Get an Education That Leads to a Real, Money-Making Career

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Deciding where to go to college and what to major in is an exciting time. After years of taking classes that were selected by school administrators and not by you, now you get to choose where to go and, for the most part, which classes to take. We all know the advice to “follow your passion” while pursuing a college diploma or trade certification, and yes, it’s a noble idea. But it’s also a pretty good idea to think about the financial benefits of your future job—the world doesn’t need another barista with multiple degrees. Take the time to select a program that will not only make you happy, but will also help you earn a decent salary. The following programs can help you find a lucrative position:

Pharmacy Technician

Pharmacy techs help pharmacists fill prescriptions, update and manage customer records and deal with insurance companies. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the job outlook for this field is growing at a “faster than average” rate, and the average pharmacy tech earned $29,320 per year in 2012. According to the online career school Penn Foster, which offers a pharmacy technician career diploma, most graduates go on to work at companies like Rite Aid, Wal-Mart and CVS pharmacies.

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Aircraft Mechanics

If you’re mechanically inclined and like the idea of working on airplanes, this job might be for you. The Federal Aviation Administration lists the basic requirements on its website, but prepare to to take a series of exams and have a year and a half of practical experience first. The average salary for this job paid $55,230 a year in 2012, according to the BLS.

Auto Insurance Appraisers

Insurance appraisers determine the extent of damage done to a vehicle and whether the company should pay the claim. Appraisers must complete a certificate program in auto damage appraisal to learn how to correctly assess vehicle damage. Appraisers’ annual salaries averaged $59,850 in 2012, according to the BLS.

Commercial Pilot

This well-paying profession is perfect for people who want to fly a helicopter or plane on a more flexible schedule. This includes traffic helicopter pilots, pilots who transport people to the hospital, those who spray crops or other fields with herbicides, and more. Salaries for commercial pilots vary widely, but according to the BLS, the median salary is in the ballpark of $70,000 a year. This career requires a pilot’s license, which may be acquired by working with a private teacher or a civilian or military flight school.

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Petroleum Engineer

Smithsonian Magazine notes that eight of the 10 college majors that lead to high-paying careers have the word “engineering” in them. Petroleum engineers earned an average annual salary of $130,280 in 2012, the BLS reports, making it the most lucrative bachelor’s degree a college student can earn. Other engineering-related college degrees that can lead to high paying jobs include aerospace engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and mining and mineral engineering.

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