The 30 Highest Paying Jobs in America

Updated July 20, 2021

Healthcare is once again on top of the highest-paying-job list, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistic. Healthcare-related fields are also expecting some of the biggest growth in the next 10 years, with millions of jobs projected to be added through 2029.

Most of the high-paying jobs within the top 30 also require advanced degrees, showing once again that investing in your education can yield incredible returns. But those degrees do come with a hefty cost, so make sure to weigh the pros and cons of pursuing these careers.

If you are looking to have a high-paying salary and want to grow your annual earnings to multiple six figures, here's a list of the top-paying jobs in America.

Note: This list is based on data collected and compiled by the BLS in the annual Occupational Outlook Handbook, and while it covers a wide variety of occupations, it may not include self-employed occupations or business owners. 

30. Purchasing Managers - $125,940

Purchasing managers help manage the buying teams at a company to lower acquisition costs and streamline purchasing processes. Job titles include wholesale or retail merchandising managers and procurement managers.

Education for purchasing managers usually requires a bachelor's degree in finance, accounting, or business administration, as well as several years of experience in procurement or a related field. Purchasing managers are usually accountants or analysts in a related field before being promoted into a management position.

Financial managers earn over $125,000 on average, but have a big upside, with top positions bringing in over $170,000 per year.

Training/Education: Bachelor's degree required. Related work experience a must.
Median Annual Salary: $125,940
Top Annual Salary: $170,180

29. Lawyers - $126,930    

According to the BLS, lawyers "represent clients in criminal and civil litigation and other legal proceedings, draw up legal documents, or manage or advise clients on legal transactions." Lawyers encompass a broad range of careers, with dozens of specialties within the field.

Education typically includes a juris doctorate degree (J.D.), and passing the "bar exam" for your state given by the American Bar Association.

In general, lawyers earn over $125,000 on average, with top positions bringing in over $180,000 per year.

Training/Education: Law degree required. State licensing through bar association.
Median Annual Salary: $126,930
Top Annual Salary: $184,640

28. Physicists - $129,850

Physicists "conduct research into physical phenomena, develop theories on the basis of observation and experiments, and devise methods to apply physical laws and theories." [2] Careers are usually in physics or astronomy in the academic research field, or a government position, such as a researcher in the field of nuclear energy.

Education for academic physicists usually requires a doctorate degree (Ph.D.), while government jobs may only require a bachelor's or master's degree. A master's is usually required for those that pursue careers as high school teachers.

Physicists earn almost $130,000 on average, with top positions bringing in over $180,000 per year.

Training/Education: Bachelor's degree minimum for government positions, Ph.D. required for more advanced positions in academia.
Median Annual Salary: $129,850
Top Annual Salary: $183,820

27. Air Traffic Controllers - $130,420

Air traffic controllers have a very important job, organizing all the air traffic that is coming and going from an airport. Air traffic controllers are typically known for sitting in the airport tower, regulating take-off and landing of commercial aircraft, as well as ensuring efficient operation of all air traffic within the vicinity of the airport.

Becoming an air traffic controller requires a bachelor's degree and 3 years of work experience, or an associate's or bachelor's degree through an Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-approved Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative (AT-CTI) program. They will also need to earn an Air Traffic Control Tower Operator Certificate.

Air traffic controllers earn over $130,000 on average, with top positions bringing in over $160,000 per year.

Training/Education: AT-CTI associate's or bachelor's degree required. Earn an Air Traffic Control Tower Operator Certificate.
Median Annual Salary: $130,420
Top Annual Salary: $ 161,820

26. Sales Managers - $132,290

Sales teams are the lifeblood of any growing company, and those teams must be managed well to improve the bottom line. Sales managers coordinate and manage sales teams by establishing sales territories, building sales quotas, and creating sales goals for sales representatives.

Education for sales managers usually requires a bachelor's degree, and several years of experience in the field, typically as a sales representative themselves.

Sales managers earn over $130,000 on average, with top positions bringing in over $170,000 per year.

Training/Education: Bachelor's degree required. Master's degree for some positions.
Median Annual Salary: $132,290
Top Annual Salary: $170,900

25. Advertising and Promotions Managers - $133,460

Advertising and promotions managers function in a similar role as marketing managers, but with more direct interaction with the planning and coordinating of company advertising. This may include online or traditional advertising campaigns, with the overall goal of bringing in more customers to the company.

Education for advertising and promotions managers typically requires a bachelor's degree, and several years of experience in the field. Larger organizations will have specialty positions, depending on the advertising strategy.

Advertising and promotions managers earn over $130,000 on average, with top positions bringing in over $160,000 per year.

Training/Education: Bachelor's degree required. Master's degree for some positions.
Median Annual Salary: $133,460
Top Annual Salary: $164,880

24. Financial Managers - $134,180

Financial managers are typically part of a larger organization in medium-to-large corporations, managing different aspects of the financial department. These management positions are typically responsible for financial reporting, risk management, and investment strategies of a company, helping senior executives make strategic business decisions.

Education for financial managers usually requires a bachelor's degree in finance, accounting, or business administration, as well as several years of experience in the field. Financial managers are usually accountants or analysts in a related field before being promoted into a management position.

Financial managers earn over $130,000 on average, but have a huge upside, with top positions bringing in over $205,000 per year.

Training/Education: Bachelor's degree required. Master's degree for some positions.
Median Annual Salary: $134,180
Top Annual Salary: $206,050

23. Podiatrists - $134,300

Podiatrists are foot specialists that diagnose and treat diseases, injuries, and deformities of the foot, ankle, and related leg structures. They are practicing medical doctors, but are on the lower end of the pay scale for physicians in the medical field.

Becoming a podiatrist requires a doctorate degree in medicine through podiatric medical schooling to become Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM), as well as finishing a residency program afterward. Podiatrists will also need to pass state licensing exams to practice.

Podiatrists earn over $130,000 on average, with top positions bringing in over $180,000 per year.

Training/Education: Doctorate degree in podiatric medicine (DPM) required. Residency program and licensing required.
Median Annual Salary: $134,300
Top Annual Salary: $181,470

22. Petroleum Engineers - $137,330

Petroleum engineers develop methods to extract oil and gas from below the earth's surface, as well as existing wells. This includes evaluating drilling technology and methods for digging wells, ways to extract more fossil fuels from existing wells, and understanding what amount of fuel is in a given well or deposit location.

Education for petroleum engineers usually requires a bachelor's degree, as well as several years of experience in the field. Some highly competitive positions may require a master's degree to advance to more prominent positions in the industry.

Petroleum engineers earn over $135,000 on average, with top positions bringing in over $180,000 per year.

Training/Education: Bachelor's degree required. Master's degree for some positions.
Median Annual Salary: $141,080
Top Annual Salary: $180,570

21. Judges, Magistrate Judges, Magistrates - $141,080

Judges preside over hearings and trials in government courthouses. Judges handle smaller cases (such as traffic violations), all the way up to high-profile criminal cases at the state and federal levels.

Education typically includes a law degree, and several years of experience as an attorney before becoming a judge. Some local positions may only require a bachelor's degree, depending on the state.

Judges earn over $140,000 on average, with top positions bringing in over $160,000 per year.

Training/Education: Law degree required. State licensing through bar association.
Median Annual Salary: $141,080
Top Annual Salary: $161,590

20. Natural Sciences Managers - $137,940

Natural sciences managers supervise scientists such as biologists and physicists in a variety of settings. This may include fields such as health sciences, laboratory research, or forensic science, among others.

Education for natural sciences managers usually requires a master's degree, as well as several years of experience in a related field as a scientist. Some entry-level positions may only require a bachelor's degree, but most require a master's degree, or even doctorate Ph.D. in a related scientific field.

Natural sciences managers earn over $135,000 on average, with top positions bringing in over $185,000 per year.

Training/Education: Bachelor's degree minimum, usually a master's or Ph.D. required. Field experience needed.
Median Annual Salary: $137,940
Top Annual Salary: $187,500

19. Marketing Managers - $142,170

Good marketing is a must for brands and companies to grow in the digital age, so it's no surprise that marketing managers are one of the highest paid positions out there. Marketing managers help guide marketing teams in acquiring market research, building promotional campaigns, building pricing strategies, and ultimately growing sales year-over-year.

Education for marketing managers usually requires a bachelor's degree and several years of experience in the field. Some highly competitive positions may require a master's degree.

Marketing managers earn over $140,000 on average, with top positions bringing in over $150,000 per year.

Training/Education: Bachelor's degree required. Master's degree for some positions.
Median Annual Salary: $141,080
Top Annual Salary: $150,840

18. Architectural and Engineering Managers - $149,530

Architectural and engineering managers are responsible for the overall technical success of an architectural or engineering project. Activities include meeting with clients, putting together proposal documents for the project, managing architecture, and engineering teams, preparing budgets, and directing most technical aspects of a given project.

Education for architectural and engineering managers usually requires a bachelor's degree, and several years of experience in the field as an architect or an engineer (structural, or otherwise). Some highly competitive positions may require a master's degree, either in business administration or engineering management.

Marketing managers earn almost $150,000 on average, with top positions bringing in over $170,000 per year.

Training/Education: Bachelor's degree required. Master's degree for some positions.
Median Annual Salary: $149,530
Top Annual Salary: $174,710

17. Computer and Information Systems Managers - $151,150

Computer and information systems managers (IS Managers) are responsible for the information technology and systems of an organization. These roles are typically a high-level manager, or director-level role within a company, and give direct recommendations to top executives on the IT and IS needs of a company. This may include computer hardware and software recommendations, IT security requirements, and even telecommunications technology upgrades.

Education for computer and information systems managers usually requires a bachelor's degree in computer and information technology, or a related field, and several years of experience in the field as an IT systems engineer or other IT technician role. Many IT manager positions may require a master's degree in business administration as well.

Marketing managers earn over $150,000 on average, with top positions bringing in over $165,000 per year.

Training/Education: Bachelor's degree required. Master's degree for some positions.
Median Annual Salary: $151,150
Top Annual Salary: $166,770

16. Dentists, General - $158,940

Dentists make you put your money where your mouth is, earning a living by helping diagnose and treat problems with your teeth, gums, and other parts of the mouth. They provide advice on overall oral health and instruction on taking care of your teeth and gums (always remember to floss!).

Becoming a dentist requires a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry/Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree, which includes working directly with patients under the supervision of a licensed dentist.

Dentists that are general practitioners earn over $155,000 on average, with top positions earning over $180,000 per year

Training/Education: DDS or DMD degree required.
Median Annual Salary: $158,940
Top Annual Salary: $183,340

15. Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers - $160,970

Airline pilots, their copilots, and flight engineers admittedly travel a lot, but are paid very well for it. Pilots and their coworkers are responsible for operating private and commercial aircraft, including passenger flights and cargo transportation services (such as FedEx). Flight engineers and copilots also perform regular checks of the aircraft, including weight balance, fuel levels, cabin air pressure, and more.

Becoming a pilot requires a bachelor's degree, as well as a Airline Transport Pilot certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). There is a minimum of 1,500 logged flying hours required to gain the air transport license.

Pilots earn over $160,000 on average, with top positions bringing in over $170,000 per year.

Training/Education: Bachelor's degree required. Airline Transport Pilot certificate to fly commercially.
Median Annual Salary: $160,970
Top Annual Salary: $173,780

14. Pediatricians, General - $177,130

Physician's that focus on children's health are known as Pediatricians, and they are one of the top-earning professionals in America. Pediatricians help diagnose, treat, and help prevent diseases and injuries in children. They are one of the lowest-paid physician practitioners, but still do well.

Becoming a pediatrician requires a doctorate degree in medicine (M.D.), as well as finishing a residency program afterward. It may take up to 8 or more years to complete all of the post-secondary education requirements. Pediatricians will also need to pass licensing exams to practice.

Pediatricians earn over $175,000 on average, with top positions bringing in over $200,000 per year.

Training/Education: Doctorate degree in medicine (M.D.).
Median Annual Salary: $177,130
Top Annual Salary: $207,560

13. Dentists, All Other Specialists- $183,300

Dentists that focus on a specialty, such as endodontists and periodontists, are paid even better than a general practitioner. While there are a wide range of specialties to choose from, the BLS data lumps their pay into a single category.

Becoming a dentist requires a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry/Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree, which includes working directly with patients under the supervision of a licensed dentist. Becoming a specialist will require further education, and may require earning a doctorate degree (M.D.).

These dental specialists earn over $180,000 per year, while top positions earn over $200,000 per year.

Training/Education: DDS or DMD degree required, M.D. for some speciality positions.
Median Annual Salary: $183,300
Top Annual Salary: $204,670

12. Nurse Anesthetists - $183,580

Nurse anesthetists administer anesthesia for patient procedures. This includes pre-, post-, and during surgical or other procedures. Nursing jobs pay very well, and nurse anesthetists make the most of any nursing position.

Becoming a nurse anesthetist requires becoming a registered nurse (RN) first. A master's degree in anesthesiology is usually required, and then passing a national certification exam to become licensed in their state as a certified registered nurse practitioner (CRNA).

Nurse anesthetists  earn over $180,000 on average, with top positions bringing in over $190,000 per year.

Training/Education: Master's degree required. CRNA certification required.
Median Annual Salary: $183,580
Top Annual Salary: $190,900

11. Chief Executives - $185,950

Chief executives, usually referred to as CEOs, are the highest paid employees outside of the dental and medical fields. CEOs are the top-ranking employees in a company, in charge of making strategic decisions for the overall growth of a company. This includes hiring and firing of other executives, structuring of business organizations, and presenting to the board of directors to help move toward the company's main objectives.

Chief executives typically have a minimum equivalent of a bachelor's or master's degree in a related field to the business they are running, such as business or engineering. That being said, executive positions may not have any formal degree requirements, depending on the company.

Chief executives earn over $185,000 on average, with top positions bringing in over $208,000 per year.

Training/Education: Bachelor's degree minimum. Master's degree preferred.
Median Annual Salary: $185,950
Top Annual Salary: $208,000

10. Physicians - Internists, General - $210,960

Physicians that are considered "Internists"  are physicians focused on internal organ systems. They may diagnose and help treat diseases and injuries to internal organs, providing non-surgical procedures. Internists are generally focused on caring for adults with internal organ issues.

Becoming an internists physician follows the same path as a general physician, requiring a doctorate degree in medicine (M.D.), as well as finishing a residency program afterward. Some specialties require a fellowship program after residency as well. It may take up to 10 or more years to complete all of the post-secondary education requirements.

Internist physicians earn a median salary of over $210,000, while top positions pay over $235,000 per year.

Training/Education: Doctorate degree in medicine (M.D.). Residency and fellowship programs. Additional licensing for specialties.
Median Annual Salary: $210,960
Top Annual Salary: $236,140

9. Physicians - Family and General Practitioners - $214,370

Physicians in the family and general practice fields (also known as primary care physicians) cover a large range of medical doctors that examine patients, diagnose medical issues, prescribe medicines, and may also help educate patients on diet, hygiene, and preventive healthcare. 

Becoming a family physician requires a doctorate degree in medicine (M.D.), as well as finishing a residency program afterward. There may also be a fellowship program after residency for certain practitioners.

Family and general physicians earn a median salary of just under $215,000, while top positions may earn about $250,000 per year.

Training/Education: Doctorate degree in medicine (M.D.). Residency and fellowship programs.
Mean Annual Salary: $214,370
Top Annual Salary: $249,180

8. Prosthodontists - $214,870

Prosthodontists help treat patients with damaged teeth or jawbones, helping install prosthetic devices such as dental implants or dentures. They help design devices to help improve teeth and jaw function, as well as improve appearance with devices such as veneers.

Becoming a prosthodontist requires a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry/Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree, as well as a residency program afterward. Prosthodontists also need a certification from American Board of Prosthodontics to begin practice.

Prosthodontists earn over $210,000 on average, with top positions earning over $220,000 per year.

Training/Education: DDS or DMD degree required. Residency after degree. Certification from American Board of Prosthodontics.
Median Annual Salary: $214,870
Top Annual Salary: $223,310

7. Psychiatrists - $217,100

Psychiatrists help diagnose, treat, and prevent mental disorders in patients. The psychiatry field covers a wide range of possible specialties, including working with children, addiction therapy, and other forms of counseling. Psychiatrists may have their own private practice or work in a private medical setting, such as a hospital.

Becoming a psychiatrist requires a doctorate degree in medicine (M.D.), as well as finishing a residency program afterward. After residency, students will need to apply for certification from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. It may take up to 10 or more years to complete all of the post-secondary education requirements.

Psychiatrists earn a median salary of over $215,000, while top positions may bring in almost $250,000 per year.

Training/Education: Doctorate degree in medicine (M.D.). Residency programs. Certification from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.
Median Annual Salary: $217,100
Top Annual Salary: $249,260

6. Physicians and Surgeons, All Other - $218,850

Physicians and surgeons cover a large range of practitioners and specialists that practice medicine. Physicians are doctors that examine patients, diagnose medical issues, prescribe medicines, and educate patients on diet, hygiene, and preventive healthcare. Surgeons operate on patients to treat injuries and diseases, as well as elective procedures to change a person's appearance.

Becoming a physician or surgeon requires a doctorate degree in medicine (M.D.), as well as finishing a residency program afterward. Some specialties require a fellowship program after residency as well. It may take up to 10 or more years to complete all of the post-secondary education requirements.

General physicians and surgeons earn a median salary of over $215,000, while top positions earn about $240,000 per year.

Training/Education: Doctorate degree in medicine (M.D.). Residency and fellowship programs. Additional licensing for specialties.
Median Annual Salary: $218,850
Top Annual Salary: $239,060

5. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons - $234,990

According to the BLS, oral and maxillofacial surgeons "operate on the mouth, jaws, teeth, gums, neck, and head, performing procedures such as surgically repairing a cleft lip and palate or removing impacted teeth." This is a dental specialty position that is one of the highest paying jobs in the U.S.

Becoming an oral and maxillofacial surgeon is similar to becoming a general dentist, requiring a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry/Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree. This includes a residency program after dental school, but also additional residency time after completing the specialty education required of oral surgeons. Becoming an oral and maxillofacial surgeon will require completing an additional 4 to 6 years of specialty education, earning students a doctorate degree (M.D.).

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons earn over $230,000 as the mean annual wage in the U.S. Top earners bring in almost $275,000 annually.

Training/Education: DDS or DMD degree required, M.D. required.
Mean Annual Salary: $234,990
Top Annual Salary: $274,300

4. Orthodontists - $237,990

According to the BLS, orthodontists "examine, diagnose, and treat dental malocclusions and oral cavity anomalies." They also "design and fabricate appliances to realign teeth and jaws to produce and maintain normal function and to improve appearance."

Becoming an orthodontist requires a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry/Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree, as well as a residency program afterward. Orthodontists need to pass a licensing exam to begin practicing..

Orthodontists are at the top of the high-earning dental careers, earning over $235,000 on average, with top positions earning over $255,000 per year.

Training/Education: DDS or DMD degree required. Residency after degree. Licensing exam..
Median Annual Salary: $237,990
Top Annual Salary: $255,550

3. Obstetricians and Gynecologists (OB-GYN) - $239,120

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, "obstetricians and gynecologists provide medical care related to pregnancy or childbirth. Diagnose, treat, and help prevent diseases of women, particularly those affecting the reproductive system. May also provide general care to women. May perform both medical and gynecological surgery functions."

Becoming an OB-GYN requires a doctorate degree in medicine (M.D.), as well as finishing an obstetrics and gynecology residency program afterward. A license exam must also be passed in order to begin practicing. It may take up to 10 or more years to complete all of the post-secondary education requirements.

OB-GYNs earn a median salary of about $240,000 per year, while top positions can earn over $250,000 per year on average.

Training/Education: Doctorate degree in medicine (M.D.). Specialized residency programs (about 4 years). Additional licensing required.
Median Annual Salary: $239,120
Top Annual Salary: $ 251,900

2. Surgeons - $251,650

Surgeons operate on patients to treat injuries and diseases, as well as elective procedures to change a person's appearance. Surgeons, like other medical professionals, may work long, atypical hours, especially when working in the trauma field. Surgeons that work in elective surgery may have a more steady schedule.

Becoming a surgeon requires a doctorate degree in medicine (M.D.), as well as finishing a residency program afterward. Some surgeon positions also require a fellowship program after residency. It may take up to 8 or more years to complete all of the post-secondary education requirements.

Surgeons earn a median salary of over $250,000 per year, while top surgeons can earn over $265,000 per year on average.

Training/Education: Doctorate degree in medicine (M.D.). Residency and fellowship programs. Additional licensing for specialties.
Median Annual Salary: $251,650
Top Annual Salary: $268,310

1. Anesthesiologists - $271,440

Anesthesiologists administer anesthetics for pain management before, during, and after medical procedures. They typically work in the operating room with surgeons, and directly with patients for minor procedures. Anesthesiologists are the highest-earning professionals currently, but require an immense amount of schooling and experience to get there.

Becoming an anesthesiologist requires a doctorate degree in medicine (M.D.), as well as finishing a four-year residency program in anesthesiology. Some specialties require a fellowship program after residency as well. It may take up to 10 or more years to complete all of the post-secondary education requirements.

Anesthesiologists earn a median salary of over $270,000, which tops our list of high-paying jobs. The top positions bring in over $280,000 per year.

Training/Education: Doctorate degree in medicine (M.D.). Residency and fellowship programs. Additional licensing.
Median Annual Salary: $271,440
Top Annual Salary: $283,280

Final Verdict

Finding a high-paying job in the medical and dental field is not too difficult, but qualifying for one takes a lot of education and training. Most of the high-paying jobs today require a bachelor's degree, while the highest-paying medical positions require doctorate degrees.

While these jobs may seem like a one-way ticket to financial freedom, remember that the schooling costs of medical and law programs far exceed that of other education, and student loans can be a heavy burden even on the highest earners. When considering one of these high-paying jobs, make sure to count the cost in schooling and time, as you will also spend far more time qualifying for many of these positions than a traditional role.

Overall, the medical, dental, and engineering fields hold the top honors of high-paying positions, and with job growth in those areas at an all-time high, they will stay in the top spots for decades to come.
 

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