9 Best Million Dollar Jobs for Regular People

Does it ever seem as if earning big money is impossible? Surprisingly, million-dollar jobs are more common than you might think.

They’re not everywhere you look, and in most cases, they need to be developed or even created from the ground up. But once you decide what you want to do, it may just be a matter of applying plenty of elbow grease over as many years as it takes to make it happen.

If you desire to earn seven figures, we’ve provided the following list of job possibilities. Some seem conventional, even obvious, others not so much.

As you read the reviews below, keep in mind that we’re focusing on the highest end of the pay scale in each field. If you research job boards, you’ll likely find much lower average pay levels. We’re not covering average pay for average people but top pay for those who are willing to put in the effort to make it happen.

And it can happen.

Table of Contents
  1. Company Executives
  2. Entrepreneurs
  3. Real Estate Agents
  4. Investment Bankers
  5. Franchise Owners
  6. Surgeons
  7. Law Firm Partners
  8. Management Consultants
  9. Social Media Influencers
  10. Final Thoughts on Million Dollar Jobs

Company Executives

Bloomberg recently reported that the average compensation package for the chief executive officer of an S&P 500 company is $18.3 million! They also included a list of the 14 highest-paid executives in the US, all earning more than $200 million. Topping the list was Tesla’s Elon Musk at over $10 billion per year!

That may sound like an elite group of executives; after all, they are the leaders of the 500 largest companies in the country. But there are plenty of CEO positions at smaller companies that also pay over $1 million per year. And along with CEOs, there are also company presidents, chief financial officers (CFOs), chief information officers (CIOs), and even a fair number of vice presidents who earn seven figures per year.

Entrepreneurs

CNBC recently reported on a millennial mom who built a $1 million business by age 33. How did she do it? Etsy! That’s about as basic as you can get in the entrepreneurial field, but it proves it is possible to build a seven-figure income from the ground up.

What’s equally interesting about this woman’s story is that she’s something of a serial entrepreneur. Along with her Etsy venture, she has a blog and a series of online courses about building additional income streams. 

Not everyone who starts a business sees their income rocket to $1 million. But stories like this one show that it is possible. Millions of people launch businesses yearly, and enough hit it big to keep the new recruits coming. It usually takes several years to reach that level, so don’t be discouraged if your current business idea isn’t yet reaping big rewards.

Real Estate Agents

If you’ve never heard of Graham Stephan he’s someone you need to pay close attention to if you want to succeed in just about any venture. He became a multimillionaire in his 20s and currently has a highly successful Youtube channel.

But Stephan got his start in real estate sales as a teenager. Passing on a college education, he went directly into the real estate industry, first as a photographer and then as an agent. He worked his way up as an agent to become one of the most successful in the Los Angeles market, all during the “bad real estate market” of the 2008 recession.

There are plenty of people working as real estate agents, and obviously, the great majority never make anything close to $1 million. But with hard work, dedication, and serial self-improvement, it’s possible to do so.

Investment Bankers

According to the website Mergers & Inquisitions (that’s not a misprint, it’s Inquisitions, not Acquisitions), investment bankers can earn more than $1 million per year. That applies, at least to managing directors and directors who are senior vice presidents.

The table below published on that website shows the compensation levels. Notice that even analysts, who are at the entry-level, can earn as much as $250,000 per year. But the salary range escalates dramatically from there.

Position
Title
Typical Age
Range
Base Salary
(USD)
Total
Compensation
(USD)
Timeframe for
Promotion
Analyst22 – 27$100-$125K$150-$250K2-3 years
Associate25 – 35$175-$225K$300-$550K3-4 years
Vice President28 – 40$250-$300K$500-$900K3-4 years
Director / Senior
Vice President
32 – 45$300-$350K$800-$1,200K2-3 years
Managing Direct35 – 50$400-$600K$1,000-$3,000Kn/a

In case you’re not familiar with what an investment banker is, it’s a professional who offers a wide variety of financial services to client companies, including advice on investing. The profession is commonly associated with mergers and acquisitions between companies.

Franchise Owners

Back when I was an accountant at CPA firms, I did work for franchise owners who earned seven figures. I will not say this is a common income for the group. But it is much more likely with certain franchises than with others.

Franchising is a very diverse group. Many of them are low-level affairs, where an aspiring business owner puts up a few thousand dollars to join a franchise organization, mainly to get the benefit of the company’s marketing and advertising. But that’s not usually where the big money is.

In the real-life examples that I witnessed, most million-dollar franchise owners were involved in the fast food industry. Some fast food franchises are serious moneymakers. They not only have top-of-the-line marketing, but they also know exactly where to locate restaurants.

One client I worked with had several stores with the same food franchise chain. He wasn’t making $1 million a year but several million dollars. If you’ve ever seen the movie The Blind Side, the wealthy father owned “like a million Taco Bells.” It happens in the real world. 

Surgeons

Contrary to what many believe, not everyone with some variation of the designation “MD” earns anywhere near $1 million. But there are specializations within the field where that’s possible.

Surgeons are perhaps the most common example. Their work is highly specialized, and they can earn several times more than general practitioners and even emergency room doctors.

Some of the highest paid in the field include brain surgeons, cardiac surgeons, and especially reconstructive surgeons.

The reconstructive sector, commonly referred to as plastic surgeons, can be especially lucrative. It’s not unusual to see highly compensated reconstructive surgeons offering their services to the wealthy at premium prices.

Law Firm Partners

Law is another highly segregated field, compensation-wise. How much an attorney earns depends on the field of specialization, the employing firm, and even the firm’s location.

Compensation at larger law firms is substantially higher than at smaller ones, especially among sole practitioners. The average compensation for an equity partner in a large law firm is $1.39 million.

Partners in law firms located in large cities, like New York and Washington DC, are at the top of the pay scale. And there are certain fields of specialization where compensation is higher than the norm. That will certainly be the case with law firms that commonly represent litigants in high-profile court cases or merger and acquisition transactions.

Management Consultants

The word “consultant” is one of the most overworked terms in the employment universe. It’s a catchall when a more descriptive term isn’t available. For example, there are sales consultants, financial consultants, insurance consultants, and so on.

But unlike those other job descriptions, management consultant is very specific. They’re typically independent professionals who help companies improve some aspect of their business or even solve specific problems. The best in the field can earn over $1 million per year.

There’s a definite career path to being a management consultant. An MBA is a typical required credential. Many independent consultants start out with a management consulting firm or even a large CPA firm. In most cases, the consultant will work with large, well-known clients, providing hands-on experience of the best kind.

The top consultants become specialists in specific industries and are typically self-employed. For example, a management consultant may specialize in finance, marketing, management, or mergers and acquisitions. The greater the specialization and skill level, the higher the compensation.

Social Media Influencers

Business Insider recently reported a social media influencer booked $700,000 in brand deals in just six months. That gives you some idea of what the potential earning capability is. Clearly, this is becoming a very lucrative field.

Social media influencer is a relatively new occupation. Or, more precisely, it’s more of an entrepreneurial venture than an occupation. That’s because your success in this field relies heavily on the size of your social media following.

Social media influencers are even broken down by size. A nano influencer is someone with fewer than 10,000 followers. Micro-influencers have up to 100,000, while macro or mega-influencers have several hundred thousand or even over 1 million.

The larger the following, the higher the income. The lady who earned $700,000 in six months reported 275,000 followers on Instagram. And there is no shortage of people with large followings making huge sums on YouTube. Essentially, advertisers are willing to pay handsome fees for individuals with large social media followings to endorse their products and services.

If you already have several thousand followers on any major social media platform, you may want to try your hand at this field. It can be especially lucrative if your following is based on a specific niche, like travel, cooking, working out, or one of the many aspects of finance.

Final Thoughts on Million Dollar Jobs

This is a good time to remind you that these are not the kind of jobs you can pursue passively, at least not if you want to earn $1 million or more. In each field, there are thousands, maybe tens of thousands of people working in the occupation. You’ll only make it through to the big leagues money-wise if you’re prepared to outwork your competitors.

Each of these jobs has the demonstrated potential to make seven figures. You’ll need to put in the effort, work in an occupation or industry that’s a good fit for you and your skills and be prepared to work longer and harder than you ever thought you could. 

The payoff will be that coveted $1 million income.

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About Kevin Mercadante

Since 2009, Kevin Mercadante has been sharing his journey from a washed-up mortgage loan officer emerging from the Financial Meltdown as a contract/self-employed "slash worker" – accountant/blogger/freelance blog writer – on OutofYourRut.com. He offers career strategies, from dealing with under-employment to transitioning into self-employment, and provides "Alt-retirement strategies" for the vast majority who won’t retire to the beach as millionaires.

He also frequently discusses the big-picture trends that are putting the squeeze on the bottom 90%, offering workarounds and expense cutting tips to help readers carve out more money to save in their budgets – a.k.a., breaking the "savings barrier" and transitioning from debtor to saver.

Kevin has a B.S. in Accounting and Finance from Montclair State University.

Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank or financial institution. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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