5 low-profile careers with high-profile salaries

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These high-paying careers offer the chance to stay behind the scenes without giving up a nice paycheck.

By Margaret Rock

Being on the front lines in the corporate world isn't for everyone. For those who would prefer a high-powered career but still want to fly below the radar, there are plenty of interesting options.

And you don't have to kiss a substantial paycheck goodbye either, since several low-profile jobs come with a high-profile salary and power behind the scenes.

"Positions which have traditionally been in the background will more often be empowered to do more, because it is cost-effective," says Vicki Lynn, senior vice president of client talent strategy and employer branding at Universum, a global employer branding company.

Wondering what types of jobs are more behind-the-scenes but still offer a strong salary? Here are five careers to consider.

Career #1: Computer Programmer

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Bottom 10
Percent
$42,850*
Median
Annual Salary
$74,280*
Top 10
Percent
$117,890*

Do you have a computing mindset and like to collaborate with others but don't enjoy being in the spotlight? Then computer programming is a career to check out.

Why It's High-Pay and Low-Profile: These professionals write code to create software programs, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Working with internal personnel like software developers and engineers, computer programmers take program designs and turn them into instructions that a computer can follow.

"There is a shortage of people with this background, according to most of the companies I'm talking to," says Lynn. She describes the competition between companies for qualified programmers as "fierce." Businesses need computer programmers to create software in several different computer languages, and with qualified candidates in short supply, this career can command a high salary.

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How to Prepare: Most computer programmers have a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related subject, according to the Department of Labor, but some employers hire workers with an associate's degree. The Department adds that computer programmers with specialized knowledge of certain operating systems are able to move into management positions.

Career #2: Human Resources Manager

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Bottom 10
Percent
$59,020
Median
Annual Salary
$99,720
Top 10
Percent
$173,140

Like computer programming, a career as a human resources manager is another high-paying option that involves working with others in a low-profile manner.

Why It's High-Pay and Low-Profile: According to the U.S. Department of Labor, human resources managers plan, direct, and coordinate the administrative activities of an organization, consulting with top executives on strategic planning.

In the area of human resources, Lynn adds, "Manager positions are more inwardly focused, while other specialties, like recruiting, [are] more outwardly focused."

She points out that human resources managers aren't very visible in the media, but there is "hidden demand" for people with these skills. Since managers work with top executives and keep an eye on everything from attrition to building skills, this career choice translates to a higher salary, Lynn explains.

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

How to Prepare: Human resources managers need a combination of education and related work experience as well as strong interpersonal skills, notes the Department of Labor. They usually need a bachelor's in business administration or human resources, although some jobs require a master's degree in human resources, labor relations, or business administration.

Career #3: Marketing Manager

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Bottom 10
Percent
$62,650
Median
Annual Salary
$119,480
Top 10
Percent
$187,199+

Marketing manager is a career choice that attempts to bring consumer attention to a company's products or services, but these professionals are still able to work away from the front lines.

Why It's High-Pay and Low-Profile: Marketing managers plan and direct programs to garner interest in a service or product, says the U.S. Department of Labor. They identify potential customers and trends and help develop pricing strategies with the goal of maximizing the firm's profits or share of the market.

According to Lynn, there is variation among salaries for marketing managers and specialization can boost income expectations.

"Every company is looking for ways to engage community by leveraging social media," she explains. So, marketing managers with a strong social media background or those with experience in a specific market are able to work behind-the-scenes to develop brands and fortify images by creating company posts, determining what goes out on the Twitter feed, and developing corporate messages, says Lynn.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Marketing Program.

How to Prepare: A bachelor's degree is required for most marketing management positions, according to the Department of Labor. Courses in business law, accounting, finance, economics, mathematics, and statistics are good preparation for this career. These managers typically have work experience in advertising, marketing, promotions, or sales, adds the Department.

Career #4: Electronics Engineer

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Bottom 10
Percent
$58,470
Median
Annual Salary
$91,820
Top 10
Percent
$141,190

If you like to tinker with gadgets but shy away from demonstrating your prowess under a bright spotlight, electronics engineering might be a promising career to consider.

Why It's High-Pay and Low-Profile: According to the U.S. Department of Labor, electronics engineers are responsible for designing and developing electronic equipment - from portable music players to global positioning systems (GPS). So while the products they design are available to the public, electronics engineers perform the low-profile tasks of conducting research and development behind those products.

As for salary, engineers in general earn more than many other professions, because they are in high demand. The 2012 "Talent Shortage Survey" by ManpowerGroup showed that engineer is the second most difficult position to fill nationwide.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Engineering Program.

How to Prepare: According to the Department, electronics engineers must have a bachelor's degree. Practical experience is also valuable when pursuing this career, so cooperative engineering programs, in which students earn academic credit for structured work experience, are good preparation as well.

Career #5: Public Relations Manager

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Bottom 10
Percent
$51,630
Median
Annual Salary
$95,450
Top 10
Percent
$180,480

A career as a public relations manager may sound high-profile, but people in this position stay relatively out of the spotlight. Instead, they might draft speeches delivered by top executives or arrange interviews for company representatives with the media - all while maintaining a low-profile.

Why It's High-Pay and Low-Profile: Public relations managers write press releases and other material for the media, plan and direct public relations programs, as well as raise funds for their organizations, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

New technology is changing the face of this industry as well as how public relations managers carry out their responsibilities taking them into the online space, even further away from the spotlight. For example, managers who can build market share and community with online tools are rewarded with good salaries, says Lynn.

"Companies are competing, and there is demand for people to create a competitive advantage for your brand," she adds.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Communications Program.

How to Prepare: A bachelor's degree in communications, public relations, or journalism is typically needed for public relations management positions, notes the Department of Labor. Beyond that, public relations managers may also need related work experience.

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

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