Whether you’re making a mid-life career change or angling for your first job out of school, you likely have a checklist of what to consider as you size up opportunities. Interest in and aptitude for a line of work or specific position should always be top of mind. Job stability is important, too. Another real-life concern: How big is the salary? Is it a top-paying job?
While money isn’t everything, it’s a nice thing to have in your back pocket. As you decide what direction to take your career, keep in mind that not only do some jobs pay better than others, but some salaries grow faster than others. We’re even getting reports of explosive salary growth from our recruiting experts in the field.
“Companies are increasing starting salaries and making on-the-spot job offers when they interview promising job seekers for in-demand positions,” says Jordon Heffler, vice president of Permanent Placement Services for Robert Half Finance and Accounting in Albany, New York. “They’re also doing whatever they can to keep their best people — offering large pay raises, bonuses and promotions.”
So what are these top-paying jobs? They’re surprisingly diverse and spread throughout the creative, administrative, financial and tech fields.
Accounting and finance positions
New tax laws and financial regulations are driving demand in the accounting and finance sector. “We’re seeing higher wages for tax positions at all levels, as well as senior accountant and senior financial analyst roles,” Heffler says. “Companies are all looking for people with the same qualities and level of experience,” he adds, “and many pay above the applicant’s salary target.”
“We’ve placed multiple full-charge bookkeepers making $85,000 a year or more,” notes Katie Weigel, division director and senior vice president for Robert Half Finance and Accounting in Reno, Nevada. “That is an incredibly high salary compared to what we saw a few years ago.”
“Career executive assistants are in high demand,” says Kim Garstein, an OfficeTeam branch manager in Los Angeles. “Many people use an executive assistant job to get their foot in the door and leave the role after one or two years, so someone with a longer background in this position is extremely valuable,” she says.
“One client, a real estate firm, set out to pay $65,000-$75,000 for a new executive assistant but ended up offering $93,000 to the top candidate because her experience and skills were above average,” Garstein adds.
She adds that candidates who have been in the field for at least 10 years and have experience with Concur and international travel can typically find positions quickly.
“The IT security job market is on fire,” says Matt Deneroff, a local branch manager for Robert Half Technology in Baltimore. As companies expand IT security practices, they have to work hard to retain top talent and staff new tech positions, especially IT security analyst roles. “One of my top clients in Maryland is a financial institution that has virtually no limit for salaries in the IT security space — they gauge the value that someone’s skills bring to the organization rather than having a preset salary range,” Deneroff adds.
“With growing interest in the cloud, automation and big data, top-paying jobs include cloud engineers, security engineers and software engineers,” says Jessica Green, branch manager for Robert Half Technology in Bloomington, Minnesota. “A medium or large organization can expect to pay senior-level employees upwards of $150,000, plus offer generous time off and other benefits.”
The demand for video content makes mid- to senior-level talent with Adobe After Effects skills a hot target for employers. “We’re seeing an increase in video and motion graphics roles,” says Amy Mangan, vice president and division director at The Creative Group in Atlanta. “And the salaries for these positions are significantly higher than a year or two ago.”
Mangan also says that the scarcity of experienced candidates means many companies are willing to pay more to onboard entry-level applicants with promising demo reels.
Candidates with mobile app and web development experience are also greatly needed. Companies are eager to staff user experience (UX) and interactive design roles, in particular. “I’ve seen companies offer six figures for UX candidates with as little as three years of experience,” says Shayne Ravin, division director for The Creative Group in Denver. “Given the current demand, that’s what they should be paying.” Compare that with the $60,000-$80,000 range for similar roles and experience reported in The Creative Group’s 2017 Salary Guide.
Salaries in your market
The more you know about what’s hot in your area of expertise — or a field you’ve been thinking of breaking into — the better chance you have of elevating your career. Get the latest on top-paying jobs and salary trends in your region by downloading the latest Robert Half Salary Guide.