It’s hard to make a big bucks these days – but you'll up your chances big time if you work for one of the 25 companies highlighted in Glassdoor’s “25 Highest Paying Companies in America for 2017” report. Basically, if you work for one of these 25 companies, you’re going to pull in a six-figure salary and probably some pretty nice perks, although the report doesn’t look at that. So let’s dive in and see where – and how – employees are making the substantial money this year.

Where did Glassdoor get this information? From "salary reports at companies in which employees have anonymously and voluntarily shared both their base pay and other forms of compensation (i.e. commissions, tips, bonuses, etc.) over the past year."

The Highest Paying Companies

Out of the 25 companies on Glassdoor’s list, 20 are in the technology sector. So if your skills rank high on the geek scale, you could end up living out what your classmates may have said about you in high school: “One day we’ll probably be working for her anyway.”

The top-paying company on the list isn’t a technology firm; it’s a consulting business. A.T. Kearney pays a median base salary of $150,000. Add in bonuses, and somebody at the middle of the pay scale can plan to make $175,000 (median means half the employees make more than that). The second highest is also a consulting company, Strategy&, which has a total median salary and bonuses of $172,000. Coming in third is technology company, VMware, which pays $167,050 followed by big data firm Splunk, with total median compensation at $155,000.

“Salaries are sky-high at consulting companies due to ‘barriers of entry’ in this field, which refers to employers wanting top consultants to have personal contacts, reputations and specialized skills and knowledge. In technology, we continue to see unprecedented salaries as the war for talent is still very active, largely due to the ongoing shortage of highly skilled workers needed,” said Glassdoor's Chief Economist Dr. Andrew Chamberlain.

Google is sixth on the list, with median total compensation of $155,250, and we’ve all heard about the crazy amazing perks that come with a job there. Fully stocked, free cafeteria? What? (For more, see The Top 10 Reasons to Work at Google.)

Facebook clocks in at number 7 with $155,000 in total compensation, with NVDIA and McKinsey & Company taking the next two spots paying $154,000 and $153,000 respectively. If you can get by on $144,000, you can work for Microsoft, with a ranking of 19, while Twitter, in position 22, offers median total compensation of $142,000.

Here's the complete list:

 

Industry Matters

One look at the list makes it clear that your industry makes a difference. Careers such as social worker are noble and necessary, but don't expect to see six digits on your W2 at the end of the year – unless, maybe, you're head of the agency. For details on where the money is by category, see Glassdoor's earlier report, 25 Highest Paying Jobs in America, based on similar self-reported research.

Your mom was right about telling you to be a doctor, even in today's environment. The profession reporting the highest median salary for 2017 was physician. Despite healthcare cost controls driving down their earnings, physicians still manage to bring in a median base salary of $187,876. (For more, see The Highest-Paying Medical Careers.) Pharmacy managers come in second, with a median base salary of $149,064, and patent attorneys take the bronze medal, bringing in median base salaries of $139,272. (Note that base salary does not include bonuses or other compensation.)

Looking at the rest of the list, there’s a clear pattern that matches the top companies. If you’re in technology or management, you’re destined for significant bucks. Software engineering managers can plan on $109,350 and application development managers do even better, with a median base salary of $112,045. If you’re willing to settle for a mere $98,883 base, you could be an IT program manager.

The report paints another very clear picture. As your parents also told you, if you want to do well, you have to work hard, pay your dues and move up the corporate ladder. Pretty much no one walks into an upper-level management position right out of college (unless you start the company). You’re going to spend some years working long hours and laughing at the not-so-funny jokes of your boss before ascension happens.

Here’s another important distinction: The value of a college degree might be up for debate if you believe the multitude of articles being written on the subject, but Glassdoor’s report proves that higher education still pays off. According to Dr. Chamberlain, “This report reinforces that high pay continues to be tied to in-demand skills and higher education, which in part, is why we see several companies on this list among the consulting and technology industries."

And here's the jobs list:

The Bottom Line

Being a nerd of some sort pays off. Doctors, lawyers and tech wizards rank very well. Consulting and tech companies stand out among employers that pay the most, as well. But where’s finance on the list? Visa is the only finance company present; not one Wall Street firm made the grade. Perhaps that's due to government regulations and iffy world markets – or maybe in the current anti-Wall Street mood, employees of these firms aren't chatting up the folks at Glassdoor (remember these statistics are all self reported). The moral of the story? Go to college and work your way up the ladder if you want those six figures. In other words, not that much has changed, has it? 

 

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