Jobs are hard to come by these days. Raises are puny. It's getting harder to get ahead, as most workers know.
But some employees still report to Easy Street when they punch in.
While average incomes have fallen during the last few years, CEO pay has continued to rise. Other executives and specialists with key skills earn top dollar, especially if they're willing to live on airplanes and make other tradeoffs that globalization demands. Some companies may even be willfully overpaying certain workers, since aggressive downsizing has left them more dependent than ever on fewer people.
To identify the most overpaid workers, U.S. News analyzed data provided by compensation experts at PayScale to highlight occupations characterized by relatively high pay for relatively easy work. This is admittedly an inexact science with subjective criteria. "Overpaid" means different things to different people, and many workers represented on our list have perfectly legitimate jobs requiring skill, talent and training.
10. Consulting software engineer (median mid-career salary: $123,000). These high-end programmers design and maintain sophisticated computer networks for big companies and other large organizations. But the work can be dry and many such engineers question the value of what they do. Other types of programmers and software engineers rank high on the overpaid list as well.
9. Brand strategist ($90,700). These advertising or marketing specialists work to improve the image and reputation of companies and their offerings—whether deserved or not. Brand strategists rate the importance of their own work poorly compared with other professionals.
8. Interaction designer ($116,000). Many websites rely on these technical experts to make the user's experience engaging and fun—though often to lure users into a purchase or transaction rather than provide personal benefits to them. Other types of website architects and managers also made the overpaid list.
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Photo courtesy of Flickr.com; Username: 401 (K) 2013