Most lucrative quant career

I read on the internet that there are many kinds of quants. I am wondering as to who among those make the most money (after 2 to 3 years and not at the entry level) or at least have a very high upside if things work out for them once they get their first job.

Specifically, I hear that there is no limit to the upside at hedge funds. What kind of quants are they who make a lot of money (a lot defined as something above a W2 of $500K)? Are they the quant researchers who come up with novel strategies that benefits the hedge funds in a big way?

I'd like to know the exact designation of such quants as to what they are called as, and also the place where they work (my hunch is that it'd be at hedge funds). Also, what are the typical skills/background that these people have at the entry level?
The question you should be asking is what type of quant you are most suited to be.

Ultimately you will have a better career in the long run if you take this approach. Front office quants might make more, however if you are not suited to the politics you will not do well. It's not just financially but you're putting yourself and future on the line if you're in the wrong role. Same deal with middle office if you're not suited to it.

"Designation" isn't quite how it works and while, in theory types of quants do the same work, it varies a lot between firms. You have to feel your way around, I'm afraid.
Here's what I love doing. I love to use sophisticated techniques to obtain significantly better outcomes when used in practice, and to make them very very robust against practical limitations. I have worked on complicated mixed signal designs and not to toot my horn but all my designs have shown performance so far, while chips were being tested for functionality alone and not for performance. In this case, I'd consider a win for me if I can master some of the best skills used today in quantitative research (the kind that folks at Renaissance use), which would result in consistent gains over a long period of time.

Practicalities involved are mostly centered about my age. I am approximately 40 now, and I bet your first reaction would be to not look for a new career at this age, especially in quantitative finance. Another thing I have heard is that most hedge funds look for graduates from the top schools. I'd think they'd go with someone who can "show them the money" but what do I know right?

I don't care if I have to start trading with my own capital in the end. I will obviously backtest the crap out of my strategy before even thinking of putting any money into it. However, given that none of the hedge funds will give a damn about me, this is the only way I can build credibility in the industry. Money is surely a big motivation. I am not going to lie. However, the main motivation is the way through which I would make money, if I succeed that is. Building robust models with low risk and showing consistent profits, digging for data that show solid correlation to asset prices, and using sophisticated techniques like hidden Markov models, and Kelly criterion etc and actually see it all beautifully work, in and of itself would be sufficient to give me eternal bliss.

The greatest buzz kill to me has been lack of a support group, or a mentor, or even a single soul who'd be supportive of what I am doing. What's worse is that everytime I have asked questions on forums, I get responses like "you won't measure up against an MIT graduate" or "you are too old to compete with 20 somethings" or "your chances of success are slim like 1/1000." This was the case all through my career but I have managed to prove them all to be wrong. It just remains to be seen if I can do it this time around.