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11. Management Consultant

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Management Consultant
Median pay: $110,000
Top pay: $198,000
10-year job growth: 21.9%
Total jobs*: 718,800
What they do all day? They are the troubleshooters, the hired guns and the fixers of corporate America. Brought in for an outside perspective, management consultants work with struggling companies to tackle tough issues like profitability, competitiveness and ways to cut costs.

How to get the job? No specific licensing or degree is required, but experience is vital. The job is not tied to a specific industry, but many consultants specialize in a field where they have a background.

What makes it great? The hours are long, the travel is grueling, and the stress is high, but for problem-solvers who thrive on challenge, there's no greater satisfaction than helping a company get back on track.

What's the catch? A strong stomach is needed. One piece of the field is what the New York Times has dubbed "the layoff industry." Consultants often recommend job cuts. As outsiders, they are given the onerous task of breaking the news to employees. --T.Z.

Quality of life ratings:
Personal satisfaction Low stress Benefit to society Flexibility
Published: October 29, 2012
Notes: All pay data from PayScale.com. Median pay is for an experienced worker (at least five or seven years in the field). Top pay represents the 90th percentile. Job growth is estimated for 2010-20, and based on people working in broader 'job family' from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
*Total jobs is estimated number of people working in broader BLS 'job family.'

Sources: PayScale.com, Bureau of Labor Statistics, and CNNMoney research
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