Personal Finance

Six-figure jobs
This week, a look at sailing the seas, giving a good dose of medicine and managing a clubby oasis.
May 25, 2004: 4:56 PM EDT
By Jeanne Sahadi, CNN/Money senior writer

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - The income-equivalent of the Holy Grail, the six-figure salary, is not easy to come by. But it helps if you work in an occupation that provides the potential.

CNN/Money's series on interesting six-figure jobs those that go beyond the usual suspects, such as ones requiring a J.D., an M.D. or an M.B.A continues this week with a look at occupations that give you a bird's eye view on medicine, the seven seas, and some of the most beautiful links around.

Charter yacht captain: If sailing multimillion dollar vessels is your passion, you're willing to be at the beck-and-call of the world's wealthiest, and you don't mind being on duty 24/7, you just might enjoy being a charter yacht captain.

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The owner of such a yacht may only be on board six to eight weeks a year, said Bob Saxon, president of Camper & Nicholsons USA, an agent for chartered yachts. But the captain of the yacht is on duty for much of the year.

That's because the vessel may be available for charter for another 10 to 12 weeks. Individuals or corporations will "rent" the yacht, for anywhere from $50,000 to $350,000 a week, said Sarah Montefiore, the general manager for Camper & Nicholsons.

The time spent moving the yacht between ports (often in different countries) may account for another eight to 10 weeks. The owner may jet over to spend a week in the Caribbean one month, then fly in to loll about the Mediterranean a few months later.

The rest of the year is spent overseeing the extensive mechanical and cosmetic care of the vessel.

While at sea, the captain is responsible for the yacht's operation and the safety of everyone on board. He has to have top navigational skills and understand everything about the vessel from its engines to its washing machines.

The Apogee, a 205' yacht with mahogany interior, has a captain and 16-member crew. It accommodates 12 and sports four decks with an air-conditioned gymnasium on the sun deck. Price: $320,000/week.  
The Apogee, a 205' yacht with mahogany interior, has a captain and 16-member crew. It accommodates 12 and sports four decks with an air-conditioned gymnasium on the sun deck. Price: $320,000/week.

Grace and finesse are also required.

"You want someone to bend over backwards to make (the voyage) the vacation of a lifetime," for charter guests, Montefiore said.

As for the owners? "They expect what they expect when they expect it," she said.

Getting to be captain involves working your way up from deck hand, usually on a number of smaller yachts. The bigger the yacht (and depending whether it's used for commercial purposes), the more extensive the training and regulatory requirements for those working on board, Saxon said. Typically, they involve a mix of classroom work, firefighting training and on-the-job experience.

The average salary for the captain of a "mega" yacht -- typically those in excess of 100 feet -- runs about $150,000 a year, not including bonuses, Montefiore said. The larger the yacht, the more you can make, Saxon added, noting that some top captains can earn $200,000 and up.

But since there are far more captains than "mega" yachts, competition for those jobs is stiff, Saxon said. There are only about 500 spots worldwide.

Private club manager: If the ambience of a country club appeals, and you're good at managing a professional operation while making club members happy, you might find success as a private club's general manager (GM).

A GM oversees a club's operations from A to Z. That means managing the upkeep and repair of the grounds, running the sports facilities as well as food and beverage service, and managing the club's administration.

A graduate degree is not required. Sixty-five percent of the members of the Club Managers Association of America (CMAA) have four-year college degrees, and 35 percent got their posts after acquiring "back-of-the-house" experience, such as running the dining room, said CMAA CEO James B. Singerling.

Between 30 and 50 colleges offer degrees in club management.

Many clubs will hire would-be managers directly out of college and put them in assistant supervisory positions, Singerling said.

It can take four to seven years to become a certified general manager. CMAA's certification program trains club employees working full-time in nine areas of competency, including sports management, human resources, and accounting and business management.

In terms of hours, Singerling said, "you can have a life and go to your kids' soccer games and still be a six-figure individual." But it would be better if the games were scheduled during a club's low season, since during high season you may be clocking 60 hours a week.

The average CMAA member earned $105,000 in 2003. For those with the title of chief operating officer, the average was $134,290.

The larger the club or the more services and amenities it provides, the higher your earning potential. The median total compensation for a general manager at clubs with over 900 members was nearly $150,000, while the average COO pulled in close to $180,000.

Pharmacist: If you think all a pharmacist does all day is count pills for prescriptions at your drugstore (or increasingly, your supermarket or Wal-Mart), think again.


Beyond dispensing drugs, community or retail pharmacists can counsel you about the use and adverse effects of the drugs dispensed. They may provide immunizations for adults, perform screenings for diseases such as osteoporosis and educate patients about the management of diseases such as diabetes, including how to use equipment like blood-sugar monitors.

Working in drugstores, grocery stores and K-mart is far from the only type of job in the field.

"Opportunities for pharmacists today are much more varied than is publicly obvious," said Lucinda Maine, executive vice president of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy.

Pharmacists work in hospitals and nursing homes, where they dispense drugs, advise personnel and patients about medications and in some cases help hospitals select them. They also work in research and development for drug manufacturers, and for government agencies and managed care organizations.

Until now, if you wanted to be a pharmacist, you had to get a B.S. in pharmacy a five-year degree. But now, B.S. degrees will no longer be accredited, Maine said. Instead, a PharmD a six-year clinical doctoral degree that encompasses both undergraduate and graduate classwork will be required.

Students are trained across many disciplines, including chemistry, physics, mathematics, biology, pharmaceutical chemistry, pharmacology, and business management.

Due to a labor shortage, salaries have been on the rise, and bonuses and overtime are not uncommon.

According to a 2002 survey by Drug Topics, the average pharmacist made $82,607 in base salary. Average entry-level base salaries ranged from $69,543 for hospital pharmacists to $85,529 for supermarket pharmacists.

Pharmaceutical managers and directors tend to top the earnings pyramid. Hospital pharmacy directors had average total income of $106,747.

Regionally, pharmacists out West pulled in the highest average total compensation: $107,343 for chain-store pharmacists and $105,005 for hospital pharmacists.  Top of page

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