The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Chart: How much money you can make in every kind of job

Source: BLS

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know that, well, rocket scientists make more than burger-flippers. Or that doctors and lawyers make more than most people—and that CEOs and techies do even better than that. But now, thanks to new numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we can see exactly how much high, low, and medium-payed workers earn in every kind of job.

Stay in school, kids.

That's the message, at least, if you want to make the most. Managers, lawyers, computer programmers, and doctors are, as you might expect, the jobs with the highest earners. And, if anything, these numbers probably understate that. Why? Well, a lot of them get stock bonuses that don't show up as annual wages. Think about Silicon Valley. The lure of pre-IPO shares is why eBayers left for Google, Googlers left for Facebook, and Facebookers are leaving now for Uber. People would rather get paid in shares that could be worth what they call, well, something you money, than on getting another $50,000 or so in wages. The same kind of thing is true for CEOs and corporate lawyers who get a big chunk of their pay as a bonus at the end of the year rather than wages every two weeks.

But there's something called a fallacy of composition here. Just because each person would make more if they got more education doesn't mean society as a whole would me much more equal if everyone did. Thats because, as Larry Summers points out, wages for college grads have actually been falling at the same time that CEO has raced ahead to infinity and beyond, or whatever the closest thing to that is. The top 1 percent, in other words, all went to college but don't make as much as they do because of it. There's something more going on, and, most of the time, that's being in the middle of million or even billion dollar deals. You only have to take a couple pennies off the table, and maybe not even that, when that kind of money changes hands to, I guess, earn an amount that's entirely disconnected from any other kind of economic reality.

And that's why so many rocket scientists are headed to Wall Street instead.