7 Best Careers If You Want to Be a Millionaire

by Kevin Mercadante

In theory at least, it’s possible for anyone to become a millionaire regardless of occupation. All you have to do is save your money diligently, and invest it consistently and intelligently. But there’s no doubt that certain careers lend themselves better to becoming a millionaire than others. Here’s a list of the seven best careers if you want to be a millionaire.

When considering these careers, understand that all income figures quoted are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics pages.

Some of these careers represent a fast track to millionaire status because of high income. But with many of them, it’s also the fact that they are working in fields that put them in a position to take advantage of the kinds of opportunities that lead to big investment payoffs. Bonus, you don’t always need a college degree to land a high-paying job.

But let’s get to the list, which is in no specific order.

best careers to get rich

1. Lawyers

For 2014, lawyers earned a median annual income of $133,470. That number may even be a bit of an understatement. Salaries for lawyers vary significantly based on geography. For example, attorneys who work in large cities, particularly New York and Washington, DC, can earn considerably more.

The area of specialization also has an important impact on income. Corporate attorneys and those maintaining private practices often make substantially more than the median for the group as a whole.

Law is also one of those fields that create parallel opportunities. For example, a corporate attorney has a reasonable chance of becoming a top executive at the company that he or she works for. This can include generous stock options in addition to a very high salary. And a self-employed attorney may have major investment opportunities as a result of working with various clients. These investments, by themselves, could present million-dollar opportunities.

2. Engineers

Income wise, engineering depends largely on the area of specialization. For example, here are the median salaries in five common engineering capacities:

  • Chemical engineers, $103,590
  • Mechanical engineers, $95,780
  • Computer hardware engineers, $110,650
  • Aerospace engineers, $110,650
  • Petroleum engineers, $147,520

Above average income isn’t the only reason why the engineering field can be an inside track to millionaire status. Engineers typically enjoy a higher level of career stability than most other fields. In addition, they also tend to be “well employed” – working for companies that not only offer career paths, but also above average benefits.

A stable career, with regular double-digit contributions to an employer 401(k) plan, could put an engineer into millionaire status within 20 years.

3. Medical Doctors and Surgeons

For 2014, physicians and surgeon earned a median annual income of $189,760. Many specialists earn considerably more. With that kind of income, you are earning close to $1 million every five years. Regular savings and investing will produce a million dollar bankroll in short order.

Doctors are also often in a position to sell their practices for a large windfall. That windfall alone could fetch over a million dollars in a successful practice.

4. CPA

The BLS income information for CPA’s is included with “accountants and auditors” and is listed as an annual median income of $73,670. However, since CPA’s are a specific group of high level accountants, it’s likely that the annual income is significantly higher.

Much like lawyers, CPAs also have substantial opportunities available to them. A CPA who becomes a partner in a medium or large accounting firm can earn well above the median income for the group. It also presents an opportunity to build equity in the practice that could eventually produce millionaire status.

CPAs are often on the front line in taking advantage of related business opportunities that they come across as a result of their clients. These opportunities, combined with the fact that CPAs usually have above average knowledge of investing, make this one the best fields for creating millionaires.

5. Investment Banker

Whenever we hear about multi-million dollar and billion dollar mergers and acquisitions, there’s an opportunity to earn substantial money. That income often flows to investment bankers. This is particularly true of those who have experience in the economic sectors where mergers and acquisitions tend to be richer and more frequent.

For 2014 investment bankers are lumped in with “financial managers” who earned a median annual income of $130,230, in the BLS report. Once again, geography and specialization have a major impact. As well, investment banking is a field that commonly involves out-sized bonuses.

6. Real Estate Broker or Agent

It’s often said that there are more millionaires created in real estate than anywhere else. That of course, refers primarily to those who invest in real estate, and not so much those sell it for living. However, anyone working in real estate as an agent or broker has a front line position in taking advantage of potentially rich investment opportunities. That may be the primary road to riches for anyone employed in the real estate business, particularly on the sales side.

Real estate agents had a median income of $55,530, but top agents can easily make twice that much. Real estate brokers earn a median income of $80,420, but the top 10 percent of earners made a median of $178,770, which puts them close to physicians and surgeons, and well ahead of lawyers and engineers. That income, plus a few smart real estate deals, could bring millionaire status in less time that it can be achieved in most other career fields.

7. Insurance Broker or Agent

Insurance agents earn a median income of $63,730, but as is the case with real estate agents, top performers can earn a lot more. Insurance brokers – including independent brokers and the people who typically own the insurance agencies that insurance agents are employed with – earn a median annual income of $207,580.

Insurance brokers and agents actually have more in common with engineers in regard to income stability. Though they are often self-employed or working as independent contractors, the income in the field is unusually stable especially considering that it involves primarily commissions.

The insurance field has an advantage that other sales fields, particularly real estate, lack. Insurance sales generate residual income. When an agent or broker has an established “book of business” he or she will earn an income flow from clients signed up years earlier. This gives the insurance agent and broker the ability to create a near permanent income flow. That flow not only provides income stability, but it also gives the agent or broker an opportunity to build steadily to ever higher income.

Summary

You don’t need to work in one of these careers to get rich. There are many people who write their own ticket and become wealthy through business ownership, being an outstanding performer in their current career, or through years of hard work, saving, and investing. In short, there is no single path to wealth.

If you are just starting out, you can research the highest paying college degrees, and examine the value of a college degree compared to not having one. Even then, it’s not always the degree that leads to success, but how one applies their knowledge and energies.


Published or updated October 26, 2015.
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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 James

No “entrepreneur”? *gasp* – of course, not many people would consider that a career, I suppose.

Being a lawyer is definitely one of the best fast tracks to becoming a millionaire but it involves a lot of work. I currently hold my life and health insurance licenses, and while I don’t actively sell insurance, I can tell you that you hit the nail on the head about insurance sales. They certainly do get a nice residual income! But only 5% or so of all people that get started in insurance will make it to the big time.

Great article!

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