America's highest paying white-collar jobs

If you want to keep getting raises, get promoted to senior management. As tough as the economy has...

If you want to keep getting raises, get promoted to senior management. As tough as the economy has been in America, people in executive positions saw their paychecks increase by an average of 2.2% this year. (SHUTTERSTOCK)

Jacquelyn Smith, FORBES

, Last Updated: 12:44 PM ET

If you want to keep getting raises, get promoted to senior management. As tough as the economy has been, people in executive positions saw their paychecks increase by an average of 2.2% this year, to $99,700. That's according to data just released by Compdata, a national compensation survey and consulting firm in Olathe, Kan.

Compdata looked at base salaries for 26 senior management jobs below C-level. For the sixth consecutive year, commercial lending directors take the top spot, with the highest average paychecks. They are earning $132,500 in 2010, up from $128,600 last year. Ranking second on the list, general managers are making $124,800 this year, up from $118,300 last year.

"In an economy where many organizations are implementing salary freezes and reductions just to get by, it's encouraging to see salaries for many jobs rising, even if some increases are very modest," said Amy Kaminski, director of marketing for Compdata Surveys. "As industries begin to recover, it will be more important than ever for companies to make an effort to hold onto their most valuable asset--their employees. Offering a balanced yet competitive compensation package will be the key to employee retention as the economy grows."

Even the list's lowest-paying jobs are paying more than last year. Human resources managers and advertising and public relations managers rank at the bottom of the group of white-collar jobs, with average salaries of $74,900 and $73,300 respectively, but both are enjoying small year-over-year increases.

Elsewhere on the list, mortgage lending directors made 7.1% less this year than they did in 2005, but their average base salary of $100,300 was up a healthy 5.1% from last year. The biggest winners over a five-year period are finance directors, who are earning 37.9%, or $37,300, more this year than in 2005, and engineering directors, whose paychecks have grown 15%, or $19,700, in the same period.

Of the 26 jobs included in the survey, only four--national sales managers, accounting directors, marketing directors, and systems and programming managers--are earning less in 2010 than last year. Four others--development officers, mortgage lending directors, plant engineering managers, and advertising and public relations managers--have seen their paychecks shrink from 2005, but have done better since 2009.


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