily basis."

Education Path: There are three paths you could take to pursue a career as a registered nurse, according to the Department of Labor. You could earn a bachelor's of science degree in nursing, an associate's degree in nursing, or a diploma from an approved nursing school. No matter what path you choose, the Department says you'll be required to get a license before being hired.

* All salary information from the Department of Labor Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2012.

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