Want to Be in a Top Earning Profession? Here's What It Takes

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According to data collected by LinkedIn, the medical field is where it's at, moneywise. Twelve of the twenty highest paying jobs in the US are healthcare based. Cardiologists top the list with an average salary of $356,000. Here's a peek at what a cardiology student can expect to invest get to that level:

Cardiologists will attend 8 years of higher education and rack up an average bill of $160,000 for the first 4 years and $207,000 for the second. They will then spend several years earning about $15 per hour while in residency.

Once they complete residency and become "real" doctors, the cash really starts rolling in, right? Sort of...Typical first year salaries for cardiologists are around $300,000. Factor in taxes, malpractice insurance, retirement catch-up (most have just begun saving about 30 years old), and the interest that has been accruing on their student loans and the real take-home pay for the year is about $119,000 per year.

Interestingly enough, research seems to indicate that $75,000 is the magic number when it comes to satisfaction. This is, of course, an average -- a person making $75,000 per year in Macon, Georgia is living a much different life than a person making that same amount in San Francisco, California.