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32. Petroleum Engineer

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Petroleum Engineer
Median pay: $162,000
Top pay: $265,000
10-year job growth: 17.0%
Total jobs*: 30,200
What they do all day? Petroleum engineers have become hot commodities as new oil and natural gas production sites open up across the U.S. They play a pivotal role in the drilling process, making sure everything runs smoothly and no major mishaps occur. Their reward: The job is one of the highest-paying on our list. --J.A.

Quality of life ratings:
Personal satisfaction Low stress Benefit to society Flexibility
A C B C
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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