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These are Michigan’s high-paid occupations

In recent posts we have been exploring payroll jobs wages by occupation and education. Dividing the labor market into occupations with median wages below the national median of $39,810, occupations with median wages between the national median and the 75 percentile of $64,230, and what we call high-paid occupations with median wages at or above the 75th percentile.

The first post, The truth about the relationship between education and earnings, in this series summarized how many jobs were in each of the three categories: low-paid, middle-paid and high-paid occupations. Then we focused on the proportion of good-paying jobs in STEM occupations and blue collar occupations.

In this post we will identify which are the high-paid occupations groups. The previous posts have been based on data from the more than 800 occupations identified by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. BLS divides those 800 occupations into 22 occupational groups. In this post we want to discover which of those occupational groups have a median wage above the national 75th percentile.

There are six of these high-paid occupations groups:

  • Management Occupations
  • Business and Financial Operations Occupations
  • Computer and Mathematical Occupations
  • Architecture and Engineering Occupations
  • Legal Occupations
  • Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations

Combined they have employed 991,000 Michiganders in 2019. 23 percent of the 4.344 million payroll jobs in 2019. Employment in each is:

  • Management Occupations: 211,000
  • Business and Financial Operations Occupations: 220,000
  • Computer and Mathematical Occupations: 112,000
  • Architecture and Engineering Occupations: 140,000
  • Legal Occupations: 26,000
  • Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations: 280,000

Median wages in these high-paid occupations groups ranges from $101,850 in Management Occupations, which is far and away the highest paid occupation group, to $66,030 in Business and Financial Operations Occupations. Specifically median wages in each of the high-paid occupations groups are:

  • Management Occupations: $101,850
  • Business and Financial Operations Occupations: $66,030
  • Computer and Mathematical Occupations: $76,980
  • Architecture and Engineering Occupations: $83,030
  • Legal Occupations: $72,050
  • Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations: $66,600

The best portrayal of high-paid occupations comes from an analysis of the more than 800 occupations. In addition to our analysis, you can check out information on each occupation at the state’s Pathfinder website.

You will, of course, find high-paid occupations that are not in these six occupation groups. And you find some of the occupations in these six are not high-paid.

What this look at high-paid occupations groups does provide is a snapshot of today’s labor market realities. Many contrary to conventional wisdom. The reality is that high-paid jobs are predominantly professional and managerial. Work done pre-pandemic in offices, schools and hospitals. And most in occupations where at least a four-year degree is required. Also these high-paid jobs are not limited to STEM occupations. The bottom line is that, although there are no guarantees, the most reliable path to a good-paying job and forty-year career is obtaining a four-year degree irrespective of major or field.

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Lou Glazer

Lou Glazer is President and co-founder of Michigan Future, Inc., a non-partisan, non-profit organization. Michigan Future’s mission is to be a source of new ideas on how Michigan can succeed as a world class community in a knowledge-driven economy. Its work is funded by Michigan foundations.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. HI Lou, Where do you place the professional athletes in this high paying range. Is there a percentage figure as to how many have a college education. Dean

  2. Good question. In terms of these occupation groups they are lumped into a category called Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media Occupations. Which has a median wage of around $46,000. The specific category they are in is athletes and sports competitors with a median wage of around $40,000. There is data on how many in each occupation have what education. If I get a chance I will look it up, but the odds are that most folks getting paid to do a sport do not have a college degree. This is one of the occupations where the top end is very highly paid, but the typical worker is not.

    Athletes, entertainers and entrepreneurs who are extraordinarily talented can make huge incomes without a four-year degree. There just are very few of them.

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