Money, Rankings

Lawyers Rank Near the Top for Best-Paid Careers in America

Do you know why your parents always encouraged you to be a doctor or a lawyer when you were younger? Because you can still make bank in either field.

Although it seems that we’re constantly painting doom-and-gloom pictures of the imploding legal profession here at Above the Law, we’ve got to admit that for some, law is still a financially-booming career path. In fact, according to data pulled from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, being a lawyer still has significant monetary perks. CNBC compiled a list of the 15 highest paying jobs in the country, and despite meager Biglaw bonuses and the Dewey effect, lawyers continue to reign near the top.

Where do lawyers fall on the list? Let’s find out….

According to the Bottom Line blog of MSNBC, lawyers were number five on the list with an average salary of $130,490, coming in behind petroleum engineers (average salary of $138,980), chief executive officers (average salary of $176,550), orthodontists and dentists (average salary ranging from $161,750 to $204,670), and doctors and surgeons (average salary ranging from $168,650 to $234,950). Here’s the full list:

1. Doctors and surgeons (average salary: $168,650-$234,950)

2. Orthodontists and dentists (average salary: $161,750-$204,670)

3. Chief executive officer (average salary: $176,550)

4. Petroleum engineer (average salary: $138,980)

5. Lawyer (average salary: $130,490)

6. Architectural and engineering managers (average salary: $129,350)

7. Natural science manager (average salary: $128,230)

8. Marketing manager (average salary: $126,190)

9. Computer and information systems manager (average salary: $125,660)

10. Industrial-organizational psychologist (average salary: $124,160)

11. Financial manager (average salary: $120,450)

12. Airline pilots, co-pilots, and flight engineers (average salary: $118,070)

13. Sales manager (average salary: $116,860)

14. Air traffic controller (average salary: $114,460)

15. Pharmacist (average salary: $112,160)

The legal field, which “isn’t the easiest industry to break into,” saw only a minimal salary bump from 2010 to 2011. On last year’s list compiled from 2010 data, lawyers had an average salary of $129,020 — just $1,470 less than the average salaries from 2011. For that modest boost, we suppose we can thank all of those formerly unemployed lawyers for clawing their way into jobs that pay salaries of $10,000.

What a coincidence that this list should be publicized less than 24 hours after the June LSAT scores were released. Perhaps the saddest part of the timing of CNBC’s news is that some would-be law student will see this news and convince himself that it is still a great idea to apply to law school, despite a middling test score.

At the end of the day, if you’re a lawyer, it is still possible to have a high-paying job, but you’ll have to find that job first, and given the bleak employment scene and an oversupply of lawyers — the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that 570,950 are currently employed in the field — that is more than half the battle.

The highest paid careers in America today [The Bottom Line / MSNBC]
Lawyers Ranked No. 5 for Best Pay; Doctors Top List [ABA Journal]

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