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Ten career paths that can make you a millionaire

Written by Workopolis
Posted on January 8, 2016

So, you want to be a millionaire. Good plan. There’s nothing to it. A billionaire might be hard. But there are millionaires all over the place these days. They can be almost impossible to spot, and tend to look just like you and me.

The only difference? They have a million dollars.

How can we get a million dollars? The reality is that it has more to do with what you save than what you make. If you save 20% of 50,000, at the end of the year, that’s $10,000, while, if you save 5% of $80,000, that’s $4,000. And, of course, you have to invest wisely etc. etc.

So it’s not all about earning the biggest paycheque. A study from PNC Wealth Management surveyed people with over $5,000,000 in assets about what has led them to their enviable financial success.

High salaries weren’t the most common response. In fact, earning huge paycheques didn’t even crack the top three. The wealthy demographic surveyed attributed their financial wellbeing to “saving early and regularly.” In fact, “earning a lot of money” was a distant fourth. (Just ahead of inheriting it and marrying into money.)

Of course, saving money is easier when you earn a little more. So, with that in mind, let’s look at ten careers that can put you on the path to becoming a millionaire. Once you’re on it, it’s up to you, and to fate, whether you get there or not. Let’s get the celebrities out of the way first.

Actor: Yes, this is such a long shot that you should forget about it altogether. First, you would probably have to move to the U.S. Second, SAG and AFTRA represent over 240,000 actors in the U.S. Their average annual income is below $5,000, and fewer than 100 of them are “stars.” (source: The documentary, That Guy…Who Was in That Thing) But at the top, Robert Downey Jr. raked in an estimated $80 million last year.

Athlete: It helps if you’re young enough to devote the time and effort it takes to make it as an athlete (so, if you’re reading this and you’re, like, six years old). And it doesn’t hurt if you’re also male. Floyd Mayweather topped Forbes’ list of 2015’s highest paid athletes with estimated earnings of $300 million. Maria Sharapova, the highest paid female athlete was quite a bit farther behind, with $29 million. Though that’s still not too shabby. Start now! Sacrifice everything and train, train, train.

Physician/Surgeon: No surprises here, right? It’s no secret that doctors make decent money. According to a January, 2013 report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information, “The average gross clinical payment in 2010–2011 was more than $307,000 per physician.” We’re not going to list every single medical profession that pays well here. Suffice to say that specialty physicians, surgeons, anesthesiologists and dentists all do pretty well. This is, however, one area that requires a huge investment of time and money. And you have to pay back all those student loans before you can get that million.

Investment Banker: Bankers make a lot of money, but they work crazy hours. Commonly between 80-120 hours a week. A large portion of their wages come from the bonus portion of the compensation which partly explains why people in these roles work such long hours. Third-year analyst’s compensation is roughly $120,000 -$350,000, a third-year associate’s as $250,000 – $500,000, a vice president’s as $350,000 – $1.5 million and a managing director or partner’s compensation at $500,000-$20+ million.

Engineering Manager: According to Wisegeek.com, an engineering manager has “four areas of responsibility: supervising engineers or engineering technologists, project management, working with clients, and providing advice and acting as a resource.” This job has been listed as one of the highest paying by The Richest and one of Canada’s highest paying by CNN Money. Listed average salaries range from $113,000-$140,000.

Software Developer/Software Architect: Software developer has been named among the top jobs in the world to have for good working conditions, low stress and high salary. At the high end, these roles pay six figures. Meanwhile, CNN Money lists a software architect’s salary at a median of $119,000 and a high of $162,000. If you don’t know the difference between these two jobs, they’re probably not for you.

Product Management Director: The description for this one varies, but it’s pretty much what it sounds like. A product management director oversees the development of products for an organization, guiding whatever it is – websites, software, tangible product – from strategy to execution. Payscale.com lists the salary of a product management director in Canada as ranging from $85,496 – $158,558.

Actuary: Actuaries manage risk, using past and present data to help businesses protect themselves from financial loss. According to beanactuary.org, the required skills include, specialized math knowledge, [including] calculus, statistics, probability; keen analytical, project management, and problem solving skills; good business sense; finance, accounting, economics; and strong computer skills, including formulating spreadsheets, statistical analysis programs, database manipulation, and programming languages. Experienced actuaries can earn from $150,000 to $250,000 a year.

Corporate Lawyer: Not all lawyer salaries are created equal – public interest lawyers, for example, fall at the lower end of the earning scale. And there is apparently a growing discrepancy between expected lawyer salaries and actual lawyer salaries. But corporate lawyers tend to do pretty well in general. Payscale lists Canadian salaries for a corporate lawyer at $51,428 – $208,541. Getting a job as a lawyer in Canada usually requires an undergrad degree, a law degree and an articling position.

Management Consultant: Sometimes is seems like if you just throw “consultant” in front of a business-y sounding word, you can command whatever salary you want. A management consultant, according to The Canadian Association of Management Consultants, is an independent professional who helps organizations by “solving management and business problems, identifying and seizing new opportunities, enhancing learning, and implementing changes.” Consultants starting out with an MBA start in the $100,000 range, but with advancement these salaries can rise to over $800,000.

So the secret seems to be: land a job that pays more than you need to live off. Start saving right away, and make regular contributions to your banked earnings. Some smart investment doesn’t hurt either. The sure-fire way to not achieve financial security is in living paycheque to paycheque or worse – beyond your means.

See also: So, how much are we earning? The average Canadian salaries (and who’s bringing home the big bucks)