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The Highest-Paying Jobs in the U.S.

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The highest-paying jobs in the U.S. are often medical professions, though careers in technology, information, and transportation are working their way into the upper ranks. Medical careers have consistently topped the list, though, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that health care professions, like family medicine physicians and anesthesiologists, see median wages equalling or exceeding $208,000 per year.

But you don’t need a Ph.D. to get a great-paying job. There are high-paying careers for every education level, such as airline pilots or computer system managers, which usually only require a bachelor’s degree for entry-level positions.

In this guide we’ll go over:

Top 10 Highest-Paid Jobs in the U.S.

1. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons

The average salary is $311,460 per year, and this job requires a Medical Doctor degree and an internship or residency.

2. Anesthesiologists

The average salary is $311,190 per year, and this job requires a Medical Doctor degree and an internship or residency.

3. Surgeons

The average salary is $297,800 per year, and this job requires a Medical Doctor degree and an internship or residency.

4. Obstetricians and Gynecologists

The average salary is $296,210 per year, and this job requires a Medical Doctor degree and an internship or residency.

5. Orthodontists

The average salary is $267,280 per year, and this job requires a Medical Doctor degree and an internship or residency.

6. Psychiatrists

The average salary is $249,760 per year, and this job requires a Medical Doctor degree and an internship or residency.

7. Family Medicine Physicians

The average salary is $235,930 per year, and this job requires a Medical Doctor degree and an internship or residency.

8. Physicians (All, Except Pediatric)

The average salary is $203,450 per year, and this job requires a Medical Doctor degree and an internship or residency.

9. General Internal Medicine Physicians

The average salary is $201,440 per year, and this job requires a Medical Doctor degree and an internship or residency. (Learn if health care is a good career path.)

10. Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers

The average salary is $198,190 per year, and this job requires a bachelor’s degree, as well as significant on-the-job training.

Good-Paying Jobs for Master’s Degree Holders

Many of the best-paying occupations for those with master’s degrees are projected to grow in the coming years, especially medical professions like nurse practitioners, and technology-related careers like computer and information research scientists.

  • Computer and information research scientists: Average salary of $142,650
  • Political scientists: Average salary of $120,430
  • Physician assistants: Average salary of $119,460
  • Mathematicians: Average salary of $112,430
  • Nurse midwives: Average salary of $114,210

High-Paying Jobs for Bachelor’s Degree Holders

The best-paying jobs for people with bachelor’s degrees are often management-level positions, so they may require some experience in the industry or starting at a lower position and working your way up to manager. A lot of the best-paying jobs with a four-year degree are growing at least as fast as the average for all industries and few even require on-the-job training.

  • Airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers: Average salary of $198,190
  • Computer and information systems managers: Average salary of $162,930
  • Architectural and engineering managers: Average salary of $158,970
  • Natural sciences managers: Average salary of $156,110
  • Marketing managers: Average salary of $153,440

Best-Paying Jobs for Associate Degree Holders

High-salary careers that require an associate degree typically require at least some on-the-job training, and many are within the health care industry. Some careers you can get with only a two-year degree include:

  • Air traffic controllers: Average salary of $127,920
  • Nuclear technicians: Average salary of $95,200
  • Radiation therapists: Average salary of $94,000
  • Nuclear medicine technologists: Average salary of $84,850
  • Dental hygienists: Average salary of $81,360

High-Salary Jobs Without a Degree or Higher Education

Finding a good-paying job without college or a degree is definitely possible. A high school diploma is typically required, though, and these jobs often involve a lot of hands-on training or apprenticeships.

  • Commercial pilots: Average salary of $115,080
  • Nuclear power reactor operators: Average salary of $111,220
  • Transportation, storage, and distribution managers: Average salary of $105,580
  • First-line supervisors of police and detectives: Average salary of $98,760
  • Power distributors and dispatchers: Average salary of $95,520

Key Takeaways

  • Many of the best-paying jobs require some sort of on-the-job training, apprenticeship, internship, or residency. These sorts of experiences help employees gain the hard skills they need to do their job well.
  • The health care industry is always expanding, but technology jobs are growing too — the BLS reports that the computer and information technology industry is projected to grow 13% from 2020 to 2030.
  • Higher education may mean higher pay, but it can also mean student loan debt and a long-term commitment. It is important to consider the cost of getting some of these high-paying jobs. A report from the Association of American Medical Colleges says that the average cost of medical school tuition is over $50,000 per year. That price doesn’t account for peripheral costs, either, like health insurance, fees, textbooks, transportation, or housing. It also does not include the costs associated with getting an undergraduate degree.

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Source: Salary and growth information sourced from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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