Unexpected High Earning Jobs

Krystal DeVille

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A Man standing on a pile of money outside.

When we think of high-paying jobs, professions like doctors, lawyers, and software engineers might immediately come to mind. However, the professional landscape is vast, and there are many lucrative careers that fly under the radar, often overlooked in mainstream discussions.

These roles might not have the glamour or visibility of some of their counterparts, but they offer handsome paychecks to those in the know.

Elevator Mechanic

Elevator attendant.
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Elevator mechanics play a pivotal role in the modern urban landscape. As cities grow vertically, the demand for elevators increases, and with it, the need for skilled professionals to ensure their safe and efficient operation. Beyond the typical installations in commercial and residential buildings, these mechanics also work on specialized equipment like dumbwaiters, moving walkways, and even some amusement park rides.

Their expertise extends beyond installation to regular maintenance checks, ensuring that safety protocols are met, and addressing any malfunctions promptly. The high stakes associated with potential elevator failures mean that these professionals undergo rigorous training and certification processes. Their compensation reflects the critical nature of their role and the specialized skills they bring to the table.

Air Traffic Controller

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Air traffic controllers are the unsung heroes of the aviation industry. Their role is akin to a conductor of a vast, airborne orchestra, ensuring that aircraft take off, travel, and land safely. They work in control towers, approach control facilities, or route centers, making real-time decisions that prevent air collisions.

Their work environment is often intense, requiring laser-sharp focus and the ability to handle immense pressure. Given the potential consequences of even a minor mistake, air traffic controllers undergo extensive training and are subject to strict medical and mental evaluations. Their salaries are a testament to the gravity of their responsibilities and the expertise required to manage them adeptly.


Ports are bustling hubs of activity, and longshoremen are at the heart of their operations. These dockworkers are responsible for loading and unloading cargo from ships, a task that requires both physical strength and coordination.

They operate heavy machinery like cranes and forklifts, handle hazardous materials, and work in all weather conditions. Given the global nature of trade, they often deal with a diverse range of cargo, from perishable goods to luxury vehicles. The job comes with its risks, from potential machinery malfunctions to the challenges of working in close proximity to massive ships.

Their compensation packages often include hazard pay, reflecting the challenging and sometimes dangerous nature of their work.

Funeral Director

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Funeral directors operate at the intersection of logistics, event planning, and emotional support. They handle the practical aspects of funerals, from preparing the body and organizing viewings to arranging transportation and ensuring legal requirements are met.

Beyond these tasks, they play a crucial role in supporting grieving families, offering guidance during an incredibly challenging time. Their work often extends beyond regular business hours, with night and weekend shifts being common.

The emotional intelligence required to navigate these sensitive situations, combined with the logistical challenges of the job, means that funeral directors are both highly trained and well-compensated.

Submarine Cook

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Cooking aboard a submarine is no ordinary culinary job.

Submarine cooks face unique challenges, from the limited availability of fresh ingredients to the confined spaces in which they operate. They must plan meals meticulously, ensuring that the crew receives balanced, nutritious, and varied meals for extended periods underwater.

The psychological aspect of their role cannot be understated; providing quality food is crucial for maintaining crew morale during long deployments. Given the specialized nature of their work and the importance of their role in ensuring the well-being of submarine crews, these cooks are compensated at a premium compared to their land-based counterparts.

Court Reporter

Court house.
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Court reporters, often referred to as stenographers, are the silent observers in courtrooms, capturing every word spoken during legal proceedings. Their role is paramount in ensuring that an accurate, verbatim record of testimonies, statements, and dialogues is maintained.

This record can be crucial for appeals, references, and legal documentation. Given the rapid pace of speech in courtrooms and the need for absolute accuracy, court reporters use specialized stenotype machines that allow them to transcribe at speeds of over 200 words per minute.

Beyond the courtroom, they might also provide captioning for television or live events. The precision and expertise required, combined with the responsibility of their role, make court reporting a profession that commands a respectable salary.

Radiation Therapist

women scientist

Radiation therapists are at the forefront of cancer treatment, operating machines that deliver radiation to shrink or eliminate tumors.

Their role goes beyond the technical; they also provide emotional support to patients, many of whom are navigating the challenges of a cancer diagnosis. Given the potential risks associated with radiation, these professionals undergo rigorous training to ensure treatments are administered safely and effectively.

Their deep understanding of radiation physics, human anatomy, and the psychological aspects of patient care make them invaluable members of the oncology team and justify their high earning potential.

Anesthesiologist Assistant

tired exhausted nurse or doctor having a coffee break

Anesthesiologist assistants are pivotal players in surgical teams, working under the supervision of licensed anesthesiologists to ensure patients undergo procedures pain-free and safely.

Their responsibilities range from preoperative patient evaluations to administering anesthetics and monitoring patients during surgery.

Given the critical nature of anesthesia, where slight miscalculations can have severe consequences, these professionals undergo intensive training. Their expertise in pharmacology, physiology, and critical care, combined with the high stakes of their role, results in a salary that reflects their value in the medical field.

Airplane Repo Professional

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Repossessing an airplane is not a task for the faint-hearted. Airplane repo professionals operate in a world of high stakes, often dealing with multimillion-dollar aircraft. Their job requires a diverse skill set: they must be adept pilots, knowledgeable about aviation laws, and sometimes even skilled in negotiation or mild confrontation.

Each repossession can be a high-adrenaline operation, especially if the aircraft’s owners are not keen on parting with their plane. Given the risks and the value of the assets they handle, airplane repo professionals command substantial fees for their services.

Underwater Welder

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Melding the worlds of commercial diving and skilled welding, underwater welders operate in one of the most challenging work environments imaginable. They perform critical repair and construction tasks on underwater structures, often at great depths and facing hazards like strong currents, poor visibility, and the inherent risks of diving.

The welding itself is a complex task, requiring precision and expertise, and when performed underwater, the challenges multiply. Due to the hazardous nature of the job and the specialized training required, underwater welders earn a salary that compensates for the risks they undertake.

While these jobs might not be the topic of everyday conversation, they offer lucrative opportunities for those with the right skills and training. Each underscores the idea that high-paying careers can be found outside the traditional pathways often highlighted.

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