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Quickest Career Paths for Earning $1 Million

Quickest Career Paths for Earning $1 Million

By Jen Hubley Luckwaldt, 

Think you need to be a doctor or a lawyer to make $1 million? Think again.

A wide variety of jobs can put you on track to becoming a millionaire, including familiar jobs like actuary and pharma sales rep, and less-familiar ones, like landman.

Many of these jobs require only a bachelor's degree, and none demand more than a master's. They do require a certain amount of technical skill, however, and having that skill is what makes people who do these jobs so well-compensated.

"Anything with any kind of a technical background is a good place to go in terms of salary growth," says Katie Bardaro, lead analyst at online salary database "The healthcare industry and the IT industry have been growing tremendously. Those jobs are in high demand now, and that has a strong relationship to pay. The key is that not everyone can do these jobs, so there's not an overabundance of [job candidates]."

Here’s a look at nine jobs in which you can amass $1 million in gross earnings in about a decade, give or take:

Nurse Anesthetist

Nurse anesthetists assess patients prior to surgery, administer and adjust anesthesia, and then monitor patients during recovery.
  • Median Pay with 15 Years’ Experience: $149,000 
  • Typical Degree: Master's 
  • Years to $1 Million: 8
Find nurse anesthetist jobs.

Petroleum Engineer

Petroleum engineers oversee oil and gas drilling operations to maximize efficiency and profits. 

  • Median Pay with 15 Years’ Experience: $137,000
  • Typical Degree: Bachelor's
  • Years to $1 Million: 11
Find petroleum engineer jobs.

Database Architect

Even moderate-sized companies have large amounts of data. Database architects help organize this data by implementing and managing data architectures.
  • Median Pay with 15 Years’ Experience: $110,000
  • Typical Degree: Bachelor's
  • Years to $1 Million: 11
Find database architect jobs.


Typically working for insurance companies, actuaries analyze statistical data to forecast risk and liability.
  • Median Pay with 15 Years’ Experience: $125,000
  • Typical Degree: Bachelor's
  • Years to $1 Million: 12
Find actuary jobs.

Strategy Consultant

These business experts review a company's business strategy, including plans for growth and product changes, and then make recommendations for improvements.
  • Median Pay with 15 Years’ Experience: $115,000
  • Typical Degree: MBA
  • Years to $1 Million: 12
Find strategy consultant jobs.

Pharmaceutical Sales Representative

These sales reps work on behalf of pharmaceutical companies to market products to doctors.
  • Median Pay with 15 Years’ Experience: $114,000
  • Typical Degree: Bachelor's
  • Years to $1 Million: 12
Find pharmaceutical sales jobs.

Semiconductor Engineer

Without these engineers, we'd have no semiconductors. Without semiconductors, we wouldn't have computers, smartphones or MP3 players.
  • Median Pay with 15 Years’ Experience: $113,000
  • Typical Degree: Bachelor's
  • Years to $1 Million: 12
Find semiconductor engineer jobs.

Medical Perfusionist

Medical perfusionists run heart-lung bypass machines during surgery and monitor patients' condition during surgery.
  • Median Pay with 15 Years’ Experience: $102,000
  • Typical Degree: Master's
  • Years to $1 Million: 12
Find medical perfusionist jobs.


A landman works for an oil or gas company, negotiating the purchase of land or mineral rights for exploration and drilling. 
  • Median Pay with 15 Years’ Experience: $119,000
  • Typical Degree Level: Variable
  • Years to $1 Million: 13
Find landman jobs.

Source: All pay data and comparisons provided by online salary database Pay is based on total cash compensation, which includes base annual salary or hourly wage, bonuses, profit sharing, tips, commissions, and other forms of cash earnings as applicable. Median years of employment to reach $1 million in gross earnings is based on the sum of earnings for each year of experience from entry level upward.

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