“You must become either a doctor, a banker or a lawyer.”

These are words that have barraged the ears of children since the dubious decision was made that the only way to become a respected member of society was to take up such careers. Yes, these are highly respectable careers to pursue, and the pay received reflects that, but perhaps we are entering a day and age where ties, suits, lab coats and spectacles aren’t the only way to make a good living. So, here’s our list of surprisingly well-paid jobs:

Video Game Developer

One of the biggest gripes that parents have about children these days is that they spend too much time glued to a screen, playing video games. Regardless of whether or not this is a reasonable criticism (it is), you’ll be pleased to know that some good can come out of it. Video game developers earn more than you’d think. A starting salary for someone fresh out of university is around US$33,000, but find yourself in a more senior position in a development team and you could see yourself earning six figures. Likewise, if you develop an independent game that goes viral, like Minecraft creator Markus Persson, you could even end up a billionaire.

Dental Hygienist

You know when you go to the “dentist” and before the dentist eventually makes their cameo appearance a lovely lady or gentleman cleans, polishes, and checks your teeth for signs of cavities? Well, those are dental hygienists, and they make more than you’d think. The median salary is US$72,910, but some can earn as much as US$88,000 a year. What’s even better is that all you need to become a dental hygienist is a two-year associate degree, rather than spending four years and tens of thousands of dollars more on a bachelor’s degree.

Social Engineer

Social engineers are like hackers, except they “hack” people. Companies will purposefully hire a social engineer to try and extract sensitive information from a company through its employees. This way ,they can expose weaknesses in a company’s information security, allowing the company to then implement preventative measures. This “hacking” could be in the form of a phone call, an email, or even a face-to-face conversation. Not only will a job of this nature strike home for the devious among us, but it also pays incredibly well; it doesn’t take long for rookies to the job to rack up experience that will see them earning as much as US$100,000 a year. Not bad for making a legal living out of manipulating people.


Time was when people would look down on jobs in the service industry. Many bartenders have been asked what field of work they plan to get into in the future, like working behind a bar is just a break from a “grown-up” career. Well, times have changed, baby. Mixologists at the top of their game can make excellent money through a combination of salary and tips, and their skills are seriously appreciated by bar owners looking to make their mark in the market. They can even be hired as brand ambassadors by top shelf liquor companies and flown around the world, representing their brand in exotic locales.

Marketing Manager

If you consider yourself to be a stereotypical gregarious millennial that’s in tune with all the latest trends, social movements, music and pop culture, then becoming a marketing manager would probably suit you quite nicely. This profession involves organizing and overseeing a company’s advertising campaigns, which nowadays heavily involves social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. The intricacies of advertising, especially in today’s fragile social and political climate, are reflected in the pay, which averages over US$140,000 annually.

Mechanical Engineer

Mechanical engineering can involve all stages of the creation of a product, all the way from its design to manufacturing and testing. Requiring a wealth of technical knowledge, as well as the creative flair to think outside the box and solve challenging problems, this profession is as engaging as it is tangibly rewarding. At the end of the day, you’re designing a product and seeing your ideas come to fruition. Studying mechanical engineering at university opens up a host of employment opportunities, from automotive and aerospace engineering to construction and renewable energy. The annual salary for somebody in a senior engineering position is around US$80,000, while those who have just graduated can expect to earn around US$25,000 per annum, although this will quickly increase with experience.