10 surprising careers that can make you a mint in New York

pushing tin
If you weren’t inspired by John Cusack’s performance as an air traffic controller, maybe you should be inspired by the pay they get around here.

Ever wonder how much your friends make, how much you should be making at your job, or how much a funeral director makes? The New York State Department of Labor recently released employment and wage data based on the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES), which collects information from over 52,000 businesses. It’s quite the impressive list spanning blue collar, business, professional and service industries.

Great for students, workers who want to negotiate their salary (or get out of a dead end), and the BAW (bored at work) demographic. As well as listing the mean, median, starting and experienced salaries for every occupation, it also lists the number of people employed in those jobs. You’d still have to do your own research to figure the competition or demand of jobs, but if you’re thinking of changing industries – hey, you’re halfway into your research! We picked up a few of the more unconventional ways for you to make a boatload of money.

Air Traffic Controllers

Starting: $75,320
Median: $135,770
Experienced: $158,820

Air traffic controllers are the ones who sit up in the tower with the best technologies at airports and coordinate the movement of air traffic to ensure that aircraft stay safe distances apart. Not only will you be starting at much higher wage than the national average of $38,000/year, you can also imagine you’re John Cusack in Pushing Tin every day.

Funeral Service Managers

Starting: $75,140
Median: $127,600
Experienced: >$187,200

If you can deal with customer’s grief issues but still can’t support yourself on a nonprofit salary, consider operating a funeral home. The most experienced funeral service managers make upwards of $187,200 a year. The only guarantees to life are death and taxes, and so we owe a lot of our lives to our funeral service managers.

Judicial Law Clerks

Starting: $51,500
Median: $113,580
Experienced: $123,720

They are not judges, but they do have a huge influence on judges. Typically judicial law clerks do most of the writing and researching for judges. They sit around in a room with 3 other clerks and the judge and spitball ideas until the judge comes up with the right decision. The salary isn’t half bad either if you are in the 35 percentile of law graduates not employed in a position that requires them to pass the bar. There’s too many lawyers anyways. Hey, at least you’d still be able to pick up the tab with your old classmates! You should probably find a high-paying job before your loser humanities friends beat you to it.


Starting: $70,560
Median: $93,760
Experienced: $106,140

You may think we’ve already mapped the world, but there’s still more territory still yet to be uncovered. Today’s geographers also study political science and cultural structures. Perks include traveling all over the world to do field research and analyzing mapping technology on state of the art GPS systems on no less than 4 monitors at once before Google does. So you won’t be able to just Google Map it on your phone.


Starting: $57,730
Median: $79,780
Experienced: $120,070

Audiology – that’s the study of ears – is a small field (only 700 working audiologists in NYC) but that’s not to say they’re not in demand. With arguably a large majority of transit riders listening to earbuds at a dangerous levels to drown out the subway noise, audiologists protect the people in transit from what transit and railroad police cannot. Over 50 million Americans suffer from noise damage, so all those Brooklyn musicians better make an appointment with an audiologist before it’s too late.

Fish and Game Wardens

Starting: $57,090
Median: $68,590
Experienced: $74,340

The responsibilities of this government official are to patrol assigned areas to prevent fish and game law violations and investigate reports of damage to crops or property by wildlife. Environmental activists with an education in biology take note.

Commercial Drivers

Starting: $45,720
Median: $81,720
Experienced: $105,030

Are there certain risks to being a commercial driver? Well, yes. The long hours spent sitting down. The propensity towards pep pills. Using the wrong CB radio slang and being cut out of speed trap warnings from your fellow truckers. Those first two problems are also the purview of office drones though, and no one ever made a movie about an office drone as cool as Jack Burton, so we say take risks and the eventual six-figure salary.

Speech & Language Pathologist

Starting: $51,410
Median: $72,860
Experienced: $93,440

Teaching people how to speak correctly is a dying art. So many people take it for granted unless they are learning a new language or experience speech problems. Can you explain the over 100 different ways to pronounce the letter R? I bet you’d try to for this salary. You can choose your own office environment and work in a clinic, freelance or offer accessible workshops across town.

Nurse Anesthetists

Starting: $131,250
Median: $154, 360
Experienced: $186,180

You’ve already gone to medical school and racked up huge debts, you may as well try to cash in as hard as you can. Not only does overseeing someone’s anesthsia procedure provide the most scratch for nurses in New York, but once the person is out, you’ve got someone to talk to about your problems with medical school debt that won’t interrupt you, and you can’t put a price on that.


Starting: $40,240
Median: $60,770
Experienced: $82,050

Brickmasons make more than stonemasons or any other non-managerial construction workers. If you think about it, bricks are everywhere in Brooklyn and the greater Northeast. Bricks are in, bricks are hip. I wrote this in a brick building and you are most likely reading this in a brick building. You’re so hip. No wolf from Wall Street can blow down your job as a brickmason.

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