Where to find the jobs that come with the biggest paypackets

Like the sound of a $200K-plus pay packet but figure there's little chance of scoring one unless you're handy with a scalpel or colonoscope?

Medical positions account for the lion's share of advertised roles in Australia paying over $200,000, according to jobs site Indeed

It's been the same story for the past three years, with project managers and managing directors sharing their space on the best paid list. 

Lined pockets

Lawyers are also a long way from struggle street – their average salary in Australia sits at $106,453, according to Indeed. The latest data from the ATO states partners in large firms may earn multiples of that figure while judges, magistrates and tribunal members had an average taxable income of $195,703 in 2016-17.

Meanwhile, the Australian Bureau of Statistics states the average weekly earnings for fulltime workers in Australia last year were $1605.

But not all the country's top earners sport white coats and wigs. Here are some lesser known occupations which can pull in the big bucks.

Black gold: Oil rig supervisor

The hours are long, the work can be dangerous and the pay cheque reflects it. Score yourself a job as a contract drilling or production supervisor on an oil rig and you'll be making between $1650 and $1800 for a 12-hour shift, according to oil and gas industry recruiter Jo Reid. 

No degree required but you'll need to put in a decade or more on rigs as a 'tool pusher' before getting a shot at the role. Being headstrong is essential, as is the ability to get to grips with technical data. "You need to be able to make and execute decisions quickly – no second guessing," Reid says.

Twenty-one day rotations are the norm for Australian-based supervisors, while those working in Asia may spend up to 28 days away from home, at a stretch.  


Drilling the danger zone: Jumbo operator

Being on the tools underground can be almost as lucrative as drilling for the black gold. While six figure annual incomes are common for Australian mine workers of all stripes, the small clutch of jumbo operators – individuals who operate underground drilling apparatus – are sitting prettier than the rest when payday rolls around. 

Rates for a 12-hour shift range from $1000 to $1500, according to WA mining recruiter Nick Fennessy. It's far from easy money – temperatures can exceed 40 degrees with humidity close to 100 per cent – and those earning it need nerves of steel, as well as physical stamina. 

"When they're underground they're drilling straight into the rock…it can explode, it can pop, it can crack, the mine can collapse… all kinds of safety measures are put in place but it's not for the faint hearted," Fennessy warns.

Fancy giving it a go? Join the queue. Most sites employ just a handful of jumbo operators and you'll need to spend at least a decade operating trucks or other machinery underground, and have a stellar safety record, before you've a chance of joining their ranks.

"There's a real pecking order – because it gets paid so well, a lot of people try to build up to it," Fennessy says.

Looking towards tomorrow: Futurist

Are you someone who likes to explore emerging trends, get your head around new technologies and scope out their likely effects on people and businesses? Some individuals are paid to do so – often very well indeed. 

Chairman of the Futures Foundation Australia Charles Brass estimates Australia is home to between 60 and 80 freelance futurists who speak at events and undertake consulting assignments lasting anywhere from a day to three months. Daily rates of between $2,500 and $6000 are the norm, according to Brass.

"There is a relatively small group of people who go looking for a futurist and once they go looking, price is not usually a major concern," he says.

Until around 15 years ago, becoming a futurist was simply a matter of designating yourself as such but these days many younger members of the cohort have completed a Master of Strategic Foresight at Swinburne University, Brass says.

Keep it to yourself: Privacy specialist

In an era when hacking attacks and mass data breaches regularly hit the headlines, implementing strategies and practices to protect consumers' personal information has become a priority for organisations. 

Helping them do so can be a lucrative business for privacy consultants, some of whom command freelance rates of up to $1500 a day, according to Ground Up Consulting principal Nicole Stephensen, who's been in the game almost two decades. 

Privacy consultants hail from a range of backgrounds – cyber-law, political science and public policy are common – and typically amass experience in in-house roles before striking out for themselves. 

"It takes a long time to work up to a consulting salary…You have to establish a name and network and find your own niche," Stephensen says.

Does your unusual role come with a hefty pay cheque? Tell us about it in the comments.