LOS ANGELES (CBS.MW) -- Your parents were right; you should have become a doctor.
That?s certainly one of the highest paying careers for women, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics? annual salary data . What?s maybe more interesting is that female physicians actually make less than the average female pharmacist.
While managerial and professional specialty jobs -- that?s everything from teachers to CEOs -- are the highest paying jobs for women, women tend to get pigeon-holed into certain subspecialties.
Women are less likely than men, the Bureau notes, to be employed in some higher paying occupations as engineers, computer systems analysts, and architects.
We?re less likely to be CEOs, and more likely to be teachers.
Where the money is
On the other hand, traditionally male professions are where the high salaries are. For the men who make up about two-thirds of all lawyers and judges in this country, the legal profession?s high salaries has them laughing all the way to the bar.
Also, "there are few women in engineering, but it?s a very lucrative field," says Dorothy Thompson of the Business and Professional Women/USA , a Washington, D.C.-based organization that promotes equity for women in the workplace.
If you do want to go into a traditionally female profession, try to manage important documents -- financial and postal clerks are the highest-paid clerks.Or you could be a broker -- on the average, you?ll make more money selling stocks than you would selling clothes. Or you can teach older kids (college professors make more than high school teachers, who make more than elementary school teachers).
Go back to school
There are other things you should consider to help increase your paycheck.
One is going back to school. Women with a high school diploma earn about 40 percent of what women with college degrees do. Further, since 1979, wages for women with high school diplomas have fallen, while pay for college-educated women has risen. Which group do you want to be in?
"Overall, education is the best income strategy there is," says Anne Ladky, the executive director of Women Employed, a Chicago-based nonprofit that advocates improvements in women?s economic status.
"But for women who don?t have the luxury of a four-year degree, there are technical occupations -- computer-assisted design, industrial maintenance and mechanics, electronics work, skilled manufacturing positions -- where women can earn considerably more than the average female salary."
Women Employed has published a directory of Web sites that offer salary surveys and guideline data. To get one, call 312-782-3902.
To maximize income at your current employer, be near your company?s profit center. Ladky points out that traditional "support" jobs, like human resources or communications jobs, are often not as lucrative as sales and marketing jobs or other work that involves directly dealing with your company?s product.
You may also want to consider relocation. Women?s average earnings were highest in the District of Columbia, Alaska, Maryland, Connecticut, and New Jersey. The lowest: Arkansas, North Dakota, West Virginia, South Dakota, and Mississippi.
While these variations reflect differences in the cost of living, they also reflect demand for different occupations. Rather than changing what you do, you might change where you live -- and go where the jobs are.