The new year is a time for reflection and self-assessment as we analyze our achievements of the previous 12 months and establish new goals for the year ahead. It therefore provides an ideal opportunity for individuals to evaluate their chosen career paths and the existing employment market to determine whether or not they are achieving job satisfaction and optimizing their earning potential.

While identifying lucrative and prosperous career options is worthwhile, it can be particularly difficult within an unstable macro-environment. A quick glance at the U.S. economy supports this, as although job openings rose to a four-month high in October and triggered an increase in consumer spending, the financial markets have faltered amid concerns over the fiscal negotiations taking place in Congress.

The Five Highest-Paying Jobs of 2013
With this in mind, it can be difficult to determine which jobs are likely to offer the greatest monetary rewards in 2013. The following options all offer excellent financial remuneration while appealing to a broad range of social demographics:

The role of the typical veterinarian is often misunderstood, as although they predominantly care for pets, they also tend to ailing livestock and laboratory animals. Thanks to a rising national pet population and the increasing demand for livestock as a food supply, veterinarians have been able to boost their earnings while enjoying enhanced job security. The role itself offers an average annual remuneration of $82,040, while the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has reported that the number of individuals employed in this occupation will rise by 35.9% between 2010 and 2020.

Petroleum Engineers
While a career as a veterinarian may offer excellent remuneration, applicants must earn the difficult-to-obtain doctor of veterinary medicine degree and an independent state license. These barriers to entry are not uncommon, as occupations within the engineering sector are also extremely academic and demand a high standard of education. Their rewards often reflect this, however, as those who work as petroleum engineers can testify. Employed to develop innovative methods for extracting oil and gas from underground deposits, qualified and experienced workers can take home an average annual salary of $114,080.

Air Traffic Controller
Not all high-paying job opportunities require a bachelor's degree, which will come as some comfort for those who do not enjoy advanced academic pursuits. The role of an air traffic controller provides a relevant example, as although applicants require only an associate's degree to qualify they can expect to earn an annual salary of approximately $108,040 once they have gained industry experience. The only potential downside of this career choice is that the outlook for the next eight years is mixed, with the BLS suggesting that there will be a 3% decline in job creation between now and 2020.

While the news that Apple plans to invest up to $100 million in domestic manufacturing in 2013 offers an insight into the rising popularity of insourcing, the trend of remote working remains prominent across several industries. This is especially true among health care professionals, who are increasingly being hired to offer remote assistance and specialist consultancy services. Teleradiologists, whose role is to evaluate digitally transmitted patient images and offer their opinion through videoconferencing, are able to work independently while earning anywhere between $100,000 and $400,000 per year.

Online Post-Secondary Teacher
Remote learning is also an increasingly popular trend as individuals look to capitalize on technological advancements to access more flexible and cost-effective educational courses. With an estimated 57% of Americans believing that students do not get value for the money that they spend while pursuing a degree, online post-secondary teachers have been able to prosper by lecturing remotely and delivering a lower-cost alternative. Online lecturers can earn an average annual wage of $62,000, while also being afforded the opportunity to establish their own working schedule and long-term career path.

The Bottom Line
Not only do these job opportunities prove that it is possible to succeed in an unstable economy, they also offer an insight into the changing nature of education and the traditional workplace. So just as bachelor's degrees are no longer a prerequisite for high-earning jobs, working remotely has also emerged as an increasingly lucrative practice.

This makes it easier for you to develop your own unique career path in 2013, despite the uncertainly that continues to engulf the U.S. economy. As long as you are flexible, open to change and have a tangible skill set that is in high demand, then there has never been a better opportunity to maximize your earning potential.

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